Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue, and the Lady of All Nations

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Some of you may recall my previous posts on the relationship of the Anglican Communion (a.k.a. Episcopal Church) with the Catholic Church, so I wanted to share this recent news:
VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2011 (VIS) - The Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission has completed the first meeting of its new phase (ARCIC III) at the Monastery of Bose in northern Italy (17-27 May 2011).

  According to a communique issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, "the commission is chaired by Archbishop David Moxon (Anglican Archbishop of the New Zealand Dioceses) and Archbishop Bernard Longley (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham), and  comprises eighteen theologians from a wide range of backgrounds across the world".
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at such a meeting! Honestly, that is one of my dreams. You can read the rest of the article here!

Next, I'm not going to write much on here tonight because I spent most of my time reading and commenting on an interesting blog post from a Catholic blogger I follow in the Netherlands. The post is on The Lady of All Nations apparition in Amsterdam.

My comment ended up being nearly as long as his post, because I suspect that I am as long-winded as I am passionate about Mariology. I also love that modern technology allows interesting theological dialogue with someone in the Netherlands from the comfort of my own home while wearing my PJs! So feel free to put on your own PJs, read his post, read my comment, and make comments of your own. Join in on the Mariological fun!

This reminds me that I need to take up my "Hail Who? What Catholics Really Believe About Mary" series again sometime soon, since I don't think I've yet covered the big topics of Marian apparitions and the Church's principle Marian devotions of the Rosary, the Scapular, and Marian devotion. I have lots of other topics brewing, as well, so y'all better grab a lot of coffee, and brace yourselves!

As always, thanks for stopping by. Be assured of my prayers!

Peace and all good,

Monday, May 30, 2011

Nietzsche and the Family Circus - A Dynamic Duo?

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

There are too many interesting Catholic blog-worthy topics to post on tonight, and as it's late already and I'm indecisive, I'll save them all for later in the week. For now, let me share with you my weird internet find for the day -- The Nietzsche Family Circus.

As the name implies, this site pairs a Nietzsche quote with a Family Circus cartoon. Both the quote and the picture are randomly generated and paired, and each time you refresh the page, a new Nietzsche-Family Circus combo appears. At first, I felt a bit intellectually offended by the stupidity and pointlessness of the whole thing -- until I tried it. And found out that, for reasons unknown to even myself, it is really funny.

So try it out!

Peace and all good,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Funny Friends & A Special Dog

Happy Sunday, Coffee Talkers!

I hope you all had a refreshing Sunday. I spent the afternoon at a lovely bridal shower with some good friends from college, some of whom I hadn't seen in over 10 years! You know, you never can tell how a reunion like that is going to play out. Did everyone change? I mean, you hope that in terms of learning, growing, maturing that everyone has -- but will we all still be brought to tears by the ridiculous humor of one another?  Indeed, we were! We were still very, very funny people to one another. I'm sorry that you all couldn't have joined us, to also have been amused by our hilarity!

If you'd like some spiritual reflection for the day, read last night's post on Giving Him the Other 10% - The Paschal Mystery of Our Lives. And then if you just want to laugh, read this hysterical post from the Hyperbole and a Half blog, titled "Dog." Enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by! It's good to have you all here.

Peace and all good,

Giving Him the Other 10% -- The Paschal Mystery of Our Lives

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I was reflecting tonight on a conversation I had with someone not too long ago. It was with a person I had just met in the context of a larger group gathering, so the thought was just sort of left hanging as the conversation moved on to other topics. But it's stayed with me to ponder in my heart a bit, so here you go:

This person, who had not been raised with religion, shared that they had come to know God in more recent years and that one night, in prayer, they had a sense of hearing the voice of God. God told them, "I want you to give me your life. Will you follow me?" This person said that they would. God said, "I want you to give me 100%. Will you do it?" The person said that they told God that they'd give him 90%, and keep the other 10% to themselves. And then this person said that they wondered if God accepted their offering, since it wasn't complete.

The first thought I have is this: I don't know. No one knows. Only God alone knows, and in fact God knows each of us, our hearts, and our intentions even better than we can know them ourselves. When I speculate on God's response, though, I don't imagine God rejecting this person's offering, but I do imagine Him waiting for the other 10%. Standing at the door. Knocking. Not in a forceful or impatient way, but in a loving way. Hoping that we will come and open the door, that He may come in and eat with us, and we with Him (Revelation 3:20).

I think that a lot of us have a fear of what our lives will look like if we give them completely to God. I had a friend that said she had a long-standing (but admittedly irrational) fear that if she gave her life fully to God, she would end up in some desolate place alone scrubbing toilets.

I think a lot of us fear being alone, or not being happy, and suffering intensely if we give everything to God. Maybe we've been hurt in life (who hasn't?), and we associate some of that hurt with God, or who we think God to be. Why didn't God answer that prayer in the way that I thought He should? Why didn't God grant my will? And how on Earth could such tragedy and injustice as we've experienced in this life be His will? Certainly, all of the pain and anguish of life cannot be God's will granted on Earth as it is in Heaven, and if it is, then perhaps we want no part of His will, no part of this Heaven. Giving it all to God, even if we believe Him to be ultimately good and loving, seems a scary proposition in the face of so much sadness in the world and in our lives.

But ultimately, giving our lives to God is the only way to find true happiness. Not the superficial and transitory happiness that can be found in material things or temporary fads, but the deep and abiding happiness that can come only from accepting that you are not the only one in control of your life, and a peace that the One who is has ultimate plans for your good (cf Jeremiah 29:11). To the extent that we hold back, we suffer even more deeply. And to the extent that we give ourselves to the author of our lives, we become more true to ourselves and to Truth itself. For in giving of ourselves, we receive. In dying to ourselves, we are born to eternal life.

My friend with the fear of having to scrub toilets has since given her life to God, and continues to do so daily. She has found that her life does, in fact, involve some scrubbing of toilets, but she prefers to complete this task with God rather than without Him.

All of us who have given our lives to God and then been disappointed by the sufferings of life may ask if things would have been different if we hadn't given everything to Him.
"You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me." (Jeremiah 20:7)
But ultimately, we realize that we will suffer in our lives, with God or without Him. And in the end, it is better to suffer with Him. Because even though God isn't about sparing us from suffering as most of us would probably prefer, He is in the business of bringing great good from the most unimaginable tragedies. He doesn't will evil, death, or destruction -- never. But because He has given humanity free will, He permits evil and brings from it grace, hope, and redemption. This is the story of the Cross, the bloodiest love story ever told. This is the Paschal Mystery of our lives -- to move from the Good Friday of suffering and even death, to enter into the depths of hopelessness in Holy Saturday, and to be shocked by unthinkable hope of Easter Sunday -- good triumphs over evil, death has no sting, life has had the final victory over the grave. It's an ending we never could have predicted -- can we accept it?

In this light, it seems that the 10% we keep from God is not the 10% that has more fun or more control or more joy or more cool stuff. It's the 10% that stays stuck in Holy Saturday -- the descent into hell, the experience of profound separation from the only one who knows and understands us fully.

We've just begun another Easter Sunday. Let's consider where we need to let go, to give Him more, and to receive more of Himself and thus of our true selves.

Peace and all good,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Let's Get Pontifical!

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I follow the blog of the Holy See Press Office - Vatican Information Service, and I'll be honest. It's generally somewhat boring, unless you are an extreme Catholic nerd like myself. Even then, it's not exactly where you'd go for entertainment purposes. I mean, here's a description of VIS News:
The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia.
Uh, what? But I still dig it. And the part of VIS News that I find the most interesting are the Pontifical Acts and Audiences!  This is how y'all can find out the skinny on what the Pope did today (Pontifical Acts) -- like who he appointed to what position -- and who the Pope met with (Pontifical Audiences).

Check out who the Pope was hanging out with today!

VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

-Seven prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their ad limina visit:

  - Archbishop Maria Callist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum of the Latins,

  - Bishop Innayya Chinna Addagatla of Srikakulam,

  - Bishop Prakash Mallavarapu of Vijayawada,

  - Bishop Joseph Kariyil of Cochin,

  - Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal of Kannur,

  - Bishop Joseph Karikkassery of Kottapuram, and

  - Fr. Vincent Arackal, apostolic administrator of Calicut. 
This afternoon, the Pope is going to receive the President of the Republic of Hungary, Pal Schmitt, who offers a concert to the Pontiff in the Paul VI Hall.
The three realizations I had after reading about today's  Pontifical Audiences:
1. I can't even pronounce half of those names or places.
2. Pope Benedict XVI is pretty fly and active, especially for an 84-year-old!
3. I am pretty much a lazy bum compared to the Pope.

Well, that's all for tonight, my friends! Enjoy the start of this long weekend, Americans!

Peace and all good,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Google heard 'round the world!

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I don't know about you, but for me, the month of May has been speeding by at a rather alarming rate. Maybe it was all the anticipation over the predicted Rapture, or just that life has been full and busy, but whew! Can you believe it's almost JUNE? To be quite honest, I've only just gotten the hang of writing 2011 when I have to fill in the date on forms and such.

It's been a while since I gave a little blog stats update and a shout-out to all you Coffee Talkers 'round the world. So here y’all go!

This month, people from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Germany, Philippines, Bermuda, Denmark, Israel, Belgium, Brazil, Spain, and Poland have gathered together here in the blogosphere for a little international Coffee Talk. Thanks for reading, everybody!

And my favorite search that led someone to my blog was for this phrase: "Will my student loans be forgiven after the Rapture?" I love the thought of someone wondering about that, doing a Google search for some authoritative answer on the matter, and then ending up at Coffee Talk. Ahhh, the wonders of the internet.

Also, one other thing that I learned through my blog stats (which you all probably already knew long ago, but I'm still excited about it!) is that there is a Google search engine specific to each country. Fun, right? So when doing research about World Youth Day, for example, my search yields very different (and much better!) results if I search through Google Espana than when I search through regular ol' Google. And I'll bet that Google Australia yields superior results for kangaroo facts and photos -- does someone wanna check it out and report back?

As always, thanks for stopping by! Be assured of my prayers.

Peace and all good,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Living on Love

 Living on Love is giving without limit
Without claiming any wages here below.
Ah! I give without counting, truly sure
That when one loves, one does not keep count ! . . .
Overflowing with tenderness, I have given everything,
To his Divine Heart . . . lightly I run.
I have nothing left but my only wealth:
        Living on Love.

Living on Love is banishing every fear,
Every memory of past faults.
I see no imprint of my sins.
In a moment love has burned everything . . .
Divine Flame, O very sweet Blaze!
I make my home in your hearth.
In your fire I gladly sing:
        “I live on Love ! . . .”

Living on Love is keeping within oneself
A great treasure in an earthen vase.
My Beloved, my weakness is extreme.
Ah, I’m far from being an angel from heaven ! . . .
But if I fall with each passing hour,
You come to my aid, lifting me up.
At each moment you give me your grace:
        I live on Love.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Beauty of Creating -- A Mother Sews Her Way to Sanctity

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I found this wonderful article today about my friend Jodi, who is a beautiful mother, friend, and seamstress. Please read the article, and if you feel so inclined, vote for her to win a $5,000 sewing space makeover!  Check out her blog, too!

Honestly, I can think of no one who would make better use of such a prize for the good of her family, friends, and community. I even had a dream the other day that she won the sewing room makeover! So come on, people -- let's make the dream a reality!

Peace and all good,

Monday, May 23, 2011


Hello, my dear Coffee Talkers!

Tonight, here's a little something for my US readers with kiddos 12 years old and younger -- kids eat free tomorrow at Chili's! Woo-hoo! 2 kids per one paying adult. Yum!

Nothing philosophical or theological tonight, my friends -- just the heads up for free food!

Peace and all good,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Gospel, A Pope, and a Spaceshuttle walk into a blog...

Happy Sunday, Coffee Talkers!

The Gospel reading from today's Mass was amazing in its timing:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”
And if you all haven't read about it yet, please read this moving article on the Pope's unprecedented interview yesterday with the astronauts on the Shuttle Endeavor.

Peace and all good,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We were ALL left behind! (Or why we are saved in bunches)

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Alright, perhaps I've made few too many Rapture jokes, and now that it did not happen at the predicted time (or if it did happen, we were ALL left behind), I would like to share one final thought, and an article. First, my thought:

For as many jokes as I made about the Rapture (sorry to all of the people I was around these past few days who had to endure my ceaseless [but still hilarious?] Rapture-based humor!), there is something important that I realized. As a person of faith, I would never even want to be snatched up to heaven, knowing that others were left behind. Because our salvation is necessarily in community, or as a good professor of mine often said, "People are saved in bunches!"

God is all about relationships, and not just individual relationships, but relationships with all humanity. In the Old Testament, we see God working through covenants that He made with individuals for the sake of the entire people. And then He makes the New and Everlasting Covenant through Jesus, in the hope that all men might be saved. All men. Not just a few 'true Christians' to be snatched up, while the rest of us lousy sinners suffer a time of trial, tribulation, and judgment.

No, we are all in this together. Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man. We are all called to solidarity with the entire human family, to spiritual bonds of friendship with all people. This is a radical way to think, and even more a radical way to live, but these are the demands of the Gospel. "Go out, therefore, and make disciples of all nations." We are all called to an apostolate of love, an apostolate of friendship.

If I want a Heaven, an eternity of complete love, joy, and peace, I don't just want it for myself, but for everyone. For this reason, the whole idea of the Rapture seems too elitist, individualistic, and self-centered to be the real deal of Christianity. Jesus spent His time hanging out with a whole lot of sinners. Lots of people weren't all that fond of prostitutes, adulterers, and tax collectors, for example. But Jesus befriended them. And let's not forget the 'good thief' who hung on a cross next to Jesus' own. The thief asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingly power, and do you remember what Jesus said?

"Tough luck, buddy! It's too late now. Only the 'true Christians' are gonna be snatched up, and that's not for a while still. I don't know when it's gonna happen, actually. But you're a bad man, and you're not gonna be there."


He said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Lastly, I'd like to share an article by Fred Clark titled, "Disappointment, despair and Harold Camping." Clark makes the point, far more eloquently than I could, that Camping and his followers are also part of this human family, for whom we should also experience a fraternal concern, even as they mourn the loss of a prediction that never came to be.

As always, thanks for stopping by! Be assured of my prayers.

Peace and all good,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Post-Rapture Pet Sitters, and The Church as the Pillar and Foundation of Truth

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

You know, since last night's post on my Five Reasons I'm Excited About the Rapture, I've realized a few things:

1. There are quite a lot of people who really believe in the Rapture, and in the prediction that it is going to happen tomorrow. Like these people who set up an apparently real registry for After-Rapture Pet Care!

2. Many non-religious people (atheists, agnostics, other 'fallen away' and 'former' Catholics and other Christians) think that all people who are religious are unthinking and brainwashed morons who have no ability to think rational thoughts.

3. While many people mock, disregard, and disrespect the authority of the Catholic Church and her Magisterium (or teaching office) in regard to matters of faith and morals, things like these Rapture predictions make clear the need for the Church's authority.

To be a religious person and to submit to the authority of the Church does not make someone a mindless automaton. I have many more thoughts on this (see, religious people can think!), but for now, may I recommend Blessed John Paul II's Fides et Ratio and Msgr. Luigi Giusanni's The Religious Sense? These works have been profoundly formative in my own journey as a religious person who strives for an integration of faith and reason in my daily life, and I suspect that they will change your lives and thinking as well.

From a Catholic Christian perspective, the idea of the Rapture comes from a misinterpretation of certain Scripture passages. There are many layers of meaning to Sacred Scripture, so the Church's authority does not prohibit people from understanding the Scriptures in various ways and having personal application of the Word of God in their lives. However, there are certain things that particular Scripture passages do not mean and support. The Rapture, for example. Or the idea that any person can predict when the world is going to end. Because that concept (much like the entire concept of sola scriptura) is itself NOT SCRIPTURAL. How and why could any Christians believe that someone could predict the end of the world is far beyond me, since Jesus said very clearly that no one knows the day or hour of his return, not the Son, nor even the angels, but God the Father alone.

The Catholic Church is an institution which is both human and divine, and the trustworthiness of her authority stems from the authority of Christ Himself, who founded the Church and passed on His authority through the generations by Apostolic Succession. It is the Holy Spirit which guards and protects the integrity of the Scriptures and the moral and ethical teachings of the Church. The Church, like it says in the first letter of Timothy, is "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15).

A lot of people these days hate authority. A lot of people these days hate the idea of absolute truth. And a lot of people these days hate the Catholic Church. How can a Church with so many sinful people in it have authority, many wonder; how can it be rightly called "the pillar and foundation of truth"? Because God has established it to be so. If we accept the Scriptures as the Word of God, if we accept Divine Revelation at all, then acceptance of this authority also becomes necessary. Without the authority of the Church, we are left without a foundation for religious and moral truth. Without the authority of the Church, the Rapture is tomorrow.

Well, enough chatter for one night! Time to pray and sleep. I will be sure to keep all of you readers in my prayers, and certainly appreciate all of you who have prayed for me, as well!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Peace and all good,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Five Reasons I'm Excited About the Rapture!

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

By now, hopefully you've all heard what's happening the day after tomorrow -- the RAPTURE! That's right, everybody! And I, for one, am hoping it's gonna be just as exciting as I imagine the Left Behind book series to have made it out to be. So, without further ado, here are five reasons to be excited about the Rapture:
5. We won't need to do anymore dishes or laundry. Score.
4. I'm guessing that after the Rapture, all student loan repayments will be forgiven, so that's good news for a lot of people.
3. It's been difficult to figure out whether to keep out the winter or summer clothes with all of these recent weather changes. Now, we only need to pick out outfits for 2 days.
2. With the rising cost of fuel, being Raptured seems like a great way to get free airfare to a choice destination!

and the #1 reason to be excited about the Rapture is....

1. It does not exist! But the Second Coming does, and we don't know when it's going to happen.
Look, people, have any of you heard of a little book called the Bible? Well, there's one part where Jesus says this:
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” – Matthew 24:35-36
Hmmm. Interesting. NO ONE KNOWS. Not even Jesus. So how did Harold Camping figure it out?

Maybe he has his own translations of the Scriptures?

In any case, let me break this down for everybody:

  • Some Protestants believe in a thing called "The Rapture," which refers to a secret coming of Christ to snatch up true Christians. This will precede the Second Coming, and thus those who are Raptured will be spared from the final judgment.
  • Catholic Christians (and many others) do not believe this, as the theory is based upon the misinterpretation of Scriptures by a few Protestant Christians.
  • Unfortunately, the 'Rapture' idea has gained a lot of popularity through the media, and for this reason lots of people think that this is what all Christians believe. (Has anyone read the books or seen the movie, Left Behind? I have not. Tell me about them!)
  • Catholics (the original Christians) and many other Christian people hold the view that there will be only one Second Coming of Christ, at a day and an hour that no one (except for the Father alone) knows, and for which we should all be prepared by living good, virtuous, and loving lives and by repenting for what we have done wrong. 
Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the Last Judgment:
V. The Last Judgment
1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust,"621 will precede the Last Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man's] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."622 Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him .... Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.... and they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."623
1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man's relationship with God will be laid bare.624 The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life:
All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When "our God comes, he does not keep silence.". . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . "I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father - but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence."625
1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvellous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. the Last Judgment will reveal that God's justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God's love is stronger than death.626
1041 The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them "the acceptable time, . . . the day of salvation."627 It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the "blessed hope" of the Lord's return, when he will come "to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all who have believed."628
So hopefully, I'll see y'all on Sunday! In the meantime, I do plan to go to confession on Saturday. (That is, if I haven't been raptured or left behind.) Because while we know that a time of judgment is coming someday, we also know that this is the hour of mercy. So let's receive mercy, and be merciful to others, that all might be enraptured by God's true love.

Peace and all good,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Have You Seen Bin Laden's Name in Your Parish Bulletin?

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Apparently, Osama bin Laden's name was printed in parish bulletins in Florida and in Ireland, because well-meaning parishioners had requested that Masses be offered for the repose of his soul. Well, turns out that a whole lotta people got their theological panties in a bind over this business, so Catholic canon lawyer Edward Peters sheds a little light on the subject in his blog "In Light of the Law." I think his post makes for an interesting and thoughtful read, so check it out, y'all!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and be assured of my prayers!

Peace and all good,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Pope's Compelling Appeal to Youth -- YouCat!

Howdy, Coffee Talkers!

I've started reading my copy of the YouCat (the new Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) more closely, and the more I read, the more I love! Y'all need to buy a copy, ASAP. (Or if you're involved in one of the catechetical programs at my parish, I'll probably order one for you at some point. It's so rockin'!)

Pope Benedict XVI wrote an introduction to YouCat, which is as lovely as the book itself! Here's one of my favorite passages:
You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination.
Amen, BXVI! I'm very excited that the Pope's giving these YouCat bad boys to all of the pilgrims at World Youth Day, and I can't wait to bring them to all of the high school youth in formation classes at my parish -- woo-hoo!

Peace and all good,

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Theology of Love and Lazy Men

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Today, I'll share with you my top two internet reads of the day. In the first, the Pope speaks on theology of the body and love. In the second, Auntie Seraphic writes on lazy men and courtship. Her post is so funny and so true, and the mild expletive (which normally I don't tolerate) seems somehow appropriately used.


Peace and all good,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Good Shepherd Sunday & Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Happy Good Shepherd Sunday, Coffee Talkers!

Today is called "Good Shepherd" Sunday because of the readings of the day, and in particular the Gospel, which is taken from that of St. John, chapter 10, verses 11-16:
"I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, who own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees: and the wolf catches and scatters the sheep: and the hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and he has no care for the sheep. I am the good Shepherd: and I know Mine, and Mine know Me. As the Father knows Me, and I know the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."
It also celebrated as vocations Sunday. I have many thoughts and reflections on today's readings, the image of the Good Shepherd, and vocation. But they shall wait for another day -- resting must commence!

Lastly, have you ever heard of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd? It is a beautiful and sensorially rich approach to the religious education of young children (ages 3 to 12) rooted in Scripture, liturgy, and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. It is wonderful! (I am hopeful that we will be able to get some people trained in this method so that we can bring to our parish before my own girls are too old for it -- any takers?) Check it out by clicking here!

As always, thanks for stopping by! Be assured of my prayers.

Peace and all good,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Good Drama is Hard to Find

"The greatest dramas naturally involve the salvation or loss 
of the soul. Where there is no belief in the soul, 
there is very little drama." 
~ Flannery O'Connor in "Mystery and Manners"
Peace and all good,

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Vatican Website Is Getting Awesome, Everybody!

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Blogger is back in business, and so is Coffee Talk! I missed you all last night, and I also missed my last post about the cows in the park which mysteriously disappeared for a period longer than the rest of the blog. But to my joy and surprise, it's back now! Did some of you say a prayer of cow blog restoration? If so, thanks!

In any case, those of you who've been reading Coffee Talk for a while might remember the announcement of the Vatican making a kicking new website, and it's being revealed in stages. Two awesome things I'll share with y'all tonight.

First, an interactive pictorial tribute to Blessed John Paul II, which you can view here.

And next, a cool page for the Vatican Museums, which includes an interactive tour of the Sistine Chapel. Super fun.

Alright, that should keep you busy for a while. Enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by and be assured of my prayers.

Peace and all good,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Never A Dull Moment -- Why Were Those Cows in the Park?

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

My girls and I went to the park today! Sometimes people ask me if I find it dull to have returned to my hometown after many years of traveling, studying, and living elsewhere. To be honest, I don't, and here's why:

I'm not sure why so many people find the high desert to be uninteresting. To me, the adventures are plentiful! Just when I thought that the people-watching alone was sufficient, in waltzed the cows. I'm also not sure why those cows were in the park today, but I don't ask too many questions. Sometimes, you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Peace and all good,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We Gotta Pray Just to Make it Today!

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I'm not going to write much tonight, because instead, I'm gonna get off the computer and pray. In the words of MC Hammer, "We gotta pray just to make it today." Does anyone remember this video??

I have lots of intentions to pray for tonight, and the one I'll ask you to join me in praying for is my mom, who's in the hospital with pneumonia. (She's already feeling much better, she said, and hopefully she'll be able to go home soon. Still, prayers are needed and appreciated!)

And be assured that I will offer all of your prayer intentions tonight, as well. If there are any special intentions you'd like to mention in the comment box, please feel free. And don't forget -- everyone can pray! Just lift your mind and heart to God, and as He draws you closer to Himself, He'll draw all those you hold in prayer closer as well. So all you need is some quiet time and an open heart -- gold lame Hammer pants are completely optional!

Peace and all good,

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our Lady of Good Help, Wisconsin

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Did y'all hear that last December a Marian apparition that had taken place in Wisconsin was the first in America to be declared to be worthy of belief? Yep, it's true -- Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin.

Thus declared Bishop David Ricken last December 8:
“I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”
Interesting, huh?

This reminds me -- I have not yet explained the Church's process in regard to confirming or denying alleged Marian apparitions. It's late already, so tonight's not the night, my friends. But I'll get to it soon. I find that many people have questions about this topic, and it's one of my favorite things to share with people!

In the meantime, Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!

Peace and all good,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mary, Mother of All Humanity

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Here is the USA we celebrated Mother's Day today. In honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to share a video on the spiritual mother common to all people.

[Hmmm.... There was an error while trying to load the video here, so click on the picture below, and it will redirect you to the video.]


Peace and all good,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Freaks and the Cost of Conversion

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Have you ever heard of Heather King? I came across her writings not too long ago, and have been moved by her story, her bold way with words, and her real and radical Catholicism. So if you haven't yet met her, here she is:

Heather King is an ex-lawyer, ex-drunk Catholic convert with three memoirs: Parched (the dark years); Redeemed (crawling toward the light); and Shirt of Flame (forthcoming - her year of wandering around Koreatown, L.A. "with" St. Thérèse of Lisieux). You can find Heather on Facebook. She blogs at shirtofflame.blogspot.com. King's column, "A Book of Sparks," is published every Wednesday on the Catholic portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.
Anyway, this recent post of hers on Patheos blog was powerful, and I find it to be worth sharing in full. I hope you find it as moving and meaningful as I do -- not that 'warm and fuzzy' sort of moving and meaningful, but more of the 'wow, what you're saying is hitting a little too close to home and might mean I need to reassess my priorities in life' sort of moving and meaningful. So if you're ready for it, grab your coffee and enjoy the ride!
Recently, this comment came through on my blog:

As a mother, an educator, a Catholic, a modern woman, I would love to hear more about your conversion—did you lose friends? Do you sometimes feel like a freak? I'm the only person I know (my age 43) that goes to Mass more than once a week. The internet seems filled with these goody two shoes Catholic mothers who sew all their childrens' clothes and celebrate liturgical feast days and such. What if you are just kind of a slacker? How do you not get so discouraged? That would interest me.

If I had children, I told the woman, I'd probably be dispensing tips on how to refrain from selling them into slavery. But seriously, the short answer is we have to figure out what sets us on fire and then go after that thing with single-minded determination. For me, that's been writing.

The long answer is that Catholicism is a radical search for the truth. We don't hear nearly enough that grace costs. We don't hear nearly enough that to follow Christ more or less means being poor. We're not called to live in destitution but we're clearly called to not own much more than we can use, which is really not all that much. We're called to poverty, chastity, and obedience. And what I've found is that these are the most exciting, challenging states possible! They lead to a kind of freedom and a state of being awake is completely lacking in our narcotic culture.

There's slacking, for example, and then there's slacking. I myself resolutely resist being "too busy." I think the kind of busyness that our culture aspires to and values is the work of Satan. Certain Catholic media types say we are obligated to watch mindless films and bad TV so we can meet people where they are and to that I say, Oh I don't think so. The thought of wasting even ten minutes watching some lame TV show makes the hairs on my neck stand on end.

When Christ hung out with the prostitutes and the taxpayers, he wasn't saying Let's tell non-funny dirty jokes and gossip. He didn't meet them at their level in that way. He met them at their level by loving them as they were and also calling them higher. You love people by seeing their terrible hunger and thirst (which means getting deeply in touch with your own), by inviting them to contribute, by showing them they have an integral, vitally important mission. By making and showing them great art and great humor, born of a path that is long, rocky, lonely, and hard.

I lost my marriage in part because I converted. I quit my job as a lawyer because I converted. I'm not sure I lost friends, but I may have lost a certain closeness with certain friends. That Catholicism is constantly misinterpreted, misunderstood, maligned, scorned, despised, spat upon I can accept. What bothers me more is the view of Catholicism as mindless eccentricity. Right after Obama was elected a friend was gushing about him and after awhile she said: "You love Obama, too, right?" I said, "Well, he seems like a nice enough guy but I'm not crazy about the fact that he supports embryonic stem cell research and I bet you anything nothing gets better for poor people and he starts a war or two and in about a year everyone turns around and starts to hate him." And she said, "Oh well that's just your Catholicism." I almost crawled out of my seat. "My Catholicism!" I replied. "My Catholicism is my life, my Catholicism is the air I breathe."

So for me the sorrow is knowing I'm on to the most inexhaustibly absorbing path imaginable and living a culture that is more or less dead. Low-grade hopelessness, ennui. What brings you alive is sacrifice and suffering. What brings you alive is falling in love with reality. What brings you alive is finding a way to make yourself feel like you belong while also being willing to not in any way be "relevant." The other night I took a walk in the dark and through the chain link fence of a rec park were poking these sort of straggly nasturtiums. I thought Oh nasturtiums! So I plucked a big bunch of them and brought them home and put them in my green glazed pottery bowl and that was the highlight of my day. I love stuff like that!

So you don't particularly want to stand on the edge, but you are going to stand on the edge. You have to develop a very keen imagination, a taste for the unlikely and weird. I just read an interview with Johnny Depp and he said: "I was always fascinated by people who are considered completely normal, because I find them the weirdest of all." And I thought, Oh really? Try hanging out at daily Mass. Nothing looks tamer from the outside and nothing is weirder, more violent, more glorious, mysterious and sublime, than Mass. Mass itself, and the broken, holy, anguished song-prayer-cry of all of us who participate in it.

Sewing the children's vestments is beautiful, if that's what sets you on fire. The problem is when we try to make Catholicism a platform where we can find a foothold, or a club of which we can be a member in good standing, or a variation on good citizenship. Our task instead is to constantly set ourselves on fire with Christ. We can't wait for someone else to do it for us. We have to do it ourselves, through prayer, through the sacraments, through insanely hard, incessant work of honing our craft, even if the work is often looking out the window and reflecting, or doing the dishes, or making the bed. Through abandoning ourselves; by being metaphorically scourged, crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross.

The thing is love. We've leached out all the fire and majesty and awesomeness and terribleness and meat out of Christ, out of Church, out of Catholic art. People can't handle anything "dark" because they live in the dark: the stagnant, the predictable, the boring. People can't handle anything but a bland, happy ending. The Resurrection is not a happy ending: the Resurrection is a surprise ending.

And we don't hear this nearly often enough either: we don't have eyes to see it until we've suffered to the point of "shedding blood."
Peace and all good,

Friday, May 6, 2011

Progress and Tradition - The Pope Speaks at Today's Congress on the Liturgy

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Pope Benedict XVI spoke at today's International Congress on the Liturgy, and so I've decided that this news trumps whatever other less authoritative thoughts I was otherwise going to share with you. I'll offer excerpts from a couple good articles on the Congress for your perusal, highlighting my favorite quotes. [I'll try not to highlight everything! And of course, you can mentally highlight your own faves.] Enjoy!

First this, from the Holy See Press Office - Vatican Information Service:
VATICAN CITY, 6 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received participants in the Ninth International Congress on the Liturgy sponsored by the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome's St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, on the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation.
Referring to the title chosen for the congress: "The Pontifical Liturgical Institute: Between Memory and Prophecy", the Pope said that the "'memory' pertains to the very life of the Institute that has offered its contribution to the Church dedicated to the reception of the Second Vatican Council over fifty years of academic liturgical formation".
Benedict XVI highlighted that, "with the term 'prophecy', our gaze opens to new horizons. The Liturgy of the Church goes beyond the 'conciliar reform', the objective of which in fact was not mainly to change the rites and texts but rather to renew the mentality and to put the celebration of Christ's paschal mystery at the center of Christian life and pastoral work. Unfortunately the liturgy has perhaps been seen - even by us, pastors and experts - more as an object to reform than a subject capable of renewing Christian life, seeing that "a very close and organic bond exists between the renewal of the liturgy and the renewal of the whole life of the Church".

And then this from the National Catholic Register:
VATICAN CITY (CNS)The Second Vatican Council’s renewal of the liturgy wasn’t so much about changing texts or gestures as it was about changing Catholics’ attitude toward the Mass and helping the liturgy change their lives, Pope Benedict XVI said.
“Unfortunately, the liturgy was seen, perhaps even by us pastors and experts, more as an object to reform than as a subject capable of renewing Christian life,” the Pope said May 6.
Addressing participants at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Rome’s Pontifical Liturgical Institute, Pope Benedict said Blessed Pope John XXIII asked the Benedictines to establish the institute to help the Church respond to the “urgency of a reform,” which many bishops from around the world were requesting before the Second Vatican Council.
A strong pastoral concern for Catholics around the world required the encouragement of “a more active participation of the faithful in the liturgical celebrations through the use of national languages” and an appropriate “adaptation of the rites in the various cultures, especially in mission lands,” he said.
But the Church’s liturgy, the center of its existence, could not be changed simply for the sake of change, he said. “From the beginning it was clear that the theological foundation of the liturgy had to be studied in order to avoid falling into ritualism and so that the reform would be justifiable from the point of view of revelation and of continuity with the tradition of the Church,” he said.  

The Pope said the aim of the Second Vatican Council’s reform “was not principally that of changing rites and texts, but of renewing mentalities and placing the celebration of the paschal mystery of Christ at the center of Christian life and pastoral activity.”
The Eucharistic celebration, he said, is the way “to reveal and make present” Christ’s saving work each day, so it must be done “in a correct and constant relationship between healthy tradition and legitimate progress.”
Pope Benedict said too often Catholics try to set up an opposition between “tradition and progress” in the liturgy, when “in reality, the two concepts go together: In some way, tradition includes progress. It’s like saying the river of tradition carries its source with it as it flows toward its outlet.”
Peace and all good,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tiny Birds and a Weird Blog

Hello, Coffee Talk Friends!

I am taking a night off from anything serious, and would like to share a totally strange blog that I just came across:

It seems that Jamie C. (whoever she is) just started this blog last month, and already has nearly 500 followers. Is it because it is so strange? And sort of funny? I don't know, but I'll admit, even I kind of like it. It doesn't require a lot of thought, and sometimes I guess that's where we're all at -- in the state of mind to look at a tiny toy bird doing something mildly amusing.

So way to go, Jamie C. and your tiny birds!

Peace and all good,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Does It Matter Who Said What?

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

By now, many of you have probably seen this article about the quote that was partially misattributed to Martin Luther King, Jr. and spread like wildfire through the lands of Facebook and Twitter. The quote was being spread in response to the death of Osama bin Laden, and went a little something like this:
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
So apparently, this is the real scoop:
Megan McArdle, a blogger at the Atlantic, tracked the original quote down to Jessica Dovey, a recent Penn State grad living in Kobe, Japan, who posted this as her Facebook status:
I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." MLK Jr.
The first sentence is Ms. Dovey's own, followed by a quotation from King's 1963 book, "Strength to Love." At some point along the way, the quote marks vanished, and Dovey's words got mixed up with King's. Subsequently, the quote was shortened, leaving only Dovey's line, now attributed to the civil rights leader.

Some took this as a real "you can't believe everything you see on the internet" kind of moment, while others ask, "What's the big deal, anyway? It was a good quote, no matter who said it."

So what do you think? As always, I have thoughts of my own, but for now in the true spirit of Coffee Talk, I open up the comment box for you all to 'talk amongst yourselves.'

Naturally, the internet did not introduce the dawn of misattributing of quotes. You've probably all heard the 'Peace Prayer' of St. Francis of Assisi, which I learned (while studying at Franciscan University of Steubenville) was not written by St. Francis at all. But still, it's a lovely prayer.

So what's your opinion? Does it matter who said something, and if so, why? Or does the significance of a statement rest entirely on its content, and not its author or speaker?

Don't be shy. Talk amongst yourselves!

In the meantime, I'm going to bed. Sick kiddos are sleeping, and so must I, lest the sleep be interrupted many times during the night. Prayers are appreciated!

Peace and all good,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Who knew Lutherans were so funny?

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

A friend of mine shared this video, and I was so amused that I decided to snatch it up and pass it on myself. Special thanks goes out to our Lutheran friends who made this video for making some valid points in a very funny way. This will be five minutes well-spent - enjoy!

Peace and all good,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blessed John Paul II and Divine Mercy

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I came across some quotes from Blessed John Paul II on Divine Mercy, compiled by my priest friends of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, and wanted to share them with you all!

[As a brief aside, here's a funny story about the time I first met the priests and brothers of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. I had just recently started graduate studies at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and was attending my first Vocations Fair at the school. I had a friend who had recently professed first vows with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, and she was attending the fair. I was very excited to see her for the first time in her habit and to speak with her, but since she was already talking with someone else when I first saw her, I decided to buy some time by looking at the other tables nearby. The Marians of the Immaculate Concpetion table was close, and being drawn to their devotion to the Divine Mercy, I found myself looking at their display while waiting for my friend. One of the brothers saw me looking at the display and said kindly, "Hello! We're the Marians." I said, "Hello!" He continued, "of the Immaculate Conception." "Yes, wonderful!" I responded. Then, after a brief moment of slightly uncomfortable silence, he said, "for men!" I explained that I was just admiring their display board while waiting for my friend, and that he need not worry about my having aspirations of joining his order, and we both shared a hearty laugh!]

Okay, here are the quotes. Enjoy!

Pope John Paul II


"Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter’s See in Rome, I consider this message [of Divine Mercy] my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church and the world. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God."
—November 22, 1981 at the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy

"Those who sincerely say ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ will find comfort in all their anxieties and fears."
 "There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy – that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God."
—Shrine of Divine Mercy in Cracow, Poland on June 7, 1997

"…with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love proclaimed by St. Faustina may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.  May this message radiate from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world… In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness."
—August 17, 2002

"The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which it in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate."
—John Paul II speaking on his Pontificate

"Be apostles of Divine Mercy under the maternal and loving guidance of Mary."
—John Paul II to the Marians, June 22, 1993

Peace and all good,

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What would Blessed John Paul II think about the death of Osama bin Laden?

Coffee Talkers,

Divine Mercy Sunday. The Beatification of Pope John Paul II. The death of Osama bin Laden. I am a person who sees significance not only in the events of our world, but in their timing -- to me, there is no 'coincidence' but only 'divine providence.' How, then, can we reconcile the events of the day from a worldview of faith?

The first thing I would say is this: it is my sincere hope that the only 'rejoicing' that is happening over the death of bin Laden comes from the deep sadness that people felt over the lives lost because of him and the constant threat that he presented to the life, dignity, and well-being of the human family at large. His acts of terror were a constant threat to people around the world, and so I can understand a sense of relief in a case where it seems that one source of evil in the world has been put to an end.

Still, evil is never overcome by evil, and violence never brings peace. We must not forget that Osama bin Laden himself was a person with God-given dignity. And on this Divine Mercy Sunday, we should entrust his soul (along with all of ours) to the mercy of God. I know, some of you are probably wincing as you read. But what about justice?

Let us not forget that in God, "Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed" (Psalm 85:10). His thoughts are so far above our thoughts, and His ways above our ways. In us, justice and mercy cannot always coexist, but in God they can, and in fact must -- God, who is the author of life, is the fullness of justice and of mercy! So as Christians, we should hope that Osama bin Laden will commend himself to the mercy of God and we should pray for his soul. In fact, our own ability to receive the mercy of God depends on it. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" -- sound familiar?

I found myself wondering what our Blessed John Paul II would have to say about the death of bin Laden, and I was reminded of his beautifully written encyclical on human life, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). In it, he speaks of the dignity of every human person and the Church's stance on the death penalty. Pertaining to the situation at hand, Blessed JP II has this to say:
"Unfortunately it happens that the need to render the aggressor incapable of causing harm sometimes involves taking his life ... [but] 'If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.'"

Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Evangelium vitae
To the Bishops
Priests and Deacons
Men and Women religious
lay Faithful
and all People of Good Will
on the Value and Inviolability
of Human Life

 3. Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church's very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15).
55. This should not cause surprise: to kill a human being, in whom the image of God is present, is a particularly serious sin. Only God is the master of life! Yet from the beginning, faced with the many and often tragic cases which occur in the life of individuals and society, Christian reflection has sought a fuller and deeper understanding of what God's commandment prohibits and prescribes. 43 There are in fact situations in which values proposed by God's Law seem to involve a genuine paradox. This happens for example in the case of legitimate defence, in which the right to protect one's own life and the duty not to harm someone else's life are difficult to reconcile in practice. Certainly, the intrinsic value of life and the duty to love oneself no less than others are the basis of a true right to self-defence. The demanding commandment of love of neighbour, set forth in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus, itself presupposes love of oneself as the basis of comparison: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself " (Mk 12:31). Consequently, no one can renounce the right to self-defence out of lack of love for life or for self. This can only be done in virtue of a heroic love which deepens and transfigures the love of self into a radical self-offering, according to the spirit of the Gospel Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:38-40). The sublime example of this self-offering is the Lord Jesus himself.
Moreover, "legitimate defence can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life, the common good of the family or of the State".44 Unfortunately it happens that the need to render the aggressor incapable of causing harm sometimes involves taking his life. In this case, the fatal outcome is attributable to the aggressor whose action brought it about, even though he may not be morally responsible because of a lack of the use of reason. 45

56. This is the context in which to place the problem of the death penalty. On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God's plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is "to redress the disorder caused by the offence".46 Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people's safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated. 47
It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.
In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: "If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person".48
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

Peace and all good,