Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bishop Kmiec on HHS 1st Amendment Violation

Versión Española abajo.

                                                                                    January 27, 2012

My Dear Diocesan Family,
I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.  The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception.  Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write.  And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.
In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.  And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so).  The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.  People of faith cannot be made second class citizens.  We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.  Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.  In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties.  I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.  Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
And therefore, I would ask of you two things.  First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored.  Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible.  Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.
Let us continue to pray fervently and work together to protect and defend our religious liberty as Roman Catholics and citizens of the United States of America.
            Be assured of my prayers and all best wishes.
            Sincerely in Christ,   

            Most Rev. Edward U. Kmiec 
            Bishop of Buffalo

            27 de Enero, 2012
                                                                        PARA SER PRESENTADO A LA ATENCION

Mi querida familia Diocesana,
     Me dirijo a ustedes acerca de un asunto grave y alarmante que repercute negativamente la Iglesia en los Estados Unidos directamente, y que ataca el derecho fundamental a la libertad religiosa para todos los ciudadanos de cualquier fe.  El Gobierno federal, que reclama ser "de, por y para el pueblo", sólo ha asestado un golpe fuerte a casi una cuarta parte de esas personas, la población Católica — y a los millones más que son servidos por los fieles Católicos.
     El Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de Los Estados Unidos anunció la semana pasada que casi todos los empleadores, incluyendo los empresarios Católicos, se verán obligados a ofrecer cobertura de salud a sus empleados que incluye la esterilización, medicamentos que inducen el aborto y métodos anticonceptivos.  Casi todos los aseguradores de salud se verán obligados a incluir estos "servicios" en las pólizas de salud que escriben.  Y casi todos los individuos se verán obligados a comprar esa cobertura como parte de sus pólizas.
     Con tal decisión por lo tanto, la administración va ha dejar de lado La Primera Enmienda de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos, negando a los Católicos la primera y fundamental libertad de nuestra nación, la libertad religiosa.  Y como resultado, a menos que la regla sea revocada, nosotros los Católicos nos veremos obligados ya sea para violar nuestras conciencias, o para rechazar la cobertura de salud para nuestros empleados (y sufrir las penalidades por hacerlo).  La concesión exclusiva de la administración fue de dar un año a nuestras instituciones para cumplir.
     No podemos, y no lo haremos — cumplir con esta ley injusta.  No pueden convertir a la gente de fe en ciudadanos de segunda clase.  Ya estamos unidos por nuestros hermanos y hermanas de diferentes creencias y muchos otros de buena voluntad en este importante esfuerzo para recuperar nuestra libertad religiosa.  Nuestros padres y abuelos no llegaron a estas costas para ayudar a construir ciudades de Estados Unidos, su infraestructura y las instituciones, sus empresas y la cultura, sólo para que su posteridad sea despojada de sus derechos dados por Dios.  En generaciones pasadas, la iglesia siempre ha podido contar con los fieles para defender y proteger sus sagrados derechos y deberes.  Espero y confío que ella puede contar con esta generación de Católicos para hacer lo mismo.  Nuestros hijos y nietos no merecen nada menos.
     Y por lo tanto, pido a ustedes dos cosas.  En primer lugar, como una comunidad de fe debemos comprometernos a oración y ayuno para que la sabiduría y Justicia puedan prevalecer y poder recuperar nuestra libertad religiosa.  Sin Dios, no podemos hacer nada; con Dios, nada es imposible.  En segundo lugar, también se recomienda visitar www.usccb.org/conscience  para obtener más información acerca de este grave ataque sobre nuestra libertad religiosa y cómo ponerse en contacto con el Congreso en apoyo de legislación que podría revertir la decisión de la administración.
     Debemos seguir orando fervientemente y trabajar juntos para proteger y defender nuestra libertad religiosa como los Católicos y los ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos de América.  
     Pueden estar seguros de mis oraciones y todos mis mejores deseos.

         Sinceramente en Cristo,
         Su Exelencia
         Rev. Edward U. Kmiec
         Obispo de Buffalo

You are also encouraged to consult "Six Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate" from the US Catholic Bishops' website - http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-021.cfm

Friday, January 27, 2012

Music Notes for January 22

       The theme of the call continues in this week’s stories of Jonah and the first few disciples. Whoever compiled our lectionary could have picked instead the story of Elisha, who left his father and mother behind to become Elijah’s protégé (I Kings 19: 19-20), much as James and John left Zebedee standing in the boat, holding his nets. But Jonah held a special significance for Jesus: when the scribes, Pharisees and crowds pressed him for miracles, they were told to wait for the resurrection which would follow three days in a tomb, as Jonah had spent three days in the belly of the whale (Matt. 12: 39-42; Luke 11: 29-32). Most of us can identify with Jonah’s story: during periods of uncertainty, indecision, insecurity or loneliness, we often talk about being in the belly of the whale, waiting for a breakthrough. We also share Jonah’s rebellious nature, preferring the easy way out, the path of least resistance, and then are disappointed and frustrated if God does not fulfill our expectations. The scripture for the next three weeks is something of a mini-course for prophets. For St. Paul, the disciple needs to be free of material attachments. He or she must also have open ears, an open mind and an open heart, as Psalm 25 says: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths. . . . . [You] guide the humble to justice, [and] teach the humble [your] way.”  So a prophet may be discerned by a commitment to justice. The last paragraph of the psalm, verses 16-22, refers to the loneliness, trials and tribulations of the prophet in the whale’s belly. We will pray this psalm again on the first Sunday of Lent.
      The by-now classic meditation on the “fishers of men” story is Pescador de Hombres, “Lord, When You Came to the Seashore,” by Spanish priest Cesáreo Gabaráin (1936-1991). Sr. Donna McGargill’s “Servant Song” is another musical conversation with Jesus. Jesus’ public ministry is poetically summed up in 5 verses by Sydney Carter (1915-2004), using the Shaker tune “Simple Gifts.” At 10:00 we will sing two spirituals on the importance of listening: “Somebody’s Knocking at Your Door” and “Somebody’s Callin’ My Name.” Organ Masses conclude with the charge of the prophet Micah (6:8): “We are called to act with justice, . . . to love tenderly, . . .  to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.”  Worship at 10:00 concludes with Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Follow.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

John's Gospel - Bible Study

The Gospel according to John 
by Carol Mathner

St. John
from a Carolingian manuscript
c. 820-830

    John, the Beloved Disciple of our Lord is the author of the Fourth Gospel. John is the only gospel writer who claims his gospel is based on eyewitness accounts (Jn 21:24) of Jesus' life. John's Gospel has a literary and symbolic style of writing that many early church leaders, such as St Irenaeus and St Clement of Alexandria (early 2nd century), felt John is best to be called  the first theologian. It is because of this writing style it is not considered a Synoptic Gospel like Matthew, Mark and Luke. The three synoptic gospels give a general view or summary (a synopsis) of Jesus' life.
    There is more than just the writing style that is different between John and the synoptic gospels. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus only goes to Jerusalem once, for the Passover and His crucifixion. John has Jesus present in Jerusalem  three times. Jn 2:13, 6:4, 11:55. Certainly such a devote Jew as Jesus was he would go to the temple in Jerusalem each Passover.This gives rise to the idea that Jesus' ministry lasted  three years. The stories of Raising Lazarus, the Washing of Feet at the Last Supper, of Jesus' side being pierced (on the cross) are only found in John.
    John show's Jesus' divine nature in his gospel. "He was in the beginning with God" 1:3. "all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father....I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life." 5:23a,24.  "I am the bread of life."  6:35.
    The Wednesday Night Bible Group will be beginning to study the Gospel according to John this coming Wednesday night at 7 pm in the Faculty Lunch Room. You are invtied to join us! Please use the Eggert Road parking lot and door number 5. The Faculty Lunch Room is downstairs at the end of the cafeteria. Mind you, the above is a  brief summary of John's Gospel. One to two chapters will be discussed each night.  All are welcome to learn more about this very special gospel (even if  your schedule permits stopping by once or twice...or more).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Music Notes for January 15

       “Here I Am, Lord” is one of those songs which came into their own in the 80s and which are now part of the repertoire frequently chosen for funerals.  Apparently the song carries some emotional weight for those who sang it when it was “new wine,” since, if the Lord calling in the night is symbolic of death, then death becomes a vocation!  The song is actually based on today’s story of God calling the young Samuel, and on Psalm 40.
      Perhaps as we consider once more our response to Jesus’ strategic question, “What are you looking for?” and his coy invitation to “Come and see,” we might also imagine how Martin Luther King, Jr. responded to the call in the night. His birthday falls on Sunday this year, as did Christmas and the solemnities of Mary and Epiphany. He was a talented, scholarly young preacher in Montgomery in 1954 who could have led a comfortable life by simply delivering eloquent sermons and not rocking the boat.  But the bus boycott needed a leader.  To heighten our awareness of the events of the late 50s and early 60s, it may be helpful to read the book The Help, or to watch the DVD.                      
       Psalm 40 is the prayer of someone suffering a crisis of faith. We might imagine Dr. King praying this psalm in the days when it seemed the legal system was immoveable and his house was bombed.  Since the lectionary only appoints selected verses to be sung at worship, one should read the entire psalm from the Bible to experience its drama. Verses 10 and 11 read: “I announced your justice in the vast assembly . . . Your justice I kept not hid within my heart . . . I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth . . .” So the theme of justice which began in the psalms of Advent continues into the Epiphany season. Robert Christian, of Catholic University, has elaborated on Dr. King’s notion of justice in an essay, “Dr. King and Catholic Social Teaching,” available on the website of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, http://catholicsinalliance.org.  He emphasized the importance of community if human beings were to realize their full potential. As members of the body of the risen Christ, the sin of any one member harms the rest of the body, as our I Corinthians passage points out. This is especially true if one person treats another unjustly. The corollary is that we must respect life in all its forms.
       Music this weekend includes spirituals, “This Little Light of Mine” in a beautiful setting not often heard, “I Told Jesus It Would Be All Right If He Changed My Name,” from the gospel story, and “Hush! Hush! Somebody’s Callin’ My Name,” the theme of listening which will reappear for the next few weeks. “Spirit of God Within Me” is an elaboration on St. Paul’s image of the temple of the Holy Spirit, as is Matt Maher’s contemporary song, “Just Like You.”  “The Summons” has, in the last 25 years, become the classic musical meditation on the implications of listening to Jesus’ overtures.

Friday, January 6, 2012


       In one of his best-known sermons, Howard Thurman wrote: “When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart.” The message of justice which we heard proclaimed in the scripture and psalms of Advent continues into the liturgies of Christmas in Psalms 96, 97 and 98: “The Lord has made salvation known, his justice revealed to all.” The same theme is taken up in Psalm 72 for Epiphany: “He shall rescue the poor when they cry out, and the afflicted when they have no one to help them. He shall have pity on the lowly and the poor.”
       From Mary’s point of view, the entire story was “the mystery hidden for many ages” which we heard about on the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Romans 16:25). The puzzle emerged piece by piece in her life and her son’s, beginning with Gabriel’s appearance, the visit to Elizabeth, the journey to Bethlehem and the events surround-ing Jesus’ birth. Then the prophecies of Simeon and Anna, the hurried escape into Egypt and eventual return to Nazareth, family life as “the child grew in size and strength, filled with wisdom,” the visit to the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve, and the wedding feast at Cana. 
      The gospel passage for January 1 tells us that Mary “treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Of this passage, Elizabeth O’Connor writes, in The Eighth Day of Creation: “Every child’s life gives forth hints and signs of the way he is to go. The parent that knows how to meditate stores these hints and signs away and ponders over them.  We are to treasure the intimations of the future that the life of every child gives to us so that, instead of unconsciously putting blocks in his way, we help him to fulfill his destiny. This is not an easy way to follow. Instead of telling our children what they should do and become, we must be humble before their wisdom, believing that in them and not in us is the secret that they need to discover.” As church, it is our mission to “listen for the signs and hints in other lives in the very same way that we listen to them in our own,” as we explore the mystery of our own baptism during the Epiphany season.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

St. John Neumann - WNY's Saint

St. John Nepomucene Neumann ministered in Western New York from 1836 to 1840; in fact, two of our neighboring parishes - Ss. Peter & Paul (Williamsville) and St. John the Baptist (Kenmore) - were founded by him.  John Neumann walked or rode horses between these two mission parishes often during his time in Western New York. Although St. Benedict's Parish was founded in 1920, long after Neumann's time, Fr. Neumann would have known our parish area well as he served the spiritual needs of the small, but growing, Catholic community in the Amherst area. Click here for more information on his local contributions.

St. John Neumann was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1977. January 5th is his feast day. It is a "Special Observance" Memorial here in the Diocese of Buffalo, NY.

Statue of St. John Neumann outside of
Ss. Peter & Paul Church, Williamsville NY
Sunday, 19 June 1977

Greetings to you, Brethren, and sons and daughters of the United States of America! We welcome you in the name of the Lord!

The entire Catholic Church, here, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, welcomes you with festive joy. And together with you, the entire Catholic Church sings a hymn of heavenly victory to Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, who receives the honor of one who lives in the glory of Christ.
We ask ourselves today: what is the meaning of this extraordinary event, the meaning of this canonization? It is the celebration of holiness. And what is holiness? It is human perfection, human love raised up to its highest level in Christ, in God.
At the time of John Neumann, America represented new values and new hopes. Bishop Neumann saw these in their relationship to the ultimate, supreme possession to which humanity is destined. With Saint Paul he could testify that “all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3, 22). And with Augustine he knew that our hearts are restless, until they rest in the Lord (S. AUGUSTINI Confessiones, 1, 1).

His love for people was authentic brotherly love. It was real charity: missionary and pastoral charity. It meant that he gave himself to others. Like Jesus the Good Shepherd, he lay down his life for the sheep, for Christ’s flock: to provide for their needs, to lead them to salvation. And today, with the Evangelist, we solemnly proclaim : “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15, 13).

John Neumann’s pastoral zeal was manifested in many ways. Through faithful and persevering service, he brought to completion the generosity of his initial act of missionary dedication. He helped children to satisfy their need for truth, their need for Christian doctrine, for the teaching of Jesus in their lives. He did this both by catechetical instruction and by promoting, with relentless energy, the Catholic school system in the United States. And we still remember the words of our late Apostolic Delegate in Washington, the beloved Cardinal Amleto Cicognani: “You Americans”, he said, “possess two great treasures: the Catholic school and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Guard them like the apple of your eye” (Cfr. Epistola 2 iunii 1963).

And who can fail to admire all the loving concern that John Neumann showed for God’s people, through his priestly ministry and his pastoral visitations as a Bishop? He deeply loved the Sacramental of Reconciliation: and like a worthy son of Saint Alphonsus he transmitted the pardon and the healing power of the Redeemer into the lives of innumerable sons and daughters of the Church. He was close to the sick; he was at home with the poor; he was a friend to sinners. And today he is the honor of all immigrants, and from the viewpoint of the Beatitudes the symbol of Christian success.

John Neumann bore the image of Christ. He experienced, in his innermost being, the need to proclaim by word and example the wisdom and power of God, and to preach the crucified Christ. And in the Passion of the Lord he found strength and the inspiration of his ministry: Passio Christi conforta me!

The Eucharistic Sacrifice was the center of his life, and constituted for him what the Second Vatican Council would later call “the source and summit of all evangelization” (Presbiterorum Ordinis, 5). With great effectiveness, through the Forty Hours Devotion he helped his parishes become communities of faith and service.

But to accomplish his task, love was necessary. And love meant giving; love meant effort; love meant sacrifice. And in his sacrifice, Bishop Neumann’s service was complete. He led his people along the paths of holiness. He was indeed an effective witness, in his generation, to God’s love for his Church and the world.

There are many who have lived and are still living the divine command of generous love. For love still means giving oneself for others, because Love has come down to humanity; and from humanity love goes back to its divine source! How many men and women make this plan of God the program of their lives! Our praise goes to the clergy, religious and Catholic laity of America who, in following the Gospel, live according to this plan of sacrifice and service. Saint John Neumann is a true example for all of us in this regard. It is not enough to acquire the good things of the earth, for these can even be dangerous, if they stop or impede our love from rising to its source and reaching its goal. Let us always remember that the greatest and the first commandment is this: “You shall love the Lord your God” (Matth. 22, 36).

True humanism in Christianity. True Christianity-we repeat- is the sacrifice of self for others, because of Christ, because of God. It is shown by signs; it is manifested in deeds. Christianity is sensitive to the suffering and oppression and sorrow of others, to poverty, to all human needs, the first of which is truth.

Our ceremony today is indeed the celebration of holiness. At the same time, it is a prophetic anticipation-for the Church, for the United States, for the world-of a renewal in love: love for God, love for neighbor.
And in this vital charity, beloved sons and daughters, let us go forward together, to build up a real civilization of love.

Saint John Neumann, by the living power of your example and by the intercession of your prayers, help us today and for ever.

Neumann's body in his National Shrine, Philadelphia

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wednesday Bible Studies

Here's a great New Year's resolution - STUDY THE BIBLE!

You know you have always wanted to; now is the time.  Join us this year. You are always welcome.

We have two Bible Studies on Wednesday evenings. Fr. Paul offers one off campus as well on Tuesday evenings (contact him at the rectory for information about times and place - 834-1041).

Parish Bible Studies
The next meeting of the Wednesday night Parish Bible Study will take place Wednesday, January 4th at 7 pm in the Cafeteria. Even if you only have time once or twice a month, you can stop in and join us any week. For information, call Carol at 633-1693. This Bible Study goes through the Bible book-by-book.
The Great Adventure Bible Study Group will meet Wednesday, January 4th at 7 pm in the Tobin Room. For information, contact Alan Cecchini at 833-6138. This Bible Study uses videos, featuring Jeff Cavins, which cover the 14 narrative Books of the Old Testament.. (http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/catholic-bible/study-information/49/adventure-jeff-cavins-timeline).

I can feel it! This is the year you follow through on your desire to study God's Word!