Friday, August 29, 2008

Sex and The Contraceptive Mentality

What is the contraceptive mentality? It is thinking that sex is for pleasure alone. That it is what we wish it to be. Sex is not for making babies or for bringing two spouses together. It is purely a selfish act of fulfilling a 'need', not a giving of self to another.

This mentality is tearing apart our culture. I have seen it time and time again. It happens when sex between two people becomes about me rather than you. It happens when pornography entangles someone in it's snare.

Here are several related stories on this issue that got me thinking about this again.

*Actor David Duchovny went into rehab for sex addiction. This is after he has played several characters who had sexual issues, including Fox Mulder who had a large porn collection, in movies and TV. This is the first celebrity that I know of that has entered rehab for sex addition, though I know others personally who have done so.

*By 2015, deaths will surpass births in Europe. Wow! I knew they were contracepting their society into oblivion, but I didn't know it was coming so fast.

We need to stand up and fight against the contraceptive mentality. Sex is sacred.

For more on this issue, click here and here.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

THE GOOD.
Here is a testament to the faith:
The Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly in Chissano (Mozambique) took into their home this week a 25 year-old African young girl named Olivia, who despite not being baptized at the time and not having any legs, crawled 2.5 miles every Sunday to attend Mass.

According to the AVAN news agency, the nuns said that one day, they saw “something moving on the ground far away,” and when they drew near they saw, “to our surprise, that it was a young woman.”

“We were able to talk to her through a lady who was walking by and who translated into Portuguese what she was saying to us” in her dialect, they said.

The sisters said that although “the sand from the road burned the palms of her hands during the hottest times of the year,” the young woman crawled to Mass, “giving witness of perseverance and heroic faith.”

The young woman received baptismal preparation from a catechist, who periodically visited her at home. After she was recently baptized, one of the benefactors of the sisters donated a wheel chair for Olivia.

THE BAD.

THE UGLY.
-Although we ought to be fair - the Pope isn't furious about this frog thing.

More and More Pelosi

*One of the best AP articles on religion ever written. Fair and accurate to the Church. Amazing.

*Two more bishops weigh in on the issue.

*Archbishop Chaput on Fox News on the subject:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pelosi and Abortion - continued

Fr. Z completely dissects the argument by Pelosi. Some good points he makes:
Madame Speaker, you can’t reduce the Church’s teaching to a 1500 year old sound bite which you don’t understand.
He is absolutely dead-on. But, this one is hard to argue around.
Take note that Speaker Pelosi rests her position on Augustine.

But Augustine also thought that males were vivified at 30 days and females at 90 days.

Does Speaker Pelosi like that position too?

Or is she content simply to cherry-pick ancient Patristic sound-bites she does not understand?

Prayers Needed

Please start praying for safety for those in the path of Hurricane Gustav. It could be bad.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

T-Shirt Design Contest

Catholic to the Max is sponsoring a t-shirt design contest. Check it out.

Oh My!

*Pelosi decided to respond to the Bishops' response to her crazy statements on abortion (see posts below). She is just digging her hole deeper. The American Papist responds, so I don't have to. She should take Logic 101, because her argument hasn't got a lick of reason in it. The AP has picked up the response.

*Another case of irrational argumentation - a Catholic Cardinal (who I had the honor of meeting about 6 years ago), from Honduras, says that Ricky Martin violated the dignity of life by having children via a surrogate mother. So, this website then tells the Cardinal to "mind his own business". Is it just me or are they not minding their own business by jumping in the middle of it?

*Mexico City might change course and not allow abortions to be legal. Pray for this one.

*The Church has another martyr. Pray for those Christians in India and other countries who are truly persecuted. The Vatican responds to the attack.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cardinal Egan Weighs In On Pelosi

Now the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Egan, has weighed in on the issue.

Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan

Archbishop of New York

August 26, 2008

If you missed what this is all about, see the post below.

Pelosi and Abortion

Nance Pelosi, Speaker of the House, completely stuck her foot in her mouth this last weekend on Meet the Press. She tried to explain abortion as a "difficult" thing that the Church has never really settled on and that it should be a matter of conscience. Well, she did a poor job of it all. Below is the video and then responses from Bishops and others in Congress.


The formatting of some things below isn't that good, because they are taken from pdf files.

Here is what the USCCB posted on the main page of their website:

WASHINGTON--Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement:

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271)

In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

More information on the Church's teaching on this issue can be found in our brochure "The Catholic Church is a Pro-Life Church". PDF Text




Here is what Archbishop Chaput, of Denver had to say:

Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate tend to take a hard line in talking about the “separation of Church and state.” But their idea of separation often seems to work one way. In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a “political” issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.
Interviewed on Meet the Press August 24, Speaker Pelosi was asked when human life begins. She said the following:

“I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition . . . St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.”

Since Speaker Pelosi has, in her words, studied the issue “for a long time,” she must know very well one of the premier works on the subject, Jesuit John Connery’s Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (Loyola, 1977). Here’s how Connery concludes his study:
“The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it. Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion.”
Or to put it in the blunter words of the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has
bestowed on this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a
human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”
Ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil. In the absence of modern medical knowledge, some of the Early Fathers held that abortion was homicide; others that it was tantamount to homicide; and various scholars theorized about when and how the unborn child might be animated or “ensouled.” But none diminished the unique evil of abortion as an attack on life itself, and the early Church closely associated abortion with infanticide. In short, from the beginning, the believing Christian community held that abortion was always, gravely wrong.

Of course, we now know with biological certainty exactly when human life begins. Thus, today’s religious alibis for abortion and a so-called “right to choose” are nothing more than that - alibis that break radically with historic Christian and Catholic belief.
Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions
employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it - whether they’re famous or not - fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith.

The duty of the Church and other religious communities is moral witness. The duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth. A proper understanding of the “separation of Church and state” does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it’s always important to know what our faith actually teaches.

Here is what Archbishop Wuerl said:
On Meet the Press this past Sunday, August 23, 2008, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made statements regarding the teaching of the Catholic Church, human life and abortion that were incorrect.

Speaker Pelosi responded to a question on when life begins by mentioning she was Catholic. She went on to say, “And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition...” After Mr. Tom Brokaw, the interviewer, pointed out that the Catholic Church feels strongly that life begins at conception, she replied, “I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy.”

We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: the current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads:

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (Catechism, 2270-2271)

The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: “’You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.’”

From the beginning, the Catholic Church has respected the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death.


Lastly, here is what fellow Catholic members of Congress said:
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Speaker Pelosi,
On the Sunday, August 24th, broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, you stated “as an ardent, practicing Catholic, [abortion] is an issue that I have studied for a long time.” As fellow Catholics and legislators, we wish you would have made a more honest effort to lay out the authentic position of the Church on this core moral issue before attempting to address it with authority.
Your subsequent remarks mangle Catholic Church doctrine regarding the inherent sanctity and dignity of human life; therefore, we are compelled to refute your error.
In the interview, Tom Brokaw reminded you that the Church professes the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being” (2274).
To this, you responded, “I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the Church, this is an issue of controversy.” Unfortunately, your statement demonstrates a lack of understanding of Catholic teaching and belief regarding abortion.
From the Apostles of the first century to Pope John Paul the Great “the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (Catechism 2271).
Thus, your erroneous claim about the history of the Church’s opposition to abortion is false and denigrates our common Faith. For example, during the reign of Pope Innocent XI in 1679, the Church unequivocally stated it is an error for Catholics to believe fetuses do not have a soul; and confirmed the teaching that abortion constitutes homicide.
To reduce the scandal and consternation caused amongst the faithful by your remarks, we necessarily write you to correct the public record and affirm the Church’s actual and historical teaching that defends the sanctity of human life. We hope that you will rectify your errant claims and apologize for misrepresenting the Church’s doctrine and misleading fellow Catholics.
Respectfully,
Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (MI)
Hon. Steve Chabot (OH)
Hon. Virginia Foxx (NC)
Hon. Phil Gingrey (GA)
Hon. Peter King (NY)
Hon. Steve King (IA)
Hon. Daniel Lungren (CA)
Hon. Devin Nunes (CA)
Hon. John Sullivan (OK)
Hon. Patrick Tiberi (OH)
I would say this is a much better response than usually happens.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Beauty Pageant for Nuns?

Yes there is, unfortunately one that is starting.

I understand that there are a lot of misconceptions ans stereotypes about nuns. But, this is not the best way to deal with those.

Olympics

China's government is extremely repressive. I never could get over that fact watching the Olympics and I wish that the 'press' would have done more stories on the problems in China rather than feel-good stories about the Great Wall and Buddhist temples.

But, I digress. I loved watching the sports. Outside of a few cases of doping, bad cheating, etc., the world got to see good sportsmanship and great competition. For the most part, this is what sports can do - bring out the good in us.

Of course, the most amazing performance was Michael Phelps' 8 golds and 7 world records. To put it in perspective:
If he were a country, he would have finished 22nd in the medals standings and he won more gold medals, by himself, than all but 8 countries!

He got more gold medals than France, Ukraine, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, and many others.
Amazing feat of athleticism.

Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians

The controversies surrounding whether Bishops should deny or not deny Communion to Catholics who support abortion is once again hitting prime-time. Biden's nomination as running-mate on the Democratic ticket will get a lot of attention from bloggers, pundits, and Bishops alike.

It is time for the US Bishops to solve this issue by standing together with a firm policy. But, that is not how they normally work. So, look for this issue to be bandied about in the press, in Catholic publications, and on the internet now and well into the future - with Bishops taking different stands on how to prudentially apply canon law and the precepts of the Church - even though the Pope and other Vatican officials have already weighed in on it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sacrificing to Moloch

On of many ancient near-middle eastern tribes to do so - the ancient Ammonites once sacrificed their children to the gods (specifically Moloch) in order to appease him.

This ancient sacrifice of abandoning children still goes on today and yet sometimes even the animals know better than us. For instance, a dog in Argentina saved the life of a newborn boy who was abandoned in a field.

God is merciful.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bishops Ask For Prayer

The US Bishops have asked us to pray a novena for the upcoming elections. Sounds like an excellent idea.

Pray for justice, peace, and life with the Novena for Faithful Citizenship. Download the Podcast and join Catholics throughout the United States in prayer, beginning Tuesday, September 2, nine weeks before the election.

Options for praying the Novena for Faithful Citizenship:

  • Start on September 2 and pray for nine consecutive Tuesdays, up until the general election.
  • Start the Novena on any day of the week, whenever people gather, and pray on that day every week.
  • Begin praying the Novena on October 26, nine days before the election, and continue each consecutive day.
  • Create any combination that works for you and your community—and feel free to pray the Novena more than once (1 Thes 5:17).

More on the Drinking Age Debate

These might interest you:
Lower The Drinking Age? Get Serious!

This is the culture we are debating:

— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 90 percent of all alcohol consumed by people younger than 21 is in the form of binge drinking.

— The number of college students who were killed in alcohol-related accidents rose to more than 1,700 in 2001 from about 1,500 in 1998, and during the same time period, the number of students who engaged in drinking and driving climbed by 500,000, to 2.8 million.

— A recent Associated Press analysis of federal records found that between 1999 and 2005, 157 college-ages people, 18 to 23, drank themselves to death.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Sound of Muzak

AKA - the cheesiest video ever. Not kidding. Not even one bit.

But, it was fun to make.
Warning - cornball humor coming your way.

Olympic Fever

:-)



Don't forget that the olympics are being held in a country that is home to one of the world's most repressive regimes. Propaganda is part of the party's control.

Reason # 5,654,319 Not To Use Embryonic Stem Cells

They don't work like some scientists wish they would. Of course there are a multitude of other problems associated with them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Should The Drinking Age Be Lowered?

Many university presidents say that we need to have a national discussion on lowering the drinking age to 18 again. I couldn't disagree more. Our culture is set-up, presently, to extend adolescent behavior well beyond the teenage years for many people. Allowing people to legally drink to their hearts' desire in that kind of environment is a recipe for disaster.

Do most people drink while underage? Studies repeatedly say the vast majority do. But, because of the legal issue, it also can delay drinking, reduce binge drinking and allow for some barriers to be in place. Has the law fixed anything? Absolutely not, but allowing the drinking age to be lowered before we change the culture will not help.

I found this quote quite telling:

Moana Jagasia, a Duke University sophomore from Singapore, where the drinking age is lower, said reducing the age in the U.S. could be helpful.

"There isn't that much difference in maturity between 21 and 18," she said. "If the age is younger, you're getting exposed to it at a younger age, and you don't freak out when you get to campus."

Absolutely wrong. There is a huge difference between an incoming freshman and a Senior in college - at least in the USA, if not Singapore. Of course, there are mature freshman and immature seniors, but the statement above is a non-starter.

We can't even have this discussion until we start to honestly explore the reasons why students break the law, live in a culture of drunkenness, seek to "party" so frequently, etc. Coming from that same culture and being someone who bought into it completely - I understand the challenges of trying to change it. But, we have to try to do so. Maybe, just maybe, if we can see some results and changes in the culture - then we can talk about the drinking age. But, not before that time.

On a somewhat related note - the question "is getting drunk a mortal sin" is still one of the most frequently requested links to our site. Check out the answer.

Studies

I need to change jobs. I could make a fortune doing "studies" on stupid things.
Here is one such "duh" study. Did we really need to "study" this? What happened to common sense.

Rambling and complaining done.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Links Galore

Some things I found interesting:

*The nature of the Church is missionary. Therefore, we must all be missionaries for Christ. But, some are called to be missionaries a special way.

*The Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, a religious order started by Fr. Frank Pavone who also founded Priests for life, has been disbanded.

*To refuse to do a medical procedure (e.g., a sterilization) on the basis of moral beliefs that are contrary to performing it on anyone is one thing that should be supported by us all. But, to refuse to perform a licit medical procedure on someone because of their lifestyle is not just. Before I get bombarded with combox comments saying that isn't what is happening here - I am sure it isn't, because it is probably the former, not the latter. But, the article brought up the thought.

Slowing Down - Speeding Up

Since the semester is about to start, the blogging will slow down for a while. Please keep us and our students and parishioners in your prayers.
Peace.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Campaigning for the Evangelical Vote

I find this political forum, in an Evangelical church, both fascinating, bothersome and enlightening.

I guess this was "The Purpose-Driven Debate".

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Do You Wear Shoes? Some People Don't Have Any.

I think every college student should try and experience something akin to the experience that this basketball team did. They traveled to Peru to give out shoes, but only after washing each child's feet. The experience changed them and in my opinion, it is what many adults need before they get into the real world.

Contraception Is Bad For You...duh

Another good reason to stay away from contraception.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fort Worth Episcopalians Want to Join Catholic Church

Several priests of the Episcopal diocese of Fort Worth have made a proposal to have the diocese join the Catholic Church. We will see what happens, but this is very interesting.

Fake Bishops and More

Remember not to buy your Sacraments from fake Bishops.

If you want to know what a real Bishop says about voting, then check this clarification out.

Yahweh, I Know You Are No Longer Near...

We can no longer use "Yahweh" in worship.

In the not-too-distant future, songs such as "You Are Near," "I Will Bless Yahweh" and "Rise, O Yahweh" will no longer be part of the Catholic worship experience in the United States.

At the very least, the songs will be edited to remove the word "Yahweh" -- a name of God that the Vatican has ruled must not "be used or pronounced" in songs and prayers during Catholic Masses.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, announced the new Vatican "directives on the use of 'the name of God' in the sacred liturgy" in an Aug. 8 letter to his fellow bishops.

He said the directives would not "force any changes to official liturgical texts" or to the bishops' current missal translation project but would likely have "some impact on the use of particular pieces of liturgical music in our country as well as in the composition of variable texts such as the general intercessions for the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments."


It goes on to say:
"By directive of the Holy Father, in accord with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this congregation ... deems it convenient to communicate to the bishops' conferences ... as regards the translation and the pronunciation, in a liturgical setting, of the divine name signified in the sacred Tetragrammaton," said the letter signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze and Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, congregation prefect and secretary, respectively.

The Tetragrammaton is YHWH, the four consonants of the ancient Hebrew name for God.

"As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: 'Adonai,' which means 'Lord,'" the Vatican letter said. Similarly, Greek translations of the Bible used the word "Kyrios" and Latin scholars translated it to "Dominus"; both also mean Lord.

"Avoiding pronouncing the Tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the church has therefore its own grounds," the letter said. "Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred Tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated."

The two Vatican officials noted that "Liturgiam Authenticam," the congregation's 2001 document on liturgical translations, stated that "the name of almighty God expressed by the Hebrew Tetragrammaton and rendered in Latin by the word 'Dominus,' is to be rendered into any given vernacular by a word equivalent in meaning."

"Notwithstanding such a clear norm, in recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel's proper name," the letter said. "The practice of vocalizing it is met with both in the reading of biblical texts taken from the Lectionary as well as in prayers and hymns, and it occurs in diverse written and spoken forms," including Yahweh, Jahweh and Yehovah.


Makes sense to me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do You Like Catholic Books?

If so, then check out Ignatius Press' blowout sale. Great deals on some great books.

Pope - Pastor and Leader

In a Q&A with priests in Northern Italy the Holy Father gave some masterful answers that show his intelligence, humility, wisdom, grasp of theology, as well as a pastoral touch. I recommend you read the entire transcript, and pay close attention to the following answers depth and wisdom.

Sixth Question: Fr. Paolo Rizzi,

Holy Father, I am Paolo Rizzi, a pastor and instructor of theology at the Superior Institute of Religious Sciences. We would enjoy hearing your pastoral opinion regarding the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. More and more the children and young people who receive these sacraments prepare themselves well during catechetical sessions, but then don’t come to Sunday Mass. It’s natural to ask what sense this makes. Sometimes there’s a desire to say: ‘Just stay home for all of it!’ Instead, however, we go on like always and accept them, thinking that in any case it’s better not to snuff out the wick of a weak flame. The tendency is to think that the gift of the Spirit can have results beyond what we see, and that in an epoch of transition such as ours it’s more prudent not to take drastic steps.
More generally, thirty or thirty-five years ago I thought that we were headed toward having a small flock, a minority community more or less in all of Europe. Today, in part because of the pontificate of John Paul II, I’ve reconsidered. If it’s possible to make forecasts for the future, what do you think? What pastoral attitudes can you suggest? Thanks.

Benedict XVI

Well, I can’t give an infallible answer right now, I can only try to respond based on what I see. I have to say that I’ve followed a path similar to yours. When I was young I was rather more severe. I said: the sacraments are the sacraments of the faith, and when the faith isn’t there, where there’s not practice of the faith, the sacraments can’t be conferred. When I was Archbishop of Munich I always discussed this with my pastors, and there too there were too factions, one severe and one more generous. I too in the course of time have realized that we have to follow instead the example of the Lord, who was very open also with the people who were at the margins of Israel at that time. He was a Lord of mercy, too open – according to many of the official authorities – with sinners, welcoming them or allowing himself to be welcomed by them at their dinners, drawing them to himself in his communion.
Thus I would say in essence that the sacraments are naturally sacraments of the faith. Where there is no element of faith, where First Communion would just be a party with a big lunch, nice clothes and nice gifts, then it can’t be a sacrament of the faith. But, on the other hand, if we can see even a tiny flame of desire for communion in the church, a desire also from these children who want to enter into communion with Jesus, it seems right to me to be rather generous. Naturally, for sure, it must be part of our catechesis to make clear that Communion, First Communion, is not automatic, but it demands a continuity of friendship with Jesus, a path with Jesus. I know that children often have the intention and desire to go to Sunday Mass, but their parents don’t make it possible. If we see that the children want it, that they have the desire to go, it seems to me almost a sacrament of desire, the ‘vow’ of participation at Sunday Mass. In this sense we naturally should do everything possible in the context of sacramental preparation to also reach the parents and – let’s say – also awaken in them a sensibility for the path that their children are taking. They should help their children to follow their own desire to enter into friendship with Jesus, which is the form of life, of the future. If the parents have the desire that their children should make the First Communion, this somewhat social desire should be expanded into a religious desire to make possible a journey with Jesus.
I would say, therefore, that in the context of catechism with children, the work with parents is always very important. It’s an occasion for meeting the parents, making the life of faith present also to the adults, so that they themselves can learn anew from the children – it seems to me – and to understand that this great solemnity makes sense only, and it’s true and authentic only if, it’s realized in the context of a journey with Jesus, in the context of a life of faith. The challenge is to convince the parents a bit, through the children, of the necessity of a preparatory path, which reveals itself in participation in the mysteries and begins to foster love for those mysteries.
This is a fairly insufficient response, I would say, but the pedagogy of the faith is always a journey, and we have to accept today’s situation, but we also have to open it up little by little, so that it’s not directed at the sole aim of some exterior memory of things, but so that the heart is truly touched. In the moment in which we become convinced, the heart is touched, it’s felt a bit of the love of Jesus, and it’s experienced a bit of desire to move in this direction. In that moment, it seems to me, we can say that we’ve accomplished a real catechesis. The true sense of catechesis, in fact, should be this: to carry the flame of the love of Jesus, even if it’s small, to the hearts of children, and through the children to their parents, thereby opening anew the places of the faith in our time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Mascot for A&M


We got our new Reveille! Check her out.

My Latest Article On Catholic Exchange

God Tells The Truth.

Monday Morning Mayhem

*I love the Olympics. With finishes like the one that happened in the 4x100 m freestyle relay last night, how could you not?

*Another great Olympics story is Lopez Lomong, the Sudanese refuge who carried the USA flag in the opening ceremonies. If you want to hear more of his story and about his Catholic faith, then check out this great article.

*Simple but true statements:
***"If you are Catholic, behave like one."
***"Begging is a human right."
***"China is still a very, very violent country towards human beings and towards freedom of religion"

Natural Family Planning and Non-Catholics

Contraception and the issues surrounding it are being debated more and more in non-Catholic circles. The bad news that contraception brings to a marriage and the gift of our fertility is not just a Catholic issue.

The Austin American Statesman has a great article on the issue and even quotes an Aggie Catholic, Alexis Dobson.

Here is a great snip from the article.

For David Taylor, the question of how best to faithfully plan families reveals "a fascinating examination of God's sovereignty and human free will."

With a pill, he said, people are in control. But "what does it mean to submit your physical bodies to God's sovereign care? ... God has given us power and freedom to exercise that decision. We can say, 'God, we're going to respect the rhythms you have given us.' "

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Prayers for Bus Crash Victims

Please pray for the victims of this bus crash who were going on a Marian pilgrimage.

Friday Fun - More Great Musicians

A few videos with more great musicians.

Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler do a very laid back version of Layla. I have always thought Knopfler was one of the most under-appreciated guitarists of his generation.



Here is Knopfler playing a great solo. He makes the guitar sing.



One of my favorite songs ever is by his band, Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing.
Here is a snip of a guitar solo from that song that shows his skill.

War

Looks like Russia has invaded Georgia (the nation, not the state) and the two are at war.
Pray for peace.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Catholic Varia

*It is common for many Catholic Churches, including one of my former parishes, to post announcements asking that proper attire is worn to Mass. I don't think the blow-up church on the beach in Italy will be making such announcements.

*A biker gang, that calls itself Set Free Soldiers, and says they are Christian motorcycle club got into a fight with the Hell's Angels gang in a bar which resulted in two of the Hell's Angels gang getting stabbed. Several of the "soldiers" have been arrested for conspiracy to commit murder. Not exactly the actions I would expect from a group that describes itself as "a Jesus-loving men's motorcycle club."

*Expect more protest like this in Beijing during the Olympics. Also, expect the Chinese government to crack down harder and harder. The Pope has a response.

*A new study reveals that TV favors extra-marital sex over married sex.

The Parents Television Council™ released a new study, Happily Never After: How Hollywood Favors Adultery and Promiscuity Over Marital Intimacy on Prime Time Broadcast Television, which revealed that broadcast networks depict sex in the context of marriage as either non-existent or burdensome while showing positive depictions of extra-marital or adulterous sexual relationships with alarming frequency.

Across the broadcast networks, the new PTC report found that verbal references to non-marital sex outnumbered references to sex in the context of marriage by nearly 3 to 1, and scenes depicting or implying sex between non-married partners outnumbered similar scenes between married couples by a ratio of nearly 4 to 1.

“These study results suggest that many in Hollywood are actively seeking to undermine marriage by consistently showing it in a negative manner. Even more troubling than the marginalization of marriage and glorification of non-marital sex on television is TV’s recent obsession with outrĂ© sexual expression. Children and teens are now exposed to a host of sexual behaviors that less than a generation ago would have been considered off-limits for broadcast television,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

Catholic Carnival

The newest Catholic Carnival has been posted.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Schism and Babies

Two completely unrelated items caught my eye.

1 - There is threat of a schism for the Orthodox. I don't think it will happen, but we should pray for a good resolution, nonetheless.

2 - An Australian government office warned that Australians are having a lot of babies and that this is a bad thing - for the economy. Now, babies are bad for the economy and the environment.
I give this my official, "whatever" badge.

New Liturgical Translations Now Available

You can find them on the USCCB's website. They are not promulgated, which means they cannot be used in the liturgy yet.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Muddy Waters

Another blues great. Muddy Waters. Skip to about :30 on the video.

Boom Boom

John Lee Hooker - for those who don't know the blues - is one of the greatest guitarists and blues-men of all time.

New Liturgical Translations Update

Rocco has the news.
But in the meantime (and of much greater import), the recently-recognitioed texts of the revised Order of Mass have been revealed by the USCCB -- the complete "White Book" is available in PDF.

(Yes, "consubstantial" is there. As is "dewfall." "Pro multis" is, indeed, rendered as "for many"... but, alas, "deign" didn't make the cut.)

As previously noted, the Rome-approved OM will be the "binding" liturgical text for the entire English-speaking world; an evolving conference site has more on the changes, anticipated for rollout in late 2011 at the earliest.

Happy Reading and all the blessings of August -- hope everything's goin' great.

Monday, August 4, 2008

From The Weekend Blotters

*Some Anglican bishops are asking the Archbishop of Canterbury to allow an "orderly separation" to maintain what unity is left. Continue to pray for them.

*One priest's take on the condom and AIDS issue:
Studies in countries where the HIV prevalence rate has been decreased in recent years, such as Uganda, Kenya, and Thailand, indicate that people in these countries were more disposed to reduce the number of their sexual partners and/or to delay the onset of sexual activity than to adopt the use of condoms.

Such behaviors -- reduction of sexual partners and delay of onset of sexual activity -- are much closer to the Church's teaching on sexuality and on prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections than is an exclusive focus on condom promotion.

Regrettably, however, many scientists, HIV prevention educators, and AIDS activists are so fixed on condom promotion that they do not give due attention to the risk avoidance that is possible to achieve through abstinence outside marriage and mutual, lifelong fidelity within marriage.
*Here is a former priest that once openly dissented against the Church's teaching on sexuality and contraception. He is now in communion with the Church on these teachings. Beautiful! Praise God! He is writing to the head of Human Life International:

"Dear Fr. Euteneuer,

I have signed and am returning the Pledge of Assent to Humanae vitae for the Laity. There is for me a special significance in signing this Pledge, and [it] will give me a peace of mind and heart that I have not experienced since 1968. In 1968 I was a young Franciscan priest studying in the Graduate School of Religious Education at Catholic University. I personally knew Fr. Charles Curran and Fr. Dan Maguire, and was a student of Fr. Robert Faricy, SJ. Since they, as well as many other professors and graduate students were signing the Protest Document, I went along and did so also.

In 1975 for personal reasons not related to any doubts or questions about the Faith, or the Church, or the Religious Life...I requested and obtained...a dispensation from Pope Paul VI returning me to the Lay State. Later, I was married in the Church and raised my two children in the Faith....I have had many conversations with my Pastor and with his assistant (who is my spiritual director) about my days as a Franciscan Priest, and have been active in many of our parish's lay apostolate and ministries.

But I have always regretted having signed the Protest Document against Pope Paul's teaching in 1968, and having learned a few years ago that Fr. Faricy had publicly repudiated signing the Protest, I had wished that I, too, could repudiate in some official way, having signed the Protest....And so your "Pledge" document offers me an opportunity to correct my mistake, and find healing - and telling you about all this helps me to feel that my repudiation of the Protest is now known and accepted in a kind of semi-official sort of way by an "authority" in the Church.

And thank you for reading this, thereby humoring an old man, who despite everything else, knows that he is a "priest forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek.'"

Friday, August 1, 2008

UN Study Proves Abstinence Reduces AIDS

Well, the evidence is over-whelming and the United Nations has finally had to admit that behavioral change is the best way of fighting AIDS, not throwing condoms at the problem.

But, they couldn't help themselves by still pushing condoms into the forefront of reporting the story:

The 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, produced by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), is the most comprehensive review of the epidemic to date with 147 countries reporting data on HIV.

It notes, among other things, that the combined efforts of governments, civil society and affected communities can make a difference in saving lives.

For example, changes in sexual behaviour in countries such as Rwanda and Zimbabwe have led to a decline in the number of new HIV infections, and condom use is increasing among young people with multiple partners in many countries. Young people in seven of the most-affected countries, including Burkina Faso and Cameroon, are also waiting longer to have sex.
Let me interpret - because we cannot deny the evidence in this study, we admit that behavioral change (e.g., abstinence and fidelity) are saving lives. But, because we have an agenda to push that includes the western-values of sexual license, we have to still give condoms out and say that they work - though there is no evidence this is the case.

Here is the press release and the whole report. Uganda was the first to see significant decline and the other countries that followed their lead also have. The evidence speaks for itself, now it is time for the pro-choice, pro-condom, pro-sexual license crowd to admit they were wrong.

But, let us all rejoice that there is something good to report in the battle against AIDS.

First Things had a good article on Churches and AIDS recently that I recommend. It advances the same opinion that behavior can be changed and this is the best way to attack AIDS.

Friday's Catholic Randomness

*Cardinal Kaspar, not generally known for having a direct approach to ecumenical issues, laid it on the line to the Anglicans about the problem with homosexual practices and the detrimental effect it is having on Christian unity.

*Bush is going to Church while in China. I think it is a great way to make a statement about the lack of political and religious freedoms there.

*A Brazilian liberation theologian, Leonardo Boff, says the former-bishop and now president-elect of Paraguay will implement liberation theology into his policies. Let us hope not - because Marxist policies have never worked and are devoid of God and true social . If you don't know anything about radical liberation theology and the problems with it, I suggest this article.

*Two Bishops have openly criticized two articles by Catholic theologians who were arguing for exceptions to the Church's guidelines on end-of-life nutrition and hydration regulations.

*Good article on why the Church condemns torture.

*If you want to hear a great homily on Humanae Vitae and contraception, then give this one a go. Tip O' the hat to the Curt Jester.

*The Catholic Carnival is up.