Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday News

*If performing an abortion would go against what your conscience says is the right thing to do, too bad. President Obama quietly rolled back the Bush Administration's right to say "no" to doing abortions. More from the Washington Post.

*Bishop Martino of Scranton has sent two letters (first and second) to Senator Casey about his pro-abortion voting.

Catholic Carnival

If you have never visited a Catholic Carnival, it is a collection of posts on Catholic blogs. This week's carnival is very nice.

If you were wondering, and I know you all are, I am sitting in DFW airport for a 5 hour layover. Ug.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Prayer Request

Please pray for my family and I. I will be away from them for 8 days starting tomorrow. This is the longest I have been away and I know it won't be easy.

Thanks.

Mistakes

I hate making mistakes, but I what makes every mistake worse is when you have to literally pay for it.

The gift of being able to go to Christopher West's Theology of the Body Institute next week was given to me a while back. I quickly made my plane reservations and got everything in my calendar straightened away so that I could go. I was very excited because I haven't had a chance to study like this since graduate school. Also, because the Theology of the Body changed my life already, I have a hunger to learn more about it.

I was then asked to do a day of reflection for St. Pat's Parish in Washington, IL. This meant that I had to fly to IL and then from IL to Penn. Stupid me, when I was changing my flights I booked my flight into Pittsburgh instead of Philadelphia. Lucky for me, Sr. Raffaella asked me about my trip and when I was leaving (she and Sr. Michaela are also going to the Institute) and when I gave her the details, she asked why I was flying into the wrong city. Uh-oh.

After frantically searching for a cheap flight or seeing if I could change flights, I had to cancel and re-book a new flight for another $250.

I feel stupid. I guess learning humility costs us sometimes - literally.

Pope on Ash Wed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whoop!

Look what made #1 in SportCenter highlights last night.
Gig 'em Aggies!

They did mess up Josh Carter's name though.

Ash Wed.


*Don't miss this Ash Wed. homily from Deacon Greg at the Deacon's Bench. Very nice.

*Deacon Scott finds a story of how Mickey Rourke says his Catholic faith saved his life - literally.

*The Ash Wed. readings are wonderful to meditate upon.

*From the USCCB lent site:
"The Christian community listens to this vigorous invitation to conversion as it gets ready to undertake the Lenten journey that begins with the ancient rite of the imposition of ashes. This gesture, that some might consider outmoded, certainly clashes with the modern mentality, but this forces us to look for its deeper meaning, to explain its effective impact.

Receiving the ashes on the head, means recognizing that we are creatures, made of earth and destined to return to it; it also means proclaiming that we are sinners, in need of God's pardon in order to be able to live according to the Gospel; finally, it means reviving our hope in the definitive encounter with Christ in the glory and peace of Heaven."
-Pope John Paul II, Ash Wednesday 2003
Turn away from sin
and be faithful
to the gospel...
(Roman Rite)

Ash Wednesday Article

A nice article in the Texas A&M student newspaper, the Battalion, on Ash Wednesday - and not just because I was quoted in it. Here is a snip:
"The reason why we give up something good is to realize that God is the greatest of all goods and to remind ourselves that there is nothing greater than God. Then we start to have some self control over the passions we have," said LeJeune.

During this time, increased prayer, almsgiving and fasting are also advised to be practiced.

Fasting usually involves eating fish instead of meat on Fridays during the season. This is because fish was once known to be the food of the poor, and meat the food of the rich.

"It's in order to show that even food, which we require to sustain our bodily lives, is not as important as God who sustains our spiritual lives and everything else," said LeJeune.

BXVI - To Follow Peter

Speaking to the faithful before the Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI noted that physical healing is the sign of a return to spiritual health. He was explaining the Gospel account of the healing of the paralytic. Sin is in fact a paralysis of the spirit, from which the power of Gods love liberates us. The Holy Father also recalled the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which falls on this Sunday, as well as the Season of Lent into which we shall enter this week.



Mary, Mother of The Christ

Teaser-Trailer for the new movie Mary, The Mother of The Christ which is due in cinemas in 2010. In pre-production now with screenplay by Benedict Fitzgerald (The Passion of The Christ) & Barbara Nicolosi (Fatima: The Movie), director Alejandro Agresti.
I hope the movie is better than the trailer, which is too long and slow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cardinal DiNardo on Lent

Added to our Lent 2009 megapost, is this great resource from the Archdiocese to our south - Galveston-Houston. The Cardinal is encouraging all Catholics in the Archdiocese to listen to 30 minutes of the Bible, via this website, every day of Lent.

The Cardinal was part of the Vatican's Synod on the Word of God. He came back and made the push to get the Archdiocese more involved in reading Sacred Scripture. This is one of the initiatives in a broad-reaching plan from the Archdiocese on getting Catholics to read the Bible (check it out).St. Mary's Catholic Center's Institute of Catholic Studies' Distinguished Speaker Series - Feb, 2009.
Fr. David Konderla (left) and Daniel Cardinal DiNardo are pictured above.

Not only because we have a large number of students from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, but because these are great resources and prayerful ways to enter into Lent - we encourage all to take advantage of this opportunity.


Faith Comes By Hearing.com
Tip o' the Hat to AmP.

Lent


Google "Lent 2009" and see what comes up second.

Of course, because Ash Wed is tomorrow, I expect even more people will find us because of the Lent 2009 mega-post.

Now you know why we are getting tons of hits in the past week.

Welcome to all first-time visitors to Aggie Catholics blog.

The Pope likes that you have found us.

UPDATE: Anybody know Norwegian? Apparently we have some international folks visiting, and I have no idea what they are saying about us. We recently have had visitors from every continent (except Antarctica of course). My favorite is the Italian searching for the Pope's Lenten message - are they in Italy or not?

Tuesday Headlines

A few things you might be interested in:

*The Bishop of Scranton has told the organizers of the St. Patrick's day parade that they will not be allowed to have St. Patrick's day Masses in the Cathedral if they honor any pro-abortion politicians. They have agreed. This is rare nowadays for a group who has an issue that a Bishop must bring out into the public to actually do what a Bishop asks. Good to see.

*Amy Welborn continues to write some painfully beautiful posts. I highly recommend a reading.

*The Onion has some good satire on "back-alley executions". Tip o' the hat to Keith via Mark.

*The Vatican attempts to clear up some unclear issue by issuing a clarification that I am not clear on yet. Help??!!

Cobert and Fr. Jim Martin

The Colbert Report has Fr. Jim Martin on.
Funny.



Tip O' the Hat to The Deacon's Bench.

Monday, February 23, 2009

News and Such

*The Pope announced that 10 more Saints will be named soon. They include Blessed Jozef Damien de Veuster who worked in the leper colony in Hawaii. He also died of leprosy himself after serving those outcast for their disease.

*For Lent, the Archdiocese of New York has rolled out 24 hour confessions. I have never been to confession at 3am, but I guess if you have to go...

*In D.C., the Archdiocese is asking practicing Catholics to invite non-practicing Catholics back to Church. I love seeing the Church do what she was created to do - evangelize. So, I wholeheartedly support programs of this sort. They even have a website and this video below to get it going.

Dolan to New York

If you haven't heard already - Archbishop Timothy Dolan has been named the Archbishop of New York. Dolan has been widely rumored to be the pick for weeks now. Below are the Catholic News hounds who have a lot more to say about it than I do.

Book

From Jean:
Are you married? Are you Catholic? Do you have a devotion to the saints? Have you and your spouse or a family member experienced hope and healing as a result of prayer to a saint or saint(s)?

This is your chance to evangelize and it makes for a wonderful Lenten project as well.

I am looking for dramatic conversion stories as well as stories of trials and tribulations (for example, financial difficulties, addictions, the birth of a child with a medical problem) overcome through the intercession of a saint or saints and the grace of God to publish in a new book meant to inspire and encourage married couples.

In order to be published:

Your story must name a saint or saints.

It must be at least 1800 words, but not more than 200 words.

Email your submission to me no later than March 15, 2009.

jean.heimann@gmail.com

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fun - Tim Hawkins

Pretty good stuff.


This one is only funny if you know the song "Jesus Take the Wheel"

Friday News

A few news items you might want to know about:

*55% of Chinese women have had abortions. The USA has a big problem, but nothing like China.

*Kansas Governor Sebelius has been tapped to be the new director of Health and Human Services by President Obama. She is adamantly pro-abortion and was asked by Bishop Naumann of Kansas City to stop receiving Communion after they met last year to discuss the issue. Now a group called "Catholics United" is attacking Bishop Naumann, and makes no mention of the Governor's abortion support.

*In Oakland it is illegal to come within 8 feet of anyone entering an abortion clinic. Because the pastor of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in south Berkeley did not abide by this law, he was recently convicted and given 3 years probation. Look for him to get arrested again soon and for this case to get a lot of national attention. Pray for him.

*Archbishop Chaput says Pelosi should not present herself for Communion.

Show Horses

On the way to work, I saw (not kidding here) a sign on a back of a horse trailer that read:
"Caution: Show Horses".
I couldn't help but think about this...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

FOCA / TIME / BISHOPS

Time Magazine has decided that Catholics who worry about FOCA are just on a "crusade against a mythical abortion bill". Really? Has Time jumped off the deep end?

The article is pretty bad, including gems such as:
While the USCCB's literature about FOCA has been generally accurate, the chain e-mail has disseminated a number of false claims
So, the USCCB has it right, but a chain email is worthy of mention?

Cardinal DiNardo was at St. Mary's last Friday and addressed the issues surrounding FOCA, when he was asked about it in Q&A after his lecture. Since he will be taking over the pro-life initiatives for the USCCB soon, his opinion matters greatly. He doesn't believe FOCA will ever come up for a vote, in part because of the Catholic efforts to bring the bill into the public consciousness. But, he does believe that many parts of the bill will be brought up for a vote incrementally. So, we have to be even more vigilant in watching legislation.

Pelosi and the Pope Part Three

The Vatican's press release, which I posted yesterday, is much different from this one from Nancy Pelosi's office:

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today following a meeting at the Vatican with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI:

“It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI today.

“In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger, and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel.

“I was proud to show his Holiness a photograph of my family's Papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren.”

Poltical lingo translation = "I got taken to task for being pro-abortion by the Pope. He thinks that I need to stop saying I am a faithful Catholic and then voting contrary to Catholic absolutes. But, I can't admit this in public."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pelosi and the Pope Part Deux

Pelosi and the Pope met for 15 minutes today. They did it away from cameras and reporters, which means that Pelosi didn't get her photo op. The Pope told her that US legislators needed to protect life. Here is what the Vatican press release says:
(18 Feb 09 - RV) Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.
Pray for Speaker Pelosi and other Catholic politicians who support abortion. Pray that she change her mind. She had another opportunity to a few days ago, when she met with her Bishop to talk about these issues. But, it didn't convince her she was wrong.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Do Yourself a Favor

Not because it will feel good, but because it is the right thing to do, go and suffer alongside Amy Welborn as she tries to put the pain, frustration, confusion, thoughts, prayers, and grief together. This post is another masterpiece. Heart shattering beauty.

Thirsting for God. Rescuing from the snares of the enemy. Letting Christ live in me, being consumed, taken over by Christ, the Risen One, alive in Him. Praying for that. Every day. Asking God for mercy, for forgiveness, for peace. For the total embrace of Love.

The hope strikes me, again with great force.

His prayers have been answered.

How can I, even as I acknowledge the crushing, puzzling, confusing loss and my shattered heart - for even Jesus wept - how can I say that I love him and that I believe all this stuff we both said we believed is actually true - and not allow some gratitude, albeit limited and struggling gratitude - to creep into my soul, for that thing, which is not a small thing, but a great thing?

That his prayers - all those prayers, all of the seeking and yearning and hoping have found their blessed end?

How?

Imagine my surprise.

College Drinking

Some statistics that might bring to light some of the more disturbing problems of drinking in Colleges and Universities in the U.S.
*""If you are a traditional college student and you drink, the odds are seven in ten that you are a binge drinker." Binge drinkers are defined as men who had five or more—or women who had four or more—drinks in a row at least once in the two weeks before the students completed the survey questionnaire. Frequent binge drinkers have consumed these amounts at least three times in the previous two weeks."

*"Half of those who live off-campus without their parents (50 percent) and those who live in non-restricted dorms (51 percent) binge drink. Almost three in four students (75 percent) living in a fraternity or sorority house binge drink."

*"Few changes in student binge drinking occurred between 1993 and 2001 (Wechsler et al., 2002b). Although the rate of binge drinking has remained at 44%, the most notable change during this time period has been the polarization of drinking behavior, with simultaneous increases in the number of abstainers and in the number of students who engage in frequent binge drinking (Wechsler et al., 1998, 2000b, 2002b). The drinking style of many college students is one of excess and intoxication. Among drinkers, almost half (48%) report that drinking to get drunk is an important reason for drinking, 1 in 4 (23%) drink alcohol 10 or more times in a month, and 3 in 10 (29%) report being intoxicated three or more times in a month (Wechsler et al., 2002b). Binge drinkers consumed 91% of all the alcohol that students reported drinking, and 68% of alcohol was consumed by frequent binge drinkers (Wechsler et al., 1999)." - (source-pdf)

*"The CAS findings have shown that alcohol consumption at binge levels and beyond has a significant impact on college students’ academic performance, social relationships, risk taking behaviors, and health. This form of drinking is associated with missing class, falling behind in schoolwork, and lower grade point average, a relationship mediated by fewer hours spent studying (Powell et al., 2004; Wechsler et al., 2002b). Binge drinking is associated with risky sexual behavior, including engaging in unplanned sexual activity and failure to use protection during sex (Wechsler et al., 2000b). It is also tied to antisocial behavior, including vandalism and getting into trouble with the police when drinking (Wechsler et al., 2002b). Overall, half of frequent binge drinkers, those who drink at the five/four level or beyond three or more times in a 2-week period report experiencing five or more different alcohol-related problems (Wechsler et al., 2000b)." - (source-pdf)

*Grades and drinking -
-“A” students average 3.1 per week
-“B” students average 4.4 drinks per week

-“C” students averages 5.6 drinks per week

-“D” and “F” students average 9.5 drinks per week
Then there is the morality of drinking too much, which I have already addressed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pelosi and the Pope

The Vatican has confirmed Nancy Pelosi will be meeting with the Pope. I differ with many Catholic commentators who think it is a bad idea to allow her a photo-op with the Pope, due to her pro-abortion politics. Why do I think this isn't a bad deal? Because:

1 - The Pope is the pastor of ALL Catholics - good, bad, cafeteria, faithful, orthodox, dissident - ALL.

2 - The Pope isn't a fool. He knows that she is a powerful politician and politics can be played both ways. She gets a photo-op. He gets her ear as Pope.

3 - She is on his turf on his terms. She doesn't get to dictate the topic of their discussion.

Instead of being critical of the Vatican's decision to receive her, why don't we pray that the conversation goes well and that Pelosi might hear the message of the Gospel of Life with an open heart.

Lent 2009

In preparation for Lent 2009, I will once again have this mega-post which will have everything you ever wanted to know about Lent in it (at least as much as I have compiled so far). It includes:

***DATES*** Ash Wed, Feb 25 -Easter Sunday, Apr 12
***FAQ ON LENT***
***MORE QUESTIONS ON LENT***
***LENTEN SUGGESTIONS***
***LENT LINKS***

Scroll down to get to all the goodies.
LENT FAQ

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

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

Does this mean I can "cheat" on Sundays?
Since Sundays are not part of the penitential season, you do not have to practice signs of penitence on these days. But, there is no reason you can't do them either. If you feel you are "cheating" then it isn't helping!
There are some others that believe that Sundays are a part of Lent, but I do not agree with their take. Since the Church has some conflicting information (different documents state different things) I think you should do what you feel is best regarding the Lenten season and Sundays.

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

So, what is Ash Wednesday all about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE LENT QUESTIONS

*What is the Triduum?
*When should I break my fast?
*Do I have to abstain from meat on a Friday if I have a party to attend?
*Should I keep the ashes from Ash Wed or wipe them off?
*Do Any drinks violate the Lenten fast?
*How much can I eat when I fast?

LENTEN SUGGESTIONS

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

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

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

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

LENT LINKS:
Here is a list of links about lent. If you have any to add, then leave in the comments or shoot me an email.

*Pope Benedict's Lent 2009 message.
*USCCB - Lent 2009 resources.
*Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston's Lenten Bible listening program.
*EWTN.com
- Lenten reflections, questions, and more.
*AmericanCatholic.org - Lent 2009 pages
*Creighton University - Lenten prayers.

*Catholic Encyclopedia - entry on Lent
*Catholic Culture - Personal Lenten program.
*Catholic Relief Services - Official Lenten giving program of CRS - Operation Rice Bowl.
*Way of the Cross with Pope Benedict XVI.
*The Vatican's Lenten music.
*Our Sunday Visitor - Lenten resources.
*Catholic Online - Lent 2009.
*Jimmy Akin - all about Lent.
*Jimmy Akin's Annual Lent Fight - good stuff if you like details.
*Byzantine Catholic - Lenten resources for Byzantine Catholics.
*Suggestions for Lenten Activities.
*DomesticChurch.com - exploring Lent.
*Catholic Pages - Lenten links.
*National Catholic Register - Fasting for lent.
*40 Ways to improve your Lent.
*North American College - the Station Churches of Rome for Lent.
*Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - Lent store.




Living Life To It's Potential

One of the best commercials I have seen in a very long time. "Your calling is calling".

Tip O' The Hat to The Deacon's Bench.

Your Worth

Your worth comes from who you are as a child of God. It does not come from what you "do".

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Pope On Technology and Internet

The Pope has some wisdom to share with us about friendships, technology and the internet. I have added all bolded sections.
The new digital technologies are, indeed, bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships. These changes are particularly evident among those young people who have grown up with the new technologies and are at home in a digital world that often seems quite foreign to those of us who, as adults, have had to learn to understand and appreciate the opportunities it has to offer for communications. In this year’s message, I am conscious of those who constitute the so-called digital generation and I would like to share with them, in particular, some ideas concerning the extraordinary potential of the new technologies, if they are used to promote human understanding and solidarity.

Notice who he is particularly addressing - young people whom he calls the "digital generation".
The accessibility of mobile telephones and computers, combined with the global reach and penetration of the internet, has opened up a range of means of communication that permit the almost instantaneous communication of words and images across enormous distances and to some of the most isolated corners of the world; something that would have been unthinkable for previous generations. Young people, in particular, have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness, communication and understanding between individuals and communities, and they are turning to them as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions. Many benefits flow from this new culture of communication: families are able to maintain contact across great distances; students and researchers have more immediate and easier access to documents, sources and scientific discoveries, hence they can work collaboratively from different locations; moreover, the interactive nature of many of the new media facilitates more dynamic forms of learning and communication, thereby contributing to social progress.

Technology is good, and when used for good purposes can bring good to others. Notice that he is pointing out social networking. More in a minute.

While the speed with which the new technologies have evolved in terms of their efficiency and reliability is rightly a source of wonder, their popularity with users should not surprise us, as they respond to a fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other. This desire for communication and friendship is rooted in our very nature as human beings and cannot be adequately understood as a response to technical innovations. In the light of the biblical message, it should be seen primarily as a reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying Love of God, who desires to make of all humanity one family. When we find ourselves drawn towards other people, when we want to know more about them and make ourselves known to them, we are responding to God’s call - a call that is imprinted in our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of God, the God of communication and communion.

The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator. Naturally, I am not talking about fleeting, shallow relationships, I am talking about the real love that is at the very heart of Jesus’ moral teaching: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" and "You must love your neighbour as yourself" (cf. Mk 12:30-31). In this light, reflecting on the significance of the new technologies, it is important to focus not just on their undoubted capacity to foster contact between people, but on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means. I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship.

Those who are active in the production and dissemination of new media content, therefore, should strive to respect the dignity and worth of the human person. If the new technologies are to serve the good of individuals and of society, all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable. [HE IS TALKING ABOUT PORN]

The new technologies have also opened the way for dialogue between people from different countries, cultures and religions. The new digital arena, the so-called cyberspace, allows them to encounter and to know each other’s traditions and values. Such encounters, if they are to be fruitful, require honest and appropriate forms of expression together with attentive and respectful listening. The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realize its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance. Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.

The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. [facebook and myspace anyone?] The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as humans. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience. We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation. If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.

Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. Friends should support and encourage each other in developing their gifts and talents and in putting them at the service of the human community. In this context, it is gratifying to note the emergence of new digital networks that seek to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for human life and the good of creation. These networks can facilitate forms of co-operation between people from different geographical and cultural contexts that enable them to deepen their common humanity and their sense of shared responsibility for the good of all. We must, therefore, strive to ensure that the digital world, where such networks can be established, is a world that is truly open to all. It would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which permit the sharing of knowledge and information in a more rapid and effective manner, were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized, or if it should contribute only to increasing the gap separating the poor from the new networks that are developing at the service of human socialization and information.

The Pope wants us t make real friends, not more facebook friends. Turn off facebook and talk with someone face-to-face.

He then ends by saying we must evangelize.
I would like to conclude this message by addressing myself, in particular, to young Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this "digital continent". Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the "Good News" of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day


Remember what true love is - "choosing what is best for another, despite the cost to yourself" - my definition of love lived out.

True love is not romantic love. It is not an emotion. You don't "fall" into or out of it. You choose it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Feeling Like a Doofus

How to feel like a doofus - while talking about a certain Cardinal, have him walk up from behind, without warning, and surprise you.

I am said doofus.
Duh!

Daughters of St. Paul

We were blessed to have the Daughters of St. Paul vocation team with us all of last week. They had their annual meeting here at St. Mary's instead of Boston. They then went to and put on some programs for us. The week included presentations on the Theology of the Body, a Parish Mission, and ended last Friday with Catholic Underground, with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. It was a lot of fun. The Daughters of St. Paul made us this video to thank everyone. Of course, we owe them a great big "THANKS" as well. We loved having you all here.


One of the many blessings of being a part of such a great ministry is getting to meet a ton of wonderful people who come to visit us and learn how we do the things we do or who want to come recruit for their dioceses or religious orders. For instance, this last week we had 14 priests and religious from around the country come to help with our Busy Students' Retreat. Then, later today, we have two religious sisters from the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ coming for five days.

Here are the orders that were represented at the Busy Students' Retreat - Jesuits, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Salesian, Franciscan Conventional, Dominican Sisters, School Sisters of Christ the King, Maryknoll, Paulist, Brothers of the Sacred Heart, Somascan Sisters, Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Ursuline Sisters, and the Apostles of the Interior Life that are on staff here.

I love my job.

Prayers for Australia And Other News

***Australia's fires have caused horrible damage to a huge part of the country. Please keep them in your prayers as the mourn the dead, pick through the damage, and then start to plan for the future and rebuild. Many congregations of Christians will have to also rebuild their houses of worship.

***Please also pray for those who died in the plane crash in Buffalo and their families.

***Daniel Cardinal DiNardo is speaking at A&M tonight. Don't miss it if you live nearby.

***Microsoft is now offering a $250,000 bounty on the creator of a worm that is infecting many computers. I wonder if this will become more common in trying to track down programmers of viruses, worms, and Trojan horses?

***When a Catholic leader giving an interview says something stupid, it has repercussions. When a priest says that the teaching on abortion is not infallible, that will have repercussions. This is just wrong. The Church has always and everywhere taught that abortion is wrong in every case. This has been definitively held throughout the life of the Church and since it is a matter of faith and morals, the Church has taught infallibly on the subject. As the Catechism states on infallibility:
CCC 890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

CCC 892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals.
Then on abortion - stating the definitive nature of the teaching:
CCC 2271 - 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
Infallible. No doubt.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How To Mess Up A Marriage

After posting "How to Mess Up Your Job" I decided that I would do another "How To Mess Up" list and offer:

How To Mess Up A Marriage
  1. Have Premarital Sex - This can be with your future spouse or not. Regardless, the statistics show that it means a much higher chance of a failed marriage.
  2. Cohabitate - This doubles your chance of divorcing your spouse well over 60%! Go with this one if you almost certainly want to mess up a marriage.
  3. Cheat on your spouse - This can be with a real person or with porn. Either messes up a marriage.
  4. Drink too much or use drugs - This one is a great way to love a thing more than your spouse.
  5. Marry a non-Christian - Now, there are certainly marriages that succeed between believers and non-believers, but at the least you are putting a big strain on a relationship.
  6. Marry for the wrong reasons - Marrying someone because you have strong emotions about them (which will eventually go away) or because they are good looking (which won't last) is a great way to eventually ruin a marriage.
  7. Never Work on Communication - talking is over-rated. You should just learn to tolerate one another, not really communicate.
  8. Be a Workaholic - being rich and successful is the most important thing on earth. Right?
  9. Be selfish - expect your spouse to serve your every need and never expect to return the favor.
  10. Have Different expectations about money or debt - Spend too much, live beyond your means, and then pay the price. Money is the #1 reason that couples argue.
  11. Don't tithe - The money is your own, do what you want with it.
  12. Use contraception - kids are a burden that make life miserable. Why take the risk? Of course couples that use NFP are happier, have better sex-lives, and stay married more than 95% of the time.
Note that this list is not exhaustive. You could be inventive and come up with another way to mess up a marriage. If you have one, let me know.

What You Get With Fame

Amazingly awkward moments such as this:

Orthodox Rabbi on the Catholic Church

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the head of about 800 Orthodox Rabbis in the US, had some very interesting things to say about the current state of the Catholic Church and where the problems in the Church are coming from.

12 Year-old Speaks the Truth

Great job!


Tip O' The Hat to CMR.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pray For Catholics in China

They need our prayers.

Gifted Writing

Amy Welborn blesses us with a very poignant reflection on her reactions to her husband Michael's death.

"Pregnancy Care" = Abortion?

Jill Stanek has this story about how "Early Pregnancy Care" is shadow-language for abortion:
The purpose of this experiment? "Demonstrate the role of advanced practice clinicians in expanding early pregnancy care."

That's Orwellian for "training non-physicians to perform first trimester abortions."

In the pilot project, approved in 2006 without legislative oversight, Planned Parenthood sites in three CA cities suspended state regulations to use Nurse Midwives, Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to perform surgical abortions by suction aspiration.

Fr. Barron on Gran Torino

Note - Video has spoilers of the movie.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How to Mess Up Your Job

This story of how one executive messed up a key relationship with a huge client (FedEx) by making a nasty remark about Memphis on Twitter can teach us all something about technology and how we use it. Discretion is still a smart way to go. I should know. I haven't messed up in a major way (yet), but I have stepped on some toes via the internet and technology. These include accidentally sending emails to people that should not have gotten them and not being prudent in what I post on the blog (having to later delete posts).

But, thinking about this story spurred me to make the list below of how to mess up your job. This is first and foremost for our college students, but applies to us all.

If you would like to mess up your career (and get fired) - then do the following:

1 - Learn to use "like", "you know", or any acronym used in texting (e.g. - lol, OMG, bff, etc.) as if they were the most popular English words you had available.

2 - Write very informal emails to those you work for. Start with "hey ____" or just don't capitalize or use any punctuation.

3 - Continue to forward chain emails that contain urban legends or secrets that the media could never find out.

4 - Gossip. As much as possible.

5 - Be negative about your superiors, those who work for you, or the job in general. All the time.

6 - Always be the first to take a break. Extend the break as long as possible.

7 - Look at porn at work. (or anywhere else for that matter.).

8 - See a problem. Ignore the problem. Be a part of the problem.

9 - Never be on time. Never show you are reliable. Call in sick when you really aren't but don't feel like working. Leaving early helps as well.

10 - Pay your bills, bid on Ebay, do all your personal errands - from work.

11 - Argue with someone in front of others. Even better if you embarrass them in public.

12 - Don't take the blame for anything. Take all the credit for the good though.

13 - Tell jokes that are sure to get a laugh - and offend.

14 - Date someone you work with. When things go bad - make sure the break-up is ugly.

15 - Party hard. Come to work hungover. Liquid lunches. The more the better.

16 - Spend company money on personal things. A little stealing never hurt anyone.

17 - Lie about yourself on your resume' or application. A little embellishment.

Now that you know how to get fired and mess up your career. Start practicing now. Additions to this list are welcome.

Radio Tomorrow

I will be on The Sonrise Monrning Show tomorrow morning at 6:50am CST. The hour I will be on is being carried live on EWTN and you can listen live, if you wake up that early. You can also listen on satellite radio if you have it. Bryan and Matt do a great show and I really enjoy being one of their guests.

I will be talking about Lent and and Campus Ministry.

Tuesday Headlines

Some things that might interest you.
  • You might think that putting crucifixes in classrooms of a Catholic University would be non-controversial, but if you did, you would be wrong. Apparently some faculty at Boston College think it means "imposing" Catholicism on all. Why would anyone attend or work at a Catholic school and not expect Catholicism to be taught? Maybe because one famous BC prof (Kreeft) says the "BC" stands for "Barely Catholic".

  • Fr. Thomas Berg of the Westchester Institute has issued a very heartfelt letter about Fr. Maciel. He expresses his pain, frustration and hope. I highly recommend a reading. Thanks to Patrick Madrid for it.

  • "Italy's Terri Shiavo" has died. Her name was Eluana Englaro. She starved to death after having her feeding tube removed.

  • Hans Kung opens mouth and inserts foot. He thinks that Obama would be a better Pope than Benedict XVI and that "The mood in the church is oppressive, reforms are paralyzed, and the church in crisis, Benedict is unteachable in matters of birth control and abortion, arrogant and without transparency and restrictive of freedom and human rights.” So, the Pope is unteachable and Kung is the teacher? I think he has it backwards.

Monday, February 9, 2009

On Life, Death, Prayer, and Lent

I have been having some very deep thoughts about prayer, life, death, and relationships lately. This post is one attempt for me to straighten out some of them in the context of Lent, which is coming soon.

Lent is a time of preparation, purification, penance, and a growth in our attempts to grasp for grace. Every Lent, for many years now, I have really challenged and pushed myself spiritually, physically, and mentally. One of the ways that I have pushed myself is to take on hard penances in an attempt to rightly order my priorities. Leading up to Lent 2009 has been somewhat different. While I still have the desire to push myself, it is in a different direction than ever before. Please bear with me as I try and explain.

Recently, you may have heard that Michael Dubruiel died. He was the husband of Amy Welborn, whom I have had the pleasure of corresponding with several times. I never met Michael, but his death had a deep impact on me recently. I believe this is because of some similarities - we both like to write and speak about our faith, we both have small kids, and a few other similarities including the fact that he died while exercising (which I love to do). God can use the death of others to challenge us out of our complancency and I think think this is one of those instances. Michael's death has meaning for me. It helped me to once again see the value of living in the moment.

I recently found myself constantly looking forward to the next big thing. It could have been an event here at St. Mary's, traveling to visit family, or a speaking gig I had. Regardless, I found myself just "passing time" and not being in the moment. We all do this from time to time, but this meant that I was not finding value in the work, time, people and duties that I had each day. I wasn't living my life with the intent of finding God in ordinary things, I was looking only to find God in the big ones. To be quite honest, God doesn't want us living life in this manner.

After talking this out with a good friend (and later other people including my wife) I started to pray about it and had another connection with my prayer. I noticed that I wasn't really entering into being present with God in prayer, but rather I was trying to conquer ground. For example, when doing my daily Bible reading, I found that I was trying to make sure I got a certain amount done, rather than spending time with God, regardless of how many pages I read. I also found myself not really entering into my daily rosary, but just finding myself busy with it. I also wasn't quiet, or more correctly, I wasn't "still".

I think that God is calling me to what I can best describe (and what keeps coming to mind in my prayer) as a "radical reorientation" of my life. How I describe this gets a bit sticky.

This is not in the sense that my vocation, profession, duties, etc. change.
Not a mid-life crisis.
Not an attempt to find myself.
Not trying to "do" too much for God.

Rather, it is an attempt to answer the continual call to conversion where I have always found Christ leading me to. I really want to be holy (and understand both how hard this is and how far I am from it) and answering God's call is the only path I have to get to holiness. Here is what I find God calling me to (knowing that my spiritual director has to be a part of the process before I go for it).
  1. Giving up my daily rosary for Lent - I know this is difficult for many to understand. I think that progression in prayer naturally means we go from more active to less active. I have been resisiting this for some time and think I need to be more still in my prayer. My rosary has become a way to keep me busy for a time in some distant prayer activity, without having to really go deep. It isn't a matter of praying the rosary in a different way or with a certain technique. It is about stillness.
  2. Taking care of my mouth. What goes in and what goes out. I exercise more than 99% of guys my age (which is the only reason I don't weigh a lot more), but I eat a lot. I need to start controlling what goes in my mouth more. I am thinking about limiting the kinds of food I eat during Lent to a select list, which will be very difficult for me. But, on the flipside, I need to be more affirming with others - hence what comes out. The tongue is a deadly weapon and I know how to wield it all too well.
  3. Finding God in the ordinary. God is not just a God of miracles and wonders. He made everything, including time. We are stewards of our limited time, as we are of all of His creation. Thus, I need to make sure that the time I spend on this earth is spent realizing God's gifts - even the tasks we find mundane and the people we find irritating.
As I continue to work through these thoughts and try to answer God's call to conversion, I ask for your prayers. I also ask for you to pray for the soul of Michael and for all the faithfully departed and with the same breath, we ask for their intercession.

Conversion is never easy but is always worth it.
At midday, along the way, O king, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.' And I said, 'Who are you, sir?' And the Lord replied, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Get up now, and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness of what you have seen (of me) and what you will be shown. I shall deliver you from this people and from the Gentiles to whom I send you, to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me.' "And so, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. - Acts 26:13-19
Peace to you all.

Fr. Maciel Monday Update

There is a lot of information on the Fr. Maciel scandal on the internet right now. As I have already done, I point you to American Papist, who has the most complete coverage, and to Ed Peters blog, which has (in my opinion only) the most compelling conversation starters.

The Catholic News Agency says the Vatican is not thinking about any immediate action.
George Weigel calls for some radical changes to the Legion and is very critical. His comments include:

Two courageous Legionary priests, Fr. Thomas Berg and Fr. Richard Gill, have issued personal statements that face the facts as we know them, while not shying away from their implications in respect of any assessment of Fr. Maciel. Another Legionary priest, Fr. Thomas Williams, manfully confronted the truth of this wickedness on EWTN this past Friday night. Fathers Berg, Gill, and Williams have also conceded, admirably, their own failures to see through the web of deceit spun by Fr. Maciel. Their words reconfirm what those of us who have benefitted from the friendship of Legionary priests have known for years—there is great good here, as there is among the faithful members of Regnum Christi.

The question now is, how shall that good be saved?

It can only be saved if there is full, public disclosure of Fr. Maciel’s perfidies and if there is a root-and-branch examination of possible complicity in those perfidies within the Legion of Christ. That examination must be combined with a brutally frank analysis of the institutional culture in which those perfidies and that complicity unfolded. Only after that kind of moral and institutional audit has been conducted, and has been seen publicly to be a clean audit, can the Legion of Christ, and the broader Church, face the questions of the Legion’s future—which are, candidly, open questions:

• Can the good that has come from the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi be disentangled from the person and legacy of Fr. Maciel?

• Can the Legion be reformed from within, after those complicit in the Maciel web of deceit have been dismissed?

• Must the Legion be dissolved, with perhaps a core group of incontestably honest former Legionaries re-forming a religious congregation dedicated to the ideals that have been fouled by Fr. Maciel’s sins and by a manifestly wounded institutional culture?

None of these questions can be thoughtfully or prayerfully answered until there is a full audit.

I recommend a full reading.