Friday, April 20, 2012

420 A Catholic Perspective

420 (April 20th) has become a secular celebration of sorts for the use of drugs. For those who live in Western New York, please know that we are here to help those with chemical dependencies, more commonly called drug or alcohol abuse problems. Contact

Here are a few pertinent paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Respect for health

2288 Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.

Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance.

2289 If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for its sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports. By its selective preference of the strong over the weak, such a conception can lead to the perversion of human relationships.

2290 The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

2291 The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Call to Action - Fortnight for Freedom


Urge strong lay involvement
Outline threats to First Freedom at all levels of government and abroad
Call upon dioceses to pursue religious liberty fortnight, June 21-July 4

WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops have issued a call to action todefend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedomof the Bill of Rights. They outlined their position in “Our First, Most Cherished Freedom.” The document was developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), approved for publication by the USCCB Administrative Committee March 13, and published in English and Spanish April 12.

            The document can be found at

“We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past.We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today,” the bishops said in the document, “… for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.”

The document lists concerns that prompt the bishops to act now.  Among concerns are:

•           The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate forcing all employers, including religious organizations, to provide and pay for coverage of employees’contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs even when they have moral objections to them. Another concern is HHS’s defining which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.

•          Driving Catholic foster care and adoption services out of business. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities adoption or foster care services out of business by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.

•          Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. Despite years of excellent performance by the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require USCCB to provide or referfor contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief, and they do not lose their religious identity or liberty upon entering such contracts. Recently a federal court judge in Massachusetts turned religious liberty on its head when he declared that such a disqualification is required by the First Amendment—that the government violates religious liberty by allowing Catholic organizations to participate in contracts in a manner consistent with their beliefs on contraception and abortion.

            The statement lists other examples such as laws punishing charity to undocumented immigrants; a proposal to restructure Catholic parish corporations to limit the bishop’s role; and a state university’s excluding a religious student group because it limits leadership positions to those who share the group’s religion.

            Other topics include the history and deep resonance of Catholic and American visions of religious freedom, the recent tactic of reducing freedom of religion to freedom of worship, the distinction between conscientious objection to a just law, and civil disobedience of an unjust law, the primacy of religious freedom among civil liberties, the need for active vigilance in protecting that freedom, and concern for religious liberty among interfaith and ecumenical groups and across partisan lines.

            The bishops decry limiting religious freedom to the sanctuary.

           “Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans,” they said. “Can we do the goodworks our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith?”

            “This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox,Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue,” they said.

The bishops highlighted religious freedom abroad.

            “Our obligation at home is to defend religious liberty robustly, but we cannot overlook the much graver plight that religious believers, most of them Christian, face around the world,” they said. “The age of martyrdom has not passed. Assassinations, bombings of churches, torching of orphanages—these are only the most violent attacks Christians havesuffered because of their faith in Jesus Christ. More systematic denials of basic human rights are found in the laws of several countries, and also in acts of persecution by adherents of other faiths.”

            The document ends with a call to action.

“What we ask isnothing more than that our God-given right to religious liberty be respected.We ask nothing less than that the Constitution and laws of the United States, whichrecognize that right, be respected.”  They specifically addressedseveral groups: the laity, those in public office, heads of Catholic charitableagencies, priests, experts in communication, and urged each to employ the gifts and talents of its members for religious liberty.

            The bishops called for “A Fortnight for Freedom,” the two-week period from June 21 to July 4—beginning with the feasts of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher and ending with Independence Day—to focus “all the energies the Catholic community can muster” for religious liberty.  They also asked that, later in the year, the feast of Christ the King be “a day specifically employed by bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad.”

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Canisius College Chorale here!

To Perform At St. Benedict Church
The Canisius College Chorale, under the direction of Frank Scinta, will continue its 2011-2012 Sacred Spaces Concert Series with a performance on Monday, April 16th at 7:30 pm here at St. Benedict’s on Main Street and Eggert Road in Amherst, NY. Directions at under "about us."

Please plan to continue to celebrate with us the joy of the Easter season in song . The program is free and open to the public. It will feature works of Mendelssohn, Lotti, Lauridsen, Bernstein, Dawson and others.

Some featured selections this year have been "Bring Him Home," "Down to the River to Pray," "You Raise Me Up," and Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria," a setting of the Angelus. Now in its 14th season, the Canisius College Chorale remains one of WNY's most active collegiate music ensembles.

Composed of 120 undergraduate and graduate members (including our own Michael Rodman), the Chorale regularly presents programs to school, church and community audiences throughout Western New York and southern Ontario. Its annual Winter and Spring Concerts continue to attract capacity audiences to the Montante Cultural Center at Canisius College. Its repertoire covers more than five centuries of composition and nearly every interpretive style of choral music. The Chorale has recorded four CDs.

Holy Thursday Thanks 2012

This evening's liturgy was an amazing experience. There was a record number of parishioners and guests actively participating.

Thank you all for taking your holy Catholic faith seriously. It struck me tonight how truly catholic, yes catholic with a small "c," our liturgies are. The variety of liturgical roles reflects our gifts and talents as a community of faith. That is what is supposed to happen as Church!

So let's get specific with our thanks...

Thanks be to God for calling us together tonight and for sending His Son in history and in the Eucharist!

Our special thanks to those who served in various roles tonight.

Thanks to all who joined us in prayer, in song, and in adoration tonight. You are truly what we celebrated tonight - the Body of Christ!

Thanks also to our four priests, led tonight by Msgr. Fran who often speaks of his special love for this day in the liturgical calendar.

Ruth Scheda did her usual excellent job as our lector. Ruth is recuperating well from her recent injuries and she is back serving our parish as if nothing happened. Thanks Ruth!

Glenn and our choir added to tonight's solemnity with beautiful music. They selected a great mix of new and old favorites. Diane Battaglia was our inspiring and talented cantor and psalmist tonight. She always helps us pray well through song because her love for Christ is contagious.

Our thanks to the ushers who had many extra duties tonight coordinating the foot washers and hand washing all this in addition to their usual duties.

Thanks to Ben and Jesse, tonight's acolytes. They did a marvelous job with the incense, the procession and foot washing. Ben was one of the brave souls who had their feet washed tonight. Thanks to all of you!

Also a word of thanks to the RCIA Elect who processed in with us and presented the sacred oils to the congregation. All three of them- Stacy, Jason and Maria- will be baptized at the Easter Vigil this Saturday.

Thank you all for making this the best Holy Thursday at St. Benedict's ever!