A Very Good Priest

Gives of himself, so that another might live. From the Florida Catholic:

Father Cioffi invited Chavez to attend a retreat at the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Ga., in thanksgiving for her total recovery from the pneumonia. She accepted, even though she was still in a wheelchair.

“I remember that it was the feast of St. Benedict and we had just finished doing a Holy Hour,” Chavez said, recalling the moment when she discovered what her former pastor had in mind. “As we were leaving the Blessed Sacrament, Father (Cioffi) received a call on his cell phone.

“He then told me to sit down because he had something to tell me. ‘That phone call was from the transplant center and we have a match,’ he said. I asked him what he was talking about and he explained that he had called the Jackson transplant center and sent in his blood. He then told me that he wanted to donate a kidney to me.

“I said, ‘Father, are you kidding? You are a scientist and a priest — how are you going to do this?’ He explained that, obviously, he didn’t have any family of his own to maintain and that he had already researched the matter on the Internet, reassuring me that everything was OK.”

Father Cioffi still had to pass additional checkups to ensure he was in good health and able to live on a single kidney. He emphasized these tests are done at no cost to the donor and do not compromise the donor’s health.

The transplant was completed in October 2007. Father Cioffi spent four days at the hospital, and Chavez spent six. He is now back in Philadelphia, carrying out his regular duties at the parish and at the Bioethics Center.

Chavez is also doing very well.

“The Lord has given me a lot,” she said. “Now, with my new kidney, I will be driving soon and resuming my normal life again. In gratitude, I recently accepted a call from my pastor to be the pro-life rep for my parish.”

“It is such a joy to see her alive and well, and disconnected from the dialysis machine,” Father Cioffi said. “It has been a very fulfilling and beautiful experience. To be able to give someone else life in exchange for a few days of discomfort gives one pure joy.”

Death Be Not Proud: Roe at 35

From the Birmingham News:

The most important number to remember this day is not 35, as in years, but somewhere in the tens of millions, as in babies. According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 40 million babies have been aborted since 1973. The pro-abortion-rights Guttmacher Institute in New York puts the figure closer to 50 million.

Either way, the number is staggering, and stark. It’s the population of the entire state of Alabama – times 10.

And what would have become of these lives? And what have we lost by their absence?

One of the great mysteries of life is the interconnectedness of our humanity, the miracle of one person touching another and somehow touching the whole world. Maybe one of these babies even had the answer for healing the terrible chasm that Roe vs. Wade opened up in our country.

Monsignor Joseph Champlin, RIP

I met him only once, but through his countless pastoral books feel like I knew him well.

 From News 10:

A retired Catholic priest well-known for his writing and work within the Syracuse Diocese has passed away.

Monsignor Joseph Champlin, 77, died Thursday evening at University Hospital after a long battle with a rare cancer.

Father Champlin received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2006 for helping raise nearly $2 million for the Cathedral School in Syracuse…

…The calling hours will be Tuesday, January 22 from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.. A vigil mass will follow the calling hours.

The funeral will be Wednesday, January 23 at 10:30 a.m. All are in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.


Pope Names Two Top Tasks That Face the Church

Evangelization and ecumenism.

 From Zenit:

“The great tasks facing the ecclesial community in the modern world — and among the many I particularly stress evangelization and ecumenism — are centered on the Word of God and, at the same time, draw therefrom their justification and support.

“Just as the Church’s missionary activity […] finds its inspiration and its goal in the Lord’s merciful revelation, so ecumenical dialogue cannot base itself on the words of human wisdom or on skilful strategies, but must be animated exclusively by constant reference to the original Word, which God consigned to his Church to be read, interpreted and lived in communion.”

Benedict XVI said that in this context, “St. Paul’s doctrine reveals a particular strength.” The apostle’s doctrine is, the Holy Father explained, “clearly founded on divine revelation but also on his own apostolic experience which, ever and anew, made it clear to him that not human wisdom and eloquence but only the force of the Holy Spirit builds the Church in faith.”

Feast of Saint Meinrad, Hermit and Martyr

The story for those who are unfamiliar with Saint Meinrad:

Early in the ninth century, a saintly, quiet-loving young Benedictine monk named Meinrad, while passing through the city of Zurich on his way to become a teacher at the small monastery of Bollingen, was deeply thrilled when the Abbess-Princess Hildegarde gave him a lovely three-foot wooden statue of the Mother of God holding the Child Jesus in her arms.

Very often during his several years at Bollingen, young Father Meinrad used to gaze out of the window of his cell with ever-increasing longing at a forest-clad mountain on the other side of the lake, for he wished more than anything else to become a hermit and to live a life of prayer, penance and meditation all alone in those woods, like the great hermit-saints of old. Having at last obtained his superiors’ permission, one day in the year 828 he took up in his arms his cherished statue of Mary and set out in a wide flat-bottomed boat to cross the lake and become a hermit in the Dark Wood on the slopes of Mount Etzel.

Soon after settling in a solitary retreat he found a nest with two young ravens, which he gladly adopted and tamed, perhaps because the Child Jesus of his statue held a small bird in one hand. Meinrad spent seven years on this mountain, and he was a happy young hermit except for one thing: more and more pilgrims were coming to visit him, attracted by his growing reputation as a saint.

Therefore he fled from his tiny cell, taking his statue and his two friends, the ravens, with him. He went still farther into the depths of the Dark Wood until one day he found, in the midst of the lofty pine trees on a small table-land surrounded by hills on three sides, a bubbling spring giving forth sparkling, fresh mountain water. Here he built himself a little log hut and a chapel, in which he reverently placed Our Lady’s statue. His faithful ravens often perched on either side of a crucifix on the gable and watched the holy hermit as he worked and prayed. He was completely happy in this solitude.

But one day a woodcutter discovered Meinrad’s retreat, and soon pilgrims were again flocking to receive his blessing and advice. Once some of his Brothers in religion came to visit him, and during the night one of them saw and heard Meinrad reciting his Office with a beautiful seven-year-old boy all dressed in white, who approached the astonished monk and secretly foretold many events which later occurred.

After more than twenty years of prayer and penance, while he was saying Mass in his little chapel on the morning of January 21, 861, the Feast of the Martyr St. Agnes, Meinrad learned by a divine revelation that this was to be his last Mass. With perfect resignation to the will of God, he devoutly received Holy Communion as if it were Holy Viaticum. Then with tears of love in his eyes, the old hermit looked up at his beautiful statue of Mary and begged Our Lady to strengthen him, asking her to offer to her Son the death which he was about to suffer for His glory.

During all the years which Meinrad had spent alone in the Dark Wood, he had never been harmed by the mountain bears or wolves or other wild animals who dwelt there. Now, however, two human beasts of prey, two hardened criminals, hearing that people made pilgrimages to the hermit, were tempted by the idea that he must have precious gifts and rich treasure hidden away in his lonely hermitage. And so this cold winter night they made their way through the deep snow to his retreat in the forest.

Meinrad was just finishing his Mass as they approached, and he now heard the shrill screams of warning of his faithful ravens. With a smile of heavenly joy on his lips, he went out and welcomed the two men with loving kindness and hospitality, setting before them some bread and wine. When they roughly demanded that he show them his hidden treasure he humbly led them into the little chapel, and pointing to the plain wooden statue above the altar, he said, “I have no other treasure.”

Then with a last loving look at Mary, he folded his hands on his chest, bowed his head, and added calmly, “That for which you have come, do…”

In a mad rage the two robbers seized and brutally beat the saintly old hermit to death with a heavy club, while his two ravens flew wildly about, screaming and trying in vain to help their good friend by pecking at the murderers’ foreheads.

Then the criminals dragged the Saint’s body to his couch of dry leaves in his hut and were about to begin their search for the supposedly hidden treasure when all of a sudden they noticed that a strange yet delicious odor pervaded the place. When they perceived that two candles standing by the hermit’s bed had somehow just been lighted without human hand, the two assassins fled in terror all the way to Zurich. But like the accusing finger of God, Meinrad’s two ravens persistently followed and attacked the murderers until they were arrested and had confessed the crime.

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