Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Top O' The Morning To You

*Some students from Fordham, a Catholic school, are protesting the school bringing Justice Breyer in to speak.

*Planned Parenthood is in trouble again. This time they cheated the government out of your money.

*You can't even debate abortion in Canada anymore. Sounds like the government is afraid of free speech.

Google Goes Into Politics

Google decides to speak about government policy and it isn't pretty.
They are backing the pro-homosexual lobby against prop 8 in California. Stupid to do so as well - there will be a backlash. Here is what the head of Google says:
As an Internet company, Google is an active participant in policy debates surrounding information access, technology and energy. Because our company has a great diversity of people and opinions -- Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, all religions and no religion, straight and gay -- we do not generally take a position on issues outside of our field, especially not social issues. So when Proposition 8 appeared on the California ballot, it was an unlikely question for Google to take an official company position on.

However, while there are many objections to this proposition -- further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text -- it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 -- we should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.

Posted by Sergey Brin, Co-founder & President, Technology
Why is this stupid? Because we will now be considering moving our blog off of blogger (among others as well) - a Google company. Because they are disenfranchising a huge (read - most) of their users. Because there is no "fundamental right" to marry whomever you "love". Because google logic apparently only works on computers and not in social policy.

Why does the Catholic Church oppose this? Because the family is the basic unit of society and a husband and wife are the best option for raising children in a loving and stable environment. When this is taken away, a child's chances for poverty, criminal behavior, etc. go up. It is also a relationship that takes sexuality out of the proper context it is intended for - husband and wife.

One of the purposes of sex is babies. Simple thought, but this is denied by our culture today in some areas. But, nature reveals this truth to us. Sex = babies. This is why our government needs to protect this - because society needs more productive citizens and marriage brings them into being.

Ultimately there is a confusion over "rights". The children have a right to a mother and father. But, there is no "right" to marry whomever one wishes to marry. This is a social construct, that according to nature, we don't have the right to invent.

Designer Babies

The Catholic Church speaks strongly against the manipulation of life for utilitarian purposes. Therefore, designing babies is grossly immoral and sinful. Of course that isn't stopping people for wanting to make life in their own image, as this article reports.

Here are some lowlights:
In the end, the market will win. We will continue to buy, sell and modify our children, generating substantial profits in the process.
The market doesn't determine morality.

Because potential parents can choose egg donors based on their traits and genetic histories, her clients often get a false sense of control, Dowd says. In the end, you never know what kind of child you're going to get. Dowd encourages her clients to be as open-minded as possible.

"If you are too rigid or become too obsessed with finding the perfect image you have in your mind, the choice can become more difficult," she says. "The ones that go with a visceral hunch end up happier."

My visceral hunch is that someone is playing god.

The Catechism says the following (emphasis mine).

2374 Couples who discover that they are sterile suffer greatly. "What will you give me," asks Abraham of God, "for I continue childless?" And Rachel cries to her husband Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!

2375 Research aimed at reducing human sterility is to be encouraged, on condition that it is placed "at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God."

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."

2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The "supreme gift of marriage" is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right "to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents," and "the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception."

The Economy and Faith

I won't get into the political or economic arguments here.

But, the Church has a take on such things - Believe In God, Not In Man or Money!

We live in the richest country, at the most prosperous period of any IN HISTORY OF MANKIND. I understand that losing a job, a home, or your savings is scary. But, if you fear, then it is an opportunity to believe. This is a time to make sure that we are not ruled by things or emotions, but by truth and grace.

Lord be with us all. Give us faith.

Sterilize the Poor?

One Louisiania politician wants to sterilize the poor.
Not only is this a stupid political thing to do, but it is grossly immoral and elitist. It is the same argument for eugenics that Margaret Sanger made when she wanted to get rid of those she deemed unworthy of life.

Margaret Sanger founded planned parenthood.

Archbishop Hughes of New Orleans responded.

“The Catholic Church has consistently taught that direct sterilization is seriously wrong. The recent proposal of Representative LaBruzzo not only would make sterilization our public policy and require tax payers to pay for it, but would also constitute a form of eugenics that the Church and this country have always condemned as an egregious affront to those targeted and blatantly anti-life.”

“Our lawmakers would do better to focus on policies that promote education and achievement to counteract poverty and the bigotry of low expectations,”

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tons of News Coming Your Way

This will be long, but worth it.

1 - Want to read about a brave Bishop? Check out what Bishop Soto did. God Bless him and those in his audience.

2 - You can pre-order the Pope's new encyclical on Amazon, among other places!

3 - A new synod of Bishops is about to start. The Vatican has a page up about it.

4 - Interesting story on ESPN about homeschooled kids and athletics. Many friends are facing this now and I might face it in the future.

5 - Bishop denies Communion to politician and breaks 1st Ammendment? I don't think so, but some do.

6 - Interesting case comes before the Supreme Court on abortion. One to watch.

7 - Interesting video from the Envoy Institute and Patrick Madrid.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Prayer Request

Carl Olson (author, fellow blogger and a graduate of the same program I went through) and his family need your prayers. To read their absolutely gut-wrenching story, click here. After you dry the tears - say some prayers.

God Bless them.

Host Desecration Video Petition

Apparently there are dozens of videos on YouTube of Eucharist desecrations. If you want to sign a petition to have YouTube pull the videos. Then click here.

Da Vinci Code vs. The Passion of the Christ

I will let Mark Shea say if for me:
Remember all those bloodthirsty Passion of the Christ-inspired acts of violence?

The worldwide count still stands at a terrifying "0" and is doubling daily. Meanwhile, some guy in Italy, inspired by The Da Vinci Code, mauls a priest.

No doubt the priest had it coming.

Matt Maher

His new album is out.
I think he is one of the better contemporary Catholic musicians around.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Standing Up For Life

The Australian government may force hospitals to provide abortions or referrals for abortions. One Bishops says that Catholic hospitals might be forced to stop offering emergency and maternity services if it passes. Pray for this situation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prayer Request

If you didn't know, Texas A&M-Galveston has moved their entire operation here to College Station for the semester. This means that if you are a student at A&M-Galveston, you have to find a place to live in a different city, start taking classes at a strange school, etc.

Furthermore, they are behind and will have to cram the schedule. Then on top of it all, the University ran out of class space and they are using our building (St. Mary's) as well as a few other non-A&M buildings to hold classes.

Please pray for these displaced students, faculty, and staff who have so much of a burden to carry.

The A&M-Galveston Catholic campus minister is without a school to minister to (in his own diocese), so we are trying to work together to serve these students. Prayers are appreciated.

Lourdes and The Anglican Church

In a bold move, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams said that the Marian apparition at Lourdes is historical fact. He is the first Anglican leader to say such a thing.

It promptly brought about reactions such as this:
"Lourdes represents everything about Roman Catholicism that the Protestant Reformation rejected, including apparitions, Mariolatry and the veneration of saints," he said in a Sept. 24 statement. "The archbishop's simple presence there is a wholesale compromise, and his sermon -- which included a reference to Mary as 'the mother of God' -- is a complete denial of Protestant orthodoxy."

He added, "At a time when our country is crying out for clear biblical leadership, it is nothing short of tragic that our supposedly Protestant archbishop is behaving as little more than a papal puppet."

Jesus Is My Friend

Because we can't have too many songs that burn themselves into our brains and make us want to self-lobotomize.

I never knew that Jesus was like a Mountie. You learn something new everyday.

$10 Million for Your Good Idea

Google is offering $10 million in prize money to implement your good idea. The project is called Project 10^100. It sounds like a good idea itself. While there are no limitations to the ideas you can submit, the proposals should be helpful to others.

100 finalists will be chosen and then the public gets to vote on them.

Got any ideas?

Two Bishops Write to NYT

The New York Times published this letter yesterday:

“Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes” (front page, Sept. 17) says the bishops’ statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” would “explicitly allow Catholics to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights if they do so for other reasons.”

Actually, the bishops said candidates who promote fundamental moral evils such as abortion are cooperating in a grave evil, and Catholics may never vote for them to advance those evils.

A Catholic voter’s decision to support a candidate despite that gravely immoral position “would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.”

This standard of “grave moral reasons” is a very high standard to meet. The bishops added that “a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” This is timely in light of offensive comments on race quoted in the article.

What the article calls the “running debate between Catholics” — with some saying “abortion is the only issue” and others saying “you have to look at the whole teaching of the church” — is not a dilemma for the bishops. One must look at the whole teaching of the church on justice and peace, serving the poor and advancing the common good — beginning with a fundamental priority on protecting innocent human life from direct attack as in abortion.

(Bishop) William Murphy

(Bishop) Nicholas DiMarzio

Brooklyn, Sept. 19, 2008

The writers, the bishops of Rockville Centre and Brooklyn, are chairman and former chairman, respectively, of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Good stuff.

40 Days Starts Again

40 Days for Life is running again.

Please pray for this campaign and for the end to abortion.
Zenit has a great interview with David Bereit, who is the Director of 40 Days for Life and helped start it when he was the Director of the local pro-life organization, the Coalition for Life. He attended St. Mary's while in town and is a friend of many of us here.

It started here. It is now 174 cities and 45 states.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

USCCB goes Full-Tilt into Politics

Good for them. The Church has a right to speak about political issues in the public square.
They have rolled out the following for their Faithful Citizenship campaign (see the website here):
*Facebook fan page.
*Sign-up for their email list and enter to win an ipod.
*YouTube videos:
-overview video
-Faithful Citizenship Quiz part I and part II.

My one problem is with the theology of the Kingdom of God at the end of the overview video. They say that the kingdom of God won't come if we don't participate in bringing it about and will only come if we answer the call to faithful citizenship. That is just wrong. The fullness of God's kingdom will come with or without us playing a part in it and will come only when God decides to do so.

Back To It

Took a few days off. Here are the highlights of what was missed:

*Japan's new Prime Minister is Catholic.

*Archbishop Myers' sci-fi book is released.

*40 Days For Life (started and run by Aggies) is starting at midnight.

*The Sacramento Diocese is suing the Western province of the Dominicans - not in a civil suit, but in ecclesiastical court. Interesting.

*Pray for our brothers and sisters in Vietnam and India, who face true persecution.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Culture Wars Update With Some Randomness

*Sex and the City books - for teens. What an amazingly awful idea!

*Really? You are kidding, right?
-No, we really are going to count endangered rats using satellites. What else could we do with them?

*In another great use of technology - an Israeli city is using DNA testing to figure out the dog owners who refuse to scoop their pooches poop. Again, I am being serious.

Bishops Ask To Meet With Both Candidates

Now this would be a conversation that I would like to be a fly on the wall for.
America's Catholic bishops have a few thoughts on politics, and this year they want to share them directly with the candidates.

For the first time in recent memory, leaders of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops have invited the two presidential candidates to meet with them before the election. Neither Republican John McCain nor Democrat Barack Obama have replied to the invitations offered last month, said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the conference.

A spokeswoman for the McCain campaign said the senator wants to accept, but does not yet know if such a meeting will fit into his schedule. A spokesman for the Obama campaign could not be reached for comment.

Five bishops who lead policy committees -- delving into matters including abortion, education, migration, international affairs and communications -- want to discuss the candidates' views on social issues, said Bishop William Murphy of the Rockville Centre diocese in New York state. He is chairman of the bishops' domestic policy committee. The meetings, if they occur, will be private and off the record, he said.

Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Rosary

The rosary is regarded as a gang symbol by some, according to FOX News.

A Texas teen claims she is forbidden from wearing a rosary around her neck in school because the Catholic prayer beads are a gang symbol, MyFOXDFW.com reported.

Tabitha Ruiz was stopped by security guards at Seagoville High School in Dallas last week and told to take off the silver and ruby beaded rosary, a gift from her mother. On Monday, the same thing happened when she again came to the school wearing the beads.

"I went to school, walked through the metal detectors and they told me to take it off," the teen said. "I asked them why and they said because it's gang-related."

Ruiz and her mother, Taire Ferguson, said they had no idea that rosary beads were a gang symbol. Police, however, are well aware.

"Lately they’ve been seen wearing religious jewelry such as the rosary worn by gang members, so it is a factor," Sr. Cpl Kevin Janse of the Dallas Police Department told the FOX affiliate.

While rosaries are not specifically banned in area schools, a spokesman for the Dallas Independent School District said that whether or not they're allowed is at the principal’s discretion.

Ruiz and her mother have vowed to take the district to court if necessary.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Check these out:
Fish in a fence.
One left.
Imagine the smell.
Why New Orleans has above-ground tombs.


Continue to Pray for Hurricane Ike Evacuees

We still have our special needs evacuees here at St. Mary's and thousands more are still in town. This will go on indefinitely because many still don't have electricity, many schools and businesses are still closed, etc.

The local paper had several articles about people driving here from Houston to re-stock on food, ice, and supplies. Also, gas stations, grocery stores and other businesses are running low or out of their stock.

The traffic is very heavy, but I keep reminding myself that I am one of the ones who still has power, food, ice and a place to sleep.


This is an absolutely wonderful and sad story.

Thomas S. Vander Woude would never have wanted a big display in his honor. The Nokesville father of seven sons, who drowned last week while rescuing his disabled son when he fell into the family's septic tank, was more the type to try to elevate the lives of those around him, his family members and friends said.

But yesterday, more than 2,000 people packed the pews at Holy Trinity Catholic Church for his funeral Mass in Gainesville, some listening from the vestibule, others down a hallway watching on closed-circuit television. Among the attendees were his wife of 43 years, Mary Ellen, more than 70 priests, including the bishop of Arlington, and the friends accrued over decades who came to pay respects to a man who inspired them, right up until his final breath.

If Vander Woude saw the throng, he'd say, "Are you kidding me? . . . Don't waste your gas," said one of his sons, Steve Vander Woude of Nokesville, after the service. But "this guy did something saintly, and they wanted to come be a part of it."

Thomas S. Vander Woude, 66, died last week while helping his son Joseph, who has Down syndrome, after he fell into a septic tank while working in the yard, police said. The tank was eight to 10 feet deep, Steve Vander Woude said.

His father climbed into the 2-by-2-foot opening, managed to get under Joseph and was pushing him upward to keep his head above the sewage. Initially, Vander Woude was able to keep his own head above the muck, telling a workman who was helping from above, "You pull, I'll push," Steve Vander Woude said. But he eventually sank and was later pulled out by rescue workers, who were unable to revive him, Prince William County police said.

Joseph, 20, was hospitalized last week with pneumonia but was released Saturday and attended the Mass for his father in a wheelchair, connected to an oxygen tank. His family said doctors expect a full recovery. A few days after his father's death, Joseph's family sat with him in the hospital and explained to him that his father had died.

Upon hearing the news, Joseph "sat back . . . he closed his eyes, his chin quivered, and he started crying," Steve Vander Woude said. "I think he understands as much as he can right now."

Another of Thomas S. Vander Woude's sons, Tom Vander Woude, pastor at Queen of Apostles Catholic Church in Alexandria, gave the homily. In it, he likened his father to Saint Joseph, a man who patiently and quietly supported his family, did odd jobs for those in need and was content to worship God and not seek the limelight, Tom Vander Woude said.

At a reception at Seton School in Manassas, where six of Thomas S. Vander Woude's sons went to school, friends and neighbors traded stories about how Vander Woude had gone out of his way to help them. Fittingly, Tom Vander Woude observed, they were standing on the gym floor that his father had installed.

Mary Heisler, 36, of Nokesville, said she never would have come to Virginia as a teenager, let alone met her future husband, if it had not been for Vander Woude. She was receiving Catholic home schooling in Texas when Vander Woude, who was helping with the home-schooling program at Seton, contacted her father and persuaded him to move 14-year-old Mary and her 11 siblings to Virginia to attend the school.

Her father obliged, sold the house, bought a yellow school bus and drove his family to Prince William County. Money was tight, so Vander Woude took the family into his home for a month before lending them money for a down payment on a house of their own in Manassas, Heisler said.

"He gave us half the home," said Heisler, who met her husband, Tim, at Seton. "I don't think he realized how many people he impacted."

Peter Scheetz, assistant director at Seton, recalled a similar kindness.

"When my wife and I got married, we were trying to buy a townhouse," Scheetz said. "We didn't have any credit. . . . Tom Vander Woude ended up co-signing our loan for our first house."

There were many similar stories about Vander Woude, who served as a pilot during the Vietnam War, a commercial pilot after he returned home and a longtime volunteer coach.

His dying act was, "truly saintly" and "the crown of a whole life of self-giving," Bishop Paul S. Loverde said at the Mass. "May we find in his life inspiration and strength."

Tip O' the Hat to Rocco.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Genetics Part II

Since we have already one video on genetics, how about another?
This one is funny as well. But, give us 20 years and you never know...

Genetics Made Me Do It.

Tip o' The Hat to Mark. :-)

Pope in France - He is Goooood

*If you want to read some great homilies, speeches and off-the-cuff interviews the Pope has given during his visit to France / pilgrimage to Lourdes, then the Vatican's website has most of it up.

*On the border between France and Switzerland lies the new Large Hadron Collider. This is supposed to be one of the most amazing science experiments ever built. Some think it will unlock multiple secrets of the universe. It might. But, some think it will blow up the planet. I still don't understand the science behind it and this video didn't help too much.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thanks For the Prayers

It looks like we got a glancing blow here in College Station. Most of us didn't even lose power. Some trees and limbs knocked down, a few buildings with minor damage, and that is about all. Houston, Galveston, Beaumont and parts of Louisiania got it much, much worse. Keep them in your prayers.
God bless.

Friday, September 12, 2008


The storm surge has already put several places under water, including Kemah, which is just south of Houston and near on the Northwestern part of Galveston Bay - which means it is pretty far north of the shore. Plus, the storm hasn't even hit yet.

Some forecasters are predicting that the surge could make Ike one of the most destructive hurricanes of all time.

The tropical storm force winds (at least 40 mph sustained, with higher gusts) are expected to start around 7pm for us. By 11pm we will start having sustained winds of 60 mph. By 7am Saturday, we will have at least 74mph winds sustained (hurricane force) with gusts upwards of 100.

Stay inside away from windows. Expect the power to go out. Be safe.

No more blogging for a while. I will let you know how we fared in a few days, if the power is on.

Masses Cancelled


All Masses and Confession for Saturday are cancelled!

The City of College Station has announced that once the wind speeds exceed 50 mph, they will not be able to respond with fire, rescue, and police services. Therefore, we are canceling all Saturday Masses and confession. Please stay at home!

Tracking Ike

Check out these cool internet resources to track Ike.

*stormpulse.com I have already put this one up. You can have all the forecast models, zoom in and out, get a good feel for where it is going.
*Hurricane Tracker on msnbc. This thing is great for wind speed predictions.
*CNN's tracker. Good for damage assessment, evacuation routes, and live traffic pics.
*National Hurricane Center. Official info.

Hurricane prayers:
O Heavenly Father, all the elements of nature obey Your commands, including hurricanes. Calm the storms that threaten us and turn our fear of Your power into praise of Your goodness.

Grant this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.


The second one is from a women in Houma - my mother's home town in Louisiania.

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children.

The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its calmness. You are still the Master of land and sea.

We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control - the Gulf of Mexico.

Like a provoked and angry giant, it can awake from its seeming lack of energy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and disaster.

During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O Loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies, whose memories are still so vivid, and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time.

O Virgin, Star of the Sea, our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son on our behalf, so that, spared from the calamities common to this area, and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem, where a stormless eternity awaits us.

We ask all of this in the name of your son and Our Lord, Jesus Christ.


St. Mary's - Ike Update

We will have Saturday Masses as scheduled, though we do not recommend that anyone attend if the weather is too difficult to travel in (due to high winds, flooding, or downed power lines). Please stay safe.

Pope in France

Pray for the Pope's visit to France. Western Europe is where the New Evangelization needs to really take root.

The New Evangelization is the re-evangelization of the baptized persons, cultures and peoples who have fallen out of practicing their faith. It is an evangelization targeting these people to bring them back to an active and lively faith in Christ and back into His Church's Sacramental life. It should be done proclaiming the same message of Christ, but using new techniques and means of transmission.

France and Western Europe need the New Evangelization more than any other part of the world.

Bishops On Politics...again

More from the US Bishops.

1 - The new Bishop of Wilmington, Del. happens to be Biden's bishop. He issued a statement about Biden's comments on abortion. The statement first re-states the US Bishops' statement and then says:
It is my intention to build a supportive and trusting friendship with Senator Biden and as many public officials as I can. I will do my best, with your prayers, to assist him and all public officials as well as all citizens in our Diocese and beyond to understand how crucial the sanctity of human life is to a just society in the State of Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and our entire nation.

Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly, D.D.
Bishop of Wilmington

2 - Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St Joseph, Missouri decided to issue a joint statement. It is worth reading the entire thing (it is in pdf format). So I won't quote any part of it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Storm Surge is VERY Worrisome

While we won't see the wind and rain from Ike cause as much damage as some other storms, it will cause major damage, due to the storm surge. Here is one very detailed blog that tells us why. Snips:

Ike is larger than Katrina was, both in its radius of tropical storm force winds--275 miles--and in it radius of hurricane force winds--115 miles. For comparison, Katrina's tropical storm and hurricane force winds extended out 230 and 105 miles, respectively. Ike's surge will probably rival the massive storm surge of Hurricane Carla of 1961. Carla was a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds at landfall, and drove a 10 foot or higher storm surge to a 180-mile stretch of Texas coast. A maximum storm surge of 22 feet was recorded at Port Lavaca, Texas. Despite the fact that the center of Carla hit over 120 miles southwest of Houston, the hurricane drove a 15-foot storm surge into the bays along the south side of the city. Ike's maximum surge is not likely to reach the extreme values above 20 feet seen in Hurricane Carla, though.

Then he tells us about the surge:

Ike will probably inundate a 250-mile stretch of Texas coast from Port O'Connor to the Louisiana border with a 10-15 foot storm surge. This will occur even if Ike is a Category 1 storm at landfall. If Ike is a Category 3+ hurricane at landfall, surges of 20+ feet are possible. The latest experimental storm surge forecast From NOAA's SLOSH model (Figure 1) shows a 10% chance that Ike's storm surge will exceed 18-21 feet at Galveston. The Galveston sea wall is 17 feet high, so it may get overtopped. At noon today, a mandatory evacuation of the entire island was ordered in case this worst-case scenario is realized. The official NHC forecast is calling for maximum storm surge heights of 20 feet.

Here is the damage:

We must assume Ike will intensify to a Category 3 hurricane by landfall, which would likely do $20-$30 billion in damage. Ike's storm surge is going to be affect a huge area and be tremendously destructive.

St. Medard

St. Medard, patron Saint against bad weather, pray for us.
Legend says that when he was a child, Medard was once sheltered from the rain by a hovering eagle. This is his most common depiction in art, and led to his patronage of good weather, against bad weather, for people who work the fields, etc.

Hurricane Ike - Storm Surge

The biggest issue with this storm isn't the strength, but the size. It is one of the biggest to ever enter the gulf. This will create a monstrous tidal surge. Here are some details:

The National Hurricane Center foresees a 20-foot surge for a large swath of Texas. Above that, the center predicts “large and dangerous battering waves.”

Storm surges reached 16 feet during 2005’s Hurricane Rita, which hit just east of Galveston.

Hurricane center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen says Ike’s waves could be 50 feet tall, and some computer models have waves topping out at 70 feet. But the waves usually break well before hitting shore so the maximum usually doesn’t get quite that high.

Hurricane experts say Ike’s gargantuan size, not its strength, will likely push an extra large storm surge inland in a region already prone to it.

Its giant girth means more water piling up on Texas and Louisiana coastal areas for a longer time, topped with bigger waves. The National Hurricane Center says that means the storm surge, the prime killer in hurricanes, will be far worse than a typical storm of Ike’s strength.

And experts say that because coastal waters in Texas and Louisiana are so shallow, storm surge is usually larger there than in other regions. A 1900 hurricane following a similar track to Ike inundated Galveston Island, killing at least 8,000 people as America’s deadliest storm.

In Surfside Beach, a coastal community about 40 miles south of Galveston, the police chief was so worried that the entire force planned to ride out the storm inland.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but if I did, I think it would tell me a sad story. And that story would be that were faced with devastation of a catastrophic range,” said Chief Randy Smith. “I think we’re going to see a storm like most of us haven’t seen.”

St. Mary's and Hurricane Ike


All activities for Thursday evening will go on as scheduled at St. Mary's Catholic Center.
A decision for all other activities will be made, based on conditions by 11am - Friday, Sept 12.

Please pray for everyone’s safety.

Hurricane Preparations

Here are some great suggestions. Tip O' The Hat to Mark for the email:

We should still expect the possibility of high winds, heavy rain, and possible power outages. Also, expect higher numbers at stores, restaurants and gas stations because of the high number of evacuees in town.

With coastal refugees in the area, the cell services can easily become overloaded. We have found that text messaging will still work when the cell systems are out.

If you have satellite service instead of cable, the storms will likely obscure reception. We use an old fashioned TV antenna to receive stations for news.

Remember the warnings that you have heard in the past about downed power lines, be careful before letting the kids out of the house.

Pull out board games and make plans for Monopoly tournaments, Pictionary contests, or backgammon games. Make it a fun time with prizes to keep kids and adults distracted.

plan some fun meals and keep atmosphere festive or adventurous for the kids to keep anxiety in check.

During the threat of hurricane Rita, many gas stations along the bypass ran out of fuel. If you haven't already topped off your tanks and find yourself looking for fuel, try the gas stations in the middle of town.

If someone in your family has prescription medication, make sure you have enough to get through the middle of next week. If power lines are damaged locally, many businesses will not be open.

If the power goes out and you use a camp stove or Coleman lantern, use them outside.

Take time today to do your preparation.

Review your emergency procedures with family and loved ones.

Re-stock emergency provisions.

Keep your vehicle topped off with fuel, oil, and water.

Bring in or secure all patio or lawn furniture, yard equipment and toys.

Make provisions for protection of pets

Replace those dead batteries in your flashlight and re-charge all your re-chargeable batteries.

More Prayer Requests

*In memory of those killed and injured in 9/11.
*For those who work in our armed services and in rescue, police and emergency services.
*For those evacuating from the storm and for those who won't evacuate.
*For the evacuees here at St. Mary's - we will be having at least 20 more (40 total) and possibly more.

Christ be with us all. Thank you for our country and freedoms.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Prayer Request - Hurricane Ike

The new forecast models have Hurricane Ike going almost directly over College Station. So, please pray for our safety. Also, with the move northward (toward Houston) we will be seeing a large number of evacuees come into town. Evacuations are being ordered, some mandatory, and we could have more than 1 million people moving inland.

We already have hotels full and shelters are starting to see people. We currently have 20 disabled people and their caregivers at St. Mary's. There is a chance we could have many more.

We need your prayers and so do those fleeing their homes in the wake of this storm. Pray hard!

BTW - if you want to follow the storm, one of the best sites to do so is stormpulse.com

Bishops' Response to Biden on USCCB site

Check it out.

Good Song - Horrible Video

If you like random images in videos that have nothing to do with the song, then you will love this one. It is Major Tom (a good song) by one-hit wonder Peter Schilling. The skating waitresses are my favorite part.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bishops Respond Again To Politicians

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement about Biden's comments on abortion:

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

Recently we had a duty to clarify the Catholic Church’s constant teaching against abortion, to correct misrepresentations of that teaching by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “Meet the Press” (see www.usccb.org/prolife/whatsnew.shtml). On September 7, again on “Meet the Press,” Senator Joseph Biden made some statements about that teaching that also deserve a response.

Senator Biden did not claim that Catholic teaching allows or has ever allowed abortion. He said rightly that human life begins “at the moment of conception,” and that Catholics and others who recognize this should not be required by others to pay for abortions with their taxes.

However, the Senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith, one which cannot be “imposed” on others, does not reflect Catholic teaching. The Church teaches that the obligation to protect unborn human life rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or specifically religious.

The first is a biological question: When does a new human life begin? When is there a new living organism of the human species, distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if given a nurturing environment? While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception (see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/fact298.shtml). The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.

The second is a moral question, with legal and political consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed? The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. Even this is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator. Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into the moral “haves” and “have-nots,” and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society. Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.

While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.

The bad - the politicians are making themselves look silly trying to explain abortion as a "right".
The good - The Bishops are clearly teaching the Church's faith.

***On a related note, Pelosi has agreed to meet with Bishop Niederauer to discuss these issues. I hope he is as clear as many other bishops have been lately.

Cool Tech

I like cool technology. This is cool.

Tuesday Mishmash

*Pope says that a renewed society must come from young people. You hear that you wonderful college students - you will change the world - the Pope and I agree again!

*More anti-Christian movies are coming.

*Biden decided not to attend the installation Mass of his new Bishop. Good thing. Here is an exerpt of what he said:
In early discussions, Bishop Saltarelli and I both agreed that this Feast Day of the Nativity of Mary would be a wonderfully appropriate day for the installation. Mary’s mother, St. Anne, carried a very special life in her womb which serves as a vivid reminder that every life is special. We will continue to stress the constant teaching of the Church that each person must respect every life from conception to natural death. And we will continue to seek the intercession of Saint Thomas More for Statesmen, Politicians, Supreme Court Justices, Judges and Lawyers—that they may be courageous and effective in defending and promoting the sanctity of human life, the foundation of every human right, the foundation of our love for the poor.
*Good pro-life stuff from the Bishops.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bishops Start to Respond To Biden

Two Colorado Bishops, Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Conley have the first written response (after the audio of the homily of Bishop Morlino) to Biden's abortion stance taken yesterday.
Sen. Biden is a man of distinguished public service. That doesn't excuse poor logic or bad facts. Asked when life begins, Sen. Biden said that, "it's a personal and private issue." But in reality, modern biology knows exactly when human life begins: at the moment of conception. Religion has nothing to do with it. People might argue when human "personhood" begins - though that leads public policy in very dangerous directions - but no one can any longer claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion.

Sen. Biden also confused the nature of pluralism. Real pluralism thrives on healthy, non-violent disagreement; it requires an environment where people of conviction will struggle respectfully but vigorously to advance their beliefs. In his interview, the senator observed that other people with strong religious views disagree with the Catholic approach to abortion. It's certainly true that we need to acknowledge the views of other people and compromise whenever possible - but not at the expense of a developing child's right to life. Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong. If, as Sen. Biden said, "I'm prepared as a matter of faith [emphasis added] to accept that life begins at the moment of conception," then he is not merely wrong about the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there.

As the senator said in his interview, he has opposed public funding for abortions. To his great credit, he also backed a successful ban on partial-birth abortions. But his strong support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and the false "right" to abortion it enshrines, can't be excused by any serious Catholic. Support for Roe and the "right to choose" an abortion simply masks what abortion is, and what abortion does. Roe is bad law. As long as it stands, it prevents returning the abortion issue to the states where it belongs, so that the American people can decide its future through fair debate and legislation.

In his Meet the Press interview, Sen. Biden used a morally exhausted argument that American Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: i.e., that Catholics can't "impose" their religiously based views on the rest of the country. But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion. And the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all law involves the imposition of some people's convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law. American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their "pro-choice" beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades.

If we claim to be Catholic, then American Catholics, including public officials who describe themselves as Catholic, need to act accordingly. We need to put an end to Roe and the industry of permissive abortion it enables. Otherwise all of us - from senators and members of Congress, to Catholic laypeople in the pews - fail not only as believers and disciples, but also as citizens.

Biden on Abortion

Biden appeared on meet the press, just a few weeks after Nancy Pelosi did, and offered an almost identical reason for his support of abortion. The US Bishops have already started to respond. This one is not going away soon.

Here is the video below.

Here is the homily (audio) by Bishop Robert Morlino, who responded to the statements. You can tell he was somewhat worked up. As he says, he is not addressing Democrats, he is addressing Catholics. Morlino takes it to them in plain English - great homily!

Biden should have kept his mouth shut. He doesn't know what he is talking about, the same goes for Pelosi.

Letter To The Editor - Catholics and Abortion

Last weekend, there was a letter to the editor in our local paper, The Eagle, about abortion and the Catholic Church. It made the same arguments that Nancy Pelosi did in her recent dust-up with the US Bishops (see one of many posts I made about it here).

Here is the letter from last week and after it is my letter in response.

Simple-minded approach to a complicated issue

In response to a question about when human life begins, Barack Obama said that the answer was "above his pay grade." Don McLeroy (Eagle, Aug. 26) pokes fun at this answer, implying that the obvious answer is that human life begins at conception. This has not been the obvious answer to some of the greatest thinkers in history, however.

Aristotle taught that the fetus first had a vegetative soul, then an animal soul and finally -- when fully formed -- a human soul.

In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas expressed this exact same view.

Catholic Church leaders have expressed widely varying opinions on this matter, but the idea of a delay between conception and "ensouling" is the most consistent thread throughout history.

The Catholic Church allowed abortion before "quickening" until 1869, and many Catholics today support a woman's right to abortion in the early stages of pregnancy.

McLeroy takes a simple-minded approach to a serious and complex matter.

On the other hand, Obama's response suggests that he is well aware of the complexities and is not dogmatically bound to any one point of view.


College Station

Here is my letter:

Church ideology unwavering

Teri Metcalf made the same mistakes in her letter about abortion [The Eagle, Aug. 30] as Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.

The first mistake is equating a political sound-bite to a rational argument. The second mistake is trying to make a historical and theological argument with a little bit of knowledge without having the firm grounding to do so.

Just because individual Catholics have disagreed with church teaching does not mean the truth of the teaching is up for grabs, even if one of those persons is declared a saint. Nor does it change the authority with which the Catholic Church speaks. Like it or not, the Catholic Church is not a democracy, it is Jesus' kingdom and he is in charge. The church has consistently taught that abortion is wrong. Trying to explain away this truth with poor history and even worse theology is stepping into a realm where Pelosi, Obama and Metcalf have no expertise. If you want official Catholic teaching, then the Catechism tells us, "This teaching has remained unchanged and remains unchangeable."

Augustine also believed that males were vivified at 30 days and females at 90 days. I am going to guess that Metcalf doesn't want to cherry-pick that argument. By the way, Augustine still believed abortion was murder, regardless of the timing of ensoulment. I would suggest that Augustine is not the source these abortion advocates want to use because his thought doesn't fit in a tidy sound-bite supporting their position.


Assistant Director of Campus Ministry

St. Mary's Catholic Center

College Station

Unfortunately, we don't get to title our own letters.

The Next Hurricane

Please say some prayers for those in the path of Hurricane Ike. This thing is aiming right toward Galveston, which means Houston could get hit hard and we would see a ton of evacuees here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

St. Mary's Plugged on Catholic Answers Live

Curtis Martin, who is the founder/president of FOCUS, was on Catholic Answers Live and plugged St. Mary’s. You can listen by clicking here.

He says about 1/3 of the way through that there are some great Catholic colleges and Newman centers at public schools that don’t have FOCUS but are doing a great job. He mentions St. Thomas Aquinas College, Franciscan, and Texas A&M.

Then about ¾ of the way through he talks to someone again about A&M. The callers’ son left the Church while at A&M. So, before answering how to work on having him come back to the faith he says (I am paraphrasing):

“tip of the hat to Texas A&M, Fr. Sis and Fr. Konderla are doing such a great work- they are one of the best Newman Centers in the country. FOCUS is not there. They are doing great work and we are not the only show in town. We just want to do all we can, so I want to thank them for all they are doing.”

Then the very next caller has a cousin who is coming to A&M. She asks what advice he would have for her cousin going off to school.

“The exciting thing about Texas A&M…is that you can plug them in. There is a great priest at Texas A&M. My advice would be, even if you have to get in the car. Make that your tithe to go and introduce him to Fr. Colangelo (correct - Fr. David Konderla) at Texas A&M. Let him know that there is a vibrant campus ministry there.”

He then finishes with:

“If you go to Texas A&M – St. Mary’s is the Church. I was down there with my son who is a senior to look at the school, because of our respect for it. Even though FOCUS isn’t there.”

Curtis is a great guy. I have had the pleasure of meeting him several times and we talk once in a while. I got to take him and his son on a tour of St. Mary's and they were very impressed with all we have here.

He did say “Texas Station” instead of College Station and he massacred Fr. David's name, but all in all, very nice free publicity.