Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Lenten Resources

*This looks like a good resource to pray with during Lent.
*Other Catholic prayers and devotions.
*Very nice meditation on the Angels of the Passion. Pictures of angels holding the instruments of Christ's passion on the Bridge of Angels in Rome.
*A multimedia presentation on the Way of the Cross.
*Activities for Lent.
*A woman's stations of the cross.
*Indulgences and the Spiritual Life (a pdf document)
*Our Sunday Visitor's Lent page.
*The Lenten Workshop from Catholic Culture.
*EWTN's Stations of the Cross.
*Women for Faith and Family on Lent.
*Daily Lenten Meditations.
*Vatican's Lent 2007 page (I will update if I find a 2008 page)
*Our very own Lent 2008 FAQs.
*Pope's 2008 message for Lent.

If you know of any other good resources, please put them in the comments box.

From The Vatican

*"If a parish does not evangelize, it is only a building." From a Vatican official who then lays out the four steps to making a parish missionary.
  1. The parish community must move away from a maintenance model to a missionary model -- if the only thing we do is repair the buildings, this will kill us spiritually
  2. Parishes need "to move away from a spirit of pessimism to a spirit of optimism."
  3. Priests who still think the “mission is the sole responsibility of clerics," and that "priests should decide everything by themselves" need to "share with the laity."“Each layperson is a potential missionary."
  4. Involve as many people as possible: "associations, groups, men, women, youth and even children -- and be courageous to go into uncharted areas, look for new methods and means."
Good advice.

*From the Pope:
The harmony between faith and reason means above all that God is not far away; he is not far from our reasoning or from our lives; he is close to every human being, close to our hearts and close to our reason if we truly follow his path.

The presence of God in man is deep and at the same time mysterious. Distance from God means distance from oneself.

A man who is distant from God is also distant from himself, estranged from himself, he can find himself only by meeting God. This path leads to himself, to his true self and identity.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Seek His Face

FROM SARAH (who is having trouble logging in).

My dog loves to go on walks. No surprise. Most dogs do.

My dog has become very adept at figuring out the “signs” of a walk. First she learned what the jingle jangle of her collar and leash sounded like. Then she learned the word “walk” to which she runs around in circles very excitedly. (Don’t say the word “walk” in her presence unless you’re willing to take her on one.) Next she figured out the crinkling sound of old grocery bags which I take with me just in case. She learned which shoes I wear for walking purposes vs. which shoes I wear for other things. She even discovered which clothes are walking clothes vs. working clothes. Pretty smart.

But today she surpassed even that. Before I reached for the collar, said the favorite word, or put on my tennis shoes . . . she knew. I was simply heading to my room to change . . . and she knew.

How? She watched my face. As I continued to get ready to go she got more excited with each step. Walking pants! Her tail began to wag. Walking shoes!! Her whole body began to wag. The word “walk”!!! She began running in circles. But in between each phase of readiness, she kept looking to my face. Did these signs indeed mean what she hoped they did?! Yes. I was making eye contact, smiling and talking to her. She knew.

And it hit me.

So often when we are trying to make decisions - trying to figure out God’s will - we look only at the signs. We analyze the signs. Sometimes we obsess over the signs. As if the signs themselves will give us all the answers.

We forget to look to His face. We forget to seek the face of God! We try (often unknowingly) to substitute external signs for an interior relationship.

Don’t get me wrong. Signs are good. Circumstances, situations and the words of others can definitely point us to the will of God. But in order to understand and act on what they reveal we must have a relationship with the One Who gives them. We must look to His face, seeking a relationship with Him in prayer. We must seek the Answer-er, not just the answer.

This is the only way to know. Let us seek His face.

Thou hast said, "Seek ye my face." My heart says to thee, "Thy face, LORD, do I seek."
Psalm 27:8

Christian Pagans?

Tip O' The Hat to Mark for this story about prisoners who are declaring two contradictory faiths at one time. This has created quite a conundrum for the prison chaplains, who are trying to stay out of the fray and follow the rules. I hope the state of Washington sorts this out before it gets worse.

Then there is Archbishop Chaput's promise that he would have Catholic charities in Denver stop delivering services rather than give up their Catholic identity, if a potential law passes that would bar religious charities who receive government money to stop hiring based on belief. I agree with the Archbishop and it is a shame that the government is forcing the hand of these leaders to make such decisions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Book Meme

Patrick at Creative Minority Report has tagged me with a book meme ( a kind of blogger chainmail).
The rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

The problem is I (literally) am surrounded by books right now (about 600 or so). So, to sound smart I grabbed Hans Urs von Balthasar's Mysterium Paschale. Good luck undersanding these three sentences without any context...but here it goes:
By the additional remarkthat Jesus 'bears testimony', this 'trouble' is "still more stoutly fortified than the figure of speech in II, 33 against misinterpretation a simple feeling impulse...As tarache the suffering comes ultimately from the Father and is something accepted." What we are dealing with here is one of those 'pointed' Johannine expressions, which contain more than the customary use of language allows, and which aim to mark out a unique Christological event in an analogical manner. "A spiritual motion takes possession of Jesus, having such strength that it would throw other men into utter confusion.".
Uh-huh. von Balthasar is hard reading in context, he is incomprehensible out of it.

I tag (unless they have previously been tagged, which I am not spending the time looking up)
Jean at Catholic Fire, Dale Price, Domenico, Cosmos, and Julie.

Catholic Blogger Awards - 2008

2008 Catholic Blog Awards Coming Soon!

Nominations for the 2008 Catholic Blog Awards will open this year at 12:00 Noon CST on Friday, February 15, 2008 and close on Friday, Febrauary 29, 2008 at 12:00 Noon CST. Voting will begin on Monday, March 3, 2008 at 12:00 Noon CST and end on Monday, March 17, 2008 at Noon. Stay tuned to this site for more details.

My Mother and Abortion

My mother wrote me recently about this Cal Thomas article on abortion and the cost of abortion to our nation. I responded to her that this quote struck me:
Abortion was not a cause, but a reflection of our decadence and deviancy. One does not begin to kill babies until other dominos have fallen. And once they have fallen, it becomes difficult to set them aright because to do so would require an admission of something so horrible that those responsible for this fetal holocaust would have to acknowledge their sin and repent of it. Such a thing is not a character trait of this most pampered generation.
My mother and father raised all of us to be very pro-life. They modeled it by showing how everyone needs to be loved.
  • They took us to pro-life rallies.
  • They prayed for the unborn and their parents.
  • They talked about how horrible it was.
  • They loved those that disagreed with them.
  • They voted their consciences.
  • They voiced their opinions.
  • They even took in foster children, when no one else would.
So, when my mother wrote me back the following - it struck me to the heart.

In 1973 when I sat and cried the day the Supreme Court voted to allow abortion as a legal right, my first thought was that our nation had fallen into a great abyss, clouded by the great sin of killing one's own. How could we sink any deeper?

Thank you so much for loving and caring for the little ones that God has sent you.

My mother was a few months pregnant with me when on that day. I cried with her.

Lent 2008

LENT FAQ

What is Lent?
Lent is a time when the Catholic Church collectively enters into preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent originally developed as a forty-day retreat, preparing converts to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. Lent is a season of conversion. Conversion is the process of turning away from sin and turning to God. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday (this excludes Sundays, which are not part of the 40 days) and ends on Holy Thursday, the first day of the Triduum, the three holy days before Easter.

So why aren't Sundays part of Lent?
This is because Sundays are always a day of celebration of Christ's passion and Resurrection, so we celebrate on these days.

Does this mean I can "cheat" on Sundays?
Since Sundays are not part of the penitential season, you do not have to practice signs of penitence on these days. But, there is no reason you can't do them either. If you feel you are "cheating" then it isn't helping!

Why forty days and not some other number?
Because 40 is a special number in the Bible. It signifies preparation for something special - as in the 40 day flood of Noah.
* Moses stayed on the Mount Sinai forty days (Ex 24:18),
* Jonah gives the people of Ninevah forty days to repent (Jon 3:4) - (there are many other Old Testament stories)
* We also see this with Jesus, before starting his ministry, he spent forty days in the desert in prayer and fasting (Matt 4:2).
So, as in the Bible, we spend forty days in preparing ourselves to rejoice at the Resurrection of our Lord at Easter.

So, what is Ash Wednesday all about?

Ash Wednesday is so named because this first day of Lent is where we are marked with ashes to show the repentance of our sins and mourning. This is also a Biblical sign that we live today. We can see this in several verses.
* One verse is - "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Dan 9:3)
* Other verses include: 1 Sam 4:12, Jon 3:6, Esther 4:1 and Matt 11:20-21
Today, ashes are still this same sign of repentance and mourning for our sins. They also represent our mortality. "I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Gen. 18:27). We started as nothing and our bodies will become dust and ashes after our death. Reminding ourselves that nobody escapes physical death, we look forward to eternal life.

So, why are the ashes made into a cross on the forehead?
Because it is the ancient sign of being marked by Christ in our baptism. We are no longer our own, but Jesus Christ owns us. The book of Revelation tells us that all the elect will be marked by the sign of Christ - "On Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." (Rev 14:1)

Where do we get the ashes?
They come from burning the palms from last years Palm Sunday Masses.

Who can receive ashes?
Anyone can receive ashes on Ash Wed. While we have communion only for Catholics who are in good standing with the Church, all may receive ashes.

Is Ash Wed a holy day of Obligation?
No. But all Catholics are strongly urged to attend, because it is the start of the Lenten season.

Do we have to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wed?
Yes. This means that all Catholics from 14 and up are required to abstain from meat and Catholics 18-60 are required to eat only one average meal and two snacks without anything else. Children, the elderly and those who are sick are not obligated to do this.

Why fast?
Again, this is because we are called to by Jesus. By denying ourselves something good, we remember what the highest good of all is - GOD. We also practice self-discipline and self-mastery, which we need in order to achieve holiness. Jesus fasted in the desert and calls us to as well. * "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matt 6: 16) * "and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2:37)
Fasting also helps focus us in our prayer. *Yet when they were ill, I...humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm 35:13)

Why abstain from meat?
Because of the spiritual discipline it provides. "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Dan 10:1-3) We give up meat, which still today is a luxury in some parts of the world, as a good thing that we offer up in order to remember that Christ is better than food.

Why is fish not considered meat?
Because it was the food of the poor who could not afford meat, yet could catch fish to sustain them.

So, what are the other days of fast and abstinence?
Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence. All Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence - Friday was the day Christ died.

So, why do people "give up" things during Lent?
While we are not required to “give something up” we are required to do something penitential. Lent is a great time to break a bad habit and give it to the Lord. These sins and vices we should not take back after Lent. It is also a time to give something up that is good during this season. This is why people give up something they enjoy. In doing so we can draw closer to God by our temporary sacrifice. We should find an appropriate balance of giving something up and not completely cutting ourselves off of good things. We will find our need for God if we do it correctly.

What else then IS required during Lent?
The Church asks us to increase our prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is assumed that we are already doing these things and should merely increase them.

Got any suggestions?
First off, pray about what you are going to do for Lent. Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your spiritual practice of Lent. Then find a few things that you feel called to do. Don't do too much or too little. Stretch yourself, but don't pick things you won't stick to.

LENTEN SUGGESTIONS

Increased Prayer:
· Wake up 20 minutes early and start the day in prayer.
· Daily Mass 1-2 times a week.
· An hr. in Adoration a week.
· Go to Confession.
· Read Scripture daily.
· Go to a lenten Bible study.
· Read a spiritual book.
· Start to pray a daily Rosary.
· Pray the Liturgy of the hours.
· Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.
· Stations of the Cross on Fridays.
· Pray for your enemies.
· Watch The Passion of the Christ and then meditate on Christ’s life.
· Read about the life of a saint.
· Do an extra spiritual activity at Church
· Get involved in St. Mary’s if you aren’t already.
· Memorize Scripture verses.
· Check out a book on spirituality from St. Mary’s library.

Increased Almsgiving:
· When you fast from a meal, give the money you would spend to the poor.
· Use a coin box from and put all change into it for the poor.
· Volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul.
· Spend more time with your parents.
· Visit a nursing home.
· Start tithing.
· Make a pledge to St. Mary’s.
· Forgive an old grudge.
· Invite someone to Church
· Share your faith with someone.
· Give someone a Catholic tract or CD.
· Exercise patience and love.
· Speak in a pleasant tone to everyone.
· Look for extra ways to help others.
· Go out of your way to talk to someone who is shy or difficult.
· Offer to watch a mother’s child(ren).
· Drive with love.
· Write a letter to a relative you haven’t seen in a while.

Increased fasting:
The following are good things we can fast from and have back at a later time:
· Fast on bread and water on Fridays.
· Fast from snacking or candy.
· Fast from TV
· Fast from the radio in your car.
· Fast from ‘facebook’ / internet.
· Fast from caffeine.
· Do not use seasoning on your food.

The following are things we can fast from and continue to give up:
· Fast from alcohol (especially if you drink too much or are not 21)
· Fast from speeding.
· Fast from sarcasm or gossip.
· Fast from pornography.
· Fast from being lazy or lying
· Fast from not studying.
· Fast from complaining.
· Fast from some other bad habit.

Pope's Message for Lent

The Pope's message for Lent 2008 is out. He focuses on almsgiving. Some highlights:
For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk 16,13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness.
It is my own personal experience that the two most difficult practices of faith for Catholics in the USA is 1 - Contraception and 2 - Tithing/stewardship.
In the Gospel, Jesus explicitly admonishes the one who possesses and uses earthly riches only for self. In the face of the multitudes, who, lacking everything, suffer hunger, the words of Saint John acquire the tone of a ringing rebuke: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” (1 Jn 3,17). In those countries whose population is majority Christian, the call to share is even more urgent, since their responsibility toward the many who suffer poverty and abandonment is even greater. To come to their aid is a duty of justice even prior to being an act of charity.
After this admonishment, he gets to the heart of why we do it:
Everything, then, must be done for God’s glory and not our own. This understanding, dear brothers and sisters, must accompany every gesture of help to our neighbor, avoiding that it becomes a means to make ourselves the center of attention. If, in accomplishing a good deed, we do not have as our goal God’s glory and the real well being of our brothers and sisters, looking rather for a return of personal interest or simply of applause, we place ourselves outside of the Gospel vision. In today’s world of images, attentive vigilance is required, since this temptation is great. Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy: rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbor, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who, dying on the cross, gave His entire self for us. How could we not thank God for the many people who silently, far from the gaze of the media world, fulfill, with this spirit, generous actions in support of one’s neighbor in difficulty? There is little use in giving one’s personal goods to others if it leads to a heart puffed up in vainglory: for this reason, the one, who knows that God “sees in secret” and in secret will reward, does not seek human recognition for works of mercy.
He finishes with:
Dear brothers and sisters, Lent invites us to “train ourselves” spiritually, also through the practice of almsgiving, in order to grow in charity and recognize in the poor Christ Himself. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that the Apostle Peter said to the cripple who was begging alms at the Temple gate: “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk” (Acts 3,6). In giving alms, we offer something material, a sign of the greater gift that we can impart to others through the announcement and witness of Christ, in whose name is found true life. Let this time, then, be marked by a personal and community effort of attachment to Christ in order that we may be witnesses of His love.

40 Days For Life - Spring

The Coalition for Life is sponsoring another 40 Days For Life campaign. If you are in town, I encourage you to sign up. If you live in another city, I encourage you to start or participate in your own local 40 Days for Life campaign. It is a prayerful way to support babies and their parents in making wise decisions for life.

40 Days for Life was started here in Aggieland, by Catholic Aggies. We need to continue to support this effort. Here is Shawn Carney talking about the local effort.

Why Wasn't Christ Married Part Deux

Q - Somebody asked you “Would it matter if Jesus were married?” You gave a good explanation based on a passage from Matthew as to why it’s not likely that Jesus would have been married and that a number of the historical manuscripts floating around that do claim that Jesus was married (like some of those odd Gnostic writings—I’ve seen some, and they are truly odd!) were dismissed as heretical a long time ago. I also agree with you that if Jesus had married, it would certainly affect the way we view Jesus and His mission.

However, one thing that occurred to me is this: I don’t ever recall anywhere in the Bible where it actually comes out and says specifically whether Jesus had ever married or not. Now, like most people, I’ve always imagined Jesus never to have married, and I don’t see any real reason to change that view. However, the question this raises in my mind is: Is the belief that Jesus never married actually a doctrine of the Church or is it simply a “traditional view” that Christians have just taken for granted for however long? Or perhaps another way of asking this is: Has the Church ever actually made an official pronouncement on this, and, if so, when/where?

Also, when you said that whether Jesus had married would affect how the Church viewed celibacy/virginity, another thought occurred to me… Suppose Jesus had been married as part of an arranged marriage, but chose to abstain from sexual relations during His marriage (like Mary and Joseph). In that case, Jesus could have been married AND celibate! Obviously, there’s no historical or scriptural evidence to support this idea, but it does suggest that perhaps my initial question does not have a simple answer. What do you think?

A - Thanks for the great question. I can tell by the details in your question that you have been giving this a lot of thought, which is admirable. Thinking about the teachings of the Church, in order to make them your own is always admirable. I hope that I can give you an answer that does justice to how much thought you have put into this question.

First, I will give the link to the previous question that you refer to. My basic response is that there is no historical or Biblical evidence that Jesus was married. I want to go into details for to begin answering this question.

Biblical Evidence
The first thing that we can say is that the Bible does not mention that Jesus was married. There isn't even a hinting of it. Not only in the four Gospels, but also in the writings of Paul and the rest of the New Testament. While the argument from silence doesn't prove that Jesus wasn't married, it certainly helps the case that he was even less. You would think that a wife would be an important part of his life. Especially if he traveled as much as he did in the Gospels and with him being persecuted and eventually crucified. We should hope that a wife would have supported him through such trials and if she didn't, we should hope to hear as to why not.

We even have mention of Jesus' relatives in the Gospels, but not of a wife. We hear about Jesus' mother, father, aunt, uncle, and "brothers and sisters" (i.e., cousins). With all of this, you would think the most important relative, a spouse, would have been mentioned. The Gospel of Luke even mentions the women who supported Jesus' ministry in Luke 8:2-3.

Historical Evidence While it was not common for a Jewish man of Jesus' time to be unmarried, it wasn't unheard of. The Essenes (a smaller community of Jews that lived a radical way of life) were known to practice celibacy. Jesus even praises those who practice celibacy in Matt 19:12 "others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

We also know that several Old Testament prophets were celibate, including Elijah and Jeremiah. John the Baptist was celibate and other contemporaries were also said to be celibate by the Jewish historian, Josephus.

After Christ's death all of the Church fathers affirm that Jesus was unmarried. Not until the much later do we start getting the gnostic legends about Jesus' purported marriage. These are vehemently de-bunked by early Christian writings.

So, the history is solidly in favor of Jesus not being married and living a celibate life.

To answer your question directly, the teaching that Jesus was celibate and unmarried is BOTH Church doctrine and Church Tradition. The two are one and the same, but I don't think we have just taken it for granted.

Let me quote from Paul VI's encyclical Sacerdotalis Coelibatus, 21:

Christ, the only Son of the Father, by the power of the Incarnation itself was made Mediator between heaven and earth, between the Father and the human race. Wholly in accord with this mission, Christ remained throughout His whole life in the state of celibacy, which signified His total dedication to the service of God and men.

Vatican II - Presbyterorum Ordinis, 16:
This sacred synod also exhorts all priests who, in following the example of Christ, freely receive sacred celibacy as a grace of God, that they magnanimously and wholeheartedly adhere to it, and that persevering faithfully in it, they may acknowledge this outstanding gift of the Father which is so openly praised and extolled by the Lord.(42) Let them keep before their eyes the great mysteries signified by it and fulfilled in it.
With this evidence and teaching of the Church, I would say the hypothesis that Christ was married and celibate does not have any evidence to support it. While exploring such issues can be fruitful in finding the truth, and asking such questions is a good endeavor, the answer seems clear in this case that it could not possibly be supported by the evidence.

One last thought. Marriage is the uniting of two equals. Christ is the God-man and the only equal would be a God-woman. So, there is no equal to Him to marry.

I hope that helps.

Catholic Carnival for the week

If you have never heard of a "Catholic Carnival", then you can learn more about what this blogging group is all about here.

This week's Catholic Carnival can be found here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Choose Life

When the choice is between you and your baby, what would you choose?
Not even a question for most of us, but the choice is still heroic when lived out, especially in today's culture.

Anonymous vs. Scientology

An interesting internet phenomenon is happening. Quite the buzz is stirring. Read about it here.

Cardinal DiNardo on Life

Great Homily. Here are some quotes, though I suggest you read it all.

On Seminarians (FYI - the young men in the pic are some of our Aggies who are discerning the priesthood)
By the way, friends, just coming from Houston and seeing -- were some of you here last night? Did you see all those seminarians coming down? I said to myself, "I just want 10% of them for Houston, just give me -- I'm not going to be picky, ten percent!" We need vital, active witnesses for Christ among our young people in a multitude of vocations, a multitude of professions, and we need an apostolic witness among our young people in priesthood and consecrated life. God be praised -- I hope that this pro-life rally will, indeed, internalize in many of you a more distinctive sense of calling.
On young people and hope in the future:
I can see it in the faces of the young people. In fact, in the ten years that I have been a bishop, one of the things that has struck me most is a line from the opening of the Gospel of St Luke that I see continuously manifest in so many of our young people, particularly those who give themselves over to witnessing for life. The line in St Luke is: "Theophilus, I'm writing what I'm writing so that you will know the kind of assurance you have in believing in Jesus." The Greek word for it -- paresia -- means conviction, assurance, truth!

It does not mean arrogance, by the way. It means a conviction.

Sisters and brothers, I see growing -- particularly within our young people, even in the midst sometimes of a desert culture here -- this wondrous paresia. I am impressed -- at times, whether in confirmations, or in meetings of young people, I am even overwhelmed. Don't get a big head, but stick with it. Because the paresia, the conviction, is not something you constructed, the paresia is not something we make -- its the gift that comes as hearts melt and as the Lord Jesus is the centerpiece: the one who is the son of the Virgin Mary, whose energetic acceptance of running from Nazareth to Galilee to greet Elizabeth and sing her Magnificat, her energetic acceptance of which takes her all through the life of her Son among us.

Now, you put those things together, friends -- you've got genuine power. But it's not a power of this world -- that's why Jesus announces the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God. what is it? The beatitudes begin to unpack it, but by the end of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke you no longer ask "what" is the kingdom of God, you ask "WHO" is the kingdom of God? And you know who that is -- it's the Lord Jesus who has given us the Beatitudes.
On how to change the culture (emphasis mine):
Sisters and brothers, you're going to rally today -- on behalf of life, on behalf of unborn children, on behalf of born children, on behalf of the elderly, on behalf of everyone who suffers from injustice, for this is indeed a justice issue we are rallying for today. But as you do it, make sure -- in the joy of the Beatitudes -- that you let the Lord Jesus shine through you in purity of heart. The more obedient you become to the Lord Jesus' face, who's looking on you, and letting it change you, the freer you are -- and the freer you are, your witness in culture becomes infectious. You'll become the Beatitudes -- the best virus that could ever be let loose in our culture.

We have some bad viruses around -- let's let loose a good virus, the virus of a purity of heart filled with the Beatitudes that lets God work in us and doesn't make us say, "God, if you're not gonna do it my way then I'm gonna find a better way than you."

That's generally our prayer: "Jesus, hear me! Jesus, you know I know best! Jesus, follow me!" Friends, we've got it all wrong -- even in the pro-life movement! "Jesus, you know best. the Beatitudes. You'reYou're purity of heart. In my desert heart, let the orchard grow -- that will be freedom, then I will know you and love you."

Sisters and brothers, do you realize if we get more and more people doing that what that does to the culture? It changes the culture towards one that grows in holiness -- that's what we need.

Sisters and brothers, Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary met and the joy that was unleashed of two unseen beings -- John the Baptist and Jesus, both in the wombs of their mothers -- that's power. There is much, much unseen in our own witness today. Let the unseen power of the Lord Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit touch you as you rally, make you joyful -- we may be fasting and abstaining today, but no, no bad looks today! Today is a day of joyful sadness or sad joy -- this is a day of remembrance of sadness, but it is joy at the Lord because we have been gathered by Jesus: first for this action of Eucharist, but then to rally, all on behalf of God's human beings -- born and unborn.

May the Lord bless you all, give you strength -- give you paresia, as they say -- that with conviction, you may wake the Lord alive in this culture.
We have to get him back to Aggieland soon.

Monday Morning Tidbits

*Pope Benedict XVI says that miracles are God's way of showing how near He is to man. "The lordship of God is thus manifested in the total healing of man." Read more.

*In another address, PB16 spoke of being missionaries in charity: "May all our contemporaries stand beside their brothers and sisters in humanity. Each one of you is called by Christ and must be a missionary of the Good News in word and in active charity." Read more.

*In yet another address, PB16 spoke about the call to richer countries to help the poorest countries. I agree we need to do more, but throwing money at the countries isn't the only solution. There is a lot of corruption, war, greed and other problems within the poorest countries that keep them poor. Read more.

*While the sentiment is nice, the obstacles to overcome are real. The World Council of Churches is an organization of (mostly) mainline churches and Protestant denominations. One of their goals is ecumenism. The head of the WCC calls for open communion, but the implication, at least for Catholics, is that if this is to happen, there has to be a change in the understanding of the Church, the papacy, The Holy Eucharist, the priesthood, etc. on the parts of the non-Catholics before this could happen. Read more.

*Vatican calls for a global moratorium on abortion. Read more.

*SCOTUS Justice Scalia says that "It is blindingly clear that judges have no greater capacity than the rest of us to determine what is moral". This might get some people up in arms, as if he isn't living out his Catholic identity. But, that isn't the case. He is right. Judges aren't supposed to be arbiters of morality. But, as he says - "The principal function of the courts is not to do what the majority wants, but what the Constitution prescribes". Right. Read more.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Majerus v. Archbishop Burke

This story isn't going away anytime soon. One of my former profs. has a great take on the situation and the hole that Majerus is digging for himself. Take a look.

Friday Fun - Time To Say Goodbye

Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman.

MIT Sketch Assist

If you haven't seen this video yet, it is a demonstration of some cool software from MIT. Physics students would love it.

Pro-Lifers - Young and Growing.

The media is starting to realize that the abortion industry is losing it's hold on our culture. When the young people of this country continue to become more pro-life and the pro-abortion crowd continues to age, the tide has turned.

I am Busy

My latest for Catholic Exchange - "I Am Busy".

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is St. Louis University Catholic?

Coach Rick Majerus, head basketball coach at St. Louis University, made pro-abortion comments recently at a rally for Hillary Clinton. This article is about Archbishop Burke's comments asking SLU to do something about it. I am glad that the Archbishop made a stand, but that isn't the remarkable thing about the article.

What is remarkable, in my opinion, is that SLU sought to distance itself from the Catholic Church, the Archbishop of St. Louis and in doing so argued in court that the Catholic Church has no real influence on it - all for one reason - money.

"You cannot serve God and mammon."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday Tidbits Jan 22

*Roe v Wade "It must not stand. It cannot stand. It will not stand." - Amen.

*Good point = "Support for abortion, and abortions themselves, are at their lowest levels in over 30 years. On Tuesday, over 100,000 will join the annual 'March for Life,' in Washington. On the pro-choice side, we see virtually no major events happening on the national stage."

*Every time I read another point made by Pope Benedict, about our modern culture, I agree with him. He has his finger on the pulse of the secularized culture of the Northern Hemisphere and that the solution to the problems found therein can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. For instance, he said that Catholic colleges and universities "must ask themselves about the mission they are called to undertake in the modern social environment, though open to everyone and respecting the identity of each, cannot but present their own educational, human and Christian perspective"

He then goes on to say that "adequate formation in spiritual life so as to make Christian communities, particularly in parishes, ever more aware of their vocation, and capable of providing adequate responses to questions of spirituality, especially as posed by the young. For this to happen, the Church must not lack qualified and responsible apostles and evangelizers."

He is good.


Stewardship

Being thrifty for Paul Navone preceeds his ability to give back. Good lesson for us all.
Tip O' the Hat to Mark.

Catholic Carnival for this week

Check out the Catholic Carnival for this week.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sign of the Beast

One Catholic's take on the sign of the beast.
Examples include:
$656.66 Wal-Mart Price of the Beast (next week $646.66!)
$55.50 Monthly Payments for Beast, in 12 easy installments

Read more.

Tip o' the hat to Ironic Catholic.

Monday Morning Stuff

*The Jesuits have elected a new leader, and as is usually the case with the inner-workings of the Church, Rocco has the scoop here and here.
Keep the Society of Jesus in your prayers.

*The text of the Pope's canceled speech to La Sapienzia University can be found here. One tidbit that I found wonderful:
I am moved, on this occasion, to express my gratitude for the invitation extended to me to come to your university to deliver an address to you. In this perspective, I first of all asked myself the question: What can a pope say on an occasion like this? In my lecture in Regensburg, I indeed spoke as pope, but I spoke above all in the guise of a former professor of the university, seeking to connect memory and the present. But at the university "La Sapienza", the ancient university of Rome, I have been invited as "Bishop of Rome", and so I must speak in this capacity. Of course, "La Sapienza" was once the pope's university, but today it is a secular university with that autonomy which, on the basis of its founding principles, has always been part of the nature of the university, which must always be exclusively bound to the authority of the truth. In its freedom from political and ecclesiastical authorities, the university finds its special role, and in modern society as well, which needs institutions of this nature.
He doesn't sound like an anti-science crazy, like they accused him of, does he? Because he isn't

*Some German officials think bugging confessionals is a good idea.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yet another lesson from my dog . . .

Sunday morning, as I was sitting on the couch, my dog came up to me. She put her big fluffy head on my lap and looked eagerly up at me. As I turned from what I was doing and my eyes met hers, her big bushy tail began to wag. I smiled. She was trying to tell me something.

When my dog does this it means 1 of 3 things: she is thirsty (and her bowl is dry), she needs to go outside, or she wants to go on a walk. (Though usually the request for a walk is accompanied by some arm nudging and jumping around.)

The water bowl was full and she had just eaten 30 minutes prior so I knew this was a request to go outside. “Ellie, you’re so cute. I love when you tell me what you need,” I said in a slightly sing-songy voice as I headed for the back door.

And it hit me.

God loves it when we tell Him what we need.

Dogs are fairly easy to train. You teach them to come to you when they are thirsty, hungry, in need of a bathroom break, or eager to roam free. This is important otherwise they’d be lapping up the toilet water, messing on your rug, or escaping for a dangerous “walk” of their own.

Even the most autonomous dog is aware of his dependence on the master. They know where to go when they need something. Do we?

So often I think we settled for toilet water when God offers living water (John 4). Our thirst drives us to despair, dumb decisions, or empty addictions before it drives us back to Him. And yet:

“As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Psalm 42:1-2

So often we wander around in our waste, our mess, trying to find a way to clean it up. Sometimes it is only a last resort that we ask to be let out, set free (Luke 15). Or we hold things in – hurts, worries, fears, doubts – until we feel as if we’ll explode. It is only in desperation that we go to God and pour our hearts out to Him. And yet:

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8

As for taking a walk with the Lord, we’d rather take the lead. Or wander off on our own. (Again, Luke 15.) We find keeping pace with Him laborious and would rather go our own way. And yet:

“This God -- his way is perfect; the promise of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30

Again, I have learned from my simple canine friend.

God loves it when we tell Him what we need. Go to Him. Rest your head on His lap. Let your eyes meet His. Tell Him what you need. Let Him quench your thirst, relieve your burdens, and lead you. And watch Him smile.

Catholic Carnival

The first Catholic Carnival that Aggie Catholics has participated in is up. Check out the wide variety of Catholic blogging.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Things Jesus Doesn't Say - Ever!

Make your own clipart like this @ www.TXT2PIC.com

BYU Vocal Group

Nothing like a group of guys from BYU singing acapella arrangements:





Colbert

We don't do politics here at Aggie Catholics, so this isn't about the politics, but the humor.
Colbert in '08?

Is Benedict Anti-Science?

Some Italian professors and students are planning to protest during Pope Benedict's visit to an Italian University because they believe him to be "anti-science". This is an unjust and slanderous accusation against a man who upholds scientific discipline and study. The point is not to actually dialogue with the Pope about science and the interplay it has with faith, but rather they just want to get publicity and make the Church look ignorant and backward. But, truth is confined to science or faith. The two go together. So, what does the Pope think about science? Well, let us allow him to speak for himself. From an interview with him several years ago:
Q: What do you think is the starting point to coordinate the growth of humanity's technical and scientific power with faith and morality?

Cardinal Ratzinger: It is something that must be rediscovered, because the scientific models change; hence, the situation of dialogue between science and faith is faced with new challenges.

An important instrument, for example, is the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which I am now also a member and, in fact, a short while ago I participated for the first time in one of it meetings.

To date, it was only an assembly of scientists -- physicists, biologists, etc. Now, philosophers and theologians have also joined. We have seen that dialogue between the sciences and philosophy and theology is difficult, because they are totally different ways of addressing reality, with different methods, etc.

One of these academics -- he was a specialist in human brain research -- said, There are two irreconcilable worlds; on one hand we have the exact sciences for which, in their field, there is no freedom, there are no presence of the spirit and, on the other hand, I realize that I am a man and that I am free.

Therefore, according to him, they are two different worlds -- and we do not have the possibility to reconcile these two perceptions of the world. He himself acknowledged that he believed in the two worlds: in science that denies freedom, and in his experience of being a free man.

However, we cannot live in this way; it would be permanent schizophrenia. In this present situation of acute methodological specialization on the part of both approaches, we must seek the way in which one discovers the rationality of the other, and develop a genuine dialogue.

For the time being, there is no formula. This is why it is extremely important that proponents of the two approaches of human thought meet: the sciences, and philosophy and theology. In this way, they can discover that both are expressions of authentic reason. But they must understand that reality is one and that man is one.

This is why it is very important that in universities and faculties they not be distinct disciplines separated from one another, but in permanent contact, in which we learn to think with others and to find the unity of reality.
Of course these protesting scientists aren't interested in the "genuine dialogue" that the Pope sees. They would rather have a dictatorship of relativism.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Top 10 Questions

Here are the top 10 questions asked here. Most of them come from our students at Texas A&M University and Blinn College.
The first one gets (on average) at least 1-2 searchers a day looking for an answer here.

1 - Is getting drunk a mortal sin?

2 - What is so wrong about cheating anyway?

3 - How far is too far when dating?

4 - Is it wrong to use contraception?

5 - What is wrong with cohabitation? Part II (stats).

6 - What is purgatory? Where did it come from?

7 - What was Vatican II about? Part II.

8 - What can you tell me about Lent?

9 - How do I get more out of Mass?

10 - Why do we have to suffer?

Remember that if you have a question. Then shoot us an email.
Also, for more Q&As then go here.

Exposing Planned Parenthood

A video on the PP video I posted earlier this week.

Pope on "Educational Emergency"

Good stuff.
Referring to the “educational emergency” he had highlighted last June during the ecclesial congress of the diocese of Rome, Benedict XVI noted how “it seems ever more difficult to convincingly present new generations with firm certainties and criteria upon which to build their lives.” Nonetheless, he told his audience, such an emergency “cannot leave the Church or your administrations indifferent.”

“What is clearly at stake in the formation of individuals”, the Pope added, “is the very basis of co-existence and the future of society. For its part, the diocese of Rome is dedicating its special attention to this difficult task” with initiatives that touch “the various educational fields, from families and schools to parishes, associations and movements”. He singled out the Region of Lazio for the support it has given to oratories and children's centers run by parishes and ecclesial communities.

Pope Benedict provided the officials with a path for civil institutions to form people in a way in accord with their dignity. These institutions must “increase their efforts at various levels in order to tackle the educational emergency, drawing constant inspiration from the guide-criterion of the centrality of the human person,” he said.

Above all, the Pope sees the family as standing at the center of this formation. "It is clear that respect and support for the family based on marriage have primary importance", he emphasized.

"Unfortunately, we daily see how unrelenting and threatening are the attacks and misunderstandings suffered by this fundamental human and social institution. It is, then, more necessary than ever that public administrations do not support such negative tendencies but, on the contrary, give the family their convinced and concrete support, in the certainty that in this way they are working for the common good".

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Everything and Nothing

Sometimes the world can give us everything we want. But, in truth, it ends up being nothing we need.

I pray that God can give me everything I need. I pray His will is done. But, sometimes I still want what I want.

This man had everything he thought he wanted. It was nothing he needed.
What a tragic story. God bless him.

The View Goes Anti-Catholic...Again

The View is the most Anti-Catholic show around. I generally don't throw the anti-anything card out there, but the ignorance on display is amazing. They chat about the Catholic Church regularly and I have never seen them get it right. Here is the latest:



Here is some of what the Catholic League has tracked about them. Note, this doesn't include some of the more recent ignorance.

Scattering of Ashes

Apparently the bishops of Italy have allowed for scattering of a deceased relatives' ashes as long as it isn't for the wrong reasons. This is a change from previous practice of which I wrote about not too long ago.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Yes, You Can Sue For That

A Catholic hospital is being sued for refusing to give a man breast implants to make him look like a woman.

Stem Call Breakthrough Not So Great After All

Well, it looks like the stem cell breakthrough that many of us who are pro-life had been waiting for isn't as great as it seemed at first.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tuesday Tidbits - 1st 2008 Edition

*Six states are working on amending their constitutions to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Four states will vote on these amendments this fall.

*The Pope will lead an ecumenical prayer service when he visits New York this year.

*Walk For Life West Coast will feature MLK's daughter as the speaker.

*Planned Parenthood's newest commercial. Words don't do it justice.
Tip O' the Hat to Dawn Eden for this one.


Here is the press release about the video. But, what it doesn't say - and what Dawn unveils - is that it is paid by taxpayers' money.
SAN FRANCISCO – Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG) will launch a new, edgy radio and television campaign that focuses on the importance of practicing pregnancy prevention and safer sex. The “Mile High” campaign draws in viewers and listeners with lively characters that provide pregnancy prevention and safer sex education in a fun and entertaining way. The target audience for the campaign is young adults, ages 18-24.

“PPGG created this campaign to stress the importance of sexual health in a creative way and one that breaks free from the old ineffective paradigm of relying on fear-mongering tactics to inspire desired behavior changes,” said Dian J. Harrison, PPGG’s President and CEO. “We want young people to take control of their sexual health and well-being by using prevention every time they have sex. This ad's message normalizes pregnancy prevention and safer sex in a healthy, cool, and humorous way.” ,,,

The “Mile High” campaign will run from the end of December 2007 though February 2008 on cable television networks: MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central and TLC and on KMEL-FM, a San Francisco Clear Channel radio station.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bill Maher

Bill Maher - Try this video on for size. His arguments don't carry any true weight or logic, so he has resorted to complete ad hominem. He says to believe in the Eucharist/God makes you schizophrenic and crazy.



He has never been one for true dialogue or debate, but rather he attempts to offend, scandalize or distract.

Cardinal Rode Addresses the Jesuits

Cardinal Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (wow, what a title), addresses the Jesuits at the opening of their gathering. In it, he doesn't pull any punches on what should happen with the Society of Jesus.
Consecration to service to Christ cannot be separated from consecration to service to the Church. Ignatius and his first companions considered it thus when they wrote the Formula of your Institute in which the essence of your charism is spelled out: “To serve the Lord and his Spouse the Church under the Roman Pontiff” (Julio III, Formula I). It is with sorrow and anxiety that I see that the sentire cum ecclesia of which your founder frequently spoke is diminishing even in some members of religious families. The Church is waiting for a light from you to restore the sensus Ecclesiae.
He then continues to call them to faithfulness, orthodoxy and reform:
Love for the Church in every sense of the word, – be it Church people of God be it hierarchical Church – is not a human sentiment which comes and goes according to the people who make it up or according to our conformity with the dispositions emanating from those whom the Lord has placed to direct the Church. Love for the Church is a love based on faith, a gift of the Lord which, precisely because he loves us, he gives us faith in him and in his Spouse, which is the Church. Without the gift of faith in the Church there can be no love for the Church.
Then he just lays it all on the line:
With sadness and anxiety I also see a growing distancing from the Hierarchy. The Ignatian spirituality of apostolic service “under the Roman Pontiff” does not allow for this separation. In the Constitutions which he left you, Ignatius wanted to truly shape your mind and in the book of the Exercises (n 353) he wrote” we must always keep our mind prepared and quick to obey the true Spouse of Christ and our Holy Mother, the Hierarchical Church”. Religious obedience can be understood only as obedience in love. The fundamental nucleus of Ignatian spirituality consists in uniting the love for God with love for the hierarchical Church. Your XXXIII Congregation once again took up this characteristic of obedience declaring that “the Society reaffirms in a spirit of faith the traditional bond of love and of service which unites it to the Roman Pontiff” You once again took up this principle in the motto “In all things love and serve”.

You must also place this XXXV General Congregation, which opens with this liturgy, celebrated close to the remains of your founder in this line, which has always been followed by the Society throughout its multi-century history in order to show your desire and your commitment to be faithful to the charism which he left you as an inheritance and to carry it out in ways which better respond to the needs of the Church in our time.

The service of the Society is a service “under the banner of the Cross” (Formula I). Every service done out of love necessarily implies a self-emptying, a kenosis. But letting go of what one wants to do in order to do what the beloved wants is to transform the kenosis into the image of Christ who learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5, 8). It is for this reason that St. Ignatius, realistically, adds that the Jesuit serves the Church “under the banner of the Cross” (Formula I).

Ignatius placed himself under the orders of the Roman Pontiff “in order to not err in via Domini” (Const 605) in the distribution of his religious throughout the world and to be present wherever the needs of the Church were greater.

Times have changed and the Church must today confront new and urgent necessities, I will mention one, which in my judgment is urgent today and is at the same time complex and I propose it for your consideration. It is the need to present to the faithful and to the world the authentic truth revealed in Scripture and Tradition. The doctrinal diversity of those who at all levels, by vocation and mission are called to announce the Kingdom of truth and love, disorients the faithful and leads to a relativism without limits. There is one truth, even though it can always be more deeply known.

It is the “living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (DV 10) which is the voucher for revealed truth. The exegetes and theological scholars are involved in working together “under the watchful care of the sacred teaching office of the Church, to an exploration and exposition of the divine writings (DV 23). Through your long and solid formation, your centers of research, your teaching in the philosophical-theological-biblical fields you are in a privileged position to carry out this difficult mission. Carry it out with study and in-depth examination, carry it out with humility, carry it out with faith in the Church. carry it out with love for the Church.

May those who, according to your legislation, have to oversee the doctrine of your magazines and publications do so in the light of and according to the “rules for sentire cum ecclesia”, with love and respect.

The feeling of ever growing separation between faith and culture, a separation which constitutes a great impediment for Evangelization (Sapientia Cristiana, proemio) also worries me.

A culture immersed with a true Christian spirit is an instrument which fosters the spreading of the Gospel, faith in God the Creator of the heavens and of the earth. The Tradition of the Society, from the first beginnings of the Collegio Romano always placed itself at the crossroads between Church and society, between faith and culture, between religion and secularism. Recover these avant-garde positions which are so necessary to transmit the eternal truth to today’s world, in today’s language. Do not abandon this challenge. We know the task is difficult, uncomfortable and risky, and at times little appreciated and even misunderstood, but it is a necessary task for the Church. The apostolic tasks demanded of you by the Church are many and very diverse, but all have a common denominator: the instrument which carries them out, according to an Ignatian phrase must be an instrument united to God. It is the Ignatian echo to the Gospel proclaimed today: I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit (Jn.15, 15). Union with the vine, which is love, is realized only through a personal and silent exchange of love which is born in prayer, “from the internal knowledge of the Lord who became man for me and who, integral and alive, extends himself to all who are close to us and to all that is close to us”. It is not possible to transform the world, or to respond to the challenges of a world which has forgotten love, without being firmly rooted in love.
Tip O' the Hat to Rocco.

Violence in Kenya

From a friend of mine who quit her (very good) job and now works to help raise funds for this order of nuns in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers and if you can help fund them, then you can contact AMY MCGOWAN dshorphanages.org 214 395 5804 or 719-395 9410. This is the reality of life in other countries that we are immune to for the most part:

APPEAL FOR HELP FOR THE DISPLACED – VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE IN KENYA

Greetings from the Daughters of the Sacred Heart.

I am sure you are aware of the violence and destruction taking place in Kenya. All of us are affected by the present situation.

Because of the insecurity, many people have left their homes and are now camping in churches and police stations. This is the situation throughout the country. The Daughters of the Sacred Heart have direct experience with this displaced people in Mombasa. In the Likoni parish church compound, at the moment there are 300 people including children, women and older persons, whose homes have been looted and their lives are in danger because they belong to a tribe called Kikuyu. Armed youth had surrounded their homes and were setting the houses ablaze, and the residents ran away with what they were wearing, leaving everything behind. They took refuge in the church compound where our sisters also have their residence.

Even here they are not secure as the armed youth keep threatening that they will come in and set the place on fire. The police are providing security but it is after much persuasion they have come to help. The atmosphere is tense and the situation pathetic.

The people here are in need of food, clothing and medical care. All of them also are worried about their future because their homes are now ashes and they don’t know where to go next.

They are looking up to us for help and there is nothing much we can do.

I am writing to you to request you to help us help these people. If you are in a position to do so, do let me know and I will send you the budget of the things required.

Hope to receive a response at your earliest.

With best wishes,
Sr. Lucy Mbuthia
Regional Superior, Daughters of the Sacred Heart

Churchman of the Year

Rocco at Whispers has nominated Cardinal DiNardo as "Churchman of the Year". Very good read.

Jesuits To Elect New Leader

In what could determine the future of a diminishing, yet still very influential and large, religious order (The Jesuits), a vote on the new leader of the order is coming soon. Many Catholics believe it is just a matter of time before the Jesuits fade away, but I am not one of those. All of the Jesuits I have ever met are either exemplary or average. My reaction is almost always hot or cold. I think there are great elements that could be renewed in the order and my prayers are that it happens.

Please join me in prayer for the Society of Jesus.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Blog

Check out Catholic Media Review.

Friday Fun - Safety Bike

Don't try this at home:

NOTE - LANGUAGE WARNING. I just watched it with the sound on and they drop a four letter expletive around 43 seconds. If you don't want to hear it, either mute or skip. Thanks.

Friday Fun - Human Tetris

Someone (actually quite a few people) has too much time on their hands.

Let us hope it lasts

Pro-life themes in movies are "in". Hopefully it remains that way.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Another Catholic Exchange Article

How Gender Makes a Difference.

Profound and Moving

Warning - long post!
The quotes below moved me when I read them last night. It is from the homily of Pope Benedict XVI at the Mass of his installation as Pope. The section below is from him describing the Pallium, an ancient symbol of the yoke of Christ being laid upon the shoulders of the Shepherd. (emphasis below mine)
The symbol of the lamb also has a deeper meaning. In the Ancient Near East, it was customary for kings to style themselves shepherds of their people. This was an image of their power, a cynical image: to them their subjects were like sheep, which the shepherd could dispose of as he wished. When the shepherd of all humanity, the living God, Himself became a lamb, He stood on the side of the lambs, with those who are downtrodden and killed. This is how He reveals Himself to be the true shepherd: "I am the Good Shepherd . . . I lay down my life for the sheep", Jesus says of Himself (Jn 10:14f). It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God's sign: He Himself is love. How often we wish that God would show Himself stronger, that He would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God's patience. And yet, we need His patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified Him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.
He then goes on to describe another symbol of the papacy, the fisherman's ring:

The second symbol used in today's liturgy to express the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry is the presentation of the fisherman's ring. Peter's call to be a shepherd, which we heard in the Gospel, comes after the account of a miraculous catch of fish: after a night in which the disciples had let down their nets without success, they see the Risen Lord on the shore. He tells them to let down their nets once more, and the nets become so full that they can hardly pull them in; 153 large fish: "and although there were so many, the net was not torn" (Jn 21:11). This account, coming at the end of Jesus' earthly journey with His disciples, corresponds to an account found at the beginning: there too, the disciples had caught nothing the entire night; there too, Jesus had invited Simon once more to put out into the deep. And Simon, who was not yet called Peter, gave the wonderful reply: "Master, at your word I will let down the nets." And then came the conferral of his mission: "Do not be afraid. Henceforth you will be catching men" (Lk5:1-11).

Today too the Church and the successors of the Apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel ­ to God, to Christ, to true life. The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendor of God's light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God.

It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world.

Then he wraps up the homily be referring to his friend and predecessor's first words as Pope:

At this point, my mind goes back to October 22, 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in Saint Peter's Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!" The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let Him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free. Yes, He would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased. But He would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society. The Pope was also speaking to everyone, especially the young. Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and He gives you everything. When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ ­ and you will find true life. Amen.

Amen!
Wow.
Words that move us can be very powerful. Now, I have to do something about it.

My prayer - "Father, grant me patience. Make me a true fisher of men. Amen."