Friday, July 31, 2009

Pope Singing on New Album

Very Interesting indeed.
Pope Benedict XVI will be heard singing and speaking on an album to be released on the record label that was home to Nirvana and Guns N' Roses.

The pontiff is to release Alma Mater, an album of Lauretan litanies and prayers with musical accompaniment, through Geffen Records.

The label said listeners would be "shocked" by his "incredible voice".

The album, which features the Pope using five different languages, will be released on 30 November.

The project came about after the label learned earlier this year that Benedict XVI had been working on an album with the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome.

'Very happy'
Colin Barlow, president of Geffen UK, explained: "We travelled to Rome, heard some of the music and realised it was a beautiful piece of music and something that actually could be an incredible record for us to work on.

"It's very much about delivering a really brilliant piece of music and making sure we treat it with the respect it deserves."

The album will contain eight pieces of music, one featuring Pope Benedict singing and the others providing accompaniment to his recitals of passages and prayers.

But Pope Benedict did not go into the studio - the Vatican supplied recordings of his vocals made at official services and also from speeches he made on his foreign trips.

Friday Fun

When the News is taken over by Chinese Communists...

Health Care and Abortion

The health care bill will have abortion coverage. Shameful.
WASHINGTON - An anti-abortion amendment to a sweeping health overhaul bill was voted down in a House committee late Thursday -- a dramatic reversal just hours after the measure initially was approved.

The amendment said health care legislation moving through Congress may not impose requirements for coverage of abortion, except in limited cases. It was approved in the Energy and Commerce Committee after conservative Democrats joined Republicans to support it.

But committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., invoked House rules that allowed him to bring up the amendment for a second vote, despite Republican objections.

This time, one conservative Democrat -- Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee -- changed his vote from "yes" to "no." And a second conservative Democrat who hadn't voted the first time -- Rep. Zack Space of Ohio -- voted "no."

It was enough to take down the amendment on a 30-29 vote.

What a Story!

Please read this story. All of it.
CNA.- The short life of a devout, Catholic, young girl from Seattle has brought many Catholics across the United States back to the Church. Her holy and loving example, as well as her battle with cancer, has drawn others to convert to Catholicism and has inspired the creation of an organization to reach out to families with a loved one facing a chronic illness.

Gloria was born in 1996 to Doug and Kristen Strauss and was like any other seven-year old. She enjoyed playing with her six siblings and friends, dressing up, playing board games, picking flowers and watching the Fox television show, “American Idol.” The young girl also had a special place in her heart for the Rosary and for making people feel good about themselves. However, no one could have predicted the amount of people her brief time on earth would touch.

Cancer diagnosis

CNA spoke with her father, Doug, who explained that one day in 2003 when Gloria was seven years-old, she was hit in the face with a ball resulting in a black eye. When the color returned to normal after the seemingly minor injury, a suspicious bump remained. After two trips to the doctor, she was referred to a specialist who instantly had a hunch it was cancer.

Gloria was diagnosed with a cancer known as neuroblastoma and only given a window of three months to three years to survive. Following the diagnosis, Gloria immediately went into surgery and began chemotherapy treatments. Doug explained that though it was difficult, the family resolved to remain “open to God’s plan in hopes that the family would be strengthened.”

At the time, Doug was a high school basketball coach who knew Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer. Brewer had planned to run a single column on the family’s struggles while Doug coached during the season. However, the first column attracted so many readers that the idea expanded into a five-month series of interviews with the Strauss family sharing Gloria’s faith and trust in God with those in Seattle and around the United States.

When Gloria’s condition took a turn for the worse in 2007, the family opened their home for community members to come and pray over her. Doug explained that for three weeks, 50 – 60 people showed up Monday – Friday to pray the Rosary and sing praise and worship songs. Later, when it became too much for the family, five members of the community opened up their homes to continue the prayers for Gloria.

Drawing others to Christ

After Gloria endured seven rounds of chemotherapy, the doctors decided to try a stem-cell transplant using her own stem-cells. Doug said that at that point, he knew that Gloria was at her lowest point. He was desperate and started to pray, “God help me, I don’t understand.”

He heard a voice say, “quality of life.” He was confused, but went to Gloria the next day and asked if she’s had quality of life. He didn’t expect her to understand, but she immediately responded, “yes daddy!” She excitedly added that so many people have started praying because of her illness.

Doug explained that Gloria had a beautiful gift, she was able to draw people to Christ through her cancer. “She taught us all how to carry a cross. Her gift to us was her living example of her commitment to a relationship with God through constant prayer. She always said, “yes.”

Writing in the Seattle Times column, Doug recalled that they “would ask if it was all right to have a healing Mass,” and she would answer, “oh yea!” Other times they would ask: “How about if 50 people come over to pray the Rosary over you tonight?” She’d say, “oh yea!”

“From shots to sickness it always began and ended with the sign of the cross,” Doug continued. “Often doctors would have to stand and wait as she made the sign of the cross and prayed. Amazing to watch!”

It wasn’t just her actions that drew people to Christ, her father also explained that everyone spoke of Gloria’s presence. “She had this presence that allowed people to want to be with her and pray for her.” Even at the age of seven, “she knew her calling to bring people to God through her cancer.”

People from all religions were attracted to Gloria and her family through the front-page column in the Seattle Times. “Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, they all wrote in to the paper talking about how they’ve been impacted by her life,” Doug said. “Everyone knew we were Catholic – we didn’t have to profess it – we wanted prayers from everyone,” Doug continued.

Doug even mentioned a blind man that had written him a letter saying that he had been praying Rosaries for Gloria and wanted to meet her. Miraculously, when she entered the room he could see her dressed in white. The man told Doug however that when she left, he was blind once again.

Though prayers for Gloria kept coming, her cancer continued to spread and she died on September 21, 2007.

Gloria’s impact

Immediately following Gloria’s death, the family realized the large impact that Gloria had on the community.

Doug explained that people came all over to view her body before and after the Rosary. He added that he received a letter from a Lutheran man who attends Eucharistic adoration at a Catholic church who said that he had to go so that he could “see a saint in person.”

Then at the funeral, over 3,200 showed up and the family began to hear stories of how’ Gloria’s life and struggle had transformed lives.

One man from Virginia had read about Gloria and explained that he felt like he was “hit over the head by a 2 x 4.” The man had been on a four-day drinking binge and he completely gave up alcohol after reading the story on her illness and strength of faith.

Not only do the Strausses have a list of others who have quit different drug addictions because of Gloria, but they are aware of at least ten people who have become Catholic directly due to Gloria’s story – and more are continuing to convert. One in particular was a nurse at the Children’s hospital who didn’t grow up going to church. After seeing little Gloria’s faith, she knew she had to do something about it.

According to the Catholic Northwest Progress, one Presbyterian family became Catholic after Gloria attended a camp for ill children and their families. One of the volunteers, Brinn Funai continued to keep in touch with Kristen Strauss, Gloria’s mother, after the week’s activities.

Brinn explained that she had been checking into Catholicism, but meeting Kristen and the Strausses “was a big turning point for me.” They “really helped kin of soften that road so to speak, to coming into the church.”
“I told her right before she died, ‘Gloria, we’re going to become Catholic,’” said Brinn. “And she said, ‘Wow!’” The Funais were received into Catholic Church at Easter 2008.
Not only did the girl’s life, touch individuals, but she also inspired the organization, “Gloria’s Angels.”

Gloria’s Angels

At a point when Gloria’s health continued to fade, the family’s spiritual advisor spoke to Bob Turner, a Seattle business man, about assisting the family in the days following Gloria’s cancer. “Either she was going to experience a miraculous healing or she was going to pass away,” Turner explained. “In either case, [the spiritual advisor] recognized that the Strauss family would have some mission to serve.”

Turner explained that he decided “to bring his business skills into a partnership with the Strauss family to help them honor her and carry on her mission.” After weeks of discernment, Turner and the Strauss family decided that Gloria’s mission could best be carried out by serving families facing life-threatening illnesses.

And so Gloria’s Angels was born.

The organization works to smooth out the “roller coaster ride” that families with a sick member experience. While many agencies exist to assist families in need, oftentimes loved ones are unaware of the services offered or need help with the coordination. Gloria’s Angel’s steps in for guidance to piece everything together.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Evacuation

Almost all of Bryan, TX is now under an evacuation and Texas A&M has been shut down due to a hazmat fire. Please pray for safety for all involved.

UPDATE: St. Joseph Catholic school, St. Anthony, Santa Theresa and many other churches / businesses / roads / etc. are closed.

UPDATE 2: On CNN right now.

UPDATE 3: Video from a TV copter out of Houston.






There is hope the threat will end before the night and we will all be able to sleep in our own beds.

UPDATE 4: Looks like no major injuries and most of us got to sleep in our own beds last night. Thanks for the prayers.

Two Items of Interest

1 - Please pray for residents of Bryan, who are being evacuated due to a chemical warehouse. This includes my family.

2 - Check out one of our newest Aggie Seminarians' post on what he has been doing this summer at Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Austin.

News and Such

*Michael Phelps is going to see the Pope. Why?

*The leader of the Anglican union is doing a poor job of trying to make everyone happy with the mess he has on his hands. Look for things to get much worse.

*Our culture is not only sliding down the slippery slope of moral relativism, it isn't happy until everyone else approves.

*Pray for the Iranian people and others who live under totalitarian governments.

The Devil

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Franciscans Charism

I certainly don't have a lot of the Franciscan charism in my own spirituality, but I sure do admire those who do. In one of the more Franciscan of stories, there is this:
They've been mistaken for Jedi-wannabes headed to a Star Wars convention. They've been investigated by police, approached by strangers, gawked at from cars and offered gifts of crumpled dollar bills and Little Debbie snacks.

After trekking along more than 300 miles of dusty Virginia country roads and suburban highways, six Franciscan friars reached Washington on Tuesday, having seen it all during an offbeat modern-day quest for God.

For six weeks, the brothers walked from Roanoke with only their brown robes, sandals and a belief in the kindness of strangers to feed and shelter them.

The sight of six men in flowing habits, trudging single file on the side of the road, prompted many to pull over and talk, even confess. People on their way to work described their loneliness. College students wanted help figuring out what to do with their lives. Children, mistaking them for the Shaolin monks in movies, ran up to ask the friars if they knew how to beat up bullies.

"Dressed like we are in our habits, it's like a walking sign that says, 'Tell us your life's problems,' " explained Cliff Hennings, the youngest of the friars at 23.

In every instance, the friars made time for conversation. They shot the breeze with a gang of drunk bikers, dispensed relationship advice to the brokenhearted commuters and bore witness to one and all, yea, even to the Chik-fil-A employee dressed as a cow.

The pilgrimage was the idea of four young friars just finishing their training in Chicago and working toward taking lifelong vows. Seeking to emulate the wanderings of their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi, they wanted to journey together as a fraternity, ministering to one another and to strangers, while depending on God for every meal and place to sleep.

Joined by two older friars supervising their training, they picked as their destination a friary in Washington, D.C., called the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land -- a symbolic gesture, because the actual Holy Land was too far away.

Then last month they drove from Chicago to Salem, just outside Roanoke, parked their van at a church and set out on foot.

They tried to live by the ascetic rules Jesus laid out for his 12 disciples: "Take nothing for the journey -- no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic." The less they brought, they reasoned, the more room they could leave for God. The friars did make a few modifications, carrying a toothbrush, a wool blanket, water and a change of underwear ("a summer essential," one explained), as well as one cellphone in case of emergency.

Some rules, however, had to be made on the fly. They had agreed not to carry any money, but just minutes into their first day, strangers were pressing dollar bills into their hands. So they made a pact to spend what they received each day on food, often high-protein Clif bars, and to give the rest to the needy.

They walked 15 miles their first day and found themselves at dusk in front of a fire station just outside Roanoke. One of the friars, Roger Lopez, a former fireman himself, knocked on the station door and asked whether there was somewhere they could sleep. As they talked, the friars spotted a giant trampoline out back.

"It seemed like such a good idea at the time," said Lopez, 30.

The six spread out on the trampoline as if they were spokes on a wheel. But soon they realized gravity was against them, pulling everyone toward the center. Some tried to sleep clutching the side railing. When one person rolled over, the rest bobbed uncontrollably like buoys. No one got much sleep, but the firefighters did send them off the next morning with corned beef sandwiches.

Since then, they have slept on picnic tables outside Lynchburg, basement floors in Charlottesville, even on office tables at a food pantry.

One night they were hosted by a man with tattoos on his arms, an unkempt ponytail and all of his front teeth missing. He had pulled up in his beat-up Jeep and offered to let the friars stay with him in an old one-room schoolhouse in Nelson County.

"He looked like he had just gotten out of prison," said Hennings, but the man turned out to be a Native American healer. The friars stayed up all night talking to him. He told them Native stories and played his double flute. They chanted Latin hymns in return and told him stories from the Gospel.

Such moments of grace became a daily occurrence for the friars. Sure, some passersby gave them the finger. One guy even leaned out the window to add a sprinkling of Nietzsche ("God is dead!") to his vulgarities. But most encounters were meaningful, even profound.

Just outside Harrisonburg, a woman in her 40s with a young daughter pulled over in her old Dodge sedan to talk to 25-year-old friar Richard Goodin.

She'd recently caught her husband cheating on her. He had kicked her and her daughter out of their house, she told Goodin. Now, like the friars, they were wandering through the wilderness, unsure of their next meal or their next move.

As they talked, the woman's daughter rummaged through the car and gave the friars a soda. Then she found a chocolate bar and offered that. As the conversation began winding down, the daughter said there was nothing more in the car. The woman reached for her purse and told Goodin, "I want to give you what we have left."

She pressed $3.52 into his hand, which he accepted reluctantly.

"I realized she wasn't giving this to us or to me," Goodin said. "I think she heard us talk about trusting in God and she wanted to try to trust in the same way. She was giving that money to God."

Read it all.

Tip O' the hat to Rocco.

Freedom in Truth

"The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden." - G.K. Chesterton

God Allowed Pope To Break Wrist

From the Pope on his broken wrist:
"Unfortunately, my own guardian angel did not prevent my injury, certainly following superior orders,"

"Perhaps the Lord wanted to teach me more patience and humility, give me more time for prayer and meditation,"

I hope to learn those things without breaking my wrist. But, God just might have to break my head to get it through my thick skull.

I just hope he doesn't use someone else's wrist cast to break my head.

Pray for Persecuted Christians

Christians are persecuted throughout the world. But, certain countries are worse than others - some include - Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Cuba, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, and many others.

Here is one story out of Vietnam that highlights some persecution of the Catholics there.
HANOI, Vietnam, JULY 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Catholics organized protests in several Vietnamese cities after two priests and other laypeople were savagely beaten by police and thugs.

AsiaNews reported today that Father Paul Nguyen Dinh Phu and Father Peter Nguyen The Binh are in critical condition after the attacks.
The former has broken ribs and head injuries, and the latter was beaten into a coma and then thrown from a 2nd floor window.

The Diocese of Vinh released a statement condemning the police violence against the priests and other Catholics over the past week.

On July 20, hundreds of Catholics were attacked at the church of Tam Toa, where they had gathered to erect a cross and altar.

The 120-year-old church, damaged after an American bombing in 1968, was seized in 1996 by the government to create a "U.S. war crimes memorial."

The people were too poor to rebuild their church immediately, but they still regard it as the seat of their parish and come together there for ceremonies.

After repeated requests for the return of the land, Bishop Paul-Marie Cao Dinh Thuyen of Vinh celebrated a Feb. 2 Mass at the parish, which was attended by 14 priests and thousands of faithful.

Last week, when the faithful gathered again to bring a cross and an altar, police launched tear gas bombs at them, and then began to beat them with sticks and stun guns.

Many were injured, and others were carried away in police vans.
Lord have mercy!

Exorcisms

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teachers' Union Supports Homosexual Marriage and Abortion

You might ask, "why does the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union, insert itself into the debate on homosexual 'marriage' and abortion"?

Good question. Unfortunately there is no good answer. But, the outgoing general council of NEA says it is all about lobbying power and money.

This video says it all. WARNING - some graphic language - yes, at a Teachers' union convention. I recommend you start about 15:30 and then watch the rest - if you watch any. Then ask if you or your Christian friends want to be a part of this organization...



It is about political power. Many teachers disagree with this kind of policy which is so blatantly anti-Christian. But, in some states, they are forced to pay dues. The Christian teachers in this country need to organize themselves and fight back.

Eucharistic Miracles and Science

A video on Eucharistic miracles in Argentina. The scientist in the video speaks Spanish, but the English subtitles are accurate. Amazing!

Texas A&M Rankings


The Princeton Review annually ranks universities and colleges in different categories through surverys given to students. While the merits of such rankings can certainly be debated, they do sell a lot of magazines and also push college administrators to aim for the "good" rankings. Here are the categories that Texas A&M found itself in this year.
Texas A&M University Rankings:
#1 Most Conservative Students
#5 Best College Newspaper (in terms of popularity)
#6 Best Athletic Facilities
#13 Most Religious Students
#14 Students Pack the Stadiums
#14 Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution
#15 Alternative Lifestyles Not an Alternative
#16 Jock Schools
#19 Class Discussions Rare
I don't think the rankings are accurate in several categories (e.g., while there is a definitive conservative base, the #1 status it is more by reputation than reality - there are much smaller private Catholic and Christian schools that are more conservative).

Population Problems

The myth of overpopulation continues to rear it's ugly head. But, this simple, yet factually-based, video helps debunk it. The video is from the Population Research Institute who has a great website you should visit - www.overpopulationisamyth.com/


Tip O' the hat to Patrick Madrid.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wedding During Lent?

Q - What is the church's teaching on getting married during lent?

A - Thanks for the question. I am guessing the wedding prep is started and you are trying to find a date and none works well, except during lent. The short answer is there are no restrictions on a particular date, except during the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday), but there may be some other restrictions in decorations, prayers, music, etc.

From the USCCB (emphasis added):
There are no legal restrictions on when the Rite of Marriage may be celebrated, with the exception of the Triduum, as long as the various guidelines specific to the particular parish are respected. When the Rite of Marriage includes a Mass there are limitations as to dates and readings. Few parishes celebrate weddings on Sundays, but a few policies encourage couples to consider integrating their wedding into the regularly scheduled Sunday Mass to more fully express the support of the parish community (See, for example, Gary, Sioux City, Kansas City/St. Joseph, and Louisville). When a wedding coincides with a major feast the readings for that feast must be respected. Weddings during penitential seasons must respect the church tone and décor appropriate for the season.
There are some parts of the Mass that will not be included in a wedding Mass, including the Gloria, the Alleluia, etc. as well as other things that are not optional because of lent (e.g. no upbeat music)

There may also be other guidelines that the local parish or diocese goes by, so it is best to talk to the celebrant as soon as possible. These might include, but aren't limited to - no flowers as decorations in the church, light decorations, limited music, limited selection of Scripture readings, the priest will wear purple vestments, etc.

If you are getting married soon - congratulations! Keep Christ always at the center of your relationships.

Monday News

*Bad news - the House voted down an amendment that would have de-funded Planned Parenthood.

*Sad/Inspiring news - a mother sacrifices her life for her baby.

*Catholic news - The Pope defrocks a priest connected to the supposed apparitions at Medjugorje.

*Texas news - Almost all of TX is in moderate to severe drought. Please pray for rain.

Abortion, Sex, and Politics

Politics plays a big part in how most people view medicine, prevention and health. Here are two examples.

1 - The Catholic Key blog points out who will pay the ultimate price for medical rationing - the poor and elderly.

2 - Then there is this amazing column by a prof from Harvard who goes against his political leanings to admit that the Pope is correct about condoms, AIDS, and sex.

Colbert on the Pope's Wrist

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Pope Wrist Watch
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pray For Persecuted Christians

A woman was executed in North Korea for distributing Bibles. She is a martyr for the faith.
South Korea (AP) - A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said Friday.

The 33-year-old mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, also was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, a rights group said in Seoul, citing documents obtained from the North.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Bet You...

I bet you two things:

1 - The people in this video had a blast.

2 - You will never see this happen in a Catholic Church and for good reason.

I Glow

Scientific evidence now proves that my bald head glows.
The human body literally glows, emitting a visible light in extremely small quantities at levels that rise and fall with the day, scientists now reveal.

Past research has shown that the body emits visible light, 1,000 times less intense than the levels to which our naked eyes are sensitive. In fact, virtually all living creatures emit very weak light, which is thought to be a byproduct of biochemical reactions involving free radicals.

Free Tea

If you like tea and if you live near a McAlister's Deli, then today is a good day for you.
I am guessing they use tap water to make it...

Tap Water

I am not sure why, but for some people, tap water has become taboo. 99% of the water I drink is straight from the tap and here are some reasons why.

Think Of Others

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Truth

"All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly."
-St. Thomas Aquinas

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."
-G.K. Chesterton

"The truth is not always the same as the majority decision."
-Pope John Paul II

"Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom.”"
-Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo

What "Common Ground" Exists With Abortion

I have a few questions.
  1. *When politicians say they want to have a "common ground" on abortion, what exactly do they mean?
  2. *What does this common ground look like?
  3. *Who has to compromise their beliefs?
  4. *What has to be compromised to meet on this common ground?
  5. *Is it possible?
I am going start answering the questions backwards:

5. *No.
4. *One side will have to "give" on their convictions.
3. *Neither side will agree to is, but most politicians think the pro-lifers need to give.
2. *The common ground is a political mumbo-jumbo that doesn't exist.
1. *Therefore, politicians say they want "common ground" on abortion they want votes.

I might sound a bit jaded - but there is no such thing as a "common ground" on abortion. This is why the President doesn't blink when telling the Pope and Planned Parenthood the same thing about abortion - he is playing politics.

This kind of political ploy is an attempt to get FOCA implemented in an incremental way - just as Cardinal DiNardo predicted when he spoke here this March. You can work against this by visiting http://stoptheabortionmandate.com/

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Big Deal

The USCCB has released this statement on healthcare reform legislation.

U.S. Bishops Urge Congress to Observe Respect for Life, Access for All in Health Care Legislation

WASHINGTON—“Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation,” said Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., as he outlined the policy priorities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on the issue of health care in a July 17 letter to Congress. The letter supported efforts to pass health care reform, but warned against inclusion of abortion.

Writing on behalf of the bishops as chairman of their Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Murphy said the bishops have advocated comprehensive health care reform for decades and recommended four criteria for fair and just health care reform: respect for human life and dignity, access for all, pluralism and equitable costs.

“Two of these criteria need special attention as Congress moves forward with health care reform,” Bishop Murphy said.

On respecting life and dignity, he said, “No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong.”

After citing protections from public funding of abortion in U.S. law, Bishop Murphy added, “Health care reform cannot be a vehicle for abandoning this consensus which respects freedom of conscience and honors our best American traditions. Any legislation should reflect longstanding and widely supported current policies on abortion funding, mandates and conscience protections because they represent sound morality, wise policy and political reality.”

On the issue of access for all, Bishop Murphy said, “All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. The Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable.”

He went on to cite that, even after the implementation of health care reform, some families, including many immigrants, will not be covered and urged Congress to adequately fund clinics and hospitals that serve as a safety net for these people.

The full text of Bishop Murphy’s letter can be found online at: www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-07-17-murphy-letter-congress.pdf

We need to FIGHT against abortion being a part of this, regardless of how you feel about government-mandated reform of healthcare, this is something EVERY Catholic should be communicating to their representatives in Congress.

The sponsors of this bill and the White House are selling this as a "compromise" bill that will bring people together on abortion. They call it the "middle-ground". But, they are not being honest. They only want the pro-life side to compromise.

Texas Is Growing

One of the biggest challenges to the parishes, ministries, dioceses, and organizations that serve the Catholic Church in Texas is population. We are booming - to the point that 4 of the top 10 cities people are moving to from other areas in the USA are in Texas.
7 - Houston
6 - San Antonio
5 - Dallas
2 - Austin

This creates a stress on every existing Church structure which now needs to grow to meet demand. The Austin diocese has been planning for this growth for many years now with strong pastoral planning, issuing bonds for revenue, a very successful capital campaign, etc. Yet, we still aren't able to keep up.

Other dioceses, esp. Dallas, are behind the curve and while they are working hard to improve and grow it will be much harder. Every large metropolitan area in Texas needs new parishes, more priests, more staff, better social services, etc.

Pray for the Catholic Church in Texas. Growth is a good problem to have, but an issue nonetheless.

New Mass Translation

The new Mass translation for English-speaking countries is picking up steam. Rocco has more.
Come November, the USCCB will take its final votes on the 2002editio typica in English, and it's not without possibility that Rome'srecognitio (confirmation) for the completed Missal could arrive even before year's end.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good - The Pope is recovering from his broken wrist. He recently said, "Dear friends, do not be discouraged!” Pope Benedict continued, “Providence always helps those who do good and are committed to justice. It helps those who think not only of themselves, but also of those who are worse off."

The Bad - Because of an eclipse, some people in India are playing on other's fears and superstitions to make money for themselves.

The Ugly - Ave Maria University is firing Fr. Fessio for a second time. The politics at that university might be the worst in the country.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Strange

Today, a woman with the same name (with a feminine spelling) sent me a FaceBook message saying "we have the same name". She later sent me a friend request, but I declined it, because I don't usually accept friend requests from strangers in foreign countries.

Then I saw this article on a couple that have the same name, met on FaceBook after the woman sent the man almost the exact same message I got, and now they are married.

FaceBook is an odd place sometimes.

10 Questions For God

I have a few (not so serious) questions for God when I (hopefully) get to heaven. That is, after my time in purgatory.

10 - Why do people get creaped out by imaginary creatures (sasquatches, chupacabras, etc.) or unexplained phenomenons (e.g. the Marfa lights)?

9 - Is golf just like life and if not then why do you give us so many mulligans?

8 - Where did all this hair on my legs come from?

7 - Why do you dislike the University of Texas so much?

6 - Why can't you make learning a foreign language easier? (note: I don't speak Russian, Chinese, French, or female)

5 - If dogs go to heaven, who does the pooper-scooping, because that doesn't sound very heavenly?

4 - Did you have to make dreams so wickedly strange?

3 - Can it really be called "hiding" when so many people are constantly finding Waldo?

2 - Did you create belly-button lint from nothing - I can't figure out where it comes from?

1 - Why fireants? Seriously.

Government and Abortions

Several important stories.

1 - We need to contact our elected representatives about making sure that abortion is not mandated in the new health insurance legislation, because the White House won't promise to keep it out. This means the federal government may soon be paying for abortions.

2 - One congressman is accusing Obama of lying to the Pope about abortion.

3 - The Democrats For Life booted one congressman out of the group for supporting abortion. The Catholic Key blog has a story on why it matters.

Call to Holiness

This looks like a uniques and very nice conference in Houston, Sept 11-12 - Call to Holiness - Evangelization Conference. Too bad it is at the beginning of the fall semester.

From the website:
The uniqueness of a new evangelization is best understood when modeled after Christ’s example. Christ was sent by God the Father to witness to humanity. God also gave man the “tools” to accomplish His will as we prepare for the return of Our Lord. The Holy Spirit was sent to help man and guide man in this mission. This event is a renewal to mission!

We designed this conference with the hope that this event will be a transforming evangelization for you personally, our local Church and community. Every aspect of this event is an opportunity for growth for all those who participate in any facet before, during, and after the event.

This conference has theological, apologetic and missionary elements that will draw people deeper into the mystery and understanding of their own Call to Holiness.

De-Fund Planned Parenthood

Click here for an easy way to contact your congressional representatives and ask them to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Here is the summary.
Between 2007 and 2008, Planned Parenthood received $350 million of your tax dollars. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the country. In 2008 alone they performed 290,000 abortions throughout the country. Planned Parenthood received millions of dollars through this program last year and you can be sure they'll ask this Congress for an even greater funding increase this year. By law, Planned Parenthood clinics must offer referrals for abortions and dispense all forms of contraception. These clinics are not required to notify parents of minors who seek abortions or contraception. This loophole allows sexual predators to access contraception and obtain abortions to cover up the abuse of their victims. Congressman Mike Pence will be offering an amendment to the Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations bill that will keep Planned Parenthood from receiving government funds. Please sign in below and tell your Representative to support Mike Pence’s amendment to De-Fund Planned Parenthood. Tell them you don’t want your tax dollars to go to organizations that perform abortions.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Senate

This video answers a lot of questions I have had about politicians.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Aggie Awakening #86

Please pray for Aggie Awakening #86 this weekend. It is a large retreat where over 100 students retreat and over 300 students staff. It is not uncommon to have a waiting list to retreat of upwards of 500 students, even though we hold it three times a year.

There are Awakenings all over the country now, but none as large or as long-running as Aggie Awakening.

Government Healthcare and Abortion

From Email.
This is urgent.

The abortion industry has just launched a massive effort to mandate taxpayer-funded abortions as part of their proposed trillion-dollar healthcare takeover.

This power-grab is attempting to:

>>> Impose part of the "Freedom of Choice Act"(FOCA)
>>> Mandate that health plans include abortion coverage
>>> Require medical providers to violate their consciences
and do abortions or risk their jobs
>>> Force taxpayers to fund the abortion industry bailout

The campaign that started in your community, 40 Days for Life, has been asked to lead the national webcast to oppose this effort because national leaders know that only the grassroots can stop this mandate.

Register for the LIVE event on Thursday, July 23 at 8:00PM:


During this event you will hear from:

MIKE HUCKABEE, Former Governor and Presidential Candidate TONY PERKINS, Family Research Council FR. FRANK PAVONE, Priests for Life MARJORIE DANNENFELSER, Susan B. Anthony List DOUGLAS JOHNSON, National Right to Life Committee TOM MINNERY, Focus on the Family CONGRESSMAN CHRIS SMITH, U.S. House of Representatives CONGRESSMAN JOE PITTS, U.S. House of Representatives DR. RICHARD LAND, Southern Baptist Convention DAVID BEREIT, 40 Days for Life

During this nationwide event, you will learn:

*Facts about the legislation that abortion advocates are trying to ram through before Congress goes on summer recess

*The implications of the proposed mandates

*Why leaders, organizations, and coalitions are joining together in record numbers

*Action steps YOU can take to make a difference
Register for the webcast at:


This webcast is being sent out to hundreds of thousands of Christians across America and there is limited space available for the live event so register now!
Yours in Christ,

Shawn Carney
Executive Director

P.S- Please SPREAD THE WORD to every pro-lifer and church you know. Forward this e-mail and encourage them to

Friday News

*First for some local news. St. Mary's reputation is growing constantly. We have a bishop from France who will be coming to visit us on Sept 13 to learn about promoting vocations. Did I mention we have 8 men and women entering formation for the priesthood and religious life this year? That is right at our average.

*The Pope fell and fractured his wrist, but is doing Popey things already.

*Pray for those persecuted for their faith. For instance, the families who are fined for ignoring the Vietnamese two-child per family law, so as to remain faithful to their Catholic faith.

*Bishop Tobin has some interesting insights into the liturgy after he attended Mass incognito during his vacation. Here is a snip:
The last time I attended Mass on vacation, the priest began by announcing: “As we begin today, folks, let’s take a few minutes to get acquainted with the people around you. Tell your neighbor your name, where you’re from, and what you do for a living.” And so the congregation sat down for this banal banter while the priest assumed his talk-show host persona and worked the middle aisle greeting people. Please . . . that’s not community; that’s a cocktail party!
*Pray for the Anglicans. More problems are arising for them around the world. This time the problem is out of Sweden after the Anglican bishops of Sweden voted to bless same-sex couples unions.

The Alexander House

Another good apostolate here in Texas that I have failed to mention is The Alexandar House. They work on enriching marriages through educating and training couples in how they can live out the teachings of the Catholic Church, esp. JPII's teachings on marriage. Here is a nice video.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Vatican

If you have never seen it, the full documentary from National Geographic on the Vatican was very good. Here is a part of it.

What I Am Reading

Currently on my nightstand:

I have studied the first translation put out by Pauline several times, but this current translation is more faithful to the original text and has a much better introduction.

I enjoyed Meeker's other book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters and have enjoyed this one as well. I recommend it to parents.

Probably the best Catholic study bible on the market. The only problem is that it currently only comes in seperate volumes. Worth it anyway.

I love the classics.

*Not a book, but I am also reading the current issue of First Things. The best journal on faith, culture, and politics in publication currently, in my opinion.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More News

It is a sad news day.

*The Catholic Radio Association is sending up a red flag, warning Catholics that some proposed federal laws and guidelines might kill Catholic radio stations.

*Even the radical environmentalists realize that contraceptives are bad. They just see them as bad for the environment only, not bad for humans as well.

*Vatican politics again. At least they aren't near as bad as real politics.

*Bad argument (maybe more correct to say sad argument) = my marriage was bad, cheating is natural, other marriages are bad, life gets sucked out of you through marriage, American culture leads to divorce, therefore there is no need for marriage today. Ug.

*To have some fun news - smoking has apparently been hit hard by inflation. A man was charged $23 quadrillion for a pack of smokes.

Tips O' the Hat to Mark and AmP.

News

*No way around it. If you are a Catholic and if you are part of the Obama administration, you are pro-abortion. No suprise then that the surgeon general nominee is a pro-abortion Catholic. AmP has the full scoop.

*Then there is the double-standard of confirmation hearings for a faithful Catholic judge and a dissenting Catholic judge.

*Then there is the "science czar" who advocated forced abortions and population control.

*In more derpressing news, a well-known British musician and conductor killed himself alongside his wife in a Swiss suicide clinic. The article I read this morning is outrageously zealous about how wonderful it all was. A quick reminder that killing yourself is not "humane" or "good". When an individual is in enough of a bad spot that they want to kill themselves, they need better treatment, not to be put down like an animal.

*To balance it all out, here is another great video by CatholicVote.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cohabitating Ruins Marriage

We already knew this, but it is nice to have more data on the subject.
Those who moved in with a mate before engagement or marriage reported significantly lower quality marriages and a greater potential for split-ups than other couples. For instance, about 19 percent of those who cohabited before getting engaged had ever suggested divorce compared with just 12 percent of those who only moved in together after getting engaged and 10 percent of participants who did not cohabit prior to the wedding bells.
If you want to read a great article on the Church's perspective, Fr. David (pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Center), has one you should read (note: it is a .doc format).

In a similar study, researchers (they should have just asked someone who was married) found that love isn't the only thing needed to make a marriage work.
A couple's age, previous relationships and even whether they smoke or not are factors that influence whether their marriage is going to last, according to a study by researchers from the Australian National University.

Radio

I will be on The Sonrise Monrning Show tomorrow morning. 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.

Sorry, but I am not sure when in the broadcast the pre-recorded interview will air.

I will be talking about how not to evangelize.

Quick News

*Sex Ed leads to pregnancy. Thanks to CMR for this.

*Some of the best analysis of PBXVI's social encyclical, Caritas In Veritate, is from Ross Douthat.
Snips:
Papal encyclicals are supposed to be written with one eye on two millenniums of Catholic teaching, and the other on eternity. But Americans, as a rule, have rather narrower horizons. As soon as the media have finished scanning a Vatican document for references to sex, the debate begins in earnest: Is it good for the left, or for the right? For Democrats, or for Republicans?
That is the beginning, it gets better:

The pope is not a Democrat or a Republican, and his vision doesn’t fit the normal categories of American politics.

But Benedict’s encyclical is nothing if not political. “Caritas in Veritate” promotes a vision of economic solidarity rooted in moral conservatism. It links the dignity of labor to the sanctity of marriage. It praises the redistribution of wealth while emphasizing the importance of decentralized governance. It connects the despoiling of the environment to the mass destruction of human embryos.

This is not a message you’re likely to hear in Barack Obama’s next State of the Union, or in the Republican Party’s response. It represents a kind of left-right fusionism with little traction in American politics.

But that’s precisely what makes it so relevant and challenging — for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

We’re passing through the worst economic dislocation of the past 80 years. Our politics are polarized; our institutions gridlocked. The governing party is mistrusted, the minority party despised.

Yet there’s remarkably little radical thinking taking place. The Republican Party is retrenching, falling back on Reagan-era verities. His promises of post-partisan change notwithstanding, Barack Obama’s agenda looks like the same old Democratic laundry list, rewritten in a sleeker, Internet-era font.

This doesn’t mean that America needs a third party with “Caritas in Veritate” as its platform. The church is not a think tank, and there’s room for wide disagreement about how to put its social teaching into practice.

But Catholics are obliged to take seriously the underlying provocation of the papal message — namely, that our present political alignments are not the only ones imaginable, and that truth may not be served by perfect ideological conformity.

So should all people of good will. For liberals and conservatives alike, “Caritas in Veritate” is an invitation to think anew about their alliances and litmus tests.

Why should being pro-environment preclude being pro-life? Why can’t Republicans worry about economic inequality, and Democrats consider devolving more power to localities and states? Does opposing the Iraq war mean that you have to endorse an anything-goes approach to bioethics? Does supporting free trade require supporting the death penalty?

These questions, and many others like them, are the kind that a healthy political system would allow voters and politicians to explore.

But for now, at least, you’re more likely to find them being raised in Benedict XVI’s Vatican than in Barack Obama’s Washington.

*Being a pro-lifer on college campuses is avante-garde. Micah Mattix makes a compelling argument. Thanks to Mark for the last two items.

Pope Says Witness On-Campus

Pope Benedict XVI met with 1,000 university students and had some great things to say:
Benedict XVI is urging students to be witnesses of faith in their universities, acknowledging that their Christian presence is becoming more demanding, but also more "fascinating."
The article continues:
The meeting focused on the theme "New Disciples of Emmaus: In University as Christians."

The Pontiff encouraged the young people to meet the risen Lord like the disciples at Emmaus, "in an authentic ecclesial experience, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist."

He explained that their "missionary efforts in the university environment" consist in "bearing witness to your own personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the Truth who illuminates the path of all mankind."

"Only in this way can we become the ferment and leaven of a society enlivened by evangelical love," he added.

The Holy Father affirmed that pastoral activity in universities "must be expressed in all its theological and spiritual implications, helping the young to ensure that communion with Christ leads them to perceive the more profound mystery of man and of history."
A good way to fulfill this call is Ask A Catholic A Question...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ask A Catholic A Question Manual

Because of the number of requests for information about our program, Ask A Catholic A Question, we received from other campus ministries, parishes, organizations, and individuals; we have written a manual - Ask A Catholic A Question Handbook: Evangelization On-Campus. It comes in both a downloadable format as well as a website.

Vatican Changes YouTube Video

Very interesting.
The Vatican changed the original video with Obama on the Vatican YouTube channel...

How To Videos - Catholic Style

Very nice videos about Catholicism.
Thanks to Chris for the tip.

How To Become A Saint:

How To Go To Confession.


How To Pray The Rosary

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Obama And PBXVI Video

UPDATE: - Very interesting development.
The original video's narrator was changed from a man to a woman and the script is no longer the same. This is even more interesting...they pulled the old video (made it private) and then posted a new one that isn't quite as pointed in the commentary.
The difference between the two scripts is obvious.

Video #1 - "Their brief and cordial conversation touched the defense and promotion of life and the right to conscientious objection."

Video #2 - "The primary focus of the discussions were issues that constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the real progress of peoples, such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to conscientious objection."

--------------------------------------------------------
Interesting title to this video. If you look on the Vatican's YouTube channel, the majority of the videos which feature visits of foreign leaders are titled with the obvious. E.g. "Benedict XVI Meets the Australian Prime Minister", "Benedict XVI Receives the President of the Republic of Korea", "Benedict XVI Receives Japanese Prime Minister", etc.

But, the video of Obama is titled "Pope Benedict XVI: Life and Progress are Related". Then the narrator starts the description of the topics discussed with, "Their brief and cordial conversation touched the defense and promotion of life and the right to conscientious objection."

The Vatican is sending another clear message, one that was echoed in the unannounced gift PBXVI gave Obama.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Fun - Karachi Style

I give you the news from Karachi, Pakistan.

NFP Awareness Week

NFP Awareness Week starts Sunday, July 19 and goes until Saturday, July 25 - the anniversary of Humanae Vitae.

The USCCB has some homily notes for the priest, deacons, and bishops who might preach on this. Not bad at all, though some of the language will fly right over the heads of many ordinary Catholics.

Here is how the notes begin:
A word to the preacher:
As you prepare to preach on the Word of God this week, especially in light of the context of the Church’s celebration of “Natural Family Planning Awareness Week,” allow yourself to be led by the Spirit of the Lord. This week provides an opportunity to deepen your own understanding of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and the wonder of marital love. It is a perfect occasion to explain to your people the riches of God’s design for life and love in marriage.

Today among the People of God, there is confusion, ignorance and misinformation about Church teachings on human sexuality, chastity, marriage, conjugal love, responsible parenthood, and the moral regulation of births. Tragically, many of our people no long remember that God entrusted men and women with the gift of procreation, that “children are the supreme gift of marriage” (GS, #50). Try to help your people by presenting the truth with love and wisdom in order to lead them to greater peace, understanding and freedom in the Lord.

National NFP Awareness Week offers a great time to commit to learn more about NFP. Please consider placing appropriate NFP materials in the church vestibule. Place the one page summary of Married Love and the Gift of Life in your parish bulletin (available at: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/ nfp/cathteach.shtml). Your diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life should be able to help you obtain NFP resources. The USCCB’s NFP Program has free information that can be downloaded at: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp/index.shtml. Hard copies of some brochures, such as “NFP Myths and Reality,” can be purchased from the Respect Life Catalogue of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/materials/index.shtml.

Finally, I would like to invite all of us to sincerely pray and learn more about the Church’s teaching about the moral regulation of births in marriage. Prayer opens our hearts to God’s will. What appears to be foolishness in the eyes of the world is really a path to a deeper relationship of love within the Sacrament of Marriage. Let us help our married brothers and sisters embrace God’s gifts of life and love!
The poster is used with permission from the NFP Program, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved.

Pope + President = ?

Interesting stuff.

*The Pope gave an "unannounced gift". SWEET.
Despite the fact that the Vatican did not release an official statement about the nature of the meeting, the “unannounced” gift to Obama of the 2008 document "Dignitas Personae" on bioethics and the right to life, could be a signal of the nature of at least part of their conversation.
The Pope's secretary said "the document would help Obama understand the church’s reasoning behind its efforts to protect human life at every stage of its development."

*There is also this from the Press Office Director:
Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said “moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church’s contribution in developing countries” were key topics of discussion between the pope and the president.

In addition, Fr. Lombardi said the they discussed inter-religious dialogue and Middle East peace, with both reaffirming the need for a two state solution. He said the US president “reiterated his commitment to reducing the incidence of abortion”.

President Obama’s parting words to Pope Benedict Friday were that he looked forward to future strong relations between the United States and the Holy See, Pope Benedict told the President: “I thank you for all your work! I’ll pray for you!”
*Finally the word from the Vatican statement on what they talked about:
In the course of their cordial exchanges the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interests of all and which constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience.

Reference was also made to immigration with particular attention to the matter of reuniting families.

The meeting focused as well upon matters of international politics, especially in light of the outcome of the G8 Summit. The conversation also dealt with the peace process in the Middle East, on which there was general agreement, and with other regional situations. Certain current issues were then considered, such as dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, and the problem of drug trafficking. Finally, the importance of educating young people everywhere in the value of tolerance was highlighted.
Keep praying for them.

Healthcare and Abortion

With nationalized healthcare coming soon, some pro-life Democrats are standing up to fight against abortion being a part of it. Good for them.

One congressman from Texas, Solomon Ortiz (Corpus Christi to Brownsville), is among those who sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi. It says:

June 25, 2009

Dear Honorable Pelosi:

As the debate on health care reform continues and legislation is produced, it is imperative that the issue of abortion not be overlooked. Plans to mandate coverage for abortions, either directly or indirectly is unacceptable.

We believe in a culture that supports and respects the right to life and is dedicated to the protection and preservation of families. Therefore, we cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan. We believe that a government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan, should not be used to fund abortion.

Furthermore, we want to ensure that the Health Benefits Advisory Committee cannot recommend abortion services be included under covered benefits or as part of a benefits package. Without an explicit exclusion, abortion could be included in a government subsidized health care plan under general health care. The health care reform package produced by Congress will be landmark, and with legislation as important as this, abortion must be addressed clearly in the bill text.

Furthermore, funding restrictions save lives by reducing the number of abortions. The Guttmacher Policy Review, a leading pro-choice research organization noted "that about one third of women who would have had an abortion if support were available carried their pregnancies to term when the abortion fund was unavailable."

Thank you for taking the time to consider our request. By ensuring that abortions are not funded through any health care reform package, we will take this controversial issue off the table so that Congress can focus on crafting a broadly-supported health care reform bill.

Respectfully yours,

Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK); Bart Stupak (D-MI); Colin Peterson (D-MN); Tim Holden (D-PA); Travis Childers (D-MS); Lincoln Davis (D-TN); Heath Shuler (D-NC) Solomon Ortiz (D-TX); Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Jerry Costello (D-IL); Gene Taylor (D-MS); James Oberstar (D-MN); Bobby Bright (D-AL); Steve Driehaus (D-OH); Marcy Kaptur (D-OH); Charlie Melancon (D-LA); John Murtha (D-PA); Paul Kanjorski (D-PA); and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA).

Sacrifice

This is a great movie on sacrifice. Strange setting, but very nicely done.
Tip O' the hat to CMR.