Friday, June 29, 2007

The Ibible

Nicely done.



Thanks to Mark Shea for this one.

Homer Simpson in Church?

The Anglican Church is using Homer Simpson in an new campaign to increase youth attendance.
Seriously.

I think somebody doesn't understand why kids aren't going to church.

40 Days for Life

Please help get the word out. 40 Days for Life is one of the most effective community pro-life activities ever implemented. It is now going nationwide.

This program started here in College Station!

Here is the website and the video is below.

Motu Madness

The Curt Jester has a great post up about the Motu Proprio entitled "Build your own Motu Proprio Story". It is genius.

After you read it, then read some of the articles that came out after he put it up.
-Dallas Morning News
-Houston Chronicle
-MSNBC

Those are just a sampling...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We have a date

Motu Proprio - 7/7/7
We will see if it happens.

Executing the Mentally Ill?

Today the Supreme Court blocked the execution of a mentally handicapped man here in TX.

How is it that it took the SCOTUS to do this? Can't we as a society see that killing someone who is mentally ill does no good for the victim, society or the criminal?

Maybe I am naive' or just too soft. But, killing someone who can't fully understand their crime is not just.

EDIT - Juries get verdict wrong in one out of eight cases. Another reason not to kill someone.

What Have You Done For Your Marriage Today?

Coming soon to a diocese near you (Austin is one of the first), is an advertising campaign from the US Bishops asking the question, "what have you done for your marriage today?"

I like the idea, but I am glad they are doing a full blitz, but rather testing markets to see how it received.

The website is very well done with practical and theological parts to it (though some parts are incomplete). Check it out. There are some good TV spots that will air in some parts of the country soon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sisters Singing Part Deux



I am lucky enough to have seen it live. This is from a closer vantage point than the first post.

Hand Motions In Heaven

This is really funny.

Email Degeneration

I just got a one letter email. It read as follows, and I quote:
k
That was it. I hate what instant messaging, texting and other cultural/technological advancements have done to our communication skills.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Communion at Mass?

Q - Are there Bible verses that prompted the Church to have communion at each Mass and where are they? Thank you so much for your help!

A - Thanks for the question! Yes, there are Bible verses, but let us look a little deeper at your question first.

You can let me know if I am wrong here, but there seems to be there might be an expectation in the question that the answer to the question should explicitly be in the Bible. But, that isn't the way to answer everything that the Church teaches. Not everything the Church believes and teaches is explicitly in the Bible. Such things (e.g., the canon of the Bible, the two natures of Christ, the nature of the Trinity, etc.) may or may not be implicitly in Scripture.

Now, as to this particular question, the evidence is overwhelming that Communion should be celebrated at least every Sunday, preferably everyday. Why? Because if the Eucharist really is what the Church teaches it is, then we wouldn't want to do anything less. If the Eucharist is truly a partaking of union with God who made us, saves us, and wants to be with us, then we would expect to have communion with Him as often as possible. Catholics believe this is God, not just a symbol of Him (which I am sure you already know - but we need a reminder of this sometimes). The Bible echoes these sentiments:
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. - Acts 20:7
We see here that the early Church met together to "break bread" in the Eucharist on "the first day of the week" which is Sunday. So, the practice is in the Bible. The author of Hebrews echoes this:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Heb 10:24-25
The "meeting together" was primarily so the community could partake in the Eucharist.

Also, Paul tells us about the community in Corinth and how they celebrated Mass together.
I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat - 1 Cor 11: 18-20
also:
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. - 1 Cor 11:26
So, when the Church came together they did so by partaking of communion. The last evidence is from the book of Revelation where John says he saw a vision of heaven "on the Lord's day" = Sunday - Rev. 1:10.

Lastly, the early church in the first century believed the same thing. This can be found in early Church writings, such as the Didache which was written around 90 ad. In Ch. 14 is says:
But every Lord's day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.
I hope that helps.

Simple Question

I am sure you have all heard complaints about what the Church does or how it does something (you might even have complained yourself). I, for one, would never want to have to make the decisions that a Bishop or the Pope has to make. But, let me hear from you. What would you do if you were Pope or Bishop?

I will remind everyone that neither has absolute authority, so within the actual bounds of their authority the question remains...what would you do?

Lord, Help Us!

This made me sick to my stomach.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Witness Without Compromise

Our Church needs to regain it's evangelistic spirit. With vigor and love we need to go out into the world and proclaim and witness to Jesus Christ and His saving grace. I am not the only one saying this either, the Pope agrees with me (see proof in the pic).

In an address on the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist, he spoke about how John was to herald Christ to the world. He said we should follow this example of John and bear "witness to the truth without compromise." But, he didn't stop there. He more emphatically stated that we should follow John's example in denouncing the "transgressions of God's commandments" even if those who we are denouncing are people in power.
Thus, when he accused Herod and Herodius of adultery, he paid for it with his life, sealing with martyrdom his service to Christ, who is the truth in person.
The Pope wishes that "the Church of our time know how to be ever faithful to Christ and testify with courage to his truth and his love for all."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Traditional Family = "Hate Speech"?

In a recent column, George Will opined about the dangerous future that some of our nation is trying to lead us into. What in particular? Well, recently the City of Oakland, CA. has decided that a group promoting "Marriage is the foundation of the natural family and sustains family values" is not allowed equal time to post their views on a public email system and on bulletin boards. This is despite the fact that they allowed "Happy Coming Out Day" to use those venues.

The reason this group can't have equal access? Because it creates a "hostile environment" and that such talk violates the city policy that prohibits "discrimination and/or harassment based on sexual orientation". There was one complaint by a woman who felt "excluded" and "targeted".

The city didn't say if the group called "Good News Employee Association" felt excluded or targeted.

On the bright side of things, another Washington Post article stated that the "anything goes" Netherlands is starting to actually question whether allowing unbridled prostitution and drugs is a good thing and that faith and values are actually growing there.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bishops Politics Abortion

More and more Bishops are weighing in on the issue of Catholic politicians who say they support the "right to an abortion". Here are a few:

*Bishop Serratelli from Paterson, NJ
-Catholic Politicians Criticize Pope (select from the menu)- From the Paterson Diocesan Paper.

*Bishop Aquila from Fargo, ND
-You Will Know the Truth - pastoral letter from 2004 - a great one.

*Archbishop Chaput from Denver
-Time to get more aggressive with the politicians.
-2004 letter on Dignity of Human Life and politics.

*Bishop Tobin from Providence, RI
-Blasts Giuliani for his views.

*Archbishop Burke from St. Louis, MO.
-Letter on voting


I know there are many more, so if you know of any, please let me know and I will add them.

Contraception and Evangelicals

Contraception is not just a Catholic issue. It is a human issue. Too many times we Catholics are happy to keep the secrets of how contraception is the root of many of our cultural problems today to ourselves. We can no longer do this. This is part of the Gospel of Life.

Contraception is a human issue because it effects every aspect of sexuality. It effects relationships with spouses and their outlook on children. It effects the consumer mentality and the way couples communicate. It effects you and it effects me. It also has a huge effect on our neighbors who we are called to love.

I have said it before, but when this issue is framed properly, the issue is not a Catholic one. Several Evangelical ministers who are friends of mine stopped using contraception in their marriages after they were convicted that God was calling them to do so.

This is a conversation that we need to continue to have. There are now a great number of Evangelicals that are re-examining the issue and some are coming down on either side of it. The large evangelical periodical, Christianity Today, even has a "hot topic" section up about it.

We shouldn't keep the truth about contraception to ourselves, it was meant to be shared.

Year of St. Paul

The Pope has declared the next year to be a celebration of St. Paul.

St. Paul certainly isn't one of the Saints who is forgotten and neglected, but some of his teaching certainly isn't understood or well-received.

An emphasis on learning what St. Paul taught in his letters would be a good start for each of us.

In other news, the Chinese government is planning on dynamiting a Marian shrine because of "illegal religious activity".

St. Paul pray for those Christians still being persecuted.
The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. - Acts 13: 49-52

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Christian and Muslim? Um, no.

An episcopalian woman priest has declared she is Muslim and Christian.
Some parts of the article:
Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. Her announcement, first made through a story in her diocese's newspaper, hasn't caused much controversy yet, he said.
The Bishop is okay with it?
As much as she loves her church, she has always challenged it. She calls Christianity the "world religion of privilege." She has never believed in original sin. And for years she struggled with the nature of Jesus' divinity.
More:
Redding's views, even before she embraced Islam, were more interpretive than literal.

She believes the Trinity is an idea about God and cannot be taken literally.

She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus.

She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans.

This is really bad theology here and I am only skimming the surface of the problem.
Problems as I see it:
-Mohammad as a prophet continuing revelation.
-The divinity of Christ.
-The nature of the Trinity.
-The Sacraments.
-Etc., etc., etc.

Christianity cannot be "molded" into whatever you want it to be. I don't think the Muslim community will be too happy about it either.

Stem Cells - Again.

Bush vetoed another bill trying to get federal funding for fetal stem cells. Thank you Mr. President for standing up for the little ones who have no voice.

I have blogged previously on this subject (here and here) and I highly recommend that we continue to inform ourselves about the details that the mass media won't talk about. The President also issued a document talking more about the issue. In it he said:
The destruction of nascent life for research violates the principle that no life should be used as a mere means for achieving the medical benefit of another.

"Human embryos and fetuses, as living members of the human species, are not raw materials to be exploited or commodities to be bought and sold.
Amen!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Pope on the Brazil visit

The Pope had some recent reflections on his visit to Brazil. Some excerpts below:
Today, in the age of globalization, this Catholic identity is still present as the most adequate response, provided that it is animated by a serious spiritual formation and by the principles of the social doctrine of the Church.

Brazil is a great Country that holds deeply rooted Christian values, but also faces enormous social and economic problems. To contribute to their solution, the Church must mobilize all the spiritual and moral strength of her communities, seeking appropriate common policies with the other healthy energies of the Country.

Among the positive elements, I must certainly mention the creativity and the fecundity of that Church, in which new Movements and Institutes of consecrated life are continuously born. Not less praiseworthy is the generous dedication of so many lay faithful, who are very active in the various initiatives promoted by the Church.
He lays out a clear plan for the bishops:
I encouraged my confreres to go forward and strengthen the commitment to the new evangelization, exhorting them to develop a capillary and methodical way to spread the Word of God so that the innate and widespread religiosity of the populations can take root and become a mature faith, a personal and communal adherence to the God of Jesus Christ.

I encouraged them to recover everywhere the style of the first Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles: assiduous in catechesis, the sacramental life and charitable works. I know the dedication of these faithful servants of the Gospel who want to present it fully without confusion, watching over the deposit of the faith with discernment; it is also their constant duty to promote social development, principally through the formation of the laity, called to assume responsibility in the field of politics and economics.
Then he addresses the youth:
Another important moment of the Journey was without doubt the meeting with the young people, hope not only of the future, but a vital force for the Church and society of today. The vigil they held in São Paulo, Brazil, was a festival of hope, illuminated by the words of Christ addressed to the "rich young man" who had asked: "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" (Mt 19: 16).

Jesus first of all indicated to him to "keep the commandments" as the way of life, and then invited him to leave all to follow him. The Church still does the same today: first of all, it reproposes the commandments, true path of education of freedom for personal and social good; and above all, it proposes the "first commandment" of love, because without love even the commandments cannot give full meaning to life and procure true happiness.

Only the one who meets the love of God in Jesus and sets himself upon this way to practice it among men, becomes his disciple and missionary. I have invited the youth to be apostles of their contemporaries; and for this reason, to always care for their human and spiritual formation; to have a high esteem of marriage and of the way that leads to it, in chastity and responsibility; to be open also to the call to consecrated life for the Kingdom of God. In summary, I encouraged them to put to good use the "wealth" of their youth, to be the young face of the Church.

He is good. Very good.

Pro-Life Blogs


For every pro-life blog you ever wanted to read.

Jesus "Nose" What Time It Is...

Jesus "Nose" What Time It Is...

Study About Marriage

This study on marriage and religion proves what we already knew.

Some pertinent data:
-- Women who are more religious are less likely to experience divorce or separation than their less religious peers.

-- Marriages in which both spouses attend religious services frequently are 2.4 times less likely to end in divorce than marriages in which neither spouse worships.

-- Religious attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability, confirming studies conducted as far back as 50 years ago.

-- Couples who share the same faith are more likely to reunite if they separate than are couples who do not share the same religious affiliation.

Moreover, Fagan pointed out, religious practice is also related to a reduction in such negative behaviors as domestic abuse, crime, substance abuse and addiction.

Sin is Sin

Great article by Archbiship Chaput.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fr. David on EWTN

Don't miss Fr. David, our pastor and the Director of Campus Ministry at St. Mary's, on EWTN on Monday, June 25th at 5:30pm CDT. Here is a preview of the wonderful program.

Road Trip, Part IV - Cincinnati

In Cincinnati we went to the St. Clement Friary were Fr. Curt will live. We slept on the floor of the adjoining school and were able to eat some Cincinnati chili, attend Mass with the Friars and take tours of both the friary and the Shrine of St. Anthony in another part of Cincinnati.

We also had an opportunity to pray with and for Fr. Curt in thanksgiving for his time here at St. Mary's. It was a wonderful trip and a great way to send him home.

Please say a prayer for Fr. Curt and his brother Franciscans. We miss him already.
St. Clement Church

They sure do like Bingo at St. Clement

Goodbye

Road Trip, Part III - Nashville

Our group with some of the Nashville Dominicans

We were blessed to visit the Nashville Dominican sisters. I believe there are five Aggies who are part of the order currently. They are a dynamic and wonderful order full of young women. They are an "active contemplative" order who have a strong community life, a good formation and a charism to teach. We visited their motherhouse that has more than 200 religious sisters living in it. It is huge and a few years ago they added to it. I told their vocations director that they were the "St. Mary's of religious orders" meaning that they were young, dynamic, growing and a model for others.

We were able to get a tour of the non-cloistered parts of their facilities, eat lunch with them and have them sing for us (posted below).

After leaving Nashville, several of our students remarked that there was no other place in Nashville they could think of that they would have preferred to have visited.

After this, it was on to Cincinnati.

St. Cecilia Chapel


The Novitiates and The Postulants attend Class

Monday, June 18, 2007

Road Trip, Part IIa - EWTN

We arrived in Birmingham in the afternoon and spent time with the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word. There is one Aggie in the order, but unfortunately she was not there at the time. We were able to go on a short tour and then pray evening prayer and a rosary with the sisters.

We then went to EWTN and toured the grounds before entering the studio about an hour before the show. We talked to a number of EWTN guests and staff. It was a great time on the show. If you want to view the archived video you can do so on EWTN's website.

Students with Fr. Francis Mary at Life on The Rock.

Some Aggies and other guests of the show

Jacob, me, Joel (back row) - Fr. Curt, Christie, Ben (front row) on the set.

It was a good time at EWTN and the students really were excited to be on TV.

We then spent the night on another floor at a local parish. The parish priest, Fr. Patrick Kennedy, was a great Irish priest who happens to be friends with my former pastor in Lubbock , Fr. Jim O'Connor. So, we had a good time visiting about our Irish friend.

The next morning we had Mass and then got back on the bus and headed to Nashville.

Road Trip, Part II - Nashville

I am skipping the EWTN part to post the following. It made me cry.
It is the Dominican Sisiters of St. Cecilia (Nashville Dominicans) singing for us.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Road Trip, Part I - New Orleans



St. Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

The reality of destruction that New Orleans, Southeast Texas and South Louisiana suffered in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita only hit home for me when we visited these areas today (June 13, 2007). On this feast of St. Anthony of Padua I saw some of the results of what happened, nearly two years ago. Trees still stand, stripped bare of their branches like stakes stuck into the ground for hundreds of miles. Homes still have tarps on their roofs to protect them from the elements throughout the damaged areas. You can still see the water lines on buildings in New Orleans that completely ruined them.

The area is swarmed with people who are working on buildings making repairs. It must be such a daunting thing to have to re-build so much.

Tonight we will sleep on the floor of a school. I won’t complain tonight that there is no shower or comfortable bed. I still am blessed with a solid roof over my head unlike some who have water leaking through their roofs and the tarps on top of those.

Holy Name Of Jesus Church - Loyola, New Orleans

Please say some special prayers for those who are still recovering from the hurricanes. It is too easy to forget about them when time passes.

St. Anthony pray for those still recovering for the hurricane victims!

UPDATE - The Jesuits who hosted us could not have said "no". Texas A&M has 14 Aggies in formation for their province out of 30. One of the Aggies came and talked to our students about his call into religious life, it was a good time and a hard floor!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Road Trip!

We are taking Fr. Curt Lanzrath back to Cincinnati.

Dozens of Aggies will pile on a bus Wed. morning and head from College Station, TX to New Orleans for the first leg of the trip. We will stay with the Jesuits at Loyola.

Then it is on to Birmingham/Irondale. We will have mass at the Cathedral, meet with the Sisters of the Eternal Word and then appear on Life on The Rock.
Don't forget to watch us on Thursday night. Several students, Fr. Curt and our intern, Rachael, will appear on the show!

We will spend the night at a local parish.

On Friday we head out for Nashville. We will stop to visit with the Nashville Dominicans, a great order that several Aggie Catholics have joined.

Later that afternoon, we head to Cincinnati. We will spend the night on the floor, somewhere.

Saturday morning we will tour the National Shrine of St. Anthony with Fr. Curt. Then we will have lunch with the Franciscan community. That afternoon, we head back to College Station.

If I can find an internet connection, then I will post about the trip. But, I won't be able to get to questions until next week.

Keep us in your prayers.

La Salette

Q - I recently stumbled upon an article on "Our Lady of La Salette" and view it with a great deal of skepticism. I find it hard to accept that the Mother of God would speak such harsh words. What is the view of the Catholic Church on the revelations? And what are your views on this?

A - First of all, remember that there is no public revelation after the Apostles. So, we are not under any obligation to believe in such private revelations, even the ones that have Church approval (e.g., Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, etc.).

There are not that many apparitions that have full approval of the Church and to tell you the truth, I don't know much about the lesser known ones, such as La Salette. I had to do my own research and found that this is one that is approved by the Church.

There is nothing wrong with your skepticism. But, remember that the messages that are present here about Mary saying that her Son, Jesus, would come to seek vengeance, is nothing new. Christ promises that he will come again and punish the wicked and unrepentant. Only by His Mercy are any of us spared punishment eternally. If we remember this, we can understand how the messages may sound harsh, but are nonetheless true (not very PC is it?!).

In La Salette Mary appeared to two young children who were tending sheep. She appeared in sorrow for the sins of the world. She then had a message of repentance and sorrow for our sins. While it certainly isn't "pastoral" in today's world, we sometimes can become too insensitive to our sins and the sins of others. So, while I am not advocating we all stand on corners and yell "sinners go to hell!", we should keep ourselves and others accountable for our actions. This is what love demands of us.

WARNING - PERSONAL OPINION COMING - I do not have a great devotion to any of the apparitions, but I haven't visited any of the locations of the apparitions either.

I believe they can be of great help and an opportunity to conversion for many, but I also would remind you that someone can have a great devotion to Mary, be a great Catholic and have no devotion to any of these apparitions. Whatever you feel called to as an individual at this point is what you should do in regards to these apparitions. With that said, the Church's authority on the matter shouldn't be fought either.

I hope that helps.

The REAL Story...

Now the truth comes out:

Vatican II - Continued

Q - Hey Marcel, A friend of mine wants to know more about Vatican II. I will, of course, direct him to actually read the documents himself (as you always directed me), but I was hoping you could give a little intro beyond what you gave today or direct us to a good source for that. More specifically he'd like to know how Vatican II is actually a response to rather than an embrace of modernism. Thanks!

A - Thanks for the question! Vatican II is such an important subject because it is the foundation for everything that John Paul the Great and PB16 have done in their pontificates. They have both stated that their pontificates are meant to be the ones that put into action what Vatican II taught. So, as a Church we need to have a firmer grasp on what Vatican II was all about.

When John XXIII called the Council, the Church was in shock. 'Why' was the question.

John XXIII’s theme for the Council was put forward in a document to open the first session. (Gaudet Mater Ecclesia) “Mother Church Rejoices”. The Church is called to teach, govern and sanctify.
But, unlike most other councils of the Church, there was no crisis in doctrine that proceeded it. There was also no need for dogmatic definitions. What the Church needed was for to apply the teachings the Church already had to the present and foreseeable future.

So,
he wanted the Church to examine itself and ask the question of “what do we need to do to make our faith deeper and more lively.”

There was a deep need to have doctrine stated in a relevant way, but in a way that did not change what was being taught. It's formulation and presentation needed updating without leaving any truth behind.

John XXIII's vision of the council was:
1 - Awareness - The Church is aware of itself
2 - Renewal - After we become aware we reform (note you cannot reform what you don’t know about)
3 - Dialogue - Dialogue with the world at large.

So, let me give some of the overarching themes in Vatican II.

1 - Universal Call to Holiness.
All are called to holiness. Everyone.
2 - Ressourcement – a recovery of the sources
An attempt to "recapture" some of the ancient practices/knowledge we lost through the years.
3 - Aggiornamento – Updating
Updating of what can be updating. Not a change of doctrine, but in presentation.

4 - Continue Liturgical reform
Liturgical reform started long before and continues long after Vatican II. So, it is still on-going and will be until we get it right. This is the most visible part of Vatican II.

5 - Call of the laity to reform the temporal order
Clergy don't work in the factories, offices and homes of families. This is where the Gospel needs to be.

6 - Evangelization of the world through dialogue/holiness/emphasizing human dignity.
Dialogue does not mean we leave the truth behind.

Some of the other topics in the documents include:

  • marriage
  • family
  • culture
  • social life
  • economics
  • political community
  • moral basis of authority
  • Sacraments
  • media
  • Eastern Rite Catholic Churches
  • Ecumenism
  • Office of Bishops
  • Religious
  • Priestly formation
  • Christian Education
  • Non-Christian Religions Laity
  • Religious liberty
  • Missions
There are some decent books out there that sum up the council, but I have to tell you that you need to go out and read the documents yourself. If you need help doing so, then form a study group with someone well-versed in the documents. Of course, I have already told you this before, so don't beat me up with beating you up about it.

I will tell you this. Some people did embrace modernity. But, that is certainly not what the Council called for.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Men

A fellow Aggie and friend, Joe, posts on a great blog, which focuses on GK Chesterton and like-minded authors.

Since Joe gave our blog a plug, I thought I might return the favor. But, he also issued an under-the-table challenge. So, for Joe and other fanatics (not just the casual fans, I might add) of Chesterton, Belloc, Tolkien, Muggeridge, etc. I will post a few of my favorite quotes from Chesteron below. But, let it be known that I have posted on Chesterton before.

For those of you who are college students, I highly recommend you break open some of the books by the authors listed above. They have a mastery of the English language that is lost in most modern "literature". They are also normal guys that know how to argue a point. In other words, run to the library or bookstore and get their books!
"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism."
"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."
"The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice."
"Do not enjoy yourself. Enjoy dances and theaters and joy-rides and champagne and oysters; enjoy jazz and cocktails and night-clubs if you can enjoy nothing better; enjoy bigamy and burglary and any crime in the calendar, in preference to the other alternative; but never learn to enjoy yourself."
"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."
"Theology is only thought applied to religion."
"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."
Oh, GK you were a great one!

God is a Spurs Fan

I always knew that God was a Spurs fan. Here is the proof:

In their simple convent, where rows of chairs are arranged in front of a television and a crucifix, the 23 nuns of the Salesian Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province briefly put aside their pleas for the sick and the poor to pray for the San Antonio Spurs.

With basketball players' names pinned to white smocks beneath their habits, the sisters faithfully gather at game time in the convent's community room, yelling "Make that basket!" and "C'mon!"

"We pray for them to win, but we also pray for them to continue their sportsmanship," said Sister Sandra Neaves, head of the order in the Western U.S.

"We make a lot of noise in that room," laughed Sister Angelina Gomez.

The Spurs have embraced the nuns, hoping to harness the power of prayer during their attempt at a fourth NBA title.

"Having them in our corner can never hurt, and we'll take any advantage we can," said Spurs spokesman Tom James. "We're obviously fortunate in this city to have wonderful fans of all ages and from all walks of life."

On Thursday, four of the nuns will attend the opening game of the championship series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The tickets were a gift from the NBA.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Deacons and Weddings

Q - Can a Deacon administer the sacrament of marriage?

A - Thanks for the Question! It depends on what you mean. But, I am guessing what you are really asking is "can a deacon preside at a Catholic wedding?" If this is the question, then yes he can.

But, matrimony is the only Sacrament where the deacon/priest/bishop who presides is not the minister of the Sacrament. The couple is actually the ones who confer the Sacrament upon one another. This is why for a marriage to be sacramental, both spouses must be baptized Christians. Because a non-Christian cannot confer a sacrament upon a Christian. Likewise, a Christian cannot confer a Sacrament on a non-Christian, except in Baptism.

The Catechism tells us:

1623 According to Latin tradition, the spouses, as ministers of Christ's grace, mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the tradition of the Eastern churches, the priests (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent of the spouses, but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary.

There you have it. A deacon can preside at, but not confer the sacrament of matrimony.

Time to laugh

Makes me want to go home and play with my kids:

Wow.

You don't see a Bishop come out swinging like this too often.

Watch out Rudy.

Eucharist and the Trinity

Q - If the trinity is three in one, do we receive the Father and the Spirit as well in the Eucharist? Or with the Father and Spirit?

A - Another great question! This is fun answering all of these wonderful questions.

To give you a good answer, we will have to do a quick study in christology (theology on Christ) and fundamental theology on the Trinity. I love theology, so now you have gotten me excited.

As you have no doubt heard, there is only one God in three persons, but what exactly does that mean? It means several things. But, before I try to answer it, remember that we are talking about the infinite and were are finite. We cannot fully get our arms (or minds) around God. So, if your brain hurts while thinking/meditating on God, that is a good thing.

God is one.
God is three persons.
The three persons can never act one without the other two. This is because the three are always one. They differ, not in how they act, but in relationship to one another.

Now, this might sound contradictory, but it isn't. While we may talk about the Father creating, the Son redeeming, and the Spirit sanctifying, in reality all three persons do all three divine acts. When we refer to any one trinitarian person acting alone, it is with the understanding that the other two are really acting as well. This is called appropriation. We do it with traits of God as well (e.g., beauty in the Son, happiness of the Spirit, etc.).

God is unity. God cannot act with part of his being and without another. But, it is right and proper to talk about the three persons acting in this way, because the Bible tells us this is how we are to do so.

So, to answer your question. Do we receive the Father and the Spirit along with the Son in the Eucharist? Certainly we can say this is so, but must be careful. We do not receive the Father and Spirit as "body, blood, soul", but rather in "divinity". Whenever we receive the Son, we receive Father and Spirit as well. If you pay close attention, every Eucharistic prayer is trinitarian, including the epiclesis, where the priest asks the Holy Spirit to come down and transform the bread and wine.

John Paul II says:
In the Eucharist Christ gives us his body and blood as food and drink, under the appearance of bread and wine, just as during the paschal meal at the Last Supper. Only through the Spirit, the giver of life, can the Eucharistic food and drink produce in us "communion," that is to say, the salvific union with Christ crucified and glorified. (general audience Sept 13, 1989)
The Catechism has a wonderful section about the trinity and the Eucharist in 1077-1112 and 1356-1361. I will put a few paragraphs that stand out here:

1357 We carry out this command of the Lord by celebrating the memorial of his sacrifice. In so doing, we offer to the Father what he has himself given us: the gifts of his creation, bread and wine which, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ, have become the body and blood of Christ. Christ is thus really and mysteriously made present.

1358 We must therefore consider the Eucharist as:

- thanksgiving and praise to the Father;
- the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Body;
- the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit.

The best way to understand the Eucharist in relation to the Trinity is to say that we are wrapped up into the Trinitarian love of God when we receive the Eucharist.

That was fun!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

John's Gospel and the Last Supper

Q - Why do scholars suppose that John left the blessing of bread and wine out of his Gospel?

A -
Thanks for the question!

The most popular answers, and probably the best, give us two reasons:
  1. John wrote his gospel after the other three Gospel writers wrote their's as well as St. Paul's account in 1 Corinthians. So, the Church already had their accounts and he wanted to emphasize something different in his Gospel - the washing of the apostles' feet.
  2. John had already given us the discourse on the Bread of Life (John 6) which is the fundamental teaching on the Eucharist in his Gospel. Therefore, there wasn't as much of a "need" for John to give an account of the Last Supper as the synoptic writers gave us. But, he gives us the longest account of what Jesus taught at the Last supper (chs. 13-17).
Remember that the early Church already struggled with community problems, as St. Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 10-11. So, John was emphasizing that Jesus not only preached it, but lived it and that He calls us to do the same. The Eucharist is meant to change us outwardly, not just inwardly.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Obedience

Last night while I was reading in my Navarre Bible (while my two smallest kids snuggled up next to me), I came across a quote from St. Josemaria Escriva that was commenting on Hebrews 13:17, which says:
Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.
The quote reads as follows:
What a pity that whoever is in charge of you doesn't give you good example! But, is it for his personal qualities that you obey him? Of do you interpret St. Paul's "obey your superiors" with an addition of your own that says, "always provided the superior has virtues to my own taste"? (The Way, 621)
Good question? I immediately thought about all of those that dissent from the Catholic Church's teachings. But, once I reflected a bit deeper on it, I thought about how I am so critical about my leaders as well.

God grant me humility and obedience!
By the way, I highly recommend snuggling up with The Word + two cute kids.

Disposable Babies

In the recent Columbia put out by the Knights of Columbus, there is an article entitled "The Disposable Baby". It is quite scary and I want to quote a few sections of it.

I must confess that I was one of those skeptics in 1973 who thought the pro-life movement was absurd in claiming that the legalization of abortion would lead to an increasing acceptance of euthanasia and infanticide. It was one thing to pretend that there was no baby involved in an early abortion (it took me years to discover that Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion virtually throughout an entire pregnancy) but doctors and nurses would never stand for intentionally killing a born human being. Or so I thought.

My wake-up call didn’t happen until 1982, when the news broke that the parents of “Baby Doe” in Bloomington, Indiana decided to let their newborn son with Down Syndrome die rather than allow a routine operation to fix his esophagus (food pipe).

Legally, this couldn’t happen because we had laws protecting people with disabilities. At least people with disabilities who were already born. Or so I thought.

While some good lawyers were fighting to save Baby Doe’s life, I was shocked at the editorials and letters to the editor supporting the parents’ “right” to choose treatment (or non-treatment, in this case) for their baby. I read very few letters arguing for poor Baby Doe, even though several couples had come forward with offers to adopt him. As a nurse, I knew that courts routinely ordered life-saving medical care for children when parents refused such care for religious or other reasons. Why was this discrimination being allowed?

Unfortunately, Baby Doe died after nearly a week without food or fluids. Unlike a convicted murderer appealing a death sentence, Baby Doe was not even allowed a simple IV to sustain him while his case was being appealed. Finally, I understood what the pro-lifers meant in 1973.

Ironically, a few months after Baby Doe died, I gave birth to my own “Baby Doe”. My daughter Karen was born with both Down Syndrome and a very severe heart defect. How much I wished Karen’s medical problem had been as easily treatable as Baby Doe’s esophagus!

Unlike Baby Doe’s parents, my husband and I were determined that our daughter receive the best medical care possible for her heart condition and without bias because she had Down Syndrome. Baby Doe’s parents and the court system were wrong, but at least we could make sure that our daughter would have her chance at life. Or so I thought.

The bias against children like Karen soon became apparent. For example, I had to insist that Karen be treated for her heart defect the same way any other child would be treated despite the cardiologist’s offer to support me if I refused surgery and just “let” her die.

Next, the surgeon recommended for her heart catheterization was overheard questioning the wisdom of treating “all these little mongoloids”. (I refused to let this surgeon near my daughter and I told the referring physician why.) At one point, a doctor sympathetically told us that “people like you shouldn’t be saddled with a child like this.” (He never explained just what kind of parents he thought should be “saddled” with a child with Down Syndrome!)

Later on, I found out that my trusted pediatrician had even made Karen a “Do Not Resuscitate” behind my back because I “was too emotionally involved with that retarded baby”.

Even at the very end, when Karen was apparently dying from a complication of pneumonia, a young resident physician “offered” to pull all her tubes so that she would die as soon as possible.

The final indignity happened at Karen’s funeral, when a few well-meaning but woefully misguided people tried to comfort us by saying that “At least it wasn’t one of your normal children.” (I’m still trying to find out if any of my children -- or even I -- can be legitimately classified as “normal”.)

We cannot assume a doctor will protect life.

we now have the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommending that all pregnant women be screened for Down Syndrome even though ACOG has to know that at least 85% of those unborn babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted.

Of course, we still want to think it won't get worse in the USA. But, it is coming. Quicker than we think.

We have had the Dutch and now even a respected British medical group (see quote at the beginning of this article) endorsing outright euthanasia for so-called “very disabled” babies based on the supposed “benefit” to the child, his or her family and/or society at large. (Apparently, even “very disabled” is a subjective term. Just last year, a controversy erupted in Britain concerning cases of late-term abortions performed on babies who had very treatable problems like cleft palate, clubbed feet, webbed fingers or extra digits.4)

Welcome to the disposable baby.

Sometimes I think we unwittingly help perpetuate this kind of thinking...

“What do you want? A boy or a girl?”

“Just as long as he or she is healthy!”

How often have we heard -- or even participated -- in such an exchange? I know I have. And there’s really nothing wrong with wanting good health for our children.

The problem arises when we assume that we have a right to a “perfect” child, even a so-called “designer baby”.

We need to fight this mentality. It is playing god.

In reality, no test can ensure a healthy child before birth. At best, prenatal testing can only identify a few hundred out of thousands of birth defects. And, of course, there is always the issue of mistaken diagnosis, which happens much more frequently than most people realize. And there is no guarantee that any child will be or remain healthy even after birth.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Purgatory

Q - I was just wondering where the idea of purgatory came from. Thank you for your help!

A -
Thanks for the question! The easy answer is that it came from God. But, that is the easy answer. Why don't we do a little history.

Let us answer what purgatory is. I posted about this previously, so the answer to that question is already done.

In that post I also referred to the historical and biblical basis of purgatory, in fact there is ample evidence of the idea of purgatory pre-dating Christ in Jewish belief.

We can clearly see the evidence of early Christians who wrote and taught about the doctrine. Let me cite a few:
"And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again receives her. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: Mother, thou shaft have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the just."
Acts of Paul and Thecla(A.D. 160),in ANF,VIII:490
-Here we see prayers for the dead. Remember that prayer does no good for those in heaven or hell.
"Without delay, on that very night, this was shown to me in a vision. I saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy countenance and pallid colour, and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age? who died miserably with disease...But I trusted that my prayer would bring help to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then was the birth-day of Gets Caesar, and I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me.Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me. I saw that that place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. And where there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and that pool which I had before seen, I saw now with its margin lowered even to the boy's navel. And one drew water from the pool incessantly, and upon its brink was a goblet filled with water; and Dinocrates drew near and began to drink from it, and the goblet did not fail. And when he was satisfied, he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment."
The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitias,2:3-4(A.D. 202),in ANF,III:701-702
One more:
"All souls, therefore; are shut up within Hades: do you admit this? (It is true, whether) you say yes or no: moreover, there are already experienced there punishments and consolations; and there you have a poor man and a rich...Moreover, the soul executes not all its operations with the ministration of the flesh; for the judgment of God pursues even simple cogitations and the merest volitions. 'Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.' Therefore, even for this cause it is most fitting that the soul, without at all waiting for the flesh, should be punished for what it has done without the partnership of the flesh. So, on the same principle, in return for the pious and kindly thoughts in which it shared not the help of the flesh, shall it without the flesh receive its consolation. In short, inasmuch as we understand 'the prison' pointed out in the Gospel to be Hades, and as we also interpret 'the uttermost farthing' to mean the very smallest offence which has to be recompensed there before the resurrection, no one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in Hades some compensatory discipline, without prejudice to the full process of the resurrection, when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides."
Tertullian,A Treatise on the Soul,58(A.D. 210),in ANF,III:234-235
This last reference is very telling, because we have a Church Father, Tertullian, giving commentary on Scripture and referring it to Purgatory.

A couple of references might help:
-A conversation on purgatory
-An argument for purgatory
-Early Christians on Purgatory

If you want more info on the subject, let me know.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Babies without sex

Talk about your new edition of "Brave New World" come true.
It is my own prediction that within the next 30 to 50 years in the Western world, many women, when young, will bank their eggs or ovarian tissue, have them frozen, and use them when they feel the time is right for them to have a child," he says. "It will become commonplace.

"The world has changed. The days are past in which women in countries like Britain have economic dependence on their husbands and take care of the children.

"The days are past when women looked after children and nothing else. Women have careers now. They are better educated, more affluent and healthier on the whole, and many are now living into their 80s.

"They postpone having children until later and then they forget — or remember too late. Soon there will be nothing to stop a woman freezing her eggs when they are at their healthiest and then using them later on in life.
Aldus Huxley, where are you?

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