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Archive of September 17, 2011

Nebraska songwriter, music teacher pays tribute to the Blessed Mother

Julian, Neb., Sep 17, 2011 (CNA) - Kevin Boos has been using the musical skills God gave him for the better part of 40 years, serving as a liturgist for St. Bernard Parish in Julian and teaching music for elementary students at Lourdes Central Catholic School in Nebraska City.

Now he has written a new piece of liturgical music that collects all the Scriptural references of Mary into one song titled, "For the Love of the Son."

The song’s first inspiration came about three years ago during one of Father Mark Cyza’s homily about the Blessed Mother.

"He said that Mary always answered God’s request with ‘Yes,’" remembered Boos, who is also a published author and computer instructor.

Almost immediately, the idea of a song occurred to him.

"I had a pocket P.C., and I took it out and wrote down a couple ideas," said Boos. "And then it just kind of sat there."

Around two years later, however, inspiration struck again.

Boos had been attending a Bible study with the local Franciscan Sisters for several years. The group was exploring Mary’s appearance throughout the Bible, in both Old Testament prophesy and New Testament events.

Now the song was taking shape in the back of his mind. More threads worked it from other inspirational Catholic speakers.

In February, Boos finally sat down and wrote the lyrics out. Then he picked up his guitar and worked out the chords.

Right away, Boos knew there was something special about this song.

"Most of the songs I write, I don’t like," he admitted. "But this one I liked right away. The melody and the words fit together."

Boos played "For the Love of the Son" for his wife and grown children. But then he wanted to hear somebody else sing it, so he could evaluate it a bit more objectively. He immediately thought of Piper Monson.

Piper is about to start fifth grade at Lourdes Central Catholic School. She’s always been a musical child, taking up the violin when she was only 4 years old and starting guitar lessons at school with Boos when she was in the first grade.

In fact, Piper has become so adept at the guitar, she now acts as Boos’ assistant guitar instructor, teaching basic skills to the younger students. Together, they play guitar for the school Masses at Lourdes Central.

Now she plays both acoustic and classical guitar, piano and French horn. She studies ballet and tap and takes vocal lessons, singing in the Pink Ladies, a Nebraska City girls’ choir and at St. Bernard Parish for Mass. When she’s confirmed this year, she intends to take Saint Cecelia, patron saint of music, as her patroness.

Something about Piper’s clear soprano seemed to match "For the Love of the Son."

"I gave her the song and said, ‘I want you to sing this because I want to hear somebody else sing it,’" recalled Boos.

Pleased with the results, Boos recruited a few more people from Saint Bernard and the group sang "For the Love of the Son" at Mass there. They received numerous compliments.

Boos determined to record Piper and the others on his home computer. But Piper’s mother suggested a road trip to her cousin’s recording studio near Des Moines, Sound Farm.

Before long, the group had traveled to Jamaica, Iowa, and were laying down tracks in Sound Farm’s professional studio.

It was a dream come true for Boos, who has been playing guitar since he bought one from a friend for $15 in 1967. He played in a rock band as a high school student, but he never had the opportunity to record his own songs before.

"I’d help a couple of friends over the years, but nothing on my own," he said.

Boos combined the audio recording with some photographs that he took during the session and some religious artwork to create a video. He posted the video to YouTube so that other people can enjoy the song … and perhaps find inspiration in it.

"'For the Love of the Son’ is intended to honor Mary for her importance to our faith as she answered ‘Yes,’ to God," Boos said.

Anyone with a personal computer is welcome to hear the song. Simply go to www.kevinboos.com and click on the link, "For the Love of the Son."

Printed with permission from the Southern Nebraska Register, newspaper for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb.

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Vatican stresses dignity of elderly in reaction to UN report

Geneva, Switzerland, Sep 17, 2011 (CNA) - The Catholic Church’s delegation to the United Nations in Geneva has taken “strong exception” to a reference to assisted suicide in a special report on the place of the elderly in society, despite its agreement with other aspects of the report.

“We strongly believe that life is a gift that no person has the so-called ‘right’ to end, that death is the culmination of a natural process and no person, even the elderly or suffering person himself or herself, is entitled to cause or hasten the natural process of dying through biomedical or any other means,” explained Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations and Specialized Agencies in Geneva.

On Sept. 16 he spoke to the 18th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council about its special rapporteur’s study on older persons’ right to health.

Archbishop Tomasi’s criticism focused on a reference about “issues of patient autonomy in respect of deciding to end life,” though he acknowledged that the report’s author did not treat such issues “in the context of the present report.”

The archbishop said that the Church exhorts scientists and doctors to research prevention and treatment of illnesses linked to old age without ever bending to “the temptation to have recourse to practices that shorten the life of the aged and sick, practices that would turn out to be, in fact, forms of euthanasia.”

He said the Catholic Church sees the growing number of aging persons as a “blessing” rather than “a burden on society.” The Church sponsors 15,448 homes for the aged, chronically ill and handicapped persons around the world.

The archbishop cited Pope Benedict XVI’s September 2010 address to a rest home in London. The Pope said that every generation can learn from “the experience and wisdom of the generation that preceded it.

“Indeed, the provision of care for the elderly should be considered not so much an act of generosity as the repayment of a debt of gratitude,” said the Pope.

Despite his objection to the report’s reference to “deciding to end life,” Archbishop Tomasi expressed agreement with many aspects of the report. He agreed that states should allocate more resources for geriatric care and should train health personnel to interact with elderly patients in “an appropriate, considerate and non-discriminatory manner.” The archbishop also noted the special need to protect frail elderly persons against physical and emotional abuse by caregivers or family members.

The increase in the proportion of older persons is “cross-cultural” and the rapporteur was “compelling” to say that protecting older person’s human rights should be of concern to everyone, because every person ages.

The special rapporteur encouraged a shift away from the current biomedical view of aging which sees it as “an abnormal or pathological phenomenon” and “equates advanced age with illness.”

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Catholics responding to flooding in Pakistan and India

Baltimore, Md., Sep 17, 2011 (CNA) - While 6 to 8 feet of water submerges homes in Orissa province in India, floodwaters are packing a second punch to people in Sindh province, Pakistan. Half of the people Catholic Relief Services plans to assist in Sindh are still rebuilding their homes and farms after deadly flooding in 2010, setting them further back on the path toward recovery.
 
There is widespread need in both Pakistan and India. In the four districts the Catholic charity is prioritizing in Pakistan – among the poorest in the country – more than 200,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. Jack Byrne, country representative for Pakistan, said “This is a double blow for many of the families affected by the current flood. They lost so much in the 2010 floods, and were beginning to get back on their feet. They’ve lost their crops, homes and belongings for the second time in a year.”
 
Teams from Catholic Relief Services India report some people waiting to be rescued from the tops of their houses, while others have made it to embankments but lack sufficient shelter.
 
Catholic Relief Services is coordinating a response in both countries.
 
People displaced and affected by the floods need ways to purify drinking water, hygiene items, shelter while they wait for waters to recede and boats for transportation. Many smaller roads have been washed away, and the only way to reach some communities is through murky water filled with submerged debris. The Catholic charity and partner organizations are determining how many people need assistance and the safest and most efficient way to move aid to affected communities.
 
Just last month Catholic Relief Services (CRS) conducted an emergency response training for 20 staff from partner organizations on water treatment in India. “We are not able to stop the monsoons from coming, but we can build a stronger and more capable response team when flooding happens,” said Cassie Dummett, head of programming in India.
 
“CRS Pakistan employees are trained and prepared to respond to emergencies such as this,” said Byrne. “But it’s heartbreaking to see families who were just getting back on their feet have to start over yet again.”
 
Jennifer Hardy is a CRS communications officer for digital and new media, based in Baltimore. Visit CRS at: http://www.crs.org/

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Bishop Blaire urges Catholics to help Americans living in poverty

Denver, Colo., Sep 17, 2011 (CNA) - Amid the country’s recession woes, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly one out of every six Americans is living in poverty – a problem, says a leading Church figure, that every Catholic should be the solution to.

“There has to be a shared sacrifice by everybody if we're going to address the economy,” Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California told CNA on Sept. 16.

Bishop Blaire, who heads the U.S. bishops' committee on domestic policy and human development, said that Church has an obligation to not only provide for the physical needs in those in poverty, but “to continue to advocate to our government leaders on behalf of the poor.”

On Sept. 13, the U.S. Census Bureau issued a report saying that in 2010, almost one in six Americans was living in poverty, with children especially affected by the economic decline. Numbers from last year show that 46.2 million U.S. citizens lived below the poverty line, earning a little over $22,000 a year for a family of four.

The report comes as an estimated 14 million people are out of work across the nation, comprising an unemployment rate unseen by the country in decades. 

In a Sept. 14 article, the Washington Post cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics which showed that although total employment is expected to increase by 15.3 million – 10 percent – from 2008 to 2018, the number of jobs in several common industries, such as agriculture and postal work, will substantially decrease.

“We continue to face enormous challenges in our country – we have so many people who still do not have work, so many people that are receiving less than adequate wages to live or raise a family, so many people have lost their homes,” Bishop Blaire said.

“As the Holy Father has said, when people are without work, it diminishes their humanity,” he noted, adding that it's “the responsibility of the lay community especially in government, in business and in other institutional entities to work together to address the issue.”

The bishop criticized partisan bickering in recent budget debates, saying the poor are in constant danger of being overlooked in terms of federal funding. He also urged Catholics to help prevent political ideologies from taking on “a divine authority.”

“Most of the talk is about putting the middle class back to work and that's fine but we must not be afraid to speak about the poor – you don't hear that word very often,” he remarked. 

“There are so many areas that have to be looked at in terms of a balanced budget but special attention has to be given to the care for the most poor and most vulnerable in our society,” he insisted.

“If you continue to have this polarization where people are not sitting down at the table together it's hard to see how we can move ahead.”

Bishop Blaire also warned against the subtle prejudice – found even in some Catholics –  against those in poverty.

“There still is a tendency in some to blame the poor for being poor,” he said. “Granted, we all have to accept responsibilities, but many of the poor are poor for reasons that are beyond their control.”

“Many of them are the mentally ill, those who have disabilities, single mothers who are struggling trying to find enough work to raise their children,” he added. 

“And so you hear periodically, 'well the poor are poor because they need to accept more responsibility' – well, we all have to accept responsibility.”

To those who argue that government assistance programs such as welfare and unemployment are in constant risk of being abused, the bishop said, “there's always going to be abuse and you always have to work to correct it.”

“But we have to keep those who are the poorest in our society on our agenda,” he emphasized.

“People have forgotten that some of the greatest contributions to society have come from people who are poor, who have received an education and have been able to contribute.”

Ultimately, “it's the role of the Church to try to keep everything in proper perspective,” he said.

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Islam set to be dominant religion in France

Paris, France, Sep 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

New research suggests there are now more practising Muslims in France than practising Catholics.

While 64 percent of French people describe themselves as Roman Catholic, only 2.9 percent of the population actually practice the Catholic faith. That compares to 3.8 percent of the population who practice the Muslim faith. The research was carried out by the French Institute of Public Opinion on behalf of the Catholic newspaper La Croix.

More worrying for Islamic authorities in France is the finding that only 41 percent of the country’s 6 million Muslims actually describe themselves as “practising,” although 75 percent are happy to label themselves “believers.” Seventy-percent also claim to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Most French Muslims hail from the country’s former colonies in North and sub-Saharan Africa.

There is also further evidence that mosques are being erected at a much faster rate than Catholic churches. Mohammed Moussaoui, President of the Muslim Council of France, last month estimated that 150 new mosques are currently under construction across the country.

By contrast, the Catholic Church in France has built only 20 new churches during the past decade, and has formally closed more than 60 churches. Many of these are now destined to become mosques, according to La Croix.

Research in 2009 by the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research suggested that nearly 500 new mosques were built between 2001 and 2006, taking the present total to over 2,000. Many of these new buildings, however, were erected to re-accommodate local Islamic communities who had previously been using temporary accommodation – the so-called “Islam of the basements.”

One of France’s most prominent Muslim leaders, Dalil Boubakeur, who is the head of the Grand Mosque of Paris, recently called for the number of mosques in the country to be doubled again – to 4,000 – to meet growing demand.

The lack of building space for France’s Islamic population had led to many mosques not being able to accommodate the believers who arrive for Friday prayers, leaving many Muslims to pray outside in the streets.

But Muslims praying outside of mosques has created political tension.

In December 2010 the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, described such scenes as an “occupation without tanks or soldiers.” She is likely to run for the French presidency next year, and her message is resonating with 40 percent of voters, according to a recent poll for the “France Soir” newspaper.

French President Nikolas Sarkozy has also recently described street prayers as “unacceptable,” adding that the street cannot become “an extension of the mosque.” Last month his Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, suggested Muslims should instead use empty barracks. Prayer in the street “has to stop,” Guéant declared.

In a bid to solve the space crisis in the southern city of Marseille, a mosque to accommodate 7,000 worshippers is currently being built. Twenty-five percent of Marseille's population is Muslim.

Last month a mosque for 2,000 worshippers opened in the eastern town of Strasbourg, where 15 percent of the population is Muslim.

France is often referred to as the “eldest daughter of the Catholic Church,” because the local Church has maintained unbroken communion with the Bishop of Rome since the 2nd century.

But some senior European bishops have long predicted the eclipse of Catholicism by Islam across the continent.

In 1999, Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini, an Italian Franciscan who heads the Izmir Archdiocese in Turkey, recalled a conversation he had with a Muslim leader for the Synod of European Bishops, which was gathered in Rome. That leader told him, “thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you. Thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you.”

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Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

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