Wednesday, December 7, 2011

St. Nicholas, pray for us!

This from the "Canterbury Tales" blog is TOO GOOD NOT TO SHARE!  St. Nicholas, zealous for the honor of Christ and our Blessed Mother, Pray for us!

Monday, December 5, 2011

On "Altar-ing" our Nation and Government

Long live Christ the King! These were the last words of Blessed Fr. Miguel Pro before he was executed by a government firing squad in Mexico on November 23, 1927. This season of preparation for the advent of our King become all the important in our day since it reminds us that we are, in the words of Great Britain’s great martyr, St. Thomas More, “the king’s good ser-vant, but God’s first”. In our country I suppose it would be more proper to say “the constitution's good servant, but God’s first”. In any case, the point is that we are called to loyalty to our country, but we are most loyal to our country when we follow God’s providential plan for His creation, in which our country, and every country, resides.
A little over a week ago we gathered with family and friends to give thanks for many things on our national day of Thanksgiving. As we read about conflict and civil unrest, natural disasters and persecution in so many parts of the world we are reminded of how very fortunate we are to be Americans. We have a constitution that guarantees certain freedoms, particularly the right to free expression, assembly, and religion. We have a culture that allows nearly anyone to achieve nearly anything. We also have, when compared to so many places in the world, a generally safe environment in which to realize our dreams.
These things CAN be swept away very quickly, how-ever, if we are not vigilant. We have seen of late unmistakable attempts to unreasonably limit our freedoms. We have even experienced the complete reversal of some founding principles. These I have written and preached on frequently and so I will not rehash this here except to remind all that the first of these founding prin-ciples is the right to life.
It is proper, of course, that we focus on this founding principle in a particular way since without life none of our other rights have any meaning. And yet, the highest court in our land peered in between the lines of the Constitution and found a right to kill the unborn. This is why the Church in the modern era has seemed to some to be so sin-gularly focused on the defense of life. This is not, as some have supposed, to the exclusion of defending other rights. It is however, in the words of both our Holy Father and our bishop, our necessary focus so that all other rights may be seen in their proper context.
Our Declaration of Independence states that governments rule legitimately when they protect these rights and if they fail we have the right to alter or abolish that government. Two weeks ago we had one chance to alter our government when we were given the opportunity to vote. Next weekend, as we begin the season of Advent and begin again to prepare for the coming of our King, we will be given a chance to altar our government - presenting it in all its brokenness to God in prayer.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, and Bishop Callahan have called on us to enter into a special time of prayer for the protection of nascent life, that is – the unborn. We are asked to imitate Mary in saying “yes” to new life and to commit ourselves to the defense of that life.
I would ask all who can to join the Holy Father, our bishop, and myself as we begin this season of grace by saying “yes” with Mary to God’s invitation to welcome His Son into our hearts and lives, along with all nascent life into our lives and into the world. Long live Christ the King!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving & Eucharist

     As we close this “Thanksgiving Day” Weekend I think that it is worth our while to reflect on “thanksgiving”, particularly as it relates to our Christian vocation.  This is an exercise in which I engage myself every year because one of the things I’ve come to realize is that the virtue of gratitude, which is at the root of thanksgiving (and Thanksgiving) is more than simply meeting a social expectation.
     I begin by recalling that the word for “thanksgiving” in the ancient Greek is eucaristia.  Yes!  It is the same root from which we get the Eucharist.  And why is the most important and powerful prayer that we offer a “thanksgiving” prayer?  That would be worth another whole reflection!  But suffice it to point out that from the preface dialogue (The Lord be with you – and with your spirit; Lift up your hearts – we lift them up to the Lord; Let us give thanks to the Lord our God – it is right and just) to the great Amen is one big prayer of thanksgiving for the salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  In the new translation of the Mass this will be brought out somewhat more clearly – even from the opening dialogue quoted above.  We recognize from beginning to end that it is not only right but also just that we should give thanks to Him from whom we receive all that is good.  Even before that, in the offertory prayers we will recognize even more clearly that the very gifts offer in thanksgiving are themselves gifts to us from God.  This is only right since in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Whom is it that we offer to God but Jesus Christ crucified?  Thus, we begin to recognize more and more clearly that the motive for our participation in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass is precisely the virtue of gratitude.
     Reflecting back on the story I told in my homily of two weeks ago, it becomes ever more a conviction in my heart that we are called to recognize all that we have, including our very lives, as a gift which has been given to us as a sacred trust by our very loving God and Father.  When we come to this realization and really live it I am convinced that we will find in ourselves the same courage that motivated the saints.  Their ability to always do what was necessary, regardless of how difficult or humbling, clearly comes from a recognition that our lives are not ours to do with as we will, but rather are given to us so that we might be perfected in the virtues, gratitude in particular, which lead us to the greatest virtue of all – LOVE.  This past week, Thursday, we celebrated the Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.  She was a princess and yet she established hospitals in her own castles and fed the sick and the needy by her own hand.  When asked about it by one of his friends, her beloved husband, Blessed Louise, answered that he wished he had more castles to give her that she might turn them into hospitals as well.  Wow!
     It is true that we have a right to enjoy the fruits of our labor, our hard work, and I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  Maybe even a good number of you have already been successful in getting a deer!  I pray that even as we have celebrated, relaxed, recreated, and just generally enjoyed the fruits of our labor that we have at once recognized that as hard as we have worked, they are still a wondrous gift from a God who loves us and they are all to be used to build up His kingdom of Love.
     Finally, I would reflect on the fact that while Thanksgiving Day has come and gone for another year, in a very real way EVERY DAY is a day of thanksgiving in the Catholic Church.  That is why the Mass is offered everyday on altars around the world and within our three parishes.  As Advent begins, maybe you could look over our weekly Mass schedule and see if you might not be able to join us, even just once during the work week, as we give thanks to God who has given us all that is good.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Funeral Rites of the Church: An Annual Plea

     This past week my homily centered on our stewardship of the sacred rites (i.e. the Mass).  I made the point that the sacred rites are not ours to do with as we might wish, but are given to us as a sacred trust by the Church for our salvation and the salvation of the whole world.  I made the point, in passing, that even (especially?) weddings and funerals are not OUR weddings and funerals.  While we might be the subject of that particular liturgy, it is still the Church’s liturgy and when we stray from gratefully and reverently receiving what the Church has given us we risk missing out on the graces we are intended to receive through the celebration of those sacred rites.
     In this month of November in which we are particularly attentive to The Last Things it seems particularly appropriate to say something about the Church’s funeral rites.  There have been, of late, quite a lot of strange things creeping into our funeral rites.  This is very unfortunate since our funeral rites are so very beautiful and present to us the depth of the Church’s experience and reflection on our communion with Christ in his passion, death, and resurrection.
     The funeral rites of the Church are a very balanced celebration of our salvation in Christ coupled at once with our hope in our own salvation and eventual resurrection and our recognition that most of us stand in need of prayer (especially the through great graces which come to us through our praying of the Mass) in order to make those final steps through the gates of heaven.
     The funeral Mass is very much for our beloved dead!  This is attested to in the introduction to the Church’s funeral rites which reflect the long established wisdom of the Holy Scriptures and the Father’s of the Church, as well as our long established traditions which come out of these two fonts of wisdom.  This is not to say that the funeral rites are not also for the living, those of us who are left behind - if only temporarily!
     The process of moving from the prayers for the dying (or very recently deceased) – to the first viewing of the body and prayers in its presence – to the wake and accompanying service – to the funeral AND burial is very important and really should not be short-circuited as too often happens now-a-days.
     The wake is so important, even for someone who is very old and wouldn’t have many coming for a “visitation”, because this is the opportunity for the family to begin the formal process of commending their loved one to God and saying “good-bye”.  This is also the venue for focusing on our dear decedent.  This is the time for remembering their virtues and the joys and sorrows we shared with that person.  This is the appropriate time for sharing favorite poems and songs that would be otherwise out of place in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  This is also an important time for sharing memories and eulogizing our beloved dead.  If a family does not think that there would be many in attendance it might be better to shorten the time for the visitation rather than cut it out, and the wake service that accompanies it, completely.
     The funeral Mass is the time for making the connection between the passion of our beloved dead with the passion of Christ in the well-founded hope of sharing also in His resurrection.  We pray with the whole Church for the repose of our loved one’s soul as well as our own closer relationship with God in Jesus Christ through our experience of these sacred rites in this very important moment in our life of faith.
     The burial too is an important expression of our belief in the resurrection of the dead.  It should not be delayed without very serious reason, nor must it be tampered with lest we cover over the important Truths these sacred rites convey to us through our observance and celebration of them.
     There really is much more to say, but there is only so much time right now and with God’s good grace I will have more opportunities in the future to share with you the glorious riches that are to be found in our rites for the dying and for the dead in the years ahead.
Pray Well!
Fr. Klos

Purgatory: A beautiful gift

     As the month of November begins we have celebrated the fulfillment of God’s promise in the glory of the Saints in heaven.  Having celebrated those of our elder brothers and sisters who have had God’s promise fulfilled in them we turn our attention to those have fallen just short and so require the assistance of our prayers as they seek to be rid of those last vestiges of sin keeping them from knowing the fullness of joy.
     Some Catholics object to the idea of purgatory.  There are many reasons for this and we could fill an entire book examining the issues that will tend to be issues (when we really dig) with the fallen condition of the human person.  Let me instead talk to you a little bit about why I find this revealed dogma of the catholic and orthodox faith to be such a comfort and a joy.
     I have known several people who have died and yet they were not quite ready to pass-over.  I’m not judging their hearts (remember: judge not lest ye be judged!), I am aware, however, of the state in which they themselves felt they were in.  I can, as you can too, observe that by their actions they aren’t quite getting it.  I can also observe when a dying person is not going easily.  These are all things which can cause not a little consternation amongst the family and friends of the one who has passed.
     We also know, through the scriptures, that one who is not pure (that is, completely cleansed of sin) cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  We know too, through the clues left in scripture, that there is the possibility of being cleansed of sin even after the death of the body.  So, why purgatory?  Well, remember that purgatory is merely the subject form of the verb: to purge.  Purgatory is merely the opportunity to be purged, that is – cleansed – of our sins.
     Why is this so important?  Martin Luther makes the point that we cannot be made right.  We are too radically damaged by sin.  Thus, Christ covers us over like the snow and so when we enter heaven God doesn’t see us and our sinfulness, He sees only Christ.  Classical Catholic teaching would turn that inside out.  The light of Christ does burn within us.  Sadly, the stain of our repeated sin keeps the light of Christ from shining forth for the Father and everyone else to see.  Our Catholic faith teaches us that we need to clean away (purge) that sin so that the light of Christ which is in each one of the baptized can shine forth.  Thus, as we enter heaven, the Father sees not Christ covering us over (so that we almost sneak in under the cover so to speak), rather He sees us entering heaven – fully conformed to Christ, that is, the image and likeness of God that was given us shines forth perfectly.
     Why is all this perfection such a big deal?  It is important because without perfect charity, that is – love, heaven would not be heaven.  Can you imagine being in heaven and still being ticked off at the habits of this person or that?  Can you imagine this person or that still clinging to the habits that drive you (and probably others) crazy?  It wouldn’t really be heaven then, would it?  So you see, it is important that when we enter heaven, we enter it leaving behind all of the pettiness and sin that we too often excuse and live with in this world.
     I know that a brief discussion like this isn’t going to convince everyone or even answer all of the questions that remain.  You can read more about it in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 1030-1032).  In the meantime, let us remember to pray for the souls in purgatory.  Remember, once they get to heaven they can pray for you!
Pray Well!
Fr. Klos

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some good stuff!

Here's a link to Archbishop Dolan's blog. He makes some excellent points about the importance and survival of Catholic Education in contemporary America.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Cardinal Burke and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Friday I attended the diocesan catechetical conference and had the great pleasure of seeing “Our Cardinal” – Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. He spoke very beautifully on the devotional life, especially devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. His eminence spoke for about 45 minutes covering the foundations for the devotional life in the Church’s magisterium as well as the mis-steps caused by the “Spirit” of Vatican II crowd and the resulting demise of any meaningful devotional life in much of the Church today. He also discussed how this lack of a devotional life has contributed to the fall of the family as a meaningful foundation for society today.

The good Cardinal then took us on a journey through the magisterium of Blessed Pope John Paul II. In this he outlined Bl. JPII’s program for recovering what had been lost which he had addressed almost from the beginning of his pontificate to the very end.

In the interest of time he skipped over the magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI, though he promised to somehow make his transcript available so that we could read this section. (I’ll try to post it as soon as I can get hold of it). Of course, readers of this blog will have been quite attentive to B16’s pronouncements and are undoubtedly already quite aware with regards to his thoughts on the importance of a strong devotional life, especially within the family.

Parts of the Cardinal’s talk were most touching, nearly moving me to tears on a few occasions (though, those who know me know that I can be a bit of a sap – not on the scale of Speaker Boehner however). This was especially true as he related stories from his own experience of priestly ministry giving witness to the power of a strong devotional life – especially to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He gave very beautiful and powerful witness to this devotion bringing families back together and even contributing to a very happy and peaceful death. That is not to say that I didn’t pay rapt attention to the entirety of his beautiful talk! But…some parts are very informational and thus somewhat dry, while others are very inspirational precisely because they give witness to the great power of that about which the Cardinal was speaking.

This is why I have always encouraged a strong devotional life in my parishes. In, now, my third pastorate the novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help continues to be a fixture of parish life (Wednesday nights at 8:00pm at St. Mary’s Ridge). I also provide opportunities for adoration, an annual 40 hours devotion, Stations of the Cross, the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is encouraged before Mass as well as other seasonal devotions attached to those seasons of the year or saints who have particular message that is relevant for the people of my parishes.

Sadly, it’s been years since I have been asked to consecrate a family home to the Sacred Heart, and it seems like pulling teeth to get people to attend 40 hours devotion and other opportunities for adoration. Stations of the Cross are very poorly attended to the extent that even when it is a part of the CCD program parents almost always seem to be out in their cars impatiently waiting for their children to be released from church.

What do we do? I ask this not in exasperation but out of real concern and the knowledge that the devotional life is very strong in some places. What are they (or you) doing that is working? As always in this blog, I seek your input.

Cardinal Burke has echoed Bl.JPII’s and B16’s call for a new evangelization. He has pointed out very clearly how this new evangelization must begin with a renewal of family life. He has also demonstrated very persuasively that this renewal cannot take place without a return to a strong devotional life within the family and within our Church. How will we answer that call?

Hello - AGAIN!

Well, folks, it's been a long two months. First I was informed that I was to be moved along with 42 other priests of the Diocese of La Crosse. Then came the very fast and intense month of preparation for the move. As you can imagine, it isn't just a matter of getting one's things packed up and ready to move (thanks for all of the help Mom!!! :)), but there is also the attempt to wrap up things at the current parish assignments and prepare for the new pastor's arrival. This is made more difficult when there are positions to fill in both parishes/schools. However, ready or not, the day came to move. With the assistance of a number of wonderful parishioners, old and new, the job got done and no one got killed. I, however, ended up going to the clinic for a cut nose that occurred when I tripped over some things carrying a load outside. (Dang-it!)
Having arrived at my new parishes it's been a time trying to get staff positions filled for the new school year while figuring out how everything works around here and where everything is. The toughest part has been the three funerals right before leaving my former assignment messed up my plans for my annual retreat and moving messed up my vacation. However, there are plans to correct these very important mis-steps in the very near future.
My new assignment includes the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St. Mary's Ridge (between Cashton and Norwalk), St Augustine of Hippo at Norwalk, and Sacred Heart of Jesus at Cashton. These include an elementary school at Cashton and an Hispanic ministry at Norwalk. Bonus: instead of being an hour and 20 minutes from home I am now only 20 minutes from home. My dad likes this VERY much. These parishes are all very rural and my rectory is at St. Mary's Ridge and thus the view is fantastic.
There are a great many challenges here and so your continued prayers are GREATLY appreciated. Chief among these challenges is a school that is severely underfunded, undersupported, and underutilized. The second major challenge is an Hispanic ministry that has struggled along for nearly 20 years. It was (I believe) the first Spanish language Mass offered in the diocese and still struggles along with no developed community and low attendance despite a sizable Hispanic presence in the area. Sadly, the evangelicals are having a field day.
So, that's where I've been the last couple of months. I hope to get in the rhythm and be posting regularly again. God blessings be with you all!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary as much as you can!

Here's my bulletin article for this week. It is on the importance of celebrating the feasts dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Enjoy! Comments, as always, are most welcome.

Monday, May 16, 2011

More thoughts on the "Good Shepherd"

Readings for the day:
Acts 11:1-18
John 10:11-18

This past weekend we celebrated "Good Shepherd Sunday". So named because the Gospel for the day is Christ's discourse, related in the Gospel according to St. John, on the good shepherd. This is used by the Church as a particularly good time for encouraging vocations. It isn't for no reason that Pope John Paul II named his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Pastores dabo vobis - I will give you shepherds.

It occurred to me, as I listened to today's first reading, that what is missing today is a trust in today's shepherds when it comes to teaching and discipline. In today's reading Peter is challenged by the Jews regarding his activities with the gentiles in Ceasarea. But after he explained his vision and the actions which followed they rejoiced!

What a far cry from what happens today. The Holy Father, or a good bishop in communion with him, does something, makes a judgement, writes a letter, etc., and he is subjected to immediate questions and judgement. Now, as we saw in today's reading from "Acts", questioning the actions of our pope or bishop is not, in itself, a bad thing. In fact, given many of the things that have gone on over the years, it's probably a good thing. However, once the explanation is given we should also be rejoicing!

Sadly, we don't rejoice. There is always someone to question every aspect of the pope or bishop's decision. Some gripe that he didn't go far enough. Others gripe that he went to far. And from there all kinds of over broad and grandiose, or on the other hand - dismissive statements are proclaimed.

This "magisterium of the individual" is something that I have experienced with priests (and bishops not so in-communion with the pope) and laity alike. Whether it is principles of theology, prudential applications of moral theology, or disciplines of the Church (liturgical, moral, and otherwise) someone always seems to know better. Ugh!

How about we stop passing judgement on our pope or bishop's teaching or decisions and, after asking questions which will lead to understanding, REJOICE??? I am certian that it would lead to not only greater peace within the Church, but also a more wonderful witness to the power of the Spirit acting in the Church today just as it did in the time of the Apostles.

You don't care for the extraordinary form of the Mass? Then don't celebrate it. But don't criticize those who do! You think something is missing in the ordinary form of the Mass? Then go to an extraordinary form Mass and rejoice that whether it is the ordinary form, the extraordinary form, the Eastern Rites, or the Anglican usage, we are all one body in Christ!!!

Be sure, there's stuff that I'm not so thrilled about either, but what the Church allows is not to be dis-allowed. I might also add that what the Church dictates is not to be "bitched" about (even if it involves moving yet another holy day to the nearest Sunday :)).

So, as we celebrate this week following Good Shepherd Sunday, let us be sure to give thanks for our good shepherds. Also, hold them up in prayer daily. Lord knows I don't get through a week but for the prayers of so many faithful and loving people. Amen!I'd have one of Bishop Callahan, whom I love dearly, but I don't have one and couldn't find one. Next time!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Good Shepherd Sunday - World Day of Prayer for Vocations

It is Good Shepherd Sunday and World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Here's a link to my parish letter for this weekend which is a little reflections on the crisis in priestly vocations.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New English Translation of the Mass

At the expense of exposing myself as a total ignoramous, I'd like to commend to all the Roma Locuta Est blog. The author has been doing an excellent job of writing little commentaries on the parts of the Mass and their new translations. Particularly valuable is his knowledge of Latin grammar and his analysis of the new versus the old. I also appreciate his insights as he applies what might be called a literary analysis to the texts. Let me know what YOU think about his contributions. I'm interested in hearing from others.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday - Stations of the Cross

There is a great page at the Holy See's website which makes available the Stations of the Cross used by the Holy Father for his annual celebration at the Coliseum in Rome. The Stations are written by a variety of people over the years. They are available in English back as far as 2000. Before that you'd better know Italian. Also, there are pictures accompanying the stations from a variety of sources. The picture at left is from the 12th Station in 2008 which meditations were written by the Archbishop of Hong Kong. Note: the stations are not always the traditional 14 that we are used to. There are always 14, but sometimes they take up other moments from scripture in the Passion of our Lord.
This is one of those resources which really makes for some good prayer over Good Friday and even into Holy Saturday Morning. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Liturgical Music

Some of you may know that I started out life a musician. I hold a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in vocal music and I started playing the organ in my parish church at the age of 13. My passion has always been sacred music and especially liturgical music. I have read pretty much all of the Church's legislation and teaching on sacred music and have wondered long about why we have so little that truly serves the liturgy well. I even "wasted" an hour the other day listening to GIA's offerings on settings for the new English translation of the Mass. I was starting to wonder if I wasn't getting too "old and stodgy" in my musical tastes when I spoke to a talented young organist from the Twin Cities (Minnesota) who confirmed what I was thinking: it really is difficult to find truly worthy music in English, especially for non-urban parishes.

So, it was with great delight that I read, this past week, the comments by Joseph Cullen, choral director of the London Symphony Orchestra. In the article found on CNA's website He said that since the 1960's there has been a "glaring lack of sympathy for worthy sacred music." He went on to say that "the rush to find new musical settings for the Novus Ordo mass in the 1960s led to little artistic scrutiny being applied to the process. As a result, he says, most parish Masses now have poorly composed hymns being used inappropriately as mere “filler” throughout the sacred liturgy." How right he is!!! He also commented on the inappropriate use of familiar melodies and what I call "the attack of the voice", aka: cantors. Check out the article in its entirety here. You won't be sorry.

I must say, I particularly like what he had to say regarding the faulty approach used by the sacred music organs within nation conferences of Catholic Bishops. Things about which I have grumbled for a good many years.

It was a delight also to see another article in which Scottish composer James MacMillan echoes Cullen's criticism in another CNA article. Is it too much to hope that somebody out there will listen during the reign of a pope with the refined tastes and experience of Pope Benedict XVI? We shall see....

As with many things in the Church, it is not a matter of needing the teaching and legislation on these issue clarified. It is a matter of truly competent people being put in place and given the exposure necessary to get good music out to the parishes. It is also a matter of composers giving us material that doesn't require a cathedral choir to present.

Of course, a new English chant tradition would certainly be of great help in applying the Church's rich tradition of psalm singing. Maybe the new Anglican use ordinariate will be of help in this regard? More hymnody with texts which serve the liturgy and reflect the given antiphons of the Church would also be most welcome.

Anyone have sources they'd like to share? Share away so that we can all benefit. I might make a start with the Church Music Association's website - Musica Sacra.

Happy Birthday Papa!

Birthday wishes to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. I've been an avid reader of Pope Benedict's books for 20 years now. He is a true "great one". His 2nd installment of Jesus of Nazareth is a fantastic companion to Holy Week. God willing, he will be able to finish up the third volume and maybe a few more encyclicals - maybe something surprisingly mundane to the "experts", possibly on faith? :) In any case, blessings on our Holy Father!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Agnus Dei...miserere nobis!

Saturday is declared, by the Catholic bishops of the United States, a day of penance for the sin of abortion as we come upon this sad commemoration of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing the abominable scourge that is abortion. What will you do in reparation? Might I suggest, in addition to your prayers and fasting (or at least abstinance from meat) that you seriously consider sending off a letter/e-mail/phone call to your state legislator and/or your congressman and senators expressing your support for their pro-life votes or encouraging them to open their hearts to the unborn and their mothers.

There are some numbers that have been running around in my head over the last several days along with a couple of truly shocking news stories. The first number is 4,408. This is the number of soldiers who have died in Iraq since 2002 (8 years). I know that many have wondered if that is acceptable. Of course, we then consider that in all of the wars since the foundation of our country we have lost 1,010,003 men and women. Rightly so, we set aside a number of days each year to memorialize these brave men and women.

I thought next of those who die from the three most talked about medical conditions. According to the US Centers for Disease Control these are the numbers for 2007: Men who died from heart attacks – 206,800; Women who died from breast cancer – 40,598; All persons dying with an AIDS diagnosis – 18,089.

Then I thought of the number of traffic deaths. It turns out that there are about 40,000 traffic deaths per year in the United States. The total since 1973 is about 1,646,486 deaths.

I thought about how much time and effort we put into becoming aware of these issues. The NFL, for instance, has an entire month where players and coaches incorporate pink into their uniforms in order to bring awareness to breast cancer. I still see billboards that proclaim the need to fight the “epidemic” of HIV/AIDS. I recalled how much effort is put into making our young people aware of just what kind of damage an automobile can do to them and those they love. We even consider it important sometimes to confront them with the horror of images of the aftermath of deadly auto accidents.

Yet, all of this pales in comparison to that for which our society fights tooth and nail and even tries to characterize as a constitutional right – abortion. PLEASE, don’t stop reading. I know many don’t want to hear it, but this is too important.

Since 1973 there have been about 50 million “safe, legal” abortions in the United States where our Declaration of Independence tells us that we “are endowed by our creator with certain inalianable rights, among these being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. In 1973 we were told that it was nothing more than a “blob of tissue”. In 2011, in the face of ultrasound images, we are simply told that it is a “choice”. This breaks down to 1.2 million abortions per year (a little more than the total number of war dead since 1775); There were about 137 abortions performed in the time it took you to attend Mass; there have been about 7 abortions in the time it has taken you to read this article thus far.

For over 30 years we have been told that it is important to make abortion “legal, safe, and rare”. Two weeks ago it was reported that 40% of all pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. So much for “rare”. Last week we read about an abortion provider (can’t bring myself to call him a doctor) arrested for the deaths of a woman and 7 newborns. So much for “safe”. The only thing we can say about abortion is that it is legal. That doesn’t make it morally right in the eyes of God.

There is so much more that could and needs to be said. However, I will leave you with this for now. Archbishops Dolan and Listecki, and our own Bishop Callahan have made it clear that this is THE moral, social justice issue of our time. If we don’t get this right, there is nothing that can truly be made right. Please, join me in prayer, fasting, and charity that we may put an end to this modern day holocaust.