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On this day: St. Linus


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Linus, who, according to tradition, was the first Pope after the Apostles.

"Irenaeus thought that the Church had been 'founded and organized at Rome by the two glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul,' and that its faith had been reliably passed down to posterity by an unbroken succession of bishops, the first of them chosen and consecrated by the Apostles themselves. He named the bishops who had succeeded the Apostles, in the process providing us with the earliest surviving list of the popes--Linus, Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, and so on down to Irenaeus' contemporary and friend Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome from AD 174 to 189."

--Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, by Eamon Duffy, Yale University Press, Third Edition, 2006, page 2.

Troy Davis' execution, and being 'little less than God'


Late last night, I stayed up to watch Democracy Now!’s live feed of the news conference held outside the Georgia Diagnostic Prison just minutes after the execution of Troy Davis.

At the mike were three media observers who witnessed Davis’ killing inside the prison. Perhaps in an attempt to appear professional, the journalists described with clinical precision the details of his killing.

Shame on us


"Tonight the state of Georgia legally lynched an innocent man," Troy Davis' lawyer Thomas Ruffin Jr. said. "Tonight I witnessed something tragic."

Davis, whose case drew international attention, is now dead, executed for the 1989 killing of an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Georgia, a crime he quite likely did not commit, a crime riddled with grave doubt.

Until the very end, he maintained his innocence. After being strapped to the death gurney, he lifted his head to address the family of the slain officer, once again saying he was not responsible for the officer's death and did not have a gun at the time, according to execution witnesses.

The pleas of Pope Benedict XVI and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and a host of other well-known and lesser known human rights and justice advocates were to no avail.

If We're So Smart


One of my father's at-the-ready quips to whipper snappers was "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"

It was pure Depression era rhetoric that embedded the common American axiom that brains were meant for making money that wasn't even there after the 1929 Crash (when the smart guys went bust). It was an ironic comment, of course.

Likewise, I wonder why the American higher education system, touted widely as the world's best, isn't solving our gravest national crises and quite possibly adding to them?

Take a gander at college and university websites and you'll witness a parallel universe where "excellence" is celebrated and everything's coming up roses. Prof. X is conquering the world of gooless glue, student Y has become one of the foremost experts in Peru and the math club has returned triumphant from a tournament in New Zealand.

This is all well and good for college publicity and for the well-being of the individuals serving up these accomplishments. But what are they doing to help us as a nation go down the tubes?

Two reasons come first to mind.

On this day: St. Sadalberga


On this day we remember St. Sadalberga (c. 605 - 670), founder of the Abbey of St. John at Laon.

The various accounts of her life, which are compared in Sainted Women of the Dark Ages, edited and translated by Jo Ann McNamara and John E. Halborg with Gordon Whatley, Duke University Press, 1992, tell us that she was the child of saints, the wife of a saint, the sister of a saint, the mother of saints, and the aunt of a saint. She was compared to Paula and Melania and to Augusta Helena, who, like Sadalberga, were married women and mothers before entering religious life.

Cardinal O'Malley asks lawyers to fight euthanasia measure


Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston is asking lawyers, judges and others in the legal profession to fight Death With Dignity, a ballot question that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts, according to this Associated Press story.

The ballot question is being proposed for consideration in 2012 in both Massachusetts and Vermont by groups working to make lethal drugs available to terminally ill people, as an end-of-life care option. Read more about the movement here.

But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says that physician-assisted suicide really does not “enhance choices or freedom for people with serious health conditions,” and lists the reasons in its statement released in June, “To Live Each Day With Dignity.”

Can we talk?


One of the things that makes the Catholic culture wars so frustrating is the intractable, black-and-white position that people take on the subject of dissent.

Great numbers of folks have jumped to one extreme or the other on dissent and are convinced that anyone who doesn't agree with their side is either dishonest or just stupid.

Benedictine monks to close down cattle business


NPR's All Things Considered presented an interesting interview with the monks about the closing of their cattle operation.

The Benedictine Monks of Assumption Abbey, Richardton, North Dakota, are reluctantly giving up a century-old tradition.

The monks started the monastery in 1899 and they have had a farm right from the beginning. It was a way of raising our own food. In the early days, everybody had beef cattle and dairy cattle, but now, in recent years, we are selling most of the cows. We still butcher our own, but we don't butcher very many, so it's the source of income for the abbey.

A source of income that's about to disappear as the monks prepare to sell their herd at auction, probably around Thanksgiving. Abbott Brian Wangler, who's in charge here, says it's strictly because there just aren't enough monk cowboys to manage the herd. Most monks here are older than 40 and fewer young men are entering religious orders these days.


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March 24-April 6, 2017