Thursday, June 09, 2005

Feast of St. Ephrem the Syrian

Also known as Ephrem the Deacon (c. 306 - 379)

A Doctor of the Church, Ephrem is one of my favorite saints. I studied his hymns and some of his homilies in graduate school. He wrote over 400 hymns, and I think they're just awesome.

Here's an excerpt from his Second Hymn on The Nativity:

Blessed be that Child, Who gladdened Bethlehem to-day! Blessed be the Babe Who made manhood young again to-day! Blessed be the Fruit, Who lowered Himself to our famished state! Blessed be the Good One, Who suddenly enriched our necessitousness and supplied our needs! Blessed He Whose tender mercies made Him condescend to visit our infirmities!

Praise to the Fountain that was sent for our propitiation. Praise be to Him Who made void the Sabbath by fulfilling it! Praise too to Him Who rebuked the leprosy and it remained not, Whom the fever saw and fled! Praise to the Merciful, Who bore our toil! Glory to Thy coming, which quickened the sons of men!

Glory to Him, Who came to us by His first-born! Glory to the Silence, that spake by His Voice. Glory to the One on high, Who was seen by His Day-spring! Glory to the Spiritual, Who was pleased to have a Body, that in it His virtue might be felt, and He might by that Body show mercy on His household's bodies!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Would You Let This Man Cross The Border Into The Country?

Gregory Despres

...carrying a blood-stained chainsaw, as well as a homemade sword, a hatchet, and brass knuckles?

You would if you were a U.S. Customs guard at the US - Canadian border.

Never mind the hatchet, brass knuckles, sword and bloodstained chainsaw. Never mind the face whose look could go next to the dictionary entry for "maniacal". Let's let him into the country!

We don't need to tighten security on our borders. Nosirree! Everything's just hunky-dory!

The man pictured above is now being held on murder charges and is awaiting extradition for the stabbing and decapitation of a Canadian man and his wife.

I for one am so surprised.

Good News In Kalamazoo!

This past Saturday, I was privileged to participate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo's Ordination Mass. As with every ordination I have attended, Saturday's Mass was a glorious occasion to celebrate and affirm our Catholic faith. But this year's ordination was special, in that Bishop Murray ordained three men, a record of sorts. Never before in the 34-year history of my little diocese have we ordained three men to the priesthood at one time. It is at least interesting to note that the Diocese of Kalamazoo, with a Catholic population of 110,000, ordained as many men this year as the Archdiocese of Detroit, with a Catholic population more than ten times larger, at over 1.3 million. And our "record" this year, in all likelihood, will not stand long: If all goes as anticipated, next year we will have four, or possibly even five, men to be ordained. God is very good!

When I came on board to study with the Diocese in 1998, I was one of three seminarians. This year we had 20 men in formation, and we may very well increase that number by this fall. And I am quite impressed by these men: They are as prayerful, zealous, and loyal to the Church as one could ask for.

The three men Bishop Murray ordained Saturday are:

Fr. Patrick Craig
Fr. Christian Johnston
Fr. Alan Jorgensen

Ad Multos Gloriosque Annos to Fathers Craig, Johnston, and Jorgensen!

The UFL Conference: Terri Schiavo Panel

As I mentioned in my previous post, last Friday I participated in the annual conference of the University Faculty For Life. I was invited by the conference organizers to present a paper on the Terri Schiavo case, as part of a panel with Dr. Mark Latkovic, professor of Moral Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and Richard Myers, a professor at Ave Maria School of Law.

My paper dealt with the Terri Schiavo case as a cultural indicator, that is, how the discussion of the issues surrounding Terri's right to life indicates where our society has gone, and where it may be going. The abstract of my paper is this:
The Terri Schiavo case illustrates an ongoing shift in American culture away from what might be called a "reverence-for-life" philosophy, in which human life would be seen as worthwhile in se, to what I tentatively describe as a "justification-of-life" mindset, in which the social presumption (or at least the presumption in the academic/intellectual elite) is that Terri's life, and the lives of those like her, is "not worth living", and that the burden is upon those who would "prolong" Terri's life to justify it. This shift in attitudes has been abetted by changes in medical-ethical language and terminology: Even the use of the word "prolong" is significant, as it connotes something being extended longer than is necessary or natural. Other examples are the widespread adoption of a definition of food & water as "treatment", or the change in legal classification of certain groups of incomptetent persons, such as the change in Florida statute which specifically denied those diagnosed as vegetative from certain legal protections, such as the right to a guardian ad litem. The misdiagnosis of Terri's condition, as documented by my NRO piece "Starving For a Fair Diagnosis", and the characterization of her condition by those in the "right-to-die" movement, was carefully tailored so as to place Terri within the "penumbra" of these changes in attitudes and changes of definition, so as to present a justifiable case for ending the life of a non-terminally ill patient. The origins of these shifts in understanding and attitudes is part of what may be called a "culture of hopelessness", which is a corollary of the Culture of Death.

I was gratified by the turnout for our panel: there were about 40 people there, and they had some good questions and remarks during the question-and-answer period. I met some great people and saw some old friends, such as Dr. Latkovic (one of my former professors from Sacred Heart) and Dr. Janet Smith. I was especially honored in that pro-life pioneer Dr. Jack Wilke (one of the founders of the NRLC) was present for our panel.

My paper, along with the others, will be published as part of the Proceedings of the conference. Once I have submitted the final edited version, I will see about having it posted online.