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Roe vs. Wade and Responsible Catholic Travel

We have been bombarded with the word “responsible” over the past few years that has almost lost its meaning.  It typically refers to protecting the environment, respecting local traditions and other goals that are basically in keeping with Catholic tradition.  God gave us dominion over the plants and animals, and certainly we are to be responsible in our behavior.

But there is another sort of responsible travel that we are thinking of here:  supporting companies whose interest are antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Abortion, of course is one of them, and due to the recent Supreme Court ruling in the U.S. that there is no fundamental right to abortion in the U.S. constitution, some companies have chosen to offer paid leave, free transportation, etc for their employees seeking an abortion.   After all, abortion is illegal in some states but not others.  Make no mistake:  The Culture of Death is practically a religion and abortion one of their sacraments.

So, we find major companies that are pursuing an objective contrary to Catholic Christian beliefs.  For those who say, I am only one person…what can I do?  Well, you can vote with your feet.  For example, Alaska Airlines has announced that they will fund travel for employees seeking abortions in other states….so goodbye Alaska Airlines for us.  Walt Disney is another one…no surprise there, of course.

No word yet on other travel suppliers…but we will try to keep you updated.  Of course, all the “woke” corporations have begun to follow suit:  Amazon, Microsoft, etc.  These companies want people enslaved to their employer…having children would be competition for their attention. Oddly, maternity leave seems to somewhat less of a priority for these companies.

It’s your money….and you can make a difference.

Note that the Catholic Church stands almost alone in its opposition to abortion, which is why you see…and will continue to see…protests and probably vandalism against many Catholic churhces.  Most mainline protestant sects (Evangelical Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc.) have squishy wording about the “viability” of the fetus…meaning almost up to the moment of birth they are pretty much OK with it.

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Population of Ireland finally back to where it was in 1850

According to the 1841 census Ireland had a population of 8 million, by 1851 the population was down to 6.5 million and decline further to 4 million in 1931….half of its previous population. Most of this drop was due to the Irish potato famine and the repression of the Catholic faith as they fled the country in search of a better life as well as religious freedom.

The heart-wrenching scene depicted here “Emigrants Leave Ireland” by Henry Doyle (1868) was repeated thousands of times as families left with their few belongings, realizing they would likely never again see the family members and friends that they left behind.

The U.S.A. received the most immigrants: almost 4 million Irish arrived in America between 1820 and 1930, which was almost half the population of Ireland.

A recent article by BBC points that the population as of the latest census the population has finally risen to 5 million, still nowhere near the levels of 1841 but an increase nonetheless.  Like many countries, though, the population is aging…..which is not a good sign (unless you believe the fallacy the world is over-populated, which it is not).

You can read the article here.

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Book Review: “Blessed Carlo Acutis The Amazing Discovery of a Teenager in Heaven”

Written by Sabrina Arena Ferris, foreword by Patrick Novecosky

Published by Holy Heroes

 

Having heard a bit about Carlo Acutis, I was excited to get a copy of this book, and was not disappointed.  One of the most amazing stories of young people of the late 20th century is that of Carlo Acutis. From a young age he showed devotion to the Eucharist and was a true Christian example to others..especially those of his age.

We live in a time where many parents (and us grandparents as well) are starved for good role models for teenagers.  The fact that Carlo Acutis was a computer geek and gamer makes him highly relatable to today’s young people.  He led a normal, happy life, and this book offers glimpses in to his life from a young age, with quotes from his parents and friends.   Many photos which add a lot to the story of his life.

Especially interesting was the role his Polish Nanny played in his life…something I was not aware of before.  His parents were nominal Catholics, but rarely went to Mass. Her role influencing young Carlo especially significant.

There is a section in the book with quotes from Carlo that I found very interesting.

And, of course, due to his devotion to the Eucharist he left a lasting legacy: compiling a list of Eucharistic Miracles around the world.  This takes on special meaning in our time when surveys seem to indicate that belief in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic is extremely low among Roman Catholics.  Not only has this list been put on a website, but there is a traveling exhibit going to many churches around the world.

The publisher, “Holy Heroes” is to be complimented for adding this to their great list of book designed to deepen the understanding of the Catholic faith in young people…or people of all ages, since I am hardly young but enjoyed it immensely.

What I liked about the book:

  • Very well written, easy to understand, and will be a great read for all ages pre-teen and up.
  • Motivational: brought young Carlo and his devotion to the Eucharist to life.
  • Lots of photographs: we live in a visual age and photos of Carlo and his family added  to the book.
  • Quotes by Carlo that help to see his spirituality and the life that he lived.
  • Has nothing to do with the writing, but I liked the small size of the book…easy to put in a pocket or purse and, in  my case, great to take along to Adoration.  What better place to read about Carlo Acutis and his devotion to the Eucharist?

 

What I didn’t like about the book:

  • Hard to find anything not to like about this book. Only one thing, really, and that has nothing to do with the way the book was written.  The book starts off with information about the process of becoming a saint.  Considering that this is a book about the life of Carlo Acutis, I don’t know why the editor or publisher chose to put this at the beginning of the book. The second-to-last section of the book is “What comes next?”….and that would seem the most logical place to put the information about becoming a saint. And that would flow in to the final section on the process of  Carlo Acutis becoming a saint, which I think this was a great addition to the book, since it allows the reader a blueprint of the process as it relates to Carlo.

 

I give it 5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book and would say this comes under the category of a “must read” for people of all ages, but especially teenagers and probably pre-teens as well.  It is an easy read, packed with information and highly inspirational.  Great to add to your summer reading list.

You can order this book and other great books directly from the publisher at Holy Heroes.com.  Use the discount code CARLO15 that will give you 15% off this new book plus any additional Blessed Carlo resources.

 

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Depression, Suicide & Saint Dymphna in the age of Coronavirus

The Suicide of actor Robin Williams in 2014 made headlines around the world. Perhaps it is because, as a comedian, he always seemed to be “up” and ready to laugh.  Plus, he seemed to have all that the modern world tells us we should want:  Fame, Wealth, Acclaim.

So it is surprising to those who did not know about his inner conflict, that he suffered from depression and ended up taking his own life.

But Robin Williams was not alone:  countless people suffer silently from depression.  Although some might wish to call it a character flaw, it is actually a disease that afflicts many regardless of class or wealth.

Now that we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic with its isolation and fear, suicide is becoming a concern among many and there are reports of people becoming so depressed that they take their own lives.

As we know, good can often come out of the bad that happens. In this case, due to the enormous amount of publicity  surrounding the suicide of Robin Williams; it will hopefully create more awareness of depression, its signs and treatment.  Often times those with depression feel sadness, shame, and helplessness. As a result they are reluctant to move forward and ask for help. And those around them may not be looking for the signs of depression that could help avert tragedy.

Did you know that Saint Dymphna is a little-known  saint who is invoked in cases of mental health issues?  Her name is  not familiar to many, yet countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession.

Her shrine is in Belgium and there is also a National Shrine of Saint Dymphna in the U.S. in Massillon, Ohio (check this page for more information on Saint Dymphna).

The Feast Day of Saint Dymphna is celebrated on May 15.

You find a great assortment of Saint Dymphna prayer cards and more here.

 

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Come on, Dad…we’re on vacation…why do we have to go to Church?

That was my plea, but my dad said: “We don’t take a vacation from God”

Growing up in western New York State back in the 60’s, our family always went to church on Sundays,  even when on vacation.   Having to wake up and get dressed seemed out of place.  Wasn’t a vacation was supposed to mean a break from all the rules of every day life?  But my dad was serious about his religion and so we went to church on Sunday no matter where we were.

We were “low-church” Episcopalians (no “smells & bells” for us…we left that up to those who were “high church” Episcopalians….good grief, they might just as well have been Catholics).

In our church there was just a plain cross over the altar (which faced East, against the wall….we did have an altar rail and took communion kneeling, but the similarity ended there).

Phot of St Paul's Episcopal Church Harris Hill, NY
Photo courtesy St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Harris Hill, New York

(Now that I am Catholic, I miss the sense of reverence that came with kneeling at the altar rail, since they no longer exist in many Catholic churches).

We recited the Nicene Creed…but when we got to the part about one holy, catholic and apostolic church my big sister leaned over to me and said “don’t worry, that doesn’t mean we’re Catholic“….whew…what a relief…..apparently being Catholic was something to avoid at all costs, although I had no idea why!

Well, back to my point about going to church while on vacation:

It was pretty easy to find an Episcopal church in many towns…you could often find a sign like this one hanging as you entered the town.

We didn’t necessarily fit in….if it was a summer vacation town near a lake, then maybe, but otherwise we felt a bit out of place in our casual clothes among all those people in their “Sunday Best”.  Today, of course, vacationers might fit right in to those who trot off to their local Mass in shorts and flip-flops…but don’t get me started on that!

If you’re not lucky enough to spot a sign….yes, some Catholic churches still have them, but not many…..then be sure to plan ahead.

 

Cop with Nun in New York City
Photo by Felix Koutchinski on Unsplash

You might find a New York Cop…or a Nun… to help with directions, but that is pretty unlikely (kinda like the photo, though, so I thought I would add to this article).

We do have some suggestions for those going on a cruise…or those who might be looking for a Mass in an airport.

In the U.S. & Canada there is a website called Masstimes.org that is useful.

Otherwise, dads….spend as much effort planning to attend Mass as you do to getting to your destination!

 

Post by Harold Johnson

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Why will Holy Water Fonts be empty on the holiest of weeks?

As we enter Holy Week, memories of Easters past tend to occupy our minds. Church on Easter morning, pretty hats and newly bought clothing, along with the arrival of dearly loved relatives, were always something to which I  looked forward each year.

But, before that, came the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday).

I remember, as a very young child, going to Easter week services with my parents and being surprised when I went to bless myself with Holy Water but found a dry font.

I had been taught to appreciate the value of holy water and its frequent use.  Many saints and religious have emphasized the use of Holy Water to ward off evil.  Just one example is Saint Teresa of Avila,  who wrote that she used it to repel evil and temptations, but there are many, many others.

So why were the holy water fonts in our church empty on these three days?

Well, there was a reason for that:

Each year during the Easter Triduum the practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on those days when the Eucharist is not celebrated any where in the world.  At the Easter Vigil Mass, the water will be blessed and the fonts will be filled again.

Note:  In the past some pastors expanded the practice of empty holy water fonts to include all the days of Lent. No doubt this was done with good intent…to remind people of the dryness of Lent, but in fact, this is not the accepted practice in the Church. To correct this error, on March 14, 2020 the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship stated: “The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent.”

 

Editors’ note:  During the Covid-19 pandemic, some parishes removed holy water from their fonts as a precaution.  It is the opinion of this editor that removing the holy water to prevent the spread of an airborne virus that does not survive in water was an absurd thing to do.  Obviously, many did not agree with my position.  What are your thoughts on the subject?

 

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Latest News on the Baths at Lourdes Sanctuary

One of the most desired activities when visiting Lourdes is, of course, the baths.  Being immersed in the baths is something most pilgrims look forward to.  Unfortunately, that is still not being done (as of March 29) but the Shrine has made some effort to give you something close to that experience.

Here is what they say on their official site:

Getting water from the spring at Lourdes, FranceFor health reasons and to respect physical and social distancing, bathing is not possible at the moment.  Accompanied by the Hospitallers of Our Lady of Lourdes, the spiritual approach of the gesture of water consists of drinking Lourdes water and washing your face, in this symbolic place of swimming pools, full of stories, prayers and of thanks.

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Latest entrance requirements for Israel

Starting March 1, 2022 there are new entrance requirements for tourists visiting Israel:

1. You do not have to be vaccinated.

2. You must have had a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival.

3. Upon arrival in Israel, you must take another test to enter the country.

4.  You must go straight to wherever you are staying until you receive your results.  Although they state it could take up to 24 hours, the results usually arrive in 6-12 hours.

All of this might sound daunting, but if you are traveling with a group you should not have any major problems, because a good tour operator will have anticipated all of this.

Our friends at Select International Tours have stated:

The test results (upon arrival) typically only take an hour or so, so we have not had to do much other than wait. But if this lengthens out, we will take them to the hotel until results are released. We have so far had four groups there and none have had any interruption to the itinerary at all“.

So our advice is don’t let any of this concern you.

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One Solitary Life

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His divine manhood.

While still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying—and that was his coat. When he was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

JAMES ALLAN FRANCIS, One Solitary Life, pp. 1–7 (1963).