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At Roman Noon today, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, accepted Cardinal William Levada's retirement as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At the same time, he appointed Most Rev. Gerhard Müller, until now the Bishop of Regensburg, Germany, to succeed Cardinal Levada as Prefect.

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In every age Christians have been challenged to stand up for what they believe. I would like to share with you the story of a little-known Saint. His name is Gaspar del Bufalo. It was 1810. He was only 24 years old, and had been ordained a priest just a short time. But now he was under arrest. Napoleon had conquered Rome and had imprisoned the pope. His intention was to close the churches and to force all the priests to swear allegiance to him.

So there Gaspar stood in front of the prefect. The prefect was a kind old gentleman, who did everything to minimize the event, downplaying it and reducing everything to a mere formality. It was just a harmless bureaucratic exercise.

The important thing was that Gaspar be put at ease, that he should not realize the seriousness of the choice to which he was being called. After all, many priests had already acquiesced and signed the oath of allegiance.

But Gaspar was not listening to the prefect, he was thinking of the blood which Napoleon had already caused to be shed. He was thinking of the imprisonment of the Holy Father, and he was thinking of the violation of liberty and the suppression of independence for the church.

So his response to the prefect was clear and decisive:

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Just 200 years later, It is a different country and it is a different government. This time it is an American President. He has taken it upon himself to determine what is and is not religious. He has taken it upon himself to determine how I should live my faith in this time and in this place. Should I acquiesce to his demands?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

The world health organization classifies oral contraceptives as a class one carcinogen right up there with tobacco. And the government wants me to provide this free with healthcare.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Women who use oral contraceptives for four years prior to their first full-term pregnancy have a 52% increased risk of developing breast cancer. And the government calls this health care and wants me to provide this for free, well...

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Oral contraceptives do horrific damage to a woman's body, and should we call this health-care? Abortion destroys human life and is it reasonable or intelligent for us to call that healthcare?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

The president proposed a compromise that would allow insurance companies to pay for the contraceptives rather than the church institution. My question, what if I belong to a church institution that is self-insured? I would then be required to pay for this.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

What if I'm a Catholic business person who is required by my government to provide insurance that violates my conscience?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

What will it be next and who will it be next? The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that it is illegal for a photography business owned by Christians to refuse to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony even though New Mexico law does not permit same-sex marriage. What will they say next? Will they say that it is illegal for me to refuse to do a same-sex marriage. Would we as Catholics allow the state to change one of our sacraments.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Saint Gaspar del Bufalo spent four years in prison for his profession of faith. We must pray too, that we have the strength to be firm in our faith.

We are not imposing our values on anyone. The government has dictated that employees at Catholic institutions are provided with free contraception, and that is the imposition on our faith and on our conscience. The government doesn't want so much to advance the cause of women's health, but rather, they seek to demonize a faith group that has the "audacity of hope," that they might live their faith free from government interference and intrusion.

I know it is just a mere formality, just a harmless bureaucratic exercise. I know that the important thing is that we should not realize the seriousness of the choice to which we are being called. After all everybody else is doing it. But let me be perfectly clear:

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

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First Communions


Dear friends, it is usually during Eastertide that the Church administers First Communion to children. Therefore, I exhort the parish priests, parents and catechists to prepare well for this feast of faith, with great fervor but also with sobriety. "This day remains rightly impressed on the memory as the first moment in which... the importance of the first encounter with Jesus is perceived" (Sacramentum caritatis, 19). May the Mother of God help us to listen attentively to the Word of the Lord and to worthily participate at the Table of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, to become witnesses of the new humanity.

Benedict XVI
April 23, 2012

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Wake Up!


Jesus on the Cross wakes us up from our dreams, and opens our eyes to the truth... And in him, the sorrow of all mankind becomes the sorrow of God who suffers for love of us. Redemption is this mystery of love and pain: "Where there is no love, put love and you will find love," St. John of the Cross used to say. These words are like a summary of what our journey should be like. We are meant to believe in the force of love. To believe in the fruitfulness of love. This is the great lesson of Jesus on the Cross. That is why his death is fruitful.

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It [the soul] loves God because it sees how he has loved the soul from all eternity: He first loved us. It reconsiders especially the themes concerning redemption and exclaims: The love of Christ impels us. It does so especially when seeing how far that love went when in his capacity as redeemer, [Christ] shed his blood to the last drop: He loves us and has washed away our sins in his blood. Faint with love, the soul exclaims, "Oh wounds, oh precious blood of my Lord, that I might praise you in eternity!" What a great thing it is that the blood of Jesus is even our drink in the Eucharist and how, finally, through the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ we shall arrive in paradise. With your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation]. You made them a kingdom. .

"Herein lies the glory of the priesthood, instituted for applying the price of redemption to souls, so that the divine Blood will not have been shed in vain, due to our own fault, as we note in the Holy Scriptures: "What gain would there be from my lifeblood." (Psalms 30:10) ..."How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? "

St. Gaspar del Bufalo, 1825

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This year, our examination at the foot of the Cross, shall center in a particular way on three points.

First, the acknowledgment of our shortcomings from which arises our deficiency before God.

Secondly, the examination of our observance of interior discipline, which may be called our Handbook for Heaven.

Finally, we shall direct our attention, prudently and reflectively, to the external aspects of our apostolic work, not merely to have a knowledge of good in general, but to seek the greater good which can and must be furthered...

this searching will make us eager to find the means for the attainment of our purpose.

These means are threefold:

a continuous inner conversation with God about our needs and interests;

a deep study of humility, that we may be capable of receiving special gifts from God for the renewal of our life;

and a burning desire for the inner and hidden life in the adorable wounds of the Crucified.

St. Gaspar Del Bufalo, 1829

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The more exalted our ministry, so much the more does the devil interfere with it as he tries to confound us. We will do all with the help of God's grace if, like boulders in the sea, we remain immobile, though assailed by the waves. Let us take bitter things as sweet. It is through trials that one realizes the degree of virtue attained. I am speaking of those trials that one did not plan for, those not chosen or selected; nevertheless, they are to be endured by us. By degrees we must attain to that superabundo gaudio in omni tribulation (filled with joy in all tribulation). Where the Cross is, there also is the mercy of God. St. Vincent de Paul used to say: "my Congregation would cease to be if a single day would go by without crosses." Jesus was tempted to come down from the cross: ... but, for our instruction, he taught us to remain with the cross and to die on the cross.

St. Gaspar del Bufalo
May 22, 1833

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This Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He had no power of himself to die for us: he had to take from us our mortal flesh. This was the way in which, though immortal, he was able to die; the way in which he chose to give life to mortal men: he would first share with us, and then enable us to share with him. Of ourselves we had no power to live, nor did he of himself have the power to die.

In other words, he performed the most wonderful exchange with us. Through us, he died; through him, we shall live.

The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.

From a sermon by St. Augustine, Office of Readings, Monday of Holy Week

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The Passion

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In praying the psalm that begins with "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Christ took on the speech of human infirmity. By taking the psalmist's voice to himself, his full humanity was visible, his complete identification with our vulnerable humanity is seen in the experience of being fully forsaken. Fully God, yet Fully human, the affections of his soul were feeling the full weight and terror of forsakenness.

He knew the care and love of the woman who bathed his feet with the expensive ointment.

He knew the weakness of friends, who could not remain awake, persisting in sleep in the face of a neighbor's tragedy.

He knew the conniving of an associate who may have thought that arrest would force Jesus to use his power.

He knew the hatred and violence of a temple and state that would exert full power over the weakest of our society.

Yet Simon, Alexander and Rufus became believers in the face of this. The Centurion makes a profession faith that "Truly this man was the Son of God!"

We know the care of friends, and the closer the friends have been we have seen as well their weakness, and we have had so-called friends that did not stand by us. And we know the power of society and government to wage a war against the truth.

But do we allow the struggles and tragedies of our lives make us doubt or turn away? No, this is when we take up the silence of Jesus who came and traveled this way for us and before us.

And now we see this cross as where our sins our destroyed, and where Jesus has turned this darkness in to light and life, we shall find this light and this life in Him, if we but belong to him and are found in him.

So let us mark this week as Holy. It is the center of our year. Let nothing else be found to be more important, because we are loath to be chasing shadows.

The centurion who came to faith had his life completely changed by this event. May it turn us too, so with him today and everyday for the rest of our lives , in whatver joy or sorrow, we acclaim, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"

Bookmark and Share this devotion we have a compendium of faith itself; that is why, in the consecration of the chalice, we say: "mysterium fidei"; and, consequently therein lies the salvation of souls. In fact, it is to this that the prophetic oracles, the predictions, the symbols, the figures, the sacrifices of the old covenant have their focus. As we read in Genesis: He washes his garments in wine and his robe in the blood of grapes. (Gen. 49:11). The Hebrews were ordered to taint their doorposts with the blood of the lamb in order to be freed from their chastisements in Egypt, a symbol of the liberation of our souls from diabolical servitude... Without saying too much further, what did Moses do for his people? ) For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you." ... Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb 9:19-22) Hear, now, what the Apostle says: If the blood of goats and calves sanctify such as are defiled, how much more shall the blood of Jesus Christ cleanse our conscience. (Heb 9:12-14) Without saying everything that could be said, the divine Scriptures are loaded with sacred citations... Why then is thy apparel red. (Isaiah 63:2) And he was clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood. (Rev 19:13) .One should add only that by means of this devotion the remembrance of our baptism, through which our souls were purged, is revived; we are reminded of penance and the other sacraments. And when asked why, we conclude that it was because: Thou hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests. (Apoc. 5: 9-10) Other devotions are all means for facilitating Catholic piety, but this devotion is the basis, the sustenance, the essence of all.

San Gaspare del Bufalo
July 29, 1825

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I think that I will be a bit more faithful to blogging. It will be more about Jesus and Gaspar than about me, but at least I can control the content and the presentation.

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