Omaha, Neb., Oct 9, 2011 (CNA) - Fred Wacha was determined to enjoy his 50th wedding anniversary with family this summer, and he lived long enough while suffering from liver and pancreatic cancer to do just that, said his wife, Pat.
"He told the doctor, 'keep me alive so I can celebrate,'" Pat Wacha said. "He knew his days were numbered."
Fred Wacha, 76, underwent cancer surgery in March, followed by about seven weeks of chemotherapy, Pat Wacha said.
He felt well enough for the Clarkson couple to travel to a hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa, July 9 to be with family and friends, including their children and spouses - John and Monica Wacha of Richmond Hill, Ga., and their children, Jacob and Joseph; Theresa and Ben Gokey of Omaha; Jim and Kim Wacha of Lincoln and their children, Alex and Cody; and Annette Wacha of Buffalo, N.Y., Pat Wacha said. Jim and Kim's daughter, Heaven, of Conception Junction, Mo., could not make the party because of Missouri River flooding, but she visited her grandparents several days after the get-together.
Fred Wacha re-entered the hospital July 11 and died July 13, Pat Wacha, 80, said.
She said she felt blessed to have celebrated 50 years of marriage with her husband. Not many couples can say that, she said.
Their children stand as their legacy, she said.
"They all learned to work and not sit back and wait for handouts," she said.
Longtime members of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Clarkson, the Wachas' service has included active roles in the women's altar society and men's club, which help raise money for the parish. Fred Wacha also was a member of the Knights of Columbus.
A high school teacher, Fred Wacha over the years was on the rescue squad and a volunteer firefighter, city councilman, mayor and co-chairman of the community's Czech Festival. He rode horses and taught hunter-safety classes.
Printed with permission from the Catholic Voice, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.
Washington D.C., Oct 9, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Media attacks on Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum show “just how twisted and vile the LGBT movement can be when anyone dare disagree,” said Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture for the Media Research Center.
Members of the media “bash Santorum whenever possible,” Gainor said to CNA on Oct. 6.
Gainor responded to ongoing Google attacks against Santorum by gay sex-advice columnist Dan Savage.
Santorum is Catholic and has vocally expressed his support for the Church’s teaching on marriage. In recent years, Savage has lashed out at Santorum for his belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
In 2003, Savage organized a “Google bomb” against Santorum, setting up a website displaying a graphic sexual term as the definition for the word “santorum.” Through extensive use of links to other sites, he then caused this site to rise to the top of Google search engine results.
When Internet users perform a Google search for Rick Santorum, the obscene website is the first result.
The Google attacks have gained national attention since Santorum joined the race for Republican presidential nomination.
Santorum contacted Google's office, but they refused to remove the vulgar results, saying that the company only removes content from search results “in very limited cases.” A Google representative advised Santorum to directly contact the webmaster of the page that he found offensive.
Gainor described the attacks are “part of an ongoing hate campaign organized by Savage against Santorum.”
“It is despicable that Savage would help equate Santorum's name in such a bizarre sexual way,” he said.
“And even worse that media outlets continue to work with Savage after his repeated attacks on Santorum.”
Gainor charged that the bias against Santorum is widespread in the media because of Santorum’s Catholic values.
He noted that “CNN's openly gay Don Lemon talked about Santorum being ‘homophobic,’ while others called him an ‘idiot’ or ‘mentally ill.’”
“The media can't stand Santorum because of his socially conservative views,” Gainor said.
Candidates with such values, he explained, “are always the targets for such media attacks.”
San Francisco, Calif., Oct 9, 2011 (CNA) -
As California's largest gay activist group Equality California launches its new “Breakthrough Conversation Project” to change public opinion on marriage, Catholics for the Common Good wants to talk about what society's basic institution really is – and who loses out if it is redefined.
“We are taking an entirely fresh approach to communicating the reality of marriage in secular society,” said William B. May, founder and chairman of the San Francisco-based group that promotes Catholic social teaching on society's common interest. “Marriage is the reality that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.”
“We call it a 'reality-based' approach – reality, as an antidote to relativism,” May told CNA on Oct. 6. “We're looking at the reality of marriage from the perspective of the child.”
May spoke about Catholics for the Common Good's approach to the marriage-definition controversy – as a question of children's rights and best interests – one day after Equality California announced that it was droppings its effort to redefine marriage through a ballot initiative in 2012.
Instead, the homosexual activist group says its “Breakthrough Conversation Project” will use “new, cutting-edge research, media tools and intensive trainings across the state,” to promote the idea that marriage is simply the committed union of two adults and should therefore include gay couples.
Catholics for the Common Good maintains that defenders of marriage need to expose the false premise behind Equality California's arguments, in order to make a real “breakthrough” in discussing why marriage exists and must not be redefined.
The key is in understanding the nature of marriage as more than a bond between two adults.
While many people hold this view of marriage, May explained, they fail to account for another essential feature of marriage: the purpose of ensuring that children know, and are cared for by, their biological parents.
“Underlying the proposal to redefine marriage, is an assumption that marriage is merely the committed relationship between two loving people,” he said. “And a lot of us think of marriage in terms of the adult perspective, and the benefit for adults.”
“That's a private interest – and that's not what marriage really is.”
“Marriage is more than that. It's a communion of persons. And when we look at it from the perspective of the child, it's the heart's desire of every person – without exception – to be united with, and to know, the man and woman that they came from. That's part of who we are.”
“What's happening now, with the redefinition of marriage in the minds of people, is that more and more children are becoming deprived of that experience – which is a human right – to be born into, and raised in, a family with a mother and a father united in marriage.”
Society and culture, May explained, have perennially defined marriage in this manner for the sake of binding men and women to fulfill this duty to their children.
Thus, any redefinition weakens the unique cultural and legal standing of the only institution that secures the integral bond between children and parents.
“The harm is this,” he said. “By redefining marriage as merely the public recognition of a relationship between adults, we essentially ban the promotion of marriage as the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.”
“It creates a conflict with the human rights of the child, to know and be cared for by their mother and father in the union of a marriage.”
May said this conflict would represent a clash between the public interest of all children – in the recognition and promotion of the type of union in which they have a right to be raised – and the private interest of homosexuals involving an essentially different type of relationship.
“To promote the unique value of the union of a man and a woman would then be legally 'discriminatory' against homosexuals – because it would be making a statement that one type of relationship has greater value. And it would not be permitted, if marriage is redefined as merely a committed relationship between adults.”
Not only the state, but “every institution in society,” May indicated, would then be “bound under the law” to ignore the most compelling public purpose for marriage, as a safeguard for children's rights.
“It will affect parishes,” he said. “It'll affect every organization in society.”
“In a court document from the Obama administration, involving a case to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, the Justice Department states: 'The government does not contend that there are legitimate government interests in creating a legal structure that promotes the raising of children by both their biological parents.'”
“That is startling,” May said. “And that's the endgame.”
“Basically, the government is opposing marriage that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.”
He noted that citizens often “can't see how startling this is, unless we start thinking – not about adults' interests, but about the common desire each of us has, for that connection with our mother and father.”
Equality California's new campaign, May said, is “really opposing the fulfillment of that desire,” by proposing that the type of union that bonds a man and woman to one another and their children should not enjoy any privileged social or legal standing.
Thus, the question of how society defines marriage is ultimately “a question of solidarity with the common interest and the human rights of the child,” having “nothing to do with gays and lesbians” as such.
“It has everything to do with the human rights of the child, which are currently not being defended,” May observed. “Everyone without exception has a mother and father. Every child in an alternative family is in a state of privation, lacking the connection with their mother or father or both.”
Such basic truths, however, are rarely discussed in a culture that exalts the individual, and works to obscure any connection between sex and procreation.
So as Equality California begins its new “education” campaign – confronting Californians at home and in public places to promote a new idea of marriage – May and Catholics for the Common Good have their work cut out for them, reminding citizens of basic truths about the human person.
It is an urgent task in the San Francisco archdiocese where May is based. During the last 20 years, he pointed out, “the Catholic population has increased by 12 percent – but marriages are down by 50 percent. And that's happening across the country: 41 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers.”
“People are shocked when they look at their children and say, 'Wow, they're not building relationships toward marriage. They're cohabiting. They're having children out of wedlock.' And this is touching every family.”
“The solution is education and formation of people – understanding what love is and its relation to what it means to be human,” said May. “These are some of the basic things that will help people understand their vocation of love, and help them in their quest for true freedom and happiness.”
Denver, Colo., Oct 9, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Oct. 15, Roman Catholics celebrate the Spanish Carmelite reformer and mystic St. Teresa of Avila, whose life of prayer enriched the Church during the 16th century counter-reformation.
Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada was born in the Castilian city of Avila during the year 1515, the third child in a family descended from Jewish merchants who had converted to Christianity during the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Her father Alphonsus had become an ardent Catholic, with a collection of spiritual books of the type his daughter would later compose herself.
As a child, Teresa felt captivated by the thought of eternity and the vision of God granted to the saints in heaven. She and her younger brother Rodrigo once attempted to run away from home for the sake of dying as martyrs in a Muslim country, though they soon ran into a relative who sent them back to their mother Beatrice.
When Teresa was 14, her mother died, causing the girl a profound grief that prompted her to embrace a deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary as her spiritual mother. Along with this good resolution, however, she also developed immoderate interests in reading popular fiction (consisting, at that time, mostly of medieval tales of knighthood) and caring for her own appearance.
Though Teresa's spiritual directors in later life would judge these faults to be relatively minor, they still represented a noticeable loss of her childhood zeal for God. Alphonsus decided his teenage daughter needed a change of environment, and sent her to be educated in a convent of Augustinian nuns. Teresa found their life dull at first, but soon came to some understanding of its spiritual advantages.
Illness forced her to leave the convent during her second year. But the influence of her devout uncle Peter, along with her reading of the letters of the monk and Church Father St. Jerome, convinced Teresa that the surest road to salvation lay in forsaking marriage, property, and worldly pleasures completely. Against the will of her father, who wanted her to postpone the decision, she joined the Carmelite Order.
Teresa became a professed member of the order at age 20, but soon developed a serious illness that forced her to return home. She experienced severe pain and physical paralysis for two years, and was expected to die when she went into a coma for four days. But she insisted on returning to the Carmelite monastery as soon as she was able, even though she remained in a painful and debilitated state.
For the next three years the young nun made remarkable progress in her spiritual life, developing the practice of recalling herself into the presence of God through quiet contemplation. As her health returned, however, Teresa lapsed into a more routine prayer life. While she remained an obedient Carmelite, she would not re-establish this close personal connection to God for almost twenty years.
When she was nearly 40, however, Teresa found herself dramatically called back to the practice of contemplative mental prayer. She experienced profound changes within her own soul, and remarkable visions that seemed to come from God. Under the direction of her confessors, Teresa wrote about some of these experiences in an autobiography that she completed in 1565.
Teresa had always been accustomed to contemplate Christ's presence within her after receiving him in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Now, however, she understood that the presence she received did not simply fade: God was, in fact, with her always, and had been all along. It was simply a matter of putting herself in his presence, with love and attention – as one could do at any moment.
This revolution in her spiritual life enabled Teresa to play a significant role in the renewal of the Church that followed the Council of Trent. She proposed a return of the Carmelites to their original rule of life, a simple and austere form of monasticism – founded on silence and solitude – that had received papal approval in the 12th century and was believed to date back to the Old Testament prophet Elijah.
Together with her close collaborator, the priest and writer later canonized as Saint John of the Cross, she founded what is known today as the Order of Discalced Carmelites – “discalced,” meaning barefoot, symbolizing the simplicity to which they chose to return the order after a period of corruption. The reform met with fierce opposition, but resulted in the founding of 30 monasteries during her life.
Teresa's health failed her for the last time while she was traveling through Salamanca in 1582. She accepted her dramatic final illness as God's chosen means of calling her into his presence forever.
“O my Lord, and my spouse, the desired hour is now come,” she stated. “The hour is at last come, wherein I shall pass out of this exile, and my soul shall enjoy in thy company what it hath so earnestly longed for.”
St. Teresa of Avila died on Oct. 15, 1582. She was canonized on March 22, 1622, along with three of her greatest contemporaries: St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Philip Neri.
In 1970, Pope Paul VI proclaimed St. Teresa as one of the first two woman Doctors of the Church, along with 14th century Dominican St. Catherine of Siena.
Lamezia Terme, Italy, Oct 9, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI condemned the organized crime that plagues the far reaches of southern Italy during a one-day visit to the area on Sunday.
He noted the region's beauty, but said “an often vicious criminality wounds the social fabric” and combines with unemployment to make the place “a land that seems to live in a state of constant emergency.”
The Pope made his comments during a homily delivered to over 40,000 people at a public Mass in the town of Lamezia Terme in Calabria.
He urged local people not to be afraid “to live and witness to faith in the various sectors of society.” Instead, he said, they should show themselves as “strong, confident and courageous,” knowing that when they face opposition they can find inspiration in the words of St. Paul: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”
Calabria is home to the secretive Ndrangheta gang, which masterminds much of Europe’s organized crime, including money laundering, drug trafficking and racketeering. The region also has an unemployment rate of about 32 percent, four times higher than the national average.
Prior to the Mass, Mayor Gianni Speranza of Lamezia Terme told Pope Benedict how his people had to live with “unacceptable unemployment, and dramatic injustice and violence.” They “cannot allow the dominion of the mafia and organized crime to grow stronger.” He thanked the Pope for his presence, saying it gave them all “courage and a voice.”
“Never give in to the temptations of pessimism and retreat in on yourselves,” urged the Pope in his homily.
“Rely on the resources of your faith and your human capacities; strive to grow in the ability to collaborate, to take care of each other and the public good,” he said.
The Pope also used his homily to discuss today’s Gospel, where Christ recounts the parable of the wedding guest who is thrown out of the banquet for not wearing a wedding garment. Drawing upon the thought of his sixth century papal predecessor, St. Gregory the Great, Pope Benedict explained its meaning.
“We are all invited to be guests of the Lord, to come with faith to His banquet, but we must wear and cherish the wedding garment, charity, a life of profound love for God and neighbor,” he said.
At the conclusion of Mass, the Pope prayed the midday Angelus with those in attendance. He entrusted congregants and their region to the protection of Our Lady.
“Let us invoke the intercession of Mary for the most serious social problems in this area and the whole of Calabria,” he said, “especially those related to unemployment, young people and the protection of persons with disabilities who require greater attention from all."
Serra San Bruno, Italy, Oct 9, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The lack of silence in contemporary society is making many people’s lives “more agitated and at times convulsed,” Pope Benedict XVI has said.
“Some people are no longer able to stay long in silence,” he told members of a silent Carthusian monastery in the southern Italian region of Calabria on Oct. 9.
“Most young people, who are already born in this state, seem to fill every empty moment with music and images, almost afraid to feel, in fact, this void.”
The monastery visit was the Pope’s last stop on a one-day trip to the south of Italy. Upon his arrival in the town of Serra San Bruno, crowds of over 30,000 greeted the Pope as he made his way through the streets in the popemobile.
The local monastery was established over 900 years ago by St. Bruno, a fellow German and founder of the Carthusian Order.
The Pope contrasted the silence of the order with the noise of modern life.
“Without realizing it, people are immersed in a virtual dimension, because of the audio-visual messages that accompany their life from morning to evening,” he said.
He called the Carthusian charism of silence “a precious gift for the Church and the world,” and one that contained “a profound message for our life and for humanity.”
“Retiring into silence and solitude, man, so to speak, is ‘exposed’ to reality in his nakedness,” said the Pope. This allows man to experience “the fullness, the presence of God, of the most real Reality that there is, and that is beyond the dimension of the senses.”
The Pope joined the monks for Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church. Before entering the monastery, he remarked that the ancient monastic life is a rebuke to a certain modern mindset “that is not Christian, or even human, because it is dominated by economic interests,” or is only concerned with earthly and not spiritual things.
A society based on such a mindset, he said, “not only marginalizes God, but also our neighbor, and we do not strive for the common good.” The monastery, though, is instead “a model of a society that focuses on God and fraternal relationship.” This is something for which we have “so much need in our time,” said the Pope.
While some may think it “impossible to remain for life in a monastery,” said the Pope, “a lifetime is just enough to get into this union with God.”
He concluded by telling the Carthusians that their vocation is in “the heart of the Church” and puts “the pure blood of the contemplation and love of God” into its veins.
Pope Benedict also visited a monastic cell and the community’s infirmary before signing the monastery’s visitor's book. He then set off on his return to Rome by helicopter and plane.