Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Aggie Catholic on PBS

Sr. Lynn D'Souza, '94 is a Benedictine Sister in Clyde, MO, with the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She graduated from A&M with a degree in biochemistry and then entered the convent (aka - the monastery) in Clyde. While there, she was the key person to help invent the low-gluten host used by those people who suffer from Celiac disease, which is an intolerance to gluten found in wheat. The host has been approved for use by the Vatican and the sisters are the only ones who make them (patent pending).

I found a great video of her story done by PBS. I thought I might share it and her blog.

Gig 'em Sr. Lynn!

Catholic Carnival #170

The carnival for this week.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday Morning Tidbits - End of Apr. Edition

*Here is a sad and interesting site. The purpose is the following:
Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth's biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense.
You stop having kids and I will have 5. By the time they all grow up, my thought-process wins.

*Ethanol gives us the following:
More than l00 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a “silent tsunami” of sharply rising food prices, which could threaten U.N.-backed feeding programs for 20 million children.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said this week that surging food costs could translate into “seven lost years” in the fight against worldwide poverty, and that 33 countries are at risk of social upheaval.
As Mark Shea said, "
One tank of gas for an SUV = Food for one person for a year. - Obscene". I agree. Ethanol is not the answer to the fuel problems and we need to quickly reverse our laws about it.

*Some think that we will have another new Pope sooner rather than later. I say, only God knows.

*Canada is leading the way down the cultural slippery slope now.

*Cardinal Egan vs. Rudy Giuliani. Round 1.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Infertility and the Catholic Church - Part Deux

Q - I remember hearing something about a form of 'conception' where an egg and the sperm were separated by an air bubble, and then reintroduced to the uterus. Is this an actual form of conception and what sort of implications are there from a Catholic standpoint on this concept?

A - Thanks for the question. I am guessing that this is a follow-up to my post about In-vitro, which I recommend others read before I answer this question.

You are referring to the GIFT technique, which stands for "gamete intrafallopian transfer". It is a rarely used technique that is neither approved or disapproved by the Church. Here is the USCCB definition of the technique:
Nearly ripe ova are obtained from the woman's follicles by ultrasonically guided aspiration techniques as for IVF. But one ovum, separated with an air bubble from a prepared seminal fluid sample, is immediately reinserted with a plastic tubing into the woman's fallopian tube so that conception will occur within the body. Pregnancy rates are similar to IVF.
The reason it is rarely used, is because it involves a surgical procedure, is more expensive than IVF, and doctors don't like doing it.

I am not sure what you mean by "an actual form of conception", but conception takes place within the women's body.

The USCCB website I linked to above has more info.

Monday Morning Stuff - end of Apr. edition

*This won't end well. Assisi has banned begging. Too bad St. Francis isn't alive.

*The rumors have been swirling for a while. Will President Bush become Catholic? I don't know, but I don't think it is outside of the realm of possibility. He has many very intelligent Catholic advisers, including Mary Ann Glendon, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, George Weigel, and others. He also has a great respect for the Church and his little brother, Jeb, is Catholic. Who knows?

*In a similar vein, Bush has urged vouchers for Catholic schools. Good.

*For me, it makes perfect sense - if ethanol and other biofuels take food from poor people's mouths, then stop making it.

*Your next Catholic best-seller is coming out soon. Cardinal Bertone on the Last Secret of Fatima with a forward by the Pope.

*Catholic, pro-life, and famous. What an example.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Colbert On the Pope

Tip o' the Hat to Catholic Colbert.


*St. Padre Pio's body has been exhumed and many devotees are now coming to view his body and ask for his intercession. You can view pictures here.

*Apparently John Henry Newman MAY be beatified soon.

*All you angels and saints pray for us.

*More on Saints.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Morning Random Stuff

*The Society of St. Pius X has rejected the hope of unity with Rome. The reasoning in the article, that the head of SSPX offers, is poor. In fact, I have never read a good argument as to why anyone would go into schism over sinful people doing sinful things. Of course, setting yourself up as another magisterium is a whole other problem as well.

*Three Irish priests are signed to a big singing contract with Sony. Sounds like a huge hit, if you ask me. I might buy their album.

*Want to see some great pics of the Pope's visit to the National Shrine? Here you go. Tip o' the hat to Tim. On a side note, have you noticed the differences in how Benedict waves at crowds with two hands?

*Catholic Carnival #169 is up.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wed. Morning Stuff

Some Muslim scholars want to replace Greenwich Standard Time with Mecca Standard Time.
I don't think it will happen.

The Governor of Alaska gave birth to a baby with Down Syndrome, despite pressure to abort.

The Russian Orthodox Church is considering some strategery with the Catholic Church.

The rumors are starting to float that Cardinal Egan may leave NY soon.

Gross. Just. Gross.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Summer Movies

I hope these are as good as I want them to be:
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

"Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"

"The Dark Knight"

There is also some potential in Iron Man, X-Files, Get Smart, and The Incredible Hulk, but I will have to wait on those a bit more. I am not holding my breath for those or any dark horses, but we will have to wait and see.

Politics Hit a Low-Blow

This is about as low as politicians can go to try and win votes:

In-Vitro Fertilization and Catholics

There is a new way of doing in-vitro fertilization that is cheaper and easier. But, of course, it doesn't address the moral issues involved in all in-vitro fertilization techniques, which take the creation of life to an act outside the marital act (i.e., sexual relations of husband and wife). In fact, while one issue is addressed by the pro-life site I linked to above (killing "extra" embryos), they don't address the whole problem with IVF. With 10% of couples having being infertile & 5% of couples using in-vitro fertilization, this is a huge issue that we need to address.

Even if in-vitro fertilization didn't kill the fertilized embryos, it would still be wrong to do. Why? Because life is not a commodity. Sex is not optional to the creation of life. And, babies aren't a good to be bought or a thing we have a "right" to.

The question we need to address has to do with the purpose of sex. Sex is not just for pleasure and God didn't make us sexual beings merely so we could feel good having sex. Sex has a two-fold purpose of uniting the spouses and creating life. God intended both. One of the positive consequences of sex is pleasure, but that isn't an intrinsic part of the meaning or purpose to it.

The Catechism directly addresses the issue:

2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other."

2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children." "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person."

IVF is a violation of a human rights. Those rights include the right to life, which the "extra" embryos are deprived of and the right to be created and raised within the marriage of the parents. Now, are they less of a "person" in any way because of the means of their creation? No. A child is always a child. But, the end doesn't justify the means. Sex isn’t supposed to be about just me. It is supposed to be about “other”. When it becomes something selfish, it becomes sinful. IVF is never about the other.

On top of it all, children conceived via IVF are at a much greater risk of having health problems.

Add it all up and the Church's judgment on this issue makes perfect sense. What happens is that many couples who carry the cross of infertility are torn apart because of it. IVF seems to be a way out of the pain. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. A friend of mine wrote this amazing article on their experience with infertility and IVF. I hope it can shed a light on the process for all to see.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ignorance of the Media

I sometimes get paid to write, though I do not say I am the best writer. Yet, I can at least string together a few words that make sense and form an argument. Apparently one columnist gets paid to do neither, which is why we end up with articles such as this.


Regardless of your feelings about the war, we all need to appreciate the sacrifice that our military personnel and their families make on our behalf.

This simple story puts it in perspective well.

Monday Morning Things

*Paraguay elects ex-bishop as new president.

*The Pope is gone. But, before he left, he reminded the Catholic Church in the USA to use freedom responsibly. This is a call to both individuals, the Church and our nation.
In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom not only to practice their faith, but also to participate fully in civic life
*Bill Maher says he was going to apologize, but was only trying to get viewers to hear him slander the Church again.

*Say what you will about the liturgy in DC's Nationals' stadium, but the singing of the Panis Angelicus by Placido Domingo was brilliant.

On top of it all, Kelly Clarkson finally sings something I thoroughly enjoyed and while dressed modestly. A great song brings out the greatness of her voice more than any pop music could.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Fun - Papal Style

"Thank you Your Holiness. Awesome Speech". - GWB

Address From PBXVI to Educators

My commentary is in bold.
I believe this to be the most important speech he has given so far (though the speech to the UN might eclipse this one).
17 APRIL 2008

Your Eminences,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Professors, Teachers and Educators,

"How beautiful are the footsteps of those who bring good news" (Rom 10:15-17). With these words of Isaiah quoted by Saint Paul, I warmly greet each of you - bearers of wisdom - and through you the staff, students and families of the many and varied institutions of learning that you represent. It is my great pleasure to meet you and to share with you some thoughts regarding the nature and identity of Catholic education today. I especially wish to thank Father David O'Connell, President and Rector of the Catholic University of America. Your kind words of welcome are much appreciated. Please extend my heartfelt gratitude to the entire community - faculty, staff and students - of this University.

Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth (cf. Spe Salvi, 4). Notice that he sets the bar for Catholic education very high at the beginning of the speech. This relationship elicits a desire to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ and his teaching. In this way those who meet him are drawn by the very power of the Gospel to lead a new life characterized by all that is beautiful, good, and true; a life of Christian witness nurtured and strengthened within the community of our Lord's disciples, the Church. The purpose of the church is to evangelize, so education needs to reflect this mission/purpose.

The dynamic between personal encounter, knowledge and Christian witness is integral to the diakonia of truth which the Church exercises in the midst of humanity. God's revelation offers every generation the opportunity to discover the ultimate truth about its own life and the goal of history. This task is never easy; it involves the entire Christian community and motivates each generation of Christian educators to ensure that the power of God's truth permeates every dimension of the institutions they serve. There is no part of education that isn't informed by the faith. In this way, Christ's Good News is set to work, guiding both teacher and student towards the objective truth which, in transcending the particular and the subjective, points to the universal and absolute that enables us to proclaim with confidence the hope which does not disappoint (cf. Rom 5:5). He wants to make sure that Catholic education is objective first, so as to battle against the culture of relativism. Set against personal struggles, moral confusion and fragmentation of knowledge, the noble goals of scholarship and education, founded on the unity of truth and in service of the person and the community, become an especially powerful instrument of hope. Something we seem to have lost - hope.

Dear friends, the history of this nation includes many examples of the Church's commitment in this regard. The Catholic community here has in fact made education one of its highest priorities. This undertaking has not come without great sacrifice. Towering figures, like Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and other founders and foundresses, with great tenacity and foresight, laid the foundations of what is today a remarkable network of parochial schools contributing to the spiritual well-being of the Church and the nation. Some, like Saint Katharine Drexel, devoted their lives to educating those whom others had neglected - in her case, African Americans and Native Americans. Countless dedicated Religious Sisters, Brothers, and Priests together with selfless parents have, through Catholic schools, helped generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in mainstream society.

This sacrifice continues today. It is an outstanding apostolate of hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of over three million children and students. Education should focus on the whole person in a community, not just addressing head-knowledge. It also provides a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible to people of all social and economic strata. No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation. In Benedict's idea of education, it is a failure of the Church when we miss the opportunity to form our youth in the faith. Of course, he is correct. Just look at the fruit from poorly formed Catholics.

Some today question the Church's involvement in education, wondering whether her resources might be better placed elsewhere. Certainly in a nation such as this, the State provides ample opportunities for education and attracts committed and generous men and women to this honorable profession. It is timely, then, to reflect on what is particular to our Catholic institutions. How do they contribute to the good of society through the Church's primary mission of evangelization?

All the Church's activities stem from her awareness that she is the bearer of a message which has its origin in God himself: in his goodness and wisdom, God chose to reveal himself and to make known the hidden purpose of his will (cf. Eph 1:9; Dei Verbum, 2). God's desire to make himself known, and the innate desire of all human beings to know the truth, provide the context for human inquiry into the meaning of life. This unique encounter is sustained within our Christian community: the one who seeks the truth becomes the one who lives by faith (cf. Fides et Ratio, 31). It can be described as a move from "I" to "we", leading the individual to be numbered among God's people. In other words, merely having standing in the academic community is nothing if you lose the purpose of being Catholic, in all that being Catholic means and stands for.

This same dynamic of communal identity - to whom do I belong? - vivifies the ethos of our Catholic institutions. A university or school's Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students. It is a question of conviction - do we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22)? Are we ready to commit our entire self - intellect and will, mind and heart - to God? Do we accept the truth Christ reveals? Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools? Is it given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God's creation? Only in this way do we really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold. Why stay open, why exist, why make others sacrifice so much, if you don't impart the faith?

From this perspective one can recognize that the contemporary "crisis of truth" is rooted in a "crisis of faith". Only through faith can we freely give our assent to God's testimony and acknowledge him as the transcendent guarantor of the truth he reveals. Again, we see why fostering personal intimacy with Jesus Christ and communal witness to his loving truth is indispensable in Catholic institutions of learning. Yet we all know, and observe with concern, the difficulty or reluctance many people have today in entrusting themselves to God. It is a complex phenomenon and one which I ponder continually. While we have sought diligently to engage the intellect of our young, perhaps we have neglected the will. Subsequently we observe, with distress, the notion of freedom being distorted. Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in - a participation in Being itself. Hence authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God. Such a choice would ultimately disregard the very truth we need in order to understand ourselves. A particular responsibility therefore for each of you, and your colleagues, is to evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that follows from this belief. It is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth. In choosing to live by that truth, we embrace the fullness of the life of faith which is given to us in the Church. PBXVI is particularly challenging those institutions which have lost their Catholic identity and have fallen into the culture of relativism. He wants them to understand that faith is not contrary to truth, but the two are inseparable. Without them both we cannot engage and change the culture, but rather will be changed ourselves.

Clearly, then, Catholic identity is not dependent upon statistics. Neither can it be equated simply with orthodoxy of course content. It demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith. Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human, capable of directing the will along the path of freedom (cf. Spe Salvi, 23). In this way our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of the Church and truly serve society. They become places in which God's active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ's "being for others" (cf. ibid., 28). How we ought to live is the most important lesson we can teach others.

The Church's primary mission of evangelization, in which educational institutions play a crucial role, is consonant with a nation's fundamental aspiration to develop a society truly worthy of the human person's dignity. At times, however, the value of the Church's contribution to the public forum is questioned. It is important therefore to recall that the truths of faith and of reason never contradict one another (cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, IV: DS 3017; St. Augustine, Contra Academicos, III, 20, 43). The Church's mission, in fact, involves her in humanity's struggle to arrive at truth. In articulating revealed truth she serves all members of society by purifying reason, ensuring that it remains open to the consideration of ultimate truths. Drawing upon divine wisdom, she sheds light on the foundation of human morality and ethics, and reminds all groups in society that it is not praxis that creates truth but truth that should serve as the basis of praxis. Far from undermining the tolerance of legitimate diversity, such a contribution illuminates the very truth which makes consensus attainable, and helps to keep public debate rational, honest and accountable. Similarly the Church never tires of upholding the essential moral categories of right and wrong, without which hope could only wither, giving way to cold pragmatic calculations of utility which render the person little more than a pawn on some ideological chess-board. The Church has a right to assert what is objectively true. The Church has a right to be heard in the public square and to bring this truth to bear on all she does. In fact, it is an obligation as well and one that many in Catholic education have failed to live up to.

With regard to the educational forum, the diakonia of truth takes on a heightened significance in societies where secularist ideology drives a wedge between truth and faith. This division has led to a tendency to equate truth with knowledge and to adopt a positivistic mentality which, in rejecting metaphysics, denies the foundations of faith and rejects the need for a moral vision. Truth means more than knowledge: knowing the truth leads us to discover the good. Truth speaks to the individual in his or her the entirety, inviting us to respond with our whole being. This optimistic vision is found in our Christian faith because such faith has been granted the vision of the Logos, God's creative Reason, which in the Incarnation, is revealed as Goodness itself. Far from being just a communication of factual data - "informative" - the loving truth of the Gospel is creative and life-changing - "performative" (cf. Spe Salvi, 2). With confidence, Christian educators can liberate the young from the limits of positivism and awaken receptivity to the truth, to God and his goodness. In this way you will also help to form their conscience which, enriched by faith, opens a sure path to inner peace and to respect for others. Truth can't be just something we "learn". It is something that transforms. Because truth is made flesh in Jesus. Truth is found fully in the second person of the Trinity revealed to us for our salvation. To be cut off from the source of truth is to leave truth as something less than what it truly is.

It comes as no surprise, then, that not just our own ecclesial communities but society in general has high expectations of Catholic educators. This places upon you a responsibility and offers an opportunity. More and more people - parents in particular - recognize the need for excellence in the human formation of their children. As Mater et Magistra, the Church shares their concern. When nothing beyond the individual is recognized as definitive, the ultimate criterion of judgment becomes the self and the satisfaction of the individual's immediate wishes. He has called the "dictatorship of relativism" the biggest obstacle our culture needs to overcome. This cannot happen without a sincere dialog on truth and faith. The objectivity and perspective, which can only come through a recognition of the essential transcendent dimension of the human person, can be lost. Within such a relativistic horizon the goals of education are inevitably curtailed. Slowly, a lowering of standards occurs. We observe today a timidity in the face of the category of the good and an aimless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of freedom. We witness an assumption that every experience is of equal worth and a reluctance to admit imperfection and mistakes. And particularly disturbing, is the reduction of the precious and delicate area of education in sexuality to management of 'risk', bereft of any reference to the beauty of conjugal love. He really challenges others to boldly state what the Church teaches is true and not to pander to our students. Sex, in particular, is something we need to catechize our students about.

How might Christian educators respond? These harmful developments point to the particular urgency of what we might call "intellectual charity". This aspect of charity calls the educator to recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love. Indeed, the dignity of education lies in fostering the true perfection and happiness of those to be educated. In practice "intellectual charity" upholds the essential unity of knowledge against the fragmentation which ensues when reason is detached from the pursuit of truth. It guides the young towards the deep satisfaction of exercising freedom in relation to truth, and it strives to articulate the relationship between faith and all aspects of family and civic life. Once their passion for the fullness and unity of truth has been awakened, young people will surely relish the discovery that the question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of what they ought to do. Here they will experience "in what" and "in whom" it is possible to hope, and be inspired to contribute to society in a way that engenders hope in others. Education leads to freedom. But, freedom as described above - freedom to love and do as we ought.

Dear friends, I wish to conclude by focusing our attention specifically on the paramount importance of your own professionalism and witness within our Catholic universities and schools. First, let me thank you for your dedication and generosity. I know from my own days as a professor, and I have heard from your Bishops and officials of the Congregation for Catholic Education, that the reputation of Catholic institutes of learning in this country is largely due to yourselves and your predecessors. Your selfless contributions - from outstanding research to the dedication of those working in inner-city schools - serve both your country and the Church. For this I express my profound gratitude. Buttering them up for the kick in the pants.

In regard to faculty members at Catholic colleges universities, I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. Remember how he is defining freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you. Yet it is also the case that any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission; a mission at the heart of the Church's munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or independent of it. You cannot hide behind "academic freedom" and contradict the teachings of the Church if you are to call yourself "Catholic"!

Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. Duty isn't a word some educators like. Too bad. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church's Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution's life, both inside and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual. You can't say one thing and do another.

I wish also to express a particular word of encouragement to both lay and Religious teachers of catechesis who strive to ensure that young people become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith. Religious education is a challenging apostolate, yet there are many signs of a desire among young people to learn about the faith and practice it with vigor. If this awakening is to grow, teachers require a clear and precise understanding of the specific nature and role of Catholic education. They must also be ready to lead the commitment made by the entire school community to assist our young people, and their families, to experience the harmony between faith, life and culture. Catechists are given a special responsibility that should not be taken lightly. This responsibility includes being well-formed themselves and then to be stewards of the Gospel.

Here I wish to make a special appeal to Religious Brothers, Sisters and Priests: do not abandon the school apostolate; indeed, renew your commitment to schools especially those in poorer areas. In places where there are many hollow promises which lure young people away from the path of truth and genuine freedom, the consecrated person's witness to the evangelical counsels is an irreplaceable gift. I encourage the Religious present to bring renewed enthusiasm to the promotion of vocations. Know that your witness to the ideal of consecration and mission among the young is a source of great inspiration in faith for them and their families.

To all of you I say: bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness you have experienced with joy. With Saint Augustine, let us say: "we who speak and you who listen acknowledge ourselves as fellow disciples of a single teacher" (Sermons, 23:2). With these sentiments of communion, I gladly impart to you, your colleagues and students, and to your families, my Apostolic Blessing.
Wonderful. We should all digest this speech, along with the others, over time.


No words to describe this.

A follow-up piece.

How Does He Do It?

Have you noticed the schedule that the Pope has been keeping on his visit? This isn't an abnormal schedule for him either. Remember that he is not a young man (81). Must get some special grace from somewhere...hmmm??!!

Check back soon for another great speech, and this time it is one I will go into detail diving into, because it is to educators and in my opinion the most important one he gave.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Pope BXVI

The Pope has done a wonderful job of exceeding my expectations during this Mass. Now, he privately met with some victims of priestly abuse. This is exactly what he needed to do.

Also, Amy Welborn has a wonderful post on how we should react to the liturgy, that has been very much criticized today.

Now, I can't wait for the text of the address to educators.

Garden Rocks

A couple weekends ago I worked out in the garden. This time it wasn’t quite the fun of planting vegetables or pruning roses. I was removing landscape rocks, a task I had been dreading since I first viewed the house with my realtor. Upon walking out the back door during that first visit, I had three thoughts:
1) “Wow this yard is huge! I love it!”
2) “Wow this deck is fabulous! I love it!”
3) “Wow those rocks are hideous. They must go.”

Around the deck and around the gardening shed there were bright white rocks (which I’m told the previous owner bleached with care once a year!) covered at the edges with green mossy stuff. Throughout this past year their appearance declined even more as weeds grew up between the rocks. Each day I’d think, “I need to take those out” and finally this past weekend I began tackling the task.

But it was a big and laborious job. And I undertook it alone.

Not having a wheelbarrow (and not planning ahead to borrow one) I used an old file box. I’d fill it half way with rocks and haul it to the front side corner of the yard where I have some drainage and erosion issues. I quickly lost count of how many trips I made.

As the day wore on I got tired. Sometimes I’d just pause and stare at the half full box of rocks. Partly hoping it would move itself and partly entertaining the idea of just leaving it there indefinitely. I couldn’t make one more trip! Sometimes I’d consider dragging the box. I couldn’t fathom one more “bend with the knee” and lift. And sometimes I’d berate myself for not inviting a young, in-shape friend with upper body strength to assist in this crazy task.

Yet at the end of the long day, it was worth it. I can now sit on my patio and look across at pretty plants. Mission accomplished.

Yesterday a friend gave a beautiful, encouraging and challenging talk to our Confirmation class about discipleship. That night in prayer I kept going back to Mark 8:34: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The phrase “take up” stuck in my mind. It was as if God was saying to me over and over, “Sarah, take it up!”

We all have our own cross fit just for us. There are things I’ve struggled with all my life and over the years I have seen how God has fashioned this cross just for me. It is mine to carry. And yet some days I dread the task of “taking it up.”

Sitting there in the chapel, in the beautiful presence of our Lord, I thought of that hideous box of rocks. And it hit me.

Sometimes I kind of stand there and stare at my cross. Partly hoping it will carry itself and partly entertaining the idea of leaving it there indefinitely. Sometimes I consider (and try) dragging it. I can’t fathom one more “bend with the knee” and lift. And sometimes I bemoan the fact that there is no one else around that I can persuade to carry it for me. (Though, of course, God gives us friends to carry it with us.)

And yet the challenge of discipleship, of following Christ, is to “take it up”. A challenge we are not left to meet alone.

Today as we stand in the midst of Easter grace may we receive that grace that enables us to “take up” our cross. Quit staring at it. Quit dragging it. Quit trying to pawn it off on someone else.

It is yours to carry. “Take it up!”

Christ promises us that it is worth it. And someday we shall declare in heaven, “Mission accomplished!”

Pope Touches on It All

The Pope is knocking it out of the park. He has addressed our culture with a keen eye and a great commentary on how to fight back relativism and immorality. He has challenged the Church to live lives of holiness. He has focused on difficult issues that needed to be addressed. He has raised the bar for us all.

A few more snips.
In a society that rightly values personal liberty, the Church needs to promote at every level of her teaching - in catechesis, preaching, seminary and university instruction - an apologetics aimed at affirming the truth of Christian revelation, the harmony of faith and reason, and a sound understanding of freedom, seen in positive terms as a liberation both from the limitations of sin and for an authentic and fulfilling life. In a word, the Gospel has to be preached and taught as an integral way of life, offering an attractive and true answer, intellectually and practically, to real human problems. The "dictatorship of relativism", in the end, is nothing less than a threat to genuine human freedom, which only matures in generosity and fidelity to the truth.
Formation, prayer, conversion, holiness, evangelization, and living a life close to the Church. A formula for success.
The fields are still ripe for harvesting (cf. Jn 4:35); God continues to give the growth (cf. 1 Cor 3:6). We can and must insist -- even in our own time and for our own time -- as the late Pope John Paul II did, that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 86). What is needed above all, at this time in the history of the Church in America, is a renewal of that apostolic zeal which inspires her shepherds actively to seek out the lost, to bind up those who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are languishing (cf. Ez 34:16). And this, as I have said, calls for new ways of thinking based on a sound diagnosis of today's challenges and a commitment to unity in the service of the Church's mission to the present generation.
We must evangelize!
Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments -- prayer is the first means by which we come to know the Lord's will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God's call. So I think learning prayer, being prayerful people, is an essential point for the living church. Programs, plans, projects are necessary and have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God's call.
We must pray!

Pope's Ballpark Homily

Snippets from his homily.
In every time and place, the Church is called to grow in unity through constant conversion to Christ, whose saving work is proclaimed by the Successors of the Apostles and celebrated in the sacraments. This unity, in turn, gives rise to an unceasing missionary outreach, as the Spirit spurs believers to proclaim "the great works of God" and to invite all people to enter the community of those saved by the blood of Christ and granted new life in his Spirit.

I pray, then, that this significant anniversary in the life of the Church in the United States, and the presence of the Successor of Peter in your midst, will be an occasion for all Catholics to reaffirm their unity in the apostolic faith, to offer their contemporaries a convincing account of the hope which inspires them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15), and to be renewed in missionary zeal for the extension of God's Kingdom.
The average Catholic should be greatly challenged by these words. By "average Catholic", I mean all of us.
The world needs this witness! Who can deny that the present moment is a crossroads, not only for the Church in America but also for society as a whole? It is a time of great promise, as we see the human family in many ways drawing closer together and becoming ever more interdependent. Yet at the same time we see clear signs of a disturbing breakdown in the very foundations of society: signs of alienation, anger and polarization on the part of many of our contemporaries; increased violence; a weakening of the moral sense; a coarsening of social relations; and a growing forgetfulness of God. The Church, too, sees signs of immense promise in her many strong parishes and vital movements, in the enthusiasm for the faith shown by so many young people, in the number of those who each year embrace the Catholic faith, and in a greater interest in prayer and catechesis. At the same time she senses, often painfully, the presence of division and polarization in her midst, as well as the troubling realization that many of the baptized, rather than acting as a spiritual leaven in the world, are inclined to embrace attitudes contrary to the truth of the Gospel.
He isn't afraid to point out our failures, but he softens the blow by giving us our successes as well.
Young people need to be helped to discern the path that leads to true freedom: the path of a sincere and generous imitation of Christ, the path of commitment to justice and peace. Much progress has been made in developing solid programs of catechesis, yet so much more remains to be done in forming the hearts and minds of the young in knowledge and love of the Lord. The challenges confronting us require a comprehensive and sound instruction in the truths of the faith. But they also call for cultivating a mindset, an intellectual "culture", which is genuinely Catholic, confident in the profound harmony of faith and reason, and prepared to bring the richness of faith's vision to bear on the urgent issues which affect the future of American society.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
t is in the context of this hope born of God's love and fidelity that I acknowledge the pain which the Church in America has experienced as a result of the sexual abuse of minors. No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention. Nor can I adequately describe the damage that has occurred within the community of the Church. Great efforts have already been made to deal honestly and fairly with this tragic situation, and to ensure that children — whom our Lord loves so deeply (cf. Mk 10:14), and who are our greatest treasure — can grow up in a safe environment. These efforts to protect children must continue. Yesterday I spoke with your Bishops about this. Today I encourage each of you to do what you can to foster healing and reconciliation, and to assist those who have been hurt. Also, I ask you to love your priests, and to affirm them in the excellent work that they do. And above all, pray that the Holy Spirit will pour out his gifts upon the Church, the gifts that lead to conversion, forgiveness and growth in holiness.
Go affirm a priest this week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday Tidbits

St. Mary's in the News:
*St. Mary's got a nice mention in a National Review article. Thanks to Tony for passing it along.

*John Allen's article in NCR about Texas also gives St. Mary's a nice mention.

Note - those two sources couldn't be more different.

*Bush sees God in the eyes of the Pope.

*Today is the Pope's birthday.

*Today is also the anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy. Pray for them.

*This Week's Catholic Carnival is up.

Pope's Address to The President

Tip o' the hat to Rocco at Whispers in the Loggia.


16 APRIL 2008

Mr. President,

Thank you for your gracious words of welcome on behalf of the people of the United States of America. I deeply appreciate your invitation to visit this great country. My visit coincides with an important moment in the life of the Catholic community in America: the celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the elevation of the country’s first Diocese – Baltimore – to a metropolitan Archdiocese, and the establishment of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. Yet I am happy to be here as a guest of all Americans. I come as a friend, a preacher of the Gospel and one with great respect for this vast pluralistic society. America’s Catholics have made, and continue to make, an excellent contribution to the life of their country. As I begin my visit, I trust that my presence will be a source of renewal and hope for the Church in the United States, and strengthen the resolve of Catholics to contribute ever more responsibly to the life of this nation, of which they are proud to be citizens.

From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.

In the next few days, I look forward to meeting not only with America’s Catholic community, but with other Christian communities and representatives of the many religious traditions present in this country. Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found here the freedom to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, while at the same time being accepted as part of a commonwealth in which each individual and group can make its voice heard. As the nation faces the increasingly complex political and ethical issues of our time, I am confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue in the effort to build a more humane and free society.

Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.

The Church, for her part, wishes to contribute to building a world ever more worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27). She is convinced that faith sheds new light on all things, and that the Gospel reveals the noble vocation and sublime destiny of every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). Faith also gives us the strength to respond to our high calling, and the hope that inspires us to work for an ever more just and fraternal society. Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.

For well over a century, the United States of America has played an important role in the international community. On Friday, God willing, I will have the honor of addressing the United Nations Organization, where I hope to encourage the efforts under way to make that institution an ever more effective voice for the legitimate aspirations of all the world’s peoples. On this, the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity – as brothers and sisters dwelling in the same house and around that table which God’s bounty has set for all his children. America has traditionally shown herself generous in meeting immediate human needs, fostering development and offering relief to the victims of natural catastrophes. I am confident that this concern for the greater human family will continue to find expression in support for the patient efforts of international diplomacy to resolve conflicts and promote progress. In this way, coming generations will be able to live in a world where truth, freedom and justice can flourish – a world where the God-given dignity and rights of every man, woman and child are cherished, protected and effectively advanced.

Mr. President, dear friends: as I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace. God bless America!

Aggie Meeting the Pope in the White House

David Bereit, a friend and former parishioner of St. Mary's, has been invited to meet with the Pope in the White House today. He is the national 40 Days For Life Director and the former director of the Coalition for Life.
Last week 40 Days for Life was invited by President Bush to the White House to meet Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the United States.

Our former Executive Director and leader of the national 40 Days for Life, David Bereit, will be attending the event.

David is so excited to represent all of you in the Brazos Valley and across the nation who have spent countless hours praying for an end to abortion.

Three and a half years ago, when we were praying around the Coalition's beat-up wooden table planning the first 40 Days for Life, we would have never imagined it getting the attention of the President and the Vatican.

We continue to be in awe of what God is doing through your efforts!
Here is the Eagle story on it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pope Is Here!

The Pope is here, the Pope is here, the Pope is here. :)

Our bells are ringing.

The Batt Features The Kocmouds

The Kocmoud family, who are trying to win the $25,000 scholarship for college and are friends, have been featured in the Battalion today.

Don't forget to go vote for them.
Check out the video one more time.

Pope on Sex Scandal

Many critics want the Pope to address the scandal of the US Church. He has done so before he even touched down.

“It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen,” he said. “As I read the histories of those victims it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way. Their mission was to give healing, to give the love of God to these children. We are deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible that this cannot happen in the future.”

Apparently drawing a distinction between priests with homosexual tendencies and those inclined to molest children, the Pontiff said: “I would not speak at this moment about homosexuality, but pedophilia which is another thing. And we would absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.”

“Who is guilty of pedophilia cannot be a priest,” he added.

The Pope said church officials were going through the seminaries that train would-be priests to make sure that those candidates have no such tendencies. “We’ll do all that is possible to have a strong discernment, because it is more important to have good priests than to have many priests.”

“We hope that we can do, and we have done and will do in the future, all that is possible to heal this wound.”

From the Vatican Press Office


VATICAN CITY, 15 APR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport. Following a flight of more than 7,000 kilometres, his plane is due to land at 4 p.m. local time (10 p.m. in Rome) at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington D.C. This is the Benedict XVI's eighth apostolic trip outside Italy and his first to the U.S.A. as Pope.

U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Nancy will welcome the Pope as he descends from his aircraft. No speeches are scheduled for this first meeting and the welcome ceremony proper will take place tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. local time (4.30 p.m. in Rome) at the White House, official residence of the U.S. president.

After landing, Benedict XVI will travel by car to the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C where he will spend the rest of the day.

Tomorrow, 16 April, is the Pope's 81st birthday, and Saturday 19 April, will mark the third anniversary of his election to the pontifical throne.

Oops - NANCY was Reagan's wife.

Live Coverage

Don't forget the live coverage EWTN is doing that you can watch on the internet.

News on the Pope Visit

Pope2008 is reporting the following awesome news.

Excitement is building in New York City, which will receive Pope Benedict this Friday. A number of Catholic lay people have joined with some local religious communities to plan a welcome that evening. The event will combine prayer, evangelization and singing, which organizers hope Pope Benedict will hear.

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the Knights of Columbus, the Sisters of Life, Communion and Liberation, the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, the Daughters of St. Paul and other Catholic groups are organizing what they are calling a “massive street evangelization event” at three locations in Manhattan. Their idea is to stand outside churches and invite people on the street to “encounter the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration and Mass.”

After Mass, those at each church will process to the 72nd Street residence of Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, where Pope Benedict will be staying, and join together for a candlelight vigil and singing.

The event begins at 4:30 Friday afternoon at three locations:

· St. Malachy’s: 239 West 49th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave.
· St. Jean Baptiste: Lexington Ave. between E. 75th and E. 76th Streets
· Our Lady of Good Counsel: 230 East 90th St. between 2nd and 3rd Aves.

Evangelization is scheduled for two and a half hours, culminating with Eucharistic adoration at 7:00. Priests will be available for confessions. Mass begins at 8:30.

Monday, April 14, 2008

New Isn't Always Good

A new phenomenon - Sending explicit photos to others via your phone.

I had my first conversation with a parent dealing with a child who did this last weekend. Our culture is enslaving itself to the passions.

Protesting the Pope

Q - Interesting article. What are your views on these protests?

A -
Thanks for asking. Warning - you asked for my opinion. So, I will give it to you, though I will tell you that it does not necessarily represent my employer or anyone else. To be quite frank, I don't find the article interesting at all. I normally just ignore these kind of articles because they are the same arguments that have been tossed around since I was born (and well before). But, since you asked, I will address some of the issues raised.

First I want to point out the bias in the article. Anybody that complains about the Catholic Church gets space in it, but the ONE person who represents the Church in a positive light gets 51 words out of a piece of almost 1,000 words (thanks to word count in Word) = 1/20 of the article. Also, notice that the Church's doctrine is mischaracterized in such language as "the Vatican's ban on contraception", "a women-priest movement condemned by the Vatican", and "the Vatican's opposition to artificial birth control". It is the Vatican's opposition, not the Catholic Church's - at least in the author's view. This gives you an idea of the mindset from which this is written. Of course, I would expect little else, because there is such ignorance about the Church and there is little regard for opinions that challenge the culture of death's status quo in the mass media today.

Now, as for the protesters themselves. They got too much press as it is. There are a small handful of people who would join such groups (total less than 1% of the Church) and yet they get all this time. Why don't the faithful Catholics who are doing wonderful things get press? Because it isn't scandalous or provocative.

*"Women priests" is a nonplus to me. It isn't a justice issue either. I can't be a mother, is that a matter of justice? No. Neither can a women be a priest (a male function instituted by Christ and his apostles - all men). The priest stands as Christ when celebrating the Sacraments and a women cannot be that same image of Christ. It has to do with the complimentarity of the sexes. If we really want to get to the heart of equality - then we have to deal with the fact that we are different. I have written a couple of articles on the issue - here is one (pdf) on this issue that explains it in more detail.

*Homosexual lifestyle advocates want the Church to change the doctrine that sex isn't just about pleasure. They don't realize that it is intimately (excuse the pun) tied to procreation and imaging of God as well. Sex is Sacramental as well, but we can't realize this when we are bound by our passions. Sex is so much more important and beautiful than just having a good time. John Paul II's theology of the body dives deeply into this topic. To sum it up - sex that purposefully excludes either (or both) dimensions of the sexual act - procreation and unity of the spouses - becomes less than it was intended for by God. Homosexual sex excludes both. This issue isn't about compassion for the person of homosexual inclinations, it is about wanting acceptance for an sinful act. Sex is about a gift of the whole self to the other, not just fun.

Now, as to the contraception arguments - they don't stand up under pressure. See here. In fact, I noticed the argument in the article that "most" Catholics don't follow the Church's teaching on contraception, but when have numbers of opinions determined truth? I have never had an honest conversation with anyone who - after we talked - agreed that contraceptive arguments stood on solid ground. Most admit they don't. But, ignorance is the majority here.

The last group has the most compelling argument, but I have to ask the question - would it really have been enough for them if the Pope did meet with victims and did visit Boston? When will it ever be enough? I think it is absolutely horrible that certain representative of the clergy did what they did to innocent boys, girls, men and women - but I have to wonder what would be enough for some who haven't been satisfied by anything done so far.

Regardless, I will continue to pray for all of those who feel alienated, hurt and far from the Church's teachings. I also agree with one person in the article who said that he "believed in miracles". I do too. I believe God can change hearts and draw everyone far from the Church to her once again. I believe that those that dissent from the Catholic Church's teachings can have a change of heart. I have seen it happen in my own life and the lives of countless others. The truth is very attractive, in fact the truth isn't just a set of propositions, it is a person - Jesus Christ - whom I pray all of us encounter as the Pope visits our country!

Prayer Requests

1 - Please pray for our friend, Sonia Drabek, who is scheduled to have heart surgery in May and is already worn out and feeling bad.

2 - Please pray for my sister, Simone, who is still having health problems.

3 - Please pray for our students, parishioners, staff, and benefactors.

4 - From CCMA.

Please keep in your prayers the family, friends, faculty, staff and community at the University of Kentucky, as they morn the loss of freshman, Connie Blount of Park City, Utah. Connie was involved in a hit and run accident on campus early Sunday morning. She was hit by a speeding truck as she crossed the street near Rupp Arena. She was taken to the Kentucky Medical Center and died from multiple blunt force trauma. Police are investigating the incident. When friends heard the news, they began posting positive and encouraging messages on Facebook. Friends and acquaintances have also been calling Connie’s family to extend their sympathies.

Please also keep in your prayers the campus ministry team at the University of Kentucky.

Weigel Talks Us Up

John Allen and George Weigel were part of a broad discussion, moderated by Luis Lugo, about the state of the Church in the USA. This was for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The entire thing is great stuff, I highly recommend it.

But, in one section, Weigel talks about us. He says:

In a sense, this process of intensification of Catholic identity is happening on its own state. Notre Dame, by all these romantic reckonings the flagship university in the Catholic higher education world, is a much more Catholic place today than it was 20 years ago. That has something to do with generational change on the theological faculty. It has something to do with changes in the religious community that runs the place. But it primarily has to do with the kids. The students are saying, we came here for a reason. We came here for a distinctively Catholic experience, which includes worship and service as well as intellectual life. So this is in some sense a kid-driven phenomenon, which is interesting.

The other thing that I have become very aware of in recent years – I’m sure John runs into this constantly as well – is the vitality of Catholic chaplaincies on non-Catholic campuses, three of the most extraordinary of which are at Columbia in New York, at Princeton – a chaplaincy which has just produced two out of Princeton’s three Rhodes scholars this year – and out of all places, Texas A&M. One-quarter of the student body of Texas A&M is Catholic. The Texas A&M Catholic chaplaincy has produced more priests and nuns than Notre Dame in the last 20 years. It’s an absolutely astonishing business, and it has to do with this vibrant Catholic chaplaincy. So when we’re talking about Catholic higher education, we’re not just talking about Georgetown and Catholic U. and whatnot. We’re talking about a Catholic leavening in the broader world of American higher learning, including the elite world of American higher learning.


"Brought to you by Crusty Bites."

Tip O' The Hat to Mark Shea.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pope Benedict - USA - 2008

A clearinghouse of information on the Pope's trip to the USA (note that some are not Catholic and some are better than others):
Here are blogs covering the visit.
Welcome Pope Benedict XVI!
Let me know if you have any other helpful resources.

Friday Fun - Another Jesus Video or Two

I love these videos. They were done by Christians who were trying to show how bad others perceive Jesus to be.
Here is my post with the first video.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Only Way I Will Get To Italy

Kris, one of our students here at St. Mary's, is studying abroad this semester, in Italy. He is also on our Parish Council. So, when I sent out a large group email to the Parish Council reminding them of our meeting this last week, he responded (a bit sarcastically) that he wouldn't be able to make it.

I then responded that "Every time I see you on Facebook in some other Italian paradise I become enraged. :-)"

He then sent me the following picture from Rome (with me following him around).

But, that isn't all. He then wrote me and said, "I was looking through my pictures and I noticed that you weren't only in Rome, but you were following me around in other parts of Italy too..."

Attached were the next two (Assisi - then Pienza).
I think Kris ought to stay in Italy.

The Holy Land

My dad is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, AKA - the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. This is a Papal order recognizing service to the Holy Father and a strong faith. For more on it, you can read the history of the order.

Well, he is on a month long (almost) pilgrimage to the Holy Land and other holy sites. Here is an update from him...lucky dad.

Today, Thursday, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, early this morning and met with the Cardinal Patriarch of Jerusalem in and audience. He presented the 21 of us with our Pilgrim Shells, which is one of the highest awards available to our members. Yesterday we had our visit to the Church, where we were greeted by a Franciscan Choir, the church organ, and a procession to the location where Jesus's empty tomb is (the Sepulchre), and allowed to touch and adore it, then we went to Calvary, the place where Jesus died on the cross, and had a very moving experience touching the stone, and being able also to adore it. I'll tell anyone of you, or the grandchildren who want to listen about it. Today we went to Bethlehem, to see the birthplace of Jesus, the cave where he was born, the field where the Shepherds were told of the birth, and several other wonderful places. I have pictures and booklets to share. Please let everyone know that I am remembering all of them in our daily Mass. We are lucky to have Bishop Corrado of Tyler, and two priest brothers with our group.

Wow. That is one day...

5 new Bishops

Rocco from Whispers in the Loggia is reporting the following:
In the largest one-day blitz of Stateside appointments this decade, this morning Pope Benedict has named:
  • Bishop Richard Pates, 65, heretofore auxiliary of St Paul and Minneapolis, as bishop of Des Moines;
  • Fr Anthony Taylor, 53, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish and vicar for Ministries in the archdiocese of Oklahoma City, as bishop of Little Rock;
  • Msgr James D. Conley, 53, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wichita (and former official of the Congregation for Bishops) as auxiliary to Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. of Denver;
  • Fr William Justice, 65, vicar for Clergy of the archdiocese of San Francisco, as auxiliary to San Fran Archbishop George Niederauer;
  • Fr Oscar Cantu, 41, pastor of Holy Name Parish in Houston, as auxiliary to Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio
Now the youngest American bishop by almost two years, Cantu's legion of devoted friends are likely in tears at this morning's news, which began circulating in Texas late last week. A proven communicator, seminary instructor, archdiocesan administrator and pastor, the quatrilingual bishop-elect -- a Gregorian-trained theologian -- is the youngest American hierarch to be elevated since Bishop Robert Carlson became a Twin Cities auxiliary in 1984 at age 39. Another Hispanic episcopabile who "everybody wanted," Cantu now switches off to Texas' senior archdiocese as Gomez's lone auxiliary for San Antone's 700,000-member fold; while the US church's "Latin seat" has had back-to-back Mexican-born archbishops, the bishop-elect is the first Hispanic auxiliary the Riverwalk's seen since Bishop Ricardo Ramirez CSB was promoted to Las Cruces in 1982. As this morning's appointee replaces Bishop Thomas Flanagan, who retired as auxiliary in late 2005, Gomez is expected to gain another assistant to fill the slot left open by Bishop Patrick Zurek's January appointment to the diocese of Amarillo. While Cantu's now-former archbishop likewise awaits more help at the helm of the 1.5 million-member Houston church, the largest Stateside church lacking an auxiliary is the largest see in the San Antonio province: the million-plus diocese of Dallas. But even so, between producing the nation's youngest cardinal in two decades and two of its three youngest bishops, it's even safer to say now that the Texas' junior province is the American church's fountain of youth. Cantu's ordination is tentatively set for 2 June in San Antonio.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Random Stuff For Wed.

*The Pope bobble-head commercial, to advocate taking Metro to the Papal Mass in DC gets yanked. A bit over-reactive if you ask me, which you didn't.
Here is the commercial:

*Carl, at Ignatius Insight, is reporting that we have another anti-Catholic movie coming down the pike.

*Then there is Steven Colbert getting excited about the Pope's Visit.

Tip O' The Hat to Catholic Colbert.

Pope's Video Message to USA.

Catholic Carnival

Check it thou out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Discussion on Oprah

I would like to start a discussion on Oprah. From what I know about her beliefs, and I admit it is little, she is very New Age. She has great influence and I believe her "spirituality" is dangerous. I am posting the videos below, not because I endorse them, but to start an introduction to the discussion. Please post your thoughts below.

Please discuss. But, do so with charity. Thanks.

Pope's Message to USA

To preview his trip to the USA, the Pope has released a video message for us. CNN has it up here. The USCCB papal visit site will have it up later.

Here is the text of the speech.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the United States of America,

The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you! In just a few days from now, I shall begin my apostolic visit to your beloved country. Before setting off, I would like to offer you a heartfelt greeting and an invitation to prayer. As you know, I shall only be able to visit two cities: Washington and New York. The intention behind my visit, though, is to reach out spiritually to all Catholics in the United States. At the same time, I earnestly hope that my presence among you will be seen as a fraternal gesture towards every ecclesial community, and a sign of friendship for members of other religious traditions and all men and women of good will. The risen Lord entrusted the Apostles and the Church with his Gospel of love and peace, and his intention in doing so was that the message should be passed on to all peoples.

At this point I should like to add some words of thanks, because I am conscious that many people have been working hard for a long time, both in Church circles and in the public services, to prepare for my journey. I am especially grateful to all who have been praying for the success of the visit, since prayer is the most important element of all. Dear friends, I say this because I am convinced that without the power of prayer, without that intimate union with the Lord, our human endeavours would achieve very little. Indeed this is what our faith teaches us. It is God who saves us, he saves the world, and all of history. He is the Shepherd of his people. I am coming, sent by Jesus Christ, to bring you his word of life.

Together with your Bishops, I have chosen as the theme of my journey three simple but essential words: “Christ our hope”. Following in the footsteps of my venerable predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II, I shall come to United States of America as Pope for the first time, to proclaim this great truth: Jesus Christ is hope for men and women of every language, race, culture and social condition. Yes, Christ is the face of God present among us. Through him, our lives reach fullness, and together, both as individuals and peoples, we can become a family united by fraternal love, according to the eternal plan of God the Father. I know how deeply rooted this Gospel message is in your country. I am coming to share it with you, in a series of celebrations and gatherings. I shall also bring the message of Christian hope to the great Assembly of the United Nations, to the representatives of all the peoples of the world. Indeed, the world has greater need of hope than ever: hope for peace, for justice, and for freedom, but this hope can never be fulfilled without obedience to the law of God, which Christ brought to fulfilment in the commandment to love one another. Do to others as you would have them do to you, and avoid doing what you would not want them to do. This “golden rule” is given in the Bible, but it is valid for all people, including non-believers. It is the law written on the human heart; on this we can all agree, so that when we come to address other matters we can do so in a positive and constructive manner for the entire human community.

Dirijo un cordial saludo a los católicos de lengua española y les manifiesto mi cercanía espiritual, en particular a los jóvenes, a los enfermos, a los ancianos y a los que pasan por dificultades o se sienten más necesitados. Les expreso mi vivo deseo de poder estar pronto con Ustedes en esa querida Nación. Mientras tanto, les aliento a orar intensamente por los frutos pastorales de mi inminente Viaje Apostólico y a mantener en alto la llama de la esperanza en Cristo Resucitado.

Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends in the United States, I am very much looking forward to being with you. I want you to know that, even if my itinerary is short, with just a few engagements, my heart is close to all of you, especially to the sick, the weak, and the lonely. I thank you once again for your prayerful support of my mission. I reach out to every one of you with affection, and I invoke upon you the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Que la Virgen María les acompañe y proteja. Que Dios les bendiga.

May God bless you all.