Saint Joseph

Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth.  Nazareth, it means: “Village of the shoot”.  Why is that name important?  Joseph was of David’s line, the town of Nazareth was settled out of nothing about 100 years before the birth of our Lord.  The founders of the village were returning Davidic exiles.  They knew the prophecy of Jerimiah which said the Messiah would come after “70 weeks of years” or 7 x 70 = 490 years.  The time was right, the lineage was still established.  They were moving back to the Promised Land.  They knew someone from the Davidic line would be the Messiah and the time seemed correct.  Why name the village Nazareth?

A Future of Faith – The Path of Change in Politics and Society

Pope Francis – with Dominique Wolton

Many thanks to Brother Ed Carmody for introducing me to (and lending me) this book.  This is a question and answer format book with an author and the Pope.  The author, Dominique Wolton, was selected by the Pope, he is a proud Frenchman, a true believer in the European Union, the French Revolution and has deep concerns over the way globalization and communication technologies are shaping  the world.   The book is very Euro-centric, and hardly mentions the US at all. 

Purgatory and Indulgences
With All Saints Day and All Souls day in November, it’s a good time to think about Purgatory and Indulgences. What is Purgatory?
“The Church gives the name Purgatory to the final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the Damned” . Those who die in the state of friendship with God but who are not fully purified and perfected are assured of their eternal salvation. However they must undergo a purification to obtain the perfection of love and holiness needed to enter heaven, where they have a heart that is totally open to him. This process is called Purgatory .

Rebellion

Brothers, a short while ago I was reading an article by a Christian (likely a Catholic).  In the piece, he gave some token acceptance of God’s requirement to obey and heed authority.  Then he said something like

But when faced with a tyrant, it is our God given duty to remove him.  I thought Waaaa…?

How often is being a rebel, rebellious or rebellion itself mentioned in the bible?  It is over 100 times.

How often does God mention rebellion in a positive light?  I haven’t found one.

Spiritual Warfare – A Case Study

We are often told we are in a spiritual battle, a battle for souls.  Yet in our daily lives, with all the responsibilities we have and with all the distractions, we often go through long periods of time without being aware of this spiritual battle.  So how can we relate to it?  What evidence is there, right in front of our noses that illustrates this battle?  Let’s take a look at Oppression vs. Freedom, Totalitarianism vs. Democracy, Mary vs. the Devil.  In a word – Fatima.

Ronald Reagan was fond of saying “How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”  At its heart communism is at war with the dignity of man, with basic freedom, and particularly at war with the Catholic Church and religion in general.  For the communist, the human life, the human soul, if it exists, is worth no more than a bushel of wheat, or a ton of iron ore.  It’s just another raw material in the communist machine.

COVID-19 Vaccines

USCCB Statement:  “In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines.

“Receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community.  In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”

With regard to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the bishops found it to be “more morally compromised” and consequently concluded that this vaccine “should be avoided” if there are alternatives available. “It may turn out, however, that one does not really have a choice of vaccine, at least, not without a lengthy delay in immunization that may have serious consequences for one’s health and the health of others,” the bishop chairmen stated. “In such a case … it would be permissible to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

While some pharmaceutical companies have been working on a vaccine for COVID-19 without using morally compromised cell lines at all, others have been using such cell lines in either the design and development phase or the production phase or in both. Still others have been making use of a morally compromised cell line only for a confirmatory test of the vaccine’s efficacy. This leads many people who are concerned for the sanctity of human life to ask if it is ethical to accept any of the vaccines that have some connection to abortion[1].

In 1972, a female child was aborted in the Netherlands, and cells from her kidneys were extracted and developed into the cell line now known as “HEK293.” “HEK” stands for “Human Embryonic Kidney.” Cells from the HEK293 line have been commonly used in biologic research since the late 70s. 

The vaccinations produced by Pfizer and Moderna did not use HEK293 in their design, development, or production, but did use cells from the line in a confirmatory test, said the bishops. 

While neither vaccine is completely free from any connection to morally compromised cell lines, in this case the connection is very remote from the initial evil of the abortion,” said the bishops. 

Conversely, the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca “should be avoided if there are alternatives available,” said the bishops, as this vaccine is “more morally compromised.” 

“The HEK293 cell line was used in the design, development, and production stages of that vaccine, as well as for confirmatory testing,” said Rhoades and Naumann. The two compared the AstraZeneca vaccine to the current rubella vaccine, which also was reliant on “morally compromised cell lines.”[2] 

So what does our Bishop say?  I have it on good authority, from someone deep within the Diocesan Administration Offices (also known as St. Michael’s West) that the Bishop agrees with the statements above and has no position on the question of asking his flock to get the vaccine.  He leaves that decision up to us.

So how do the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work?  They both use a novel and somewhat new technology called mRNA or messenger RNA.  According to the CDC, mRNA molecules are injected into muscle tissue with some of the mRNA passing through the local cell walls.  There it does what its name suggests and it delivers a “message” to produce a protein.  

Remember all those images of the COVID-19 virus that look like a ball with “spikes” emanating from the surface?  Well the ball section contains the COVID replication code and tricks the cell into making many copies of its self.  This continues until the cell is exhausted or pops.  As the copies of the virus are being made, other systems in the cell recognize they do not belong and they are ejected from the cell membrane.  The “spikes” are a protein which is the mechanism the virus uses to “open” the cell wall, pass by its natural defenses, and “set up shop” to make more virus from within.

Back to the vaccine; the mRNA from the vaccine tells the cell to make a section of the COVID-19 spike protein, or the complete spike protein (depending on who’s vaccine you get).  The cell recognizes the proteins do not belong and ejects them; this stimulates the immune system to recognize the spikes and therefore the whole COVID-19 virus.  The immune system follows by generating antibodies to destroy the COVID-19 virus.  The mRNA from the shot has a very short life and poses no danger to the body, it soon dissolves away.  It should be noted that the mRNA never penetrates the nucleus and never comes in contact with the DNA of the cell.

Although scientists have been researching mRNA vaccines in general for the last 10 years or so, this is the 1st actual application of this category of vaccines in human population.

Now that’s a lot to pray and think about!

 

[1] MORAL CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING THE NEW COVID-19 VACCINES - USCCB

[2] US bishops approve use of coronavirus vaccines with 'remote connection' to abortion - CNA Staff, Dec 14, 2020

Blessed Margaret of Castello

Born in Massa Trabaria Italy in 1287 to a proud and well off set of parents; she was, from birth, ugly, a dwarf, blind, hunch backed and had one leg 1 ½” shorter than the other which resulted in a lifelong limp. Her parents were aghast and tried to hide her existence. As her father, Parisio, was the Captain of the People, a powerful office, and a rich man they were success full in hiding her for 6 years. After a near discovery by a visiting dignitary, her parents walled her up in a cell attached to a chapel in the woods and left her there for 16 years.

Dear friends, let me share with you this little reflection. There are many more elements that could be included and I'm sure that there are nuances which in my haste I have overlooked. This reflection was motivated by my last stay in the chapel in La Cienega. So much poverty and people working hard but always in debt..

40 year review of the Church’s involvement with families in the upper watershed of the San Juan River, Sabaneta

With the first satellite imagery of the island Hispaniola, the human impact upon natural earth systems could be observed from a distance of 40 miles or more above the Earth’s surface. For anyone with access to digital satellite imagery, the contrast between Haiti’s forest cover and that of the DR was obvious. As the United Nations declared the eighties to be the clean water decade, ecologists emphasized the connection between conservation of forest cover in the upper watersheds, and access to annual flowing, clean drinking water. The eighties also saw the DR invest in rapid construction of hydroelectric dams for both irrigation and power.