Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Politics - need to be informed, active participants

  Need to be informed,
active participants in politics

Bishop of Buffalo

Soon we will go to the polls to cast our votes for the president and vice president of the United States, congressional representatives, and state and local officials. When exercising our voting rights, we are not only acting as good citizens. We are also putting our faith into concrete action. Catholics, by virtue of our baptism, are called to be salt to the earth and light to the world. We must not hide our light under a bushel basket, but rather courageously defend our moral principles and promote human dignity and the common good in the public square.

Regardless of claims to the contrary in some media, the Catholic Church is not partisan. We do not promote either the Democrat or Republican party. We do boldly promote fundamental principles that must guide Catholics and others of good will in assessing candidates, evaluating issues and ultimately choose one over another.

"Let me again emphasize the importance of Catholics becoming informed, active participants in the affairs of politics. Voting conscientiously is not simply an American privilege. It is our responsibility, both as good citizens and as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ."
The U.S. Bishops, in our publication, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," have provided the faithful with a reliable guide for understanding our responsibilities relative to voting. In this resource we outline how respect for the life and dignity of every person, from conception to natural death and at every moment in between, must be the guiding principle underpinning every political agenda. We are called in a special way to protect the weak, vulnerable and voiceless, to defend religious freedom and conscience rights and to share our blessings with those in need.

The only way we can make sound, morally correct decisions about issues impacting our society and informed decisions about candidates for office is to rely on a well-informed conscience. A well-informed conscience does not allow us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a "feeling" about what is right and wrong. Rather, conscience is the voice of God speaking to our hearts, calling us to do what is good and to reject what is evil. We inform our consciences by becoming knowledgeable about God’s revealed truth as we find it in sacred scripture and Church teaching, and, very importantly, by praying for guidance.

We recognize that there can be proposals for addressing some pressing social concerns, such as the economy, immigration reform, or retirement security, on which people of good will can reach different conclusions. This is the exercise of prudential judgment, which demands that we never justify an immoral means to achieve a good end.

Prudential judgment does not come into play with every issue that confronts us. Not every course of action is morally acceptable. There are situations in which what is being proposed is an intrinsic evil. Intrinsic evils are actions that must always be opposed because they are always, by their nature, gravely opposed to the will of God. Examples of intrinsic evils are abortion, euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, genocide, torture and racism. Intrinsic evils undercut the dignity of the human person. If we think about it for a moment, we can see how all of the life issues are connected. Erosion of respect for the life of any person or group in society necessarily diminishes respect for all life.

Without a doubt, the conscientious Catholic faces many complex and difficult decisions in preparing to vote. That is why an informed conscience, and confidence in the moral wisdom of our Church, is so important. A Catholic may never vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil if, in voting for her or him, one is doing so in support of that immoral position. Conversely, a Catholic cannot justify voting for a candidate who opposes an intrinsic evil if that candidate is known to be indifferent to other serious moral issues involving human life.

There may be times when we find it necessary to vote for a candidate who holds an unacceptable position on a grave moral issue for other grave moral reasons.

We may sometimes find ourselves in the dilemma of being unable to find any candidate who is fully acceptable if all candidates hold one or more morally unacceptable positions. In cases such as this, the voter may decide to choose the candidate who is least likely to do the most harm, or even to take the extraordinary measure of not voting for any candidate.

Let me again emphasize the importance of Catholics becoming informed, active participants in the affairs of politics. Voting conscientiously is not simply an American privilege. It is our responsibility, both as good citizens and as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

© Western New York Catholic, November 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vincentian News

Vincentian News
St. Vincent de Paul
transept window, St. Benedicts Church
Amherst, New York
Please make note of the following dates! We would love to see you at each of them.  If you are interested in joining our St. Vincent de Paul Conference or our Ladies of Charity simply attend a meeting or call the rectory anytime.  These are our major outreach groups at St. Benedict's.  They humbly do tremendous work for Christ's poor.

1. Annual Retreat--Saturday, November 3rd from 9:30-5 (followed by Mass) at St. Benedict's: Deacon Bill Hynes KeyNote. Please RSVP your attendance to msmith@saintbenedicts.com. Cost $10/person includes lunch and refreshments.

2. SVDP Northern District Meeting, Wednesday, November 7th at 7:30: Gathering Room #1, St. Gregory the Great Parish. One of the agenda items will be nominations for a new Northern District president. Please RSVP by 2 November to njm128@aol.com or by calling 551-1898 or 631-0238.Barb Flynn has offered to be the designated driver to the Northern District meeting if anyone wants to attend. Contact msmith@saintbenedicts.com to make arrangements. In light of the retreat, there will be no monthly meeting for our St. Ben's SVDP, HOWEVER, all members are invited and encouraged to attend this meeting as highlighted below.

3. We Are the Voice of the Poor: Saturday, November 17th from 11:30 4 (followed by Mass) @ 75 Caldwell Place, Lackawanna (a Catholic Charities facility): A collaborative gathering of Vincentians (SVDP, Ladies of Charity, Daughters of Charity, Congregation of the Mission). For more information, please contact Ladies of Charity at 895-4001 or SVDP @ 882-3360 x-4. Cost $15/person includes lunch.   Our own Kathy Sieracki asked Sheila Gilbert to address this gathering. Sheila is the national president of SVDP. Not only is she the first female president of the Society, she is the first to visit WNY. The best way to show our gratitude to Kathy is by our presence. It will be worth the effort!!!!
Please pass this information along to anyone you feel would be interested.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

International Day to Eradicate Poverty 2012

The National Council of Catholic Women
International Day to Eradicate Poverty
October 17th, 2012

Extreme poverty destroys the lives and spirit of people; it kills more children, young persons, and adults than any war. Every day, people living in extreme poverty are challenged and threatened by lack of food, shelter and access to essential services. They endure hazardous working conditions and live in precarious, degraded, and insecure living environments.

October 17, 1987, French priest Father Joseph Wresinski, saw his untiring work to unite all sections of society with the poorest and most excluded finally come to worldwide attention. On that day, over 100,000 people from every level of society and inhabited parts of the globe gathered together to hear Father Wresinski deliver his famous “I Bear Witness” speech as a commemorative stone was unveiled in the Trocadero Human Rights Plaza in Paris. His words, engraved on that marble piece, should be present in the hearts of every person on earth: “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”

First celebrated 25 years ago, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is meant to promote this first critical step by promoting better dialogue and understanding between poor people and their communities, and society at large. It represents an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts and struggles of people living in poverty, a chance for them to speak up and make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that poor people are in the forefront of the fight against poverty (UN Secretary General Report A/61/308).

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a call to everyone to gather with people living in extreme poverty to share and exchange information, as equal partners, on initiatives that focus on the most vulnerable and excluded populations, and their active participation in poverty eradication. This day is also a call to strengthen the ways in which we communicate with one another so that we can better share our thoughts, lessons learned, experiences, and act in solidarity against poverty and social injustice.

The 2012 Commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty will focus on the theme "Ending the violence of Extreme Poverty: Promoting empowerment and building peace". In that spirit, this October 17th, we encourage you to:
  1. Pray: Father Joseph Wresinski wrote a special Universal Prayer, the text of which can be found here: http://overcomingpoverty.org/article/universal-prayer. The reading of Father Joseph Wresinski’s “I Bear Witness” speech is also integral to any observance. You can find his speech here: http://overcomingpoverty.org/article/i-bear-witness-to-you
  2. Spread the word: It is imperative that we get the word out about this day. In your community, consider notifying parishes and schools through regular bulletins, and perhaps writing a letter to your local newspaper editor with information and a personal plea for action. If you are organizing or participating in service activities, contact your local media to raise awareness about them on this important day.
  3. Tell stories: The Testimony of persons that find themselves in poverty and that relates their difficulties, frustration, and outlook and the way that they experience isolation due to their poverty can be gathered and sent to http://overcomingpoverty.org/temoignages/all-countries/any-tag.
  4. Help directly: Investigate the options available for you to assist the poor and marginalized either locally, nationally or internationally. Examples include support (both financial and volunteer) of soup kitchens, shelters, bringing food and clothing to the homeless, assisting with Project Homefront Day, etc.
  5. Provide support: Financial support of national programs through Catholic Charities and the international programs established by NCCW in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (Works of Peace and Reconciliation) and Cross International (Women Helping Women).
  6. Organize an observance: Plan a special observance for the 17th of October. Ideas can be found at www.overcomingpoverty.org. Recall that the emphasis should be the solidarity of persons from every level of society.
This day is an opportunity to fulfill our mission of easing life in this world for our sisters and brothers and of bringing everyone together in awareness and solidarity. It is not an obligation but a right and a sacred responsibility, and the sum of the National Council of Catholic Women’s Campaign for Human Dignity.
Please consider getting involved in any of the ways suggested above or in your own way, and let our parishioner Kathy Sieracki (kandrsieracki@aol.com) know what you did to observe the day.  She will share it with the national office of the NCCW.
Thank you for serving Christ's poor!

Friday, October 12, 2012

VP Debate misinformation re: HHS Mandate

DATE: October 12, 2012


WASHINGTON-The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement, October 12. Full text follows:

Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:
"With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution-Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital-none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers." That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

HHS has proposed an additional "accommodation" for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as "non-exempt." That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation "to pay for contraception" and "to be a vehicle to get contraception." They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.

USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.
For more details, please see USCCB's regulatory comments filed on May 15 regarding the proposed "accommodation": www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-on-advance-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-on-preventive-services-12-05-15.pdf---
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

First Communion Information 2012

St. Benedict Parish
First Eucharist Program
Registration Form 2012-2013
To be filled out now.   Please Print:
Candidate’s Name:_______________________________________________________________
First Middle Last
Date of Birth: ____/____/____/ Current Age: _____ Phone # ____________________
Address: ________________________________________________________________________
Grade: _______ School Attending: ________________________________________________
Parent Information
Father’s Name: __________________________________________________________________
First Middle Last
Mother’s Name: __________________________________________________________________
First Middle Maiden Last
Emergency Phone Number: ______________________________________
Email Address: _________________________________________________
Parish to which you belong: ______________________________________________________
Church City
Church of Baptism: ___________________________________ City/State: _______________
If a candidate was not Baptized at St. Benedict’s, a Baptismal Certificate must
be submitted to the Office of Faith Formation as soon as possible.
Please return registration form to:
St. Benedict’s Office of Faith Formation
3980 Main Street
Amherst, N.Y. 14226
St. Benedict Parish
First Eucharist Program
General Information: The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324
Students in the third grade are invited to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion in May of 2013 if they have successfully completed the First Eucharist Sacramental Program.
Pray: Prayer is an essential part of preparation for the sacrament. Parents are asked to ensure their child attends mass each Sunday, and holy days of obligation, not only in the year prior to their child’s receiving Holy Communion for the first time, but until they reach adulthood. The Eucharist is a central expression of Christian worship and faith. Parents must think long term. We are not just preparing our children to receive the Eucharist for the first time, we are also (and more importantly) preparing our children for a lifelong pilgrimage of faith and how to find the food that will nourish them on The Way.
Register: Parents and Students are asked to register for the formal preparation program through the Office of Faith Formation.
Baptismal Record: All candidates are required to show proof of Baptism. If Candidates were baptized we will have the records on file in the parish office. Candidates who were baptized at a parish other than St. Benedict’s need to provide a copy of the original certificate. Please provide a copy as soon as possible.
Parent Meeting: Wednesday, October 10th, 7:00 P.M. St. Benedict’s Cafeteria
For all second grade students from Catholic and Public High schools.
Enrollment Mass: Children preparing to make their first Eucharist are expected to attend the 10:00 A.M. mass Sunday, November 18, 2011. They will be called forward to the front of the church to receive a special blessing from Fr. Joe to mark the beginning of their preparation for the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
First Eucharist Parent: April 10th at 7:00 PM in the school cafeteria.
Eucharist Mini-retreat: Saturday, April 20th, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM in the afternoon n the school cafeteria.
First Holy Communion: Candidates will receive their First Eucharist, Saturday, May 4th, at noon in Church.
Second Holy Communion: We ask families to return with their child on Sunday to receive their second Holy Communion at the 10 AM mass. We ask that children dress in their first communion clothing and process into mass as part of our May Crowning celebration.
St. Benedict Parish
First Eucharist Program 2012-2013
Parent Services Form
We invite parent involvement. Please select the way(s) you would be willing to help.
Parents are welcome to sit in and join the conversation in your child’s Religious Education classes or assist with the Eucharist Mini-Retreat.
Organize and schedule families to contribute food and drink. Plan and organize food and drink contributions for the Retreat meals and snacks.
Will provide food for Sunday morning session and the Retreat.
Develop and execute a plan to have the church community pray for each child individually.
Parent/Guardian Name(s):__________________________________________________________
Phone: _________________________
Email: ____________________________________________
Committee(s) on which I (we) will serve:
___ Catechist
___ Food Committee
___ Food Provider
___ Prayer Committee
Thank You!
For children at the age of reason, (usually 7 yrs. old and older).
Each part of the preparation process provides opportunities for families to share their experiences and reflect on their journey of faith. The process involves parents recognizing they are the most important teachers in their children's lives.
Preparation process includes:
Parent orientation
Parent/Child workshops
Children's Interview and Practice
Celebration of the Sacrament takes place at noon on Saturday, May 4th, 2012.
How do you know when your child is ready to make his/her First Communion?
Preparing for First Communion is an initiation process for baptized children. Parents know their children the best and they are aware of the home environment created to develop a faith relationship with God. Each day offers an opportunity for the family to become more aware of God's presence and grace in their lives.
Usually, children prepare for Eucharist for the first time around the age of seven. It is important that they have a sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so as to understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity. For seven year olds, the process begins at home and is supported by formal Religious Formation programs.
It is helpful to understand that each child around the age of seven develops at his or her own pace but, there are some general attitudes, values, and ways of thinking that operate different from those of an adult. At this age, children are eager to belong. They want to be accepted and recognized as part of the family and if participating at Mass, as part of the worship community. Their religious sense is strong especially their sense of awe and wonder at the world around them. Their faith can best be describes as relying heavily on the stories, rules and values of the family and faith community to which they belong.
As a faith community, we have a responsibility to model, support and encourage our young children to become increasingly more loving and justice seeking Christians.
The Eucharist
The Eucharist is the heart and summit of the Church's life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body, which is the Church.
The Eucharistic celebration always includes the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the Father for all his befits, above all the gift of his Son; the consecration of bread and wine; and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord's body and blood.
The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Passover, that is, of the work of salvation accomplished by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is Christ himself acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in a state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.
Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant's union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
From: Catechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc. and Inside Catholicism: Rituals and Symbols Revealed, by Richard P. McBrien, 1995
Communion Symbols
For generations of Catholic children, First Communion has been a memorable first encounter with the sacramental presence of Christ.
White clothing: The theme of purification in preparation for the sacrament is reflected in wearing white, the color of purity and innocence. White is also the color of the baptismal garment.
The Last Supper: The Passover seder that Jesus celebrated with his closest followers, was also the First Communion.
Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.
"Do this in memory of me" asks us not only to remember but to repeat Jesus' actions and words "until he comes".
The Offertory: From the very beginning Christians have brought, along with the bread and wine for the Eucharist, gifts to share with those in need. This custom of the collection, ever appropriate, is inspired by the example of Christ who became poor to make us rich.
Thanksgiving and praise to the Father: The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all "thanksgiving."
Bread and Wine: Jesus identified himself with the bread and wine. About the bread he said "This is my body which will be given up for you." He called the chalice of wine "The cup of the new and everlasting covenant."
Our daily bread is the Word of God. The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist.
The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. Wine is the fruit of the vine gifts of the Creator.
From: Inside Catholicism: Rituals and Symbols Revealed, by Richard P. McBrien, 1995
First Communion History
This is the time of year when many second-graders receive their "first Communion." But it was not always so...
Until about the 13th century, children were admitted to Communion from infancy. At baptism, infants were confirmed, and then given the Eucharist - usually a small amount of the consecrated wine. (The Eastern Rites have continued this practice down to the present day.)
Over the centuries, as disputes arose over the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there developed a trend toward requiring that children not receive the Eucharist until they had some instruction in the real presence.
In 1215, because Catholics by then received the Eucharist very infrequently, the Lateran Council decreed that all persons who had reached "the age of discretion" receive the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist at least once a year. (This came to be known as "the Easter duty.")
When applied to children, this meant that first Communion was now delayed until they reached the age when they could have an understanding not only of the Eucharist, but of sin and forgiveness. This delayed first Communion until the age of 10, 12, or even 14.
Seven centuries later, in 1910 (less than 100 years ago), Pope Pius X decreed that children should be admitted to first Communion as soon as they could distinguish between the Bread of the Eucharist and ordinary bread. Thus, first Communion was given at about the age of seven.
From The Little Books by Bishop Ken Untener.
Matthew R. Smith
Director of Youth Ministry
& Religious Education
Office of Faith Formation
3980 Main Street
Amherst, NY 14226
Saint Benedict
Roman Catholic Church