Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Christianity is Important?

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
-CS Lewis

Catholics and New Media

The Pope is encouraging us to use new media.
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has chosen to dedicate World Communications Day 2010 to the theme "The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word."
The message for the 44th world day is addressed especially to priests, as the Church continues to celebrate the Year for Priests. The message also comes in the wake of last October's synod of bishops on the Word of God.
A communiqué from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications announced the theme today, feast of the archangels.
The Holy Father urges priests to "consider the new media as a powerful resource for their ministry in the service of the Word and wishes to express a word of encouragement in order to address the challenges stemming from the new digital culture," the communiqué explained. "If the new media is adequately known and appreciated, it can offer priests and all pastoral agents a wealth of data and content that previously was difficult to access, and it facilitates ways of collaboration and growth of communion that were unthinkable in the past."

The communiqué highlights the fact that "thanks to the new media, those who preach and make known the Word of life can reach, with words, sounds and images [...] individuals and whole communities on every continent."
This enables the creation of "new areas of knowledge and dialogue, enabling one to propose and carry out programs for communion," the council affirmed. "If used wisely, with the help of experts in technology and the culture of communion, the new media can thus become for priests and all pastoral agents a valid and effective instrument of true and profound evangelization and communion."
The Pontiff's statement suggests the hope that the communications media will be a new way to bring Christ to the streets.
"The priest's principal responsibility is to proclaim the Word of God made flesh, man, history, thus becoming a sign of that communion that God effects with man," the communiqué noted.
The World Day of Communications is the only worldwide celebration established by the Second Vatican Council. It is observed in most countries the Sunday before Pentecost.

Time To Get Pumped

Thanks to Mark.

Risks?

Don't be discouraged by failure. To live we must take risks.


Tip O' the hat to Patrick.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Camelot

I love it, but I am guessing that most students will not understand the joke.

Medjugorge Restrictions

Looks like some tight clamps are being put on Medjugorje.
[SUMMARY: Bp. Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno in Bosnia and Herzegovina has sent letters to the pastor and a parochial vicar at Medjugorje, with specific directives about how they and the parish are not to promote the alleged apparitions of the place:
  • that alleged messages and commentaries on them are not to be published;
  • that prayers from the apparitions are not to be used publicly;
  • the parish church is not to be called a "shrine", even privately;
  • that foreign priests may not give conferences or retreats without permission of the bishop;
  • foreign priests wishing to offer Mass must present a celebret from their diocese or order, and the information is to be recorded;
  • a privately-built church has already been closed and is not to be used;
  • unauthorized religious communities have no permission to set up residence;
  • and about regulating several other forms of promotion of the alleged phenomenon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Support a Catholic Speaker

Matt at Fallible Blogma (among other initiatives) has compiled the data from the Catholic Speaker 2009 poll. I finished in 40th place, which is not shabby at all when you consider the heavyweights in it.

Now Matt is rolling out Support a Catholic Speaker Month 2009. I like this initiative and hope it gains some traction. Check it out.
The goal is to create a rising Catholic tide on the internet that lifts all boats (websites, speakers, and all those who participate). This giant, sudden influx of catholic material and interlinking between Catholic websites should get some attention and raise awareness about all of these great Catholic speakers while also promoting the many wonderful Catholic blogs out there that perhaps you haven’t heard of yet either.

The primary goal of our Favorite Catholic Speakers Poll of 2009 was not to find out who is better than somebody else. It was to raise awareness about the many Catholic Speakers out there and to support them. They are all sharing the same, one Truth. And as talented and effective as the top favorites are at doing what they do, we need many more like them if we’re going to reach everyone.

That’s precisely the motivation for Support a Catholic Speaker Month. Read more or get involved.

National Catholic Register

St. Mary's Catholic Center gets a quick, but nice, mention in the National Catholic Register. Emphasis added.
Des Moines, Iowa, Bishop Robert Pates presented the landscape from which vocations are currently coming. Amid that landscape, he cited Catholic charismatic communities such as those in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Wichita, Kan., home-schooling families, lay associations such as Focolare, Communion and Liberation, and the Neocatechumenal Way, universities such as Texas A&M, Franciscan University of Steubenville and Benedictine College, ministries such as the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and National Evangelization Teams, and the influence of World Youth Day.

The Culture of Life - Put to Paper

Archbishop Burke has hit another home run. This time, he gives us wise words on the advancement on the culture of life (or lack of advancement) and what it all means.

I know most people don't spend time reading more than sound-bites on the internet, but do yourself a favor and digest this one.

Benedict and the Spider

If you watch the Vatican's version of the Pope addressing diplomatic leaders, you see nothing out of sorts. His focus is on Europe and the importance of the spiritual things.


But, if you watch this version of the speech, the focus is on an arachnid, not on the Pope, his message, or his audience. Pretty funny.
Tip o' the hat to Carl.

Aggie Catholic Theologian Has a New Book

Kelly Bowring, class of '92, has written a new book. Details from a press release sent to us:
Atlanta – September 27, 2009 – The highly acclaimed new Book on Marian prophecy, The Secrets, Chastisement, and Triumph of the Two Hearts, by theologian Dr. Kelly Bowring (Aggie Awakening #19, ATM Class of '92), has received Church-approval with the Imprimatur from Marian expert, Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. The granting of the imprimatur for this book on private revelation and heavenly prophecy is almost unprecedented.

This popular new book (having already sold 2700+ copies since its May 2009 release) chronologically discusses the major heavenly prophesies of our times using only reputable sources and what Heaven is calling us to do in these times.

See full-page color ads for this book in Inside the Vatican, Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, and Faith & Family Magazine. Check out details about this book that reviewers are calling “a real page-turner” and “the best book I have read in the last 5 years, possibly, in the last 10” at the book’s website

Contact Information:
Diana
PR Director
Two Hearts Press, LLC
twoheartspress@bellsouth.net

Or contact author at kbowring@twoheartspress.com
I ordered one today for St. Mary's library and will soon order one for myself. Sounds very interesting.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Liturgy Reflection for Sunday, Sept 27

The Church says "YES"

What a quote.
He once heard Benedict say, “The church is all about yes, yes, not no, no.” “And I thought, Bingo! You know, the church is the one who dreams, the church is the one who constantly has the vision, the church is the one that’s constantly saying ‘Yes!’ to everything that life and love and sexuality and marriage and belief and freedom and human dignity—everything that that stands for, the church is giving one big resounding ‘Yes!’ The church founded the universities, the church was the patron of the arts, the scientists were all committed Catholics. And that’s what we have to recapture: the kind of exhilarating, freeing aspect. I mean, it wasn’t Ronald Reagan who brought down the Berlin Wall. It was Karol Wojtyła. I didn’t make that up: Mikhail Gorbachev said that.”
…“I guess one of the things that frustrates me pastorally,” he adds, “is that there’s this caricature of the church—of being this oppressive, patriarchal, medieval, out-of-touch naysayer—where the opposite is true.”

Religion as a Toy?

Fr. Barron has some great insights into our modern culture. Give it a listen.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Catholicism 101

We now have video and notes up for the first three Catholicism 101 classes. Check it out here.

Catholicism 101 is a 12 week (1 1/2 hours for each class) program that introduces college students to the foundational theological teachings of the Catholic Church. The goal is conversion through an encounter with the truths about Christ and His Church, so every class has an evangelical dimension to it.


This class currently has about 130 students in the class. The first group to start the program last year is now in the third semester. There are about 40 in that class. We expect the program to continue to grow each year. Our hope is to be able to give Catholic students, studying at a secular university, the chance to learn their faith at an undergraduate level of theology, faithful to the Magisterium, all while seeking the conversion of the students attending the classes.

I am including the first class video below, but recommend you go to the class page on our website in order to get the notes, if you plan on watching.

NOTE: My teaching style is not very "professor-ish". My students get enough of standard dry professor style. So, I try to spice it up with personal stories and sometimes a random tangent. But, I am rarely boring, even if my style isn't to everyone's liking.

Oompa Loompas

Cultural references can be completely lost on some, as our staff was reminded today when the Italian sisters didn't understand our laughter at Adam playing an Oompa Loompa in a play as a child. So, this is for our beloved sisters.

The Thirst For God

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dear Hollywood

I like this. Any of our students wanting to take up the challenge and add to it?




Tip O' the hat to Mark.

"Mercy Killings"

Shooting your wife in the head is never a "mercy killing", but it is murder. If someone is suffering so much that you want to kill them, it doesn't mean you should. They probably need better medical care and maybe some counseling. Whatever the case, you can't murder them.

Also, as Mark Shea points out, the article is just a disguise for a pro-euthanasia editorial.

Padre Pio

Today is the feast of Padre Pio, please ask for his intercession on this day.
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer." - St. Pio

40 Days For Life Started Today

It isn't too late to participate in the largest pro-life movement in the country - 40 Days for Life.
"There will be campaigns in at least 212 communites," said David Bereit, 40 Days for Life's national director. "Last fall's campaign was conducted in 177 cities. This shows that support for the pro-life message is spreading — and that 40 Days for Life continues to have a positive international impact."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Matt Maher

I already said I love his new album and here is a sample.

Save the Dates

Oct 23
Christopher West - Author and Speaker on the Theology of the Body - with Mike Mangione and band.
Rudder Auditorium (Texas A&M) - 7PM

Nov 18
John Martignoni - from the Bible Christian Society and EWTN radio.
St. Mary's Catholic Center - details TBD.

Apr 23
Fr. Mitch Pacwa - Author, Speaker, and host of EWTN shows.
St. Mary's Catholic Center - details TBD.

Open Letter to Fr. Jenkins

The open letter from Charles Rice, Professor Emeritus of Notre Dame Law School, to Fr. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame:
Open Letter to Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame

September 21, 2009


Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

Dear Father Jenkins:

Professor Fred Freddoso has shared with me the response on Sept. 17th by Dr. Frances L. Shavers, Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President, to Fred’s email of that date to you asking that Notre Dame request dismissal of the charges against the persons arrested for trespass on the campus in relation to the honoring of President Obama at Commencement. Dr. Shavers responded on your behalf to Fred’s email because, as she said, “the next few days are rather hectic for [Fr. Jenkins].” I don’t want to add to the hectic burden of your schedule by sending you a personal message that could impose on an assistant the task of responding. I therefore take the liberty of addressing to you several concerns in the form of this open letter to which a response is neither required nor expected.

First, permit me to express my appreciation for the expressions of support for the pro-life cause in your September 16th “Letter concerning post-commencement initiatives.” I know, however, that in a matter as significant as this, you will appreciate and welcome a respectful but very candid expression of views. In my opinion, the positions you have taken are deficient in some respects.

In your Letter of Sept. 16th, you rightly praise the work of the Women’s Care Center (WCC) and of its superb leader, Ann Murphy Manion. I commend you on your statement that the WCC “and similar centers in other cities deserve the support of Notre Dame clubs and individuals.” Your praise of the WCC and similar efforts, however, overlooks a practical step that Notre Dame, as an institution, ought to take. That would be for you, on behalf of Notre Dame, to issue a standing invitation to the WCC to establish an office on the Notre Dame campus to serve students, faculty and staff if, in the judgment of the WCC, that would be desirable and effective. Such would give practical effect, right here at Notre Dame, to your words in support of the WCC and similar efforts.

Your Letter announced your formation of the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life. Rather than offer a detailed evaluation of my own, I note my agreement with the personal analysis of William Dempsey, ND ’52, President of the Sycamore Trust, calling attention to “the obviously deliberate exclusion from Task Force membership of anyone associated with the ND organizations that have been unashamedly and actively pro-life: the Center for Ethics & Culture and the ND Fund for the Protection of Human Life. Nor was the student representative chosen from the leadership of the student RTL organization or from anyone active in last year’s student alliance protesting the honoring of the President, ND Response. It is hard to resist the inference that this is as a move toward marginalizing the Center and the Fund, neither of which receives any University support the way it is…. Finally, it is unsettling but instructive that this announcement comes a day after Fr. Jenkins’ annual address to the faculty in which he described his goals for the year, which included increasing female and minority faculty representation but not a word about the most crucial problem facing the university, the loss of Catholic identity through the failure to hire enough Catholics to restore the predominance required by the Mission Statement. This is a striking falling away from [Fr. Jenkins’] wonderful inaugural address. The fact that ND did nothing to serve the pro-life cause until forced by the reaction to the Obama incident testifies to the fact that, without a predominance of committed Catholics on the faculty, any pro-life efforts launched under pressure will in time fade away. The risk, and surely it is real, is that this initiative and the publicity ND is generating about it will deflect attention from the fundamental problem besetting Notre Dame….But I return to where I began: A project that deliberately excludes from participation those who have courageously manned organizations standing against the faculty attitude toward the pro-life cause ought to be regarded with suspicion.”

My main concern in this letter arises from your statement in your Letter that “Each year on January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life is held in Washington D.C. to call on the nation to defend the right to life. I plan to participate in that march. I invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me and I hope we can gather for a Mass for Life at that event.” I understand that Notre Dame students have invited you to participate with them in the March. The problem arises from an aftermath of Commencement. On this I refer back to Chief of Staff Shavers’ response to Professor Freddoso’s request that Notre Dame ask dismissal of the charges against those arrested. Dr. Shavers states that “these protesters were arrested for trespassing and not for expressing their pro-life position.” That is misleading. This is not an ordinary case of trespass to land such as would occur if a commuter walks across your lawn and flower bed as a short-cut to the train station. Notre Dame is ordinarily an open campus. Those 88 persons, 82 of whom are represented by Tom Dixon, ND ’84, ND Law School ’93, were arrested not because they were there, but because of who they were, why they were there and what they were saying. Other persons with pro-Obama signs were there but were not arrested and not disturbed. Serious legal and constitutional questions are involved, arising especially from the symbiotic relationship between the Notre Dame Security Police, who made the arrests, and the County Police. This letter is not a legal brief. Rather I merely note that it is disingenuous for Notre Dame to pretend that this is merely a routine trespass case.

The confusion is compounded by Dr. Shavers’ statement that “Under Indiana law, however, Notre Dame is not the complainant in these matters and so is not in any position to drop or dismiss the charges.” That sentence is half-true and half-false. Notre Dame is the complaining victim of the alleged trespass. Whether to dismiss the charges, of course, is for the prosecutor to decide.

Dr. Shavers states that “Notre Dame officials have been in regular contact with the prosecutor’s office on these matters, and, in consultation with the University, the prosecutor has offered Pre-Trial Diversion to those for whom the May incident was a first-time offense. As described by the prosecutor, this program does not require the individual to plead guilty or go through a trial; rather, the charges are dropped after one year so long as the individual does not commit another criminal offense. We understand that most of those arrested have chosen not to take advantage of this offer and obviously we cannot force them to do so. In essence, the choice of whether or not to go to trial belongs to the defendants.”

Pre-trial diversion could change their status as convicted criminals. But it is only because of the actions of Notre Dame that they are treated by the law as criminals in the first place. Notre Dame continues to subject those defendants to the criminal process. If they entered pretrial diversion they would each have to pay hundreds of dollars in costs, which would amount in effect to a fine imposed on them, with the concurrence of Notre Dame, for praying. Most of the 88 are in straitened financial circumstances. The imposition on them of such a fine would be a serious hardship. Instead, Notre Dame ought to state publicly that it has no interest in seeing those prosecutions proceed in any form and that it requests the prosecutor to exercise his discretion to dismiss all those charges unconditionally. Given the prospect of 88 or so separate jury trials, probably not consolidated, in cases involving potentially serious legal and constitutional issues, such a request by Notre Dame would surely be appreciated by the taxpayers of St. Joseph County.

Those 88 defendants were on the other side of the campus, far removed from the site of the Commencement. They are subjected by Notre Dame to the criminal process because they came, as individuals, to Notre Dame to pray, peacefully and non-obstructively, on this ordinarily open campus, in petition and reparation, as a response to what they rightly saw as a facilitation by Notre Dame of various objectively evil policies and programs of Notre Dame’s honoree, President Obama. Those persons, whom Notre Dame has subjected to legal process as criminals, are neither statistics nor abstractions. Let me tell you about a few of them.

Fr. Norman Weslin, O.S., 79 years old and in very poor health, was handcuffed by Notre Dame Security Police as he sang “Immaculate Mary” on the campus sidewalk near the entrance. He asked them, “Why would you arrest a Catholic priest for trying to stop the killing of a baby?” The NSDP officers put him on a pallet and dragged him away to jail. St. Joseph County Police were also there. I urge you to watch the readily available videos of Fr. Weslin’s arrest. If you do, I will be surprised and disappointed if you are not personally and deeply ashamed.

Such treatment of such a priest may be the lowest point in the entire history of Notre Dame. You would profit from knowing Fr. Weslin. Notre Dame should give Fr. Weslin the Laetare Medal rather than throw him in jail. Norman Weslin, born to poor Finnish immigrants in upper Michigan, finished high school at age 17 and joined the Army. He converted from the Lutheran to the Catholic faith and married shortly after earning his commission. He became a paratrooper and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 82nd Airborne Division, obtaining his college degree enroute. After a distinguished career, he retired in 1968. As the legalization of abortion intensified, he and his wife, Mary Lou, became active pro-lifers in Colorado. In 1980, Mary Lou was killed by a drunk driver. Norman personally forgave the young driver. Norman Weslin was later ordained as a Catholic priest, worked with Mother Teresa in New York and devoted himself to the rescue of unborn children through nonviolent, prayerful direct action at abortuaries. In 1990 at Christmastime, I was privileged to defend Fr. Weslin and his Lambs of Christ when they were arrested at the abortuary in South Bend. One does not have to agree with the tactic of direct, non-violent action at abortuaries to have the utmost admiration, as I have, for Fr. Weslin and his associates. At Notre Dame, Fr. Weslin engaged in no obstruction or disruption. He merely sought to pray for the unborn on the ordinarily open campus of a professedly Catholic university. The theme of Notre Dame’s honoring of Obama was “dialogue.” It would have been better for you and the complicit Fellows and Trustees to dialogue with Fr. Weslin rather than lock him up as a criminal. You all could have learned something from him. His actions in defense of innocent life and the Faith have been and are heroic. Notre Dame’s treatment of Fr. Weslin is a despicable disgrace, the responsibility for which falls directly and personally upon yourself as the President of Notre Dame.

The other “criminals” stigmatized by Notre Dame include many whom this university should honor rather than oppress. One is Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, who has become pro-life and a Catholic actively trying to spread the word about abortion. Those “criminals” include retired professors, retired military officers, mothers of many children, a Catholic nun in full habit, Christian pastors, several Ph.Ds, and Notre Dame grads. They are, in summary, “the salt of the earth.” They came, on their own, at their own expense, and not as part of any “conspiracy,” from 18 states. They came because they love what Notre Dame claims to represent. They themselves do represent it. But one has to doubt whether Notre Dame does so anymore.

Clearly, Notre Dame should do all it can to obtain the dismissal of those criminal charges. This has nothing to do with one’s opinion of the tactics of rescue at abortuaries. It is simply a matter of you, as President, doing the manifestly right thing.

Please permit me to speak bluntly about your announced purpose to participate in the March for Life and to “invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me.” Notre Dame should have had an official presence at every March for Life since 1973. But until now it never has. Notre Dame students, with the encouragement of Campus Ministry, participate in the March but the University, as such, has not done so. To put it candidly, it would be a mockery for you to present yourself now at the March, even at the invitation of Notre Dame students, as a pro-life advocate while, in practical effect, you continue to be the jailer, as common criminals, of those persons who were authentic pro-life witnesses at Notre Dame. When the pictures of Fr. Weslin’s humiliation and arrest by your campus police was flashed around the world it did an incalculable damage to Notre Dame that can be partially undone only by your public and insistent request, as President of Notre Dame, that the charges be dropped. In my opinion your attachment to the March for Life, including your offering of a Mass for Life, could give scandal in the absence, at least, of such an insistent request to dismiss those charges. Your decision to present an official Notre Dame presence at the March could be beneficial, but not in the context of an unrelenting criminalization by Notre Dame of sincere and peaceful friends of Notre Dame whose offense was their desire to pray, on the campus, for the University and all concerned including yourself. If you appear at the March as the continuing criminalizer of those pro-life witnesses, you predictably will earn not approbation but scorn—a scorn which will surely be directed toward Notre Dame as well. As long as you pursue the criminalization of those pro-life witnesses, your newest pro-life statements will be regarded reasonably as a cosmetic covering of the institutional anatomy in the wake of the continuing backlash arising from your conferral of Notre Dame’s highest honor on the most relentlessly pro-abortion public official in the world.

In conclusion, this letter is not written in a spirit of contention. It is written rather in the mutual concern we share for Notre Dame—and for her university. I hope you will reconsider your positions on these matters. Our family prays for you by name every night. And we wish you success in the performance of your obligations to the University and all concerned.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Rice
Professor Emeritus
Notre Dame Law School

New TX Monastery - With Vietnamese Roots

The Catholic Church in Texas continues to grow - in many different ways. From the Dallas Morning News:
KERENS, Texas – Here in cow country about 70 miles southeast of Dallas, amid scattered pecan trees and sloping fields of milkweed, six monks have come to live and pray.

They came from a monastery in New Mexico and, before that, from Vietnam.

"It's Buddhist, isn't it?" said 65-year-old Charlie Jock, who lives several miles away, making him one of the new monastery's closest neighbors. He'd heard of it, but hadn't gone by to check it out.

"I didn't figure it was gonna be any of my business to be nosy, so I just steered clear," he said.

Actually, these are Benedictine monks – that is, Catholic, not Buddhist. During their opening ceremony Saturday morning, they even received a goodwill letter from officials in Rome.

"On the happy inaugural occasion of the new monastic presence ... in the noble land of Texas," the letter began.

The monks will live a life inspired by the rule of St. Benedict, a sixth-century text that provides directives for daily living, such as communal prayer, meditative reading and manual labor. They'll wake before sunrise each morning for the first of six or seven prayer sessions each day, totaling four hours.

"Some may ask, 'What's the spirituality of the sixth century got to do with today's modern world?' " said Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas, speaking to several hundred Catholics gathered under a big white tent – most of them Vietnamese-Americans from the Dallas area.

He told them the monks' long days of praying and honoring God help those who do not have as much time. And the monks, with their sparing lifestyle, can serve as role models, he said.

"The rule of St. Benedict is also often spoken of as the virtue of moderation in our world, a world that enjoys excesses in every shape and form," the bishop said. Read more.
Tip O' the hat to Deacon Greg.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A&M vs. Arkansas Tickets

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas Ticket Auctions - to benefit St. Mary's!

To bid on Package 1 – Click here
Go to the Game with Fr. David!
8 Tickets – 1 for Fr. David, 7 for the winner & family & friends.

To bid on Package 2 – Click here
Coach Sherman Package
2 of Coach Sherman’s Tickets, a stay Friday night at the team hotel, & (if the winner is an Aggie) 2 passes to the Aggies’ practice on Friday afternoon at Cowboys’ Stadium.

All tickets will be in section 109 or 110, row & seat number hasn’t been assigned, but they will be great seats!

All proceeds will go to benefit the Catholic Campus Ministry at St. Mary’s. Game is October 3rd in Arlington, TX.

40 Days For Life

40 Days for Life is starting the fall campaign Sept 23. Join if you can. It started here in Aggieland with Aggie Catholics and has spread to 212 different cities! We need to continue to support it. Here is the local info:
WHAT: 40 Days for Life Kick-Off Event
WHEN: Tuesday, September 22 from 7:00PM - 7:30PM
WHERE: Public right-of-way in front of Planned Parenthood
(Parking available on Sandia St. next to Suddenlink)

To sign up and have ANY part of the 24-hour, 40 day vigil
email standandpray@coalitionforlife.com
For more info on the national campaign, check out the 40 Days for Life website.
For more info on the campaign in Bryan / College Station, check out the Coalition for Life website.

Freedom

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
-G.K. Chesterton

"Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."
-John Paul II

"If there is no hell, we have no true freedom."
-Me
(no, I do not think I am as quotable as the other two)

Do You Appreciate Your Priests?

Take this test to find out.

You Should Read This


Not because it is a great news item. Not because I said so.
You should read this, because it might just change you or reflect your life.
Tonight I was thinking about gifts we are given. Gifts we don't deserve. Gifts we didn't ask for. And gifts we don't even realize what they are until much later.

I was driving a girl I knew back to college about twenty years ago. That much I remember. I don't even remember what car I was driving but I remember my finger dangling lazily on the steering wheel keeping time with the bumps in the New York State Thruway. I remember driving with my left foot up against the dashboard and my knee against the window which was open a crack because she smoked.

I remember her telling me that I should go to college like her. I told her I didn't need to. After high school I worked and drank. Sometimes at the same time. At that point I had no intention of ever going to college. I thought I had everything figured out.

I remember the wind rattling the plastic bags in the back seat which she packed her clothes in. I remember we had to yell to each other to be heard over the wind hitting the plastic bags. But she was always quick to yell. She considered herself brilliant and misunderstood. In retrospect I think she wanted to be brilliant and didn't want to be understood. But those are thoughts that came later.

To be honest at that moment, both of us were just mesmerized by our own ideas. We didn't talk to each other as much as we waited until the other's mouth stopped moving so we could start talking. But we shared a basic ideology. She'd introduced me to Ayn Rand. We were both sure that the world was an empty vast meaningless coffin but we were excited about philosophy. We'd talked about Nietzsche and finding purpose in a meaningless world. I remember that we idiotically agreed that if Dostoevsky were born later he likely wouldn't have been so tied down by Christianity. We talked political philosophy and it was all so exciting in the manner of overcaffeinated youth.

Driving the car that night, it just seemed like one of those magic nights. You know the kind when you're young and everything in life seems easy and there's no reason to suspect it's going to get harder any time soon. And every goal was just one decision away. Continue...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians

Fr. Landry, of the Fall River Diocese, has a very insightful editorial (sept 11) which looks critically at the Bishops' policy of the US Bishops in dealing with pro-abortion Catholics. Here is a snip.
When we examine the education-alone approach of pastors with respect to pro-choice politicians, we see that it has basically become a personally opposed, publicly pro-choice position with regard to them. There’s obviously a clear personal repugnance on the part of pastors to the prochoice Catholic politicians’ separation between faith and moral action, schizophrenia between private and public personality, and lip service to the Church’s teachings. Many pastors have sought to exercise their teaching office, stating forthrightly what abortion is and what the responsibilities of all legislators are with respect to it. All of their teaching, however, has been trumped by the weightier educational value of the de facto “law” that has left everything to the conscience, however ill-informed, of the pro-choice Catholic politicians. These men and women have learned over time that, regardless of what canon law says, they are at liberty to ignore the Church’s teachings on life.

Love Your Neighbor & Prove You Know God

Friday, September 18, 2009

Crazy

Craziness. It is now considered controversial (and bad) for professors at Boston College to defend the idea of traditional marriage. The scandal is upside-down and inside-out. This is the video that caused the problem. More below.



As I think any of our faculty might have done, he stated his views without prior notice to or clearance from the Law School. Please know that I recognize that this is an emotional and sensitive subject for many people. Several of you have contacted my office to express your anger at Scott’s actions, and it is hard for me to see any of our students, faculty, or staff offended or hurt by the words of others. We work hard to create a welcoming environment for everyone at Boston College, and we do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation . . .

As dean of the Law School and a lawyer, I also believe that one of the most important aspects of an education at a school like ours is the principle of academic freedom. We must be able to listen to others’ viewpoints, whether we agree or find them offensive, and engage in debate around issues as important as this one . . .

Professor Fitzgibbon, as a member of our faculty, is free to express his views.
Tip O' the hat to Mark.

More Fun

Okay - imagine hitting a $1 million golf shot...

Friday Fun

Two things for Friday Fun:


2 - From Fail Blog:
epic fail pictures

The Legion

The Legionaries of Christ are about to go through some major changes, according to some. This could mean the dissolution or re-founding of the order. I don't expect things to stay the same.

Pray for the members of this order.

Christopher West Receives Support from Bishops

Christopher West has been quite the lightning rod lately. I don't think the discussion was handled in the proper way (i.e., in the public sphere), so I am happy to post this letter of support from Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Rhoades. Here is a snip.
In light of recent discussions, we are happy to state our full confidence in Christopher, who continues to show great responsibility and openness in listening carefully to various observations and reflections on his work and in taking them into account. He and the Theology of the Body Institute are in communication with us, their local ordinaries. They work with our episcopal blessing. In our view their programs, courses, and materials reflect strong fidelity to the teaching of the Church and to the thought of Pope John Paul II. As such, we consider them of superb value for promoting the New Evangelization.

Liturgy Reflection - for Sunday, 9/20

Sunday, September 20, 2009: Liturgy Reflection from JP Catholic University on Vimeo.

Matt Maher's New CD

Matt Maher is my favorite contemporary Catholic musical artist. His stuff has been consistently great throughout the years. But, his new album raises the bar. He is showing a maturation in his music and a depth that is much better than most contemporary musicians.
His music moves me.

I have been listening to a free stream of his new album here. You have to register, but then you can listen until the album is released. I have also pre-ordered it. You should give it a try.

I particularly like these tracks:
4 - Hold us Together
9 - Letting Go

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don't Miss It!

Moving on Up

If you want to do me a favor, then vote for me in this poll - "Who is the Best Catholic Speaker of 2009". I am currently in 15th place.

Thanks to everyone who has already voted.

Bedtime Prayers

Tim Hawkins is amazing. This cracked me up.

Vocation Boom

This is a great new initiative to promote vocations from Jerry Usher, the former host of Catholic Answers radio program. Check it out.
Founded by Jerry Usher, Vocation Boom is a team of passionate advocates dedicated to supporting the priesthood as a life’s vocation and mission. We seek to develop a global support community where youth and young men interested in the priesthood can find comprehensive resources, encouragement, mentors and friends to aid in the discernment process.

Buzzwords

I, like most people, do not like buzzwords. If you work in the corporate world, you know all about them, as exhibited in this column about the most annoying buzzwords in business:
In research conducted by finance staffing firm Accountemps, 150 senior executives from the nation's largest companies cited these 10 problem words and phrases (in no particular order):

Leverage: "We should leverage our investment in IT infrastructure across multiple business units to drive profits."
Reach out: "Jim decided to reach out to this underutilized demographic."
It is what it is: "The server is down, and clients are irate. It is what it is."
Viral: "Our training video has gone viral."
Game changer: "The switch from LAN to WiFi was a game changer for our productivity."
Disconnect: "There is a disconnect between our customers' wants and their page views."
Value-add: "Where's the value-add in this increase in spending?"
Circle back: "I have to go, but I will circle back with the client later."
Interface: "My job requires me to interface with all levels of the firm."
Cutting edge: "Our cutting-edge technology gives us a competitive advantage."
But, the business world is not alone when it comes to annoying buzzwords and phrases, the Church has them as well. There are both Catholic and Evangelical ones - some bother me and some don't. Here are a few to chew on:

CATHOLIC BUZZWORDS:
-Living Stewardship
-Celebrating Eucharist
-The New Evangelization (misused all the time)
-Liberal or Conservative Catholic
-Seamless Garment
-Catholic Identity
-Values-oriented
-orthodox
-Intrinsically disordered
-Anti-Catholic
-Culture of death
-Spousal / Marital
-Millenial
-Evangelization
-Ecumenical or Ecumenism
-Holistic
-Paradigm Shift
-Collaboration

Evangelical:
-Purpose Driven
-Revival
-Standing in the gap
-Postmodern
-Unchurched
-Evangelism
-Born again
-Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior
-Emergent church
-Resonate
-Disintegrative
-Seeker and Seeker Sensitive

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Millenial Generation

Intentional Disciples, a great blog for those interested in evangelization, asks if the millenial generation is "premoral". I will have to think about this for a while, because it is a very compelling question. Here is a snip:
But the overall description of twenty something emerging adults (including the 80% of I-Gen Catholics who seldom or never darken the door and the 75% of Americans who are non-Catholic) is just plain jaw-dropping.

"One of the most insightful elements of Mann's book is whether iGens feel guilt. For a person to feel guilty, that person must have a sense of morality. But morality requires a potent sense of what is right and wrong, and it needs a powerful sense of what is true and false. Contemporary culture does not provide the average iGen with a profound grasp of what is right and wrong apart from the conviction that assaulting the self is clearly wrong.

Yet deciding to stake one's life on Jesus and the cross requires a sense that we are wrong, that we need Jesus, and that his saving death and resurrection can become effective. Mann claims that iGens are neither moral nor amoral. Instead, because of trends like the self-esteem movement and the impact of relativism, he concludes that iGens are pre-moral. Mann suggests that they do not feel guilt as much as they feel shame for not achieving what they are designed to accomplish.


UPDATE: I read the article referred to above, which I recommend for context. They say that Evangelical Protestant evangelism doesn't work as well with this generation because they do not respond to the fact that we are all sinners and in need of healing. My first thought was that the Catholic Church is in a perfect place to evangelize with Good News that will meet this generation where they are at - with JPII's Theology of the Body. It does not dwell on the negative aspects of human nature, but the positives.

Just a thought.

Arguments Against Religion

There are some atheists who have taken to the offensive in trying to disprove God or rationalize their lack of belief in God. I think all their arguments have holes - hence, I am a theist. But, there is a place in talking to some atheists with frustration, because they seem to throw out arguments for the sake or arguing, not to actually seek truth. It seems one Christian got a bit frustrated with this and decided to sarcastically answer some of the arguments and he does so with wit and a bit of spice. You can find his post here. Thanks to the Ironic Catholic for the link.

Prayers For Unity

Unity is a non-negotiable goal for Christians. While we cannot ignore the things that divide us, we also must search for true union in Christ. With that in mind, the Vatican will be discussing doctrinal issues with the SSPX Society soon. Rorate Caeli reports:
"The first meeting, which will mark the beginning of the dialogue with the Lefebvrists, will take place in the second half of October," Father Federico Lombardi, spokesman of Pope Benedict XVI, said [today].
Please keep them all in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today is the feast of our Lady of Sorrows. For a history on the feast, go here.
On this day we have an optional sequence, which we sang here at St. Mary's. It is beautiful. Here is Pergolesi's version of Stabat Mater Dolorósa.

Beautiful

A true master.



The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good - An article about a faithful Catholic, Eduardo Verastegui, which is well done. A snip:
They call him the Mexican Brad Pitt. But unlike his American counterpart, who famously rejected a Southern Baptist upbringing, Eduardo Verastegui chose to sacrifice a glittering film career after rediscovering his Catholic faith.

Once a Calvin Klein model who smouldered bare-chested opposite J-Lo in a music video, and starred in Hollywood movies, Verastegui's brooding looks and aquamarine eyes attracted thousands of (invariably screaming) female fans.

Today, the 35-year-old actor is a daily Mass-goer, committed to abstaining from sex before marriage, who flies to Darfur to help the starving, provides financial help for women considering abortions and organises house-building missions in Mexico.

“I wasn’t born to be famous, or to be a movie star, but to love and serve Jesus Christ,” the former model and singer once listed as among the top 50 “hottest” Hispanics by People magazine will tell a gathering of young Catholics on his first visit to England this weekend. Read the rest.
We need more Catholics in the public eye like this.

The Bad - Harrison Ford is considering a 5th Indiana Jones movie. Not a good idea. As much as I like the first movie, the series has gotten progressively worse over time.

The Ugly - A website that is designed to facilitate married people having affairs is airing ads in prime time. Disgusting.

Chesterton Interviews Dan Brown

Carl Olson knocks it out of the park with this post. Here is a snip:
G.K. Chesterton, the famed British journalist, author, apologist, and wit recently sat down (in the form of his books, as he was not physically available) with Ignatius Insight editor Carl E. Olson and discussed the best-selling novelist Dan Brown—whose new novel, The Lost Symbol, is released September 15—and the importance and place of good and bad fiction.

Ignatius Insight: I was somewhat surprised to learn that you haven't been entirely negative about Dan Brown's novels, including The Da Vinci Code.

Chesterton: My taste is for the sensational novel, the detective story, the story about death, robbery and secret societies; a taste which I share in common with the bulk at least of the male population of this world. There was a time in my own melodramatic boyhood when I became quite fastidious in this respect. I would look at the first chapter of any new novel as a final test of its merits. If there was a murdered man under the sofa in the first chapter, I read the story. If there was no murdered man under the sofa in the first chapter, I dismissed the story as tea-table twaddle, which it often really was. But on the whole I think that a tale about one man killing another man is more likely to have something in it than a tale in which, all the characters are talking trivialities without any of that instant and silent presence of death which is one of the strong spiritual bonds of all mankind. I still prefer the novel in which one person does another person to death to the novel in which all the persons are feebly (and vainly) trying to get the others to come to life. [1]

Ignatius Insight: Are you saying, then, that you believe something good can be found in Brown's novels?

Chesterton: Every now and then, after wading through a hubbub of hundreds of words, we find a word that seems to have gone right by accident. We must not complain; nothing in this mortal life is perfect; not even bad poetry. [2]

In one sense, at any rate, it is more valuable to read bad literature than good literature. Good literature may tell us the mind of one man; but bad literature may tell us the mind of many men. A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

Serve God With a Pure Heart

Prayer Request

My sister, Simone, is suffering terribly from cancer and the cancer treatments. Unfortunately, the prognosis is not good. I ask you to pray for her, her son (she adopted a young boy with some special needs), and my mother who is caring for them along with my dad who is recovering from knee replacement surgery.

Our religious sisters at St. Mary's, The Apostles of the Interior Life, are praying a novena to St. Padre Pio for my sister. I ask you to please pray it along with us. If you start today, the novena will end on the Feast day of St. Padre Pio - Sept 23.
Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)
Say once a day for nine days

Dear God, Thou hast generously blessed Thy servant, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, with the gifts of the Spirit. Thou hast marked his body with the five wounds of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness to the saving Passion and Death of Thy Son. Endowed with the gift of discernment, St. Pio labored endlessly in the confessional for the salvation of souls. With reverence and intense devotion in the celebration of Mass, he invited countless men and women to a greater union with Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, I confidently beseech Thee to grant me the grace of (mention your intentions here). Amen.

Recite three Glorias.

If you can't pray the novena, please offer prayers for my sister.

Monday, September 14, 2009

100 Catholic Speakers

Fallible Blogma has a poll for "Who is the Best Catholic Speaker of 2009". Yours truly made the list and is humbled and thankful for the nomination.

If you want to vote, click the link above.
You can select up to 10 of your favorite speakers.
You ought to see the way God paints the skies.
Then God said: "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth." And so it happened - Gen 1: 14-15
Tip O' the Hat to Mark.

Study Hard

If you cheat, read this.

If you want to succeed in college, read this.

Hmmm.

This might be a good movie. Keep an eye out for it.

Liturgy Reflection

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Priest Beats Bobby Flay

The "Grace Before Meals" priest, Fr. Leo Patalinghug, beat Bobby Flay in a cooking competition. The National Catholic Register has details:
“My fusion fajitas are smokin.’ I guarantee this will make you say, ‘Thank you, God.’”
You can read more at the Grace Before Meals blog.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Interesting

President Obama is coming to our neck of the woods in October. Interesting. Regardless of how you might feel about his policies (he is far from the Church's teaching in many areas), he deserves our prayers.

Wash Your Hands

From the Diocese of Austin:
During the fall months when flu is easily spread, it is good to remember some rules of charity:

• Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using hand sanitizer diminishes the chance to catch or spread the flu virus.
• If you are sick, stay home. It is never a sin to miss Mass due to illness.
• If your children are sick keep them home from Mass and Religious Education.
• Teach your children to cover their coughs and sneezes appropriately.
• When receiving the Eucharist, we receive the fullness of the Body and Blood of Christ under the species of bread alone or wine alone. Receiving Communion under both species is a fuller sign, but Christ is fully present in each of the species so receiving both is not required. (See Catechism 1390.)

At this time the diocese is asking parishes to continue their present practices of having ministers sanitize their hands before the distribution of the Eucharist. The diocese is NOT asking parishes to suspend the Sign of Peace or to cease to distribute communion from the cup.

9/11

I don't have a lot of original thoughts about this anniversary of 9/11. So, I will compile some posts for you to read, if you are so inclined.


I warn you not to watch this video unless you are prepared to re-live that day.

50 Most Extraordinary Churches in the World

This is a good way to spend some of your day today. Peruse the list of churches.

Knights of Columbus and the NFL

Last night the Steelers beat the Titans (Insert Fr. Chris Downey cheers here) during the opener for the NFL season. During the game, the Knights of Columbus ran an ad about 9/11 and "the best of humanity". It is a nice spot and at the end points viewers to a new website - servicetogether.org - which is where you can see the ad as well. This is a good campaign for the KCs.

Did I mention that the Aggie Knights have been college council of the year for two years running?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Belloc

"When friendship disappears then there is a space left open to that awful loneliness of the outside world which is like the cold space between the planets. It is an air in which men perish utterly."
-Hilaire Belloc

Vatican on Education

The Congregation for Catholic Education issued a circular letter entitled "TO THE PRESIDENTS OF BISHOPS' CONFERENCES ON RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS"

I recommend a reading. But if you won't do that, here are some highlights.
FYI - nothing new in this, but good reminders for us all. I added emphasis.
- Education today is a complex, vast, and urgent task. This complexity today risks making us lose what is essential, that is, the formation of the human person in its totality, particularly as regards the religious and spiritual dimension.

- Although the work of educating is accomplished by different agents, it is parents who are primarily responsible for education.

- This responsibility is exercised also in the right to choose the school that guarantees an education in accordance with one’s own religious and moral principles.

- The Catholic school is truly an ecclesial subject because of its teaching activity, in which faith, culture, and life unite in harmony.

- It is open to all who want to share its educational goal inspired by Christian principles.

- The Catholic school is an expression of the ecclesial community, and its Catholicity is guaranteed by the competent authorities (Ordinary of the place).

- It ensures Catholic parents’ freedom of choice and it is an expression of school pluralism.

- The principle of subsidiarity regulates collaboration between the family and the various institutions deputised to educate.

- Religious nature is the foundation and guarantee of the presence of religious education in the scholastic public sphere.

- Its cultural condition is a vision of the human person being open to the transcendent.

- Religious education in Catholic schools is an inalienable characteristic of their educational goal.

- Religious education is different from, and complementary to, catechesis, as it is school education that does not require the assent of faith, but conveys knowledge on the identity of Christianity and Christian life. Moreover, it enriches the Church and humanity with areas for growth, of both culture and humanity.

To All Students - From St. Josemaria

"Student" explicitly means 'one in school', implicitly 'all'.
"If you are to serve God with your mind, to study is a grave obligation for you."
- St. Josemaria Excriva

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Culture of Death - 2 Examples

John Paul II coined the phrase "culture of death" in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae. It refers primarily to abortion and euthanasia, but also to the wider acceptance of the practices (among others) in our modern culture. It certainly has only gotten worse since John Paul II first used it. Unfortunately, the examples are legion, and here are two more:

1 - In Great Britain a premature baby was born at 21 weeks, a few days before the national guidelines tell doctors they must give medical treatment to a child. Therefore, the doctors did not treat the baby and allowed him to die. I think I have heard it all and then...

2 - If you are a radical environmentalist and believe that humans are the worst thing to ever happen to planet earth and that the solution to all of the earth's ecological problems would be solved by getting rid of the biggest problem, then you are naturally a proponent of limiting births.
UN data suggests that meeting unmet need for family planning would reduce unintended births by 72 per cent, reducing projected world population in 2050 by half a billion to 8.64 [b]illion
So, the solution is to contracept our way into reducing "unintended pregnancies" and ultimately the number of people. The irony in this kind of thinking from the culture of death, is that there would be no "unintended pregnancies" if there was no contraception.

Tips O' the hat to CMR and AmP for these stories.

Wed. News

**64% of American women who have had abortion felt pressured into having them.

**Pope Benedict asks for "greater composure during liturgy". Applause and acclimations are out of place. I agree. We are there to worship God.

**One of the most ignorant statements I have ever heard form a priest comes from Fr. McBrien - "Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward." Wow. Another reason to ignore Fr. McBrien's books.

**The Vatican has assigned those who will dialogue with SSPX leaders. Pray for this initiative of unity.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Evangelicals and Catholics in Dialogue

If you have never heard of Francis Beckwith, you should. He is a professor at Baylor, just over an hour north of us, and a Catholic turned Evangelical Protestant turned Catholic. Here is a great story from Christianity Today about a dialogue that took place recently between Beckwith and Timothy George, a prominent Evangelical leader and theologian.
Former Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) president Francis Beckwith's reversion to Rome in 2007 reignited perennial questions of how evangelicals should relate to Catholics. Namely, can a Roman Catholic credibly claim the evangelical label? Beckwith thinks so, and he has an ally in Beeson Divinity School dean Timothy George. Nevertheless, during their charitable dialogue George and Beckwith reiterated key differences on authority and how Christians are counted righteous before God. The Penner Foundation and Center for Applied Christian Ethics hosted the discussion at Wheaton College on September 3.

Familiar with speaking before evangelical audiences, Beckwith testified to an upbringing in a Catholic parish where he did not learn much about who Jesus claimed to be or what he came to do. His desire to follow Jesus led him to a Protestant church. After years of nurture and study among evangelicals, the philosopher ascended to the ETS presidency in 2006. Even after returning to his Roman Catholic roots, Beckwith contends he could sign the ETS doctrinal basis, which reads: "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory." He noted that someone could maintain ETS membership in good standing while holding any number of heresies, such as denying original sin. But as he learned during the controversy surrounding his reversion, Catholics are excluded.
Read the entire story. But, what might even be better is to watch the dialogue.
Tip o' the hat to Carl.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Probably the most quotable American Catholic ever - Archbishop Fulton Sheen. A sample:

"The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host."

"Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left."

"Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius."

Evangelize Without Yielding to Secularization

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day News

I hope everyone has a good Labor Day. Some news for you.

**Swine Flu scare is already starting to change how the Catholics in the Northeast can receive Communion. This is only the start of the flu season, so expect these stories to spread across the country with the virus.

**The Catholic Bishops' concerns over health care reform are getting some nice press coverage now.

**Carl Olson has some a thought-provoking post about "the Senator, The Cardinal, and The Bishop".

**Papua New Guinea is the home to a number of new animal species discovered recently, including fanged frogs and giant rats. The picture gallery is worth viewing - but, I bet God knew about them before they were "discovered".

Don't Mess with Grandma

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Speaking of Cell Phones


Tip O' the hat to Deacon Greg.

Our High-Tech Parish

Today, Sunday, St. Mary's is rolling out an intiative which has never been tried at any other church - at least I have never heard of another church doing something even close.

But, before I tell you the very cool news, let me give you some background on the situation.

THE PROBLEM
As is the case with every church/parish, we all try to have those who attend church with us register as parishioners. Most parishes will put out cards and some even have on-line registration. Many people don't register, because they don't want to go through the trouble. This is especially true of college students who have never registered growing up, because their parents did it. Additionally, we have a problem that is much bigger than most parishes registration problems. We have hundereds of students coming and going throughout the year. So, keeping track of their data is very difficult, esp. when it changes. Our registration has never gone well. So, we decided to wipe the board clean and start over.

THE SOLUTION
We told everyone (last weekend) to bring their phones to mass this weekend, but we didn't tell them why. The intrigue is half the fun. After the homily, the priests have everyone pull out their phones and turn them on - the first time a priest has ever done this, to be sure. The priests then talk about how everyone at Mass is joined together in the Universal Chursh as well as in this parish, and we want to know who they are so that we can serve them better. Furthermore, everyone is invited to register with us by texting us their names, email, and phone #. We then download their information into a database. Later this week Fr. David will send them an email and ask them to go to our website to finish the registration process (check out our newly designed page). If they didn't have a cell phone we have them register the "old-fashioned" way with pen and paper.

We have partnered with a great new company called Flocknote.com. Flocknote is a free and easy way for parishes to communicate with their parishioners in whatever way they choose. So, anyone can sign up to receive updates from St. Mary's, via Flocknote, by email, texting, or even Facebook. Each individual chooses their way we communicate with them. They can also sign up for all of our parish organizations and receive information from them as well.

Finally, a few weeks after registration, we we will ask all students to fill out a survey that was developed in partnership with A&M to help us get more detailed info on our congregation, why they come to Mass, when they come, what they like, what they are involved in, why they aren't involved outside of Mass, etc.

St. Mary's is once again paving the way for others.
Please pray for success of our efforts.

Here is a 30 second intro to Flocknote:


Did I mention that the founders and owners of both Flocknote and eCatholicChurches (the company who hosts our website) are both Aggie Catholics?

Aggie Catholic in LA Times

Carson Weber is in the Sunday Edition of the LA Times, proudly displaying his Aggie Ring:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento is home to nearly 1 million Catholics. On a typical Sunday, less than 137,000 can be found in church.

Now, using a strategy straight from the secular playbook, its leaders hope to lure back those who have drifted.

The diocese and nearly a dozen others across the country are preparing to air several thousand prime-time TV commercials in English and Spanish, inviting inactive Catholics to return to their religious roots.

In addition to Sacramento, dioceses in Chicago, Omaha, Providence, R.I., and four other cities will launch the “Catholics Come Home” advertising blitz during Advent, the period before Christmas.

Four more dioceses will follow during Lent next spring. Los Angeles is not among the initial group but could be part of a nationwide campaign slated for December 2010.

"I'm hoping that a significant number of people will give us another look," Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto said of the campaign. "Many Catholics have a sense of believing but not always a sense of belonging."

The potential audience is huge.
Read the entire article.

Pray for the success of these evangelical efforts!

Bishops Preaching the Gospel

I love to hear dynamic and engaging preaching. I love to read it to. So, here are two samples of thought-provoking teachings from US Bishops.

1 - From Cardinal George. As usual, I recommend a full reading. But here are some snips:
Dear friends, like the voice of Christ himself, the message of the Church is always original. The risen Christ does not fit into any of our normal categories of understanding and, often, neither does the voice of his Church. It should not surprise Catholics anywhere in the world that the Church therefore never perfectly fits in any political or social or economic order. The Church is always more. As catholic, the Church speaks for the whole human race from within particular societies, cultures and countries that are always less than universal. Her moral and social teachings come from a source bigger than any financial or political or cultural order we can imagine. This is both disquieting and comforting, as is the Risen Lord himself.
I wish those who try to put the Catholic Church into a political box would frequently read those words.

This address was made to the Knights of Columbus and he continues with this wonderful teaching on unity. Emphasis is added:
Our unity is a fraternal unity, but it is always grounded in the unity of the Church that is Christ’s gift to us. Holding everyone and everything together in unity is another way of saying “Catholic.” Unity with God is sanctity. Unity with believers in Christ is called ecclesial communion, church. Unity among bishops is called collegiality. Unity between husband and wife for the sake of their children is called family. Unity with fellow citizens who love a common homeland is called patriotism. Unity with those with whom we share similar values is called fraternity, friendship.

A Catholic way of life is unified as a way of life when it is based on assent to revealed truth and on obedience to appointed pastors, both of which together create the unity of faith and of community that Jesus himself wishes us to enjoy. The Church’s unity today is severely strained, as we all know, and alternative Catholicisms are claiming authenticity even sometimes against the Holy Father and bishops. Even Bishops and priests have sometimes been less than worthy of their calling, and lay groups have sometimes come together to create a Church in their image and likeness rather than Christ’s. Political interference in many countries, including our own, and the hostility of some in the media and entertainment industries, the self-righteousness of some on both the right and the left, various pressure groups with their own agendas, have created a situation full of danger for the Church’s unity, a situation the bishops now want to explicitly address in this country. How to stitch up the Church where her unity is torn, how to use the authority given by Christ to the apostles without wounding the faithful who are already hurting is a project that begins with the bishops’ own submission to Christ and our own self-examination in the light of God’s word that lasts forever.
AMEN!

2 - Then Bishop Morlino's great comments on Ted Kennedy and the 2 conscience approach to life. More snips, with emphasis:
Senator Kennedy, a good number of years ago, convened a meeting of priests and very high-level theologians to address the issue of Catholic political leaders and their votes with regard to abortion. Obviously, the very convening of this meeting showed that he took his Catholicism seriously and did not consider himself to be an accomplished theologian. Sadly, that meeting simply became another occasion for the development by theologians of the “two-conscience” approach to the faith for Catholic political leaders — that is the approach which says, “privately I’m opposed to abortion, but in the public arena there are other conflicting responsibilities which allow me to vote in favor of legal abortion.”

No matter how many theologians get together, the two-conscience theory is irreparably flawed and wrong, and no one can make it otherwise. But if Senator Kennedy was given this advice and this approach, this “catechesis” — false though it is — by prominent theologians, it could at least be said that there was some ground for confusion and ambiguity in his own practice about these matters. The priests and theologians who counseled Senator Kennedy are not free of blame for causing the confusion and the ambiguity through false catechesis.

God forbid that I be taken as making excuses for Teddy Kennedy’s behavior in certain areas, yet Senator Kennedy’s having written a personal letter to our Holy Father during his last days, a letter that was hand-delivered by President Obama, is also an indication that he believed that the pope alone was the Vicar of Christ, and he wanted to make absolutely sure that our Holy Father received his letter. And too, since priests were regularly present to him during his final year and final days, it would be more reasonable than not to believe that he had made a good confession.
Something all of us could do more of - think the best of others.
Tip o' the hat to Rocco for both stories.