Saturday, October 31, 2009

Time Change



Don't forget to set your clocks to "fall back" tonight.

Thank you God for the extra hour of sleep.  May we use it wisely.

Bad Philosophy Disguised as Reason

This video is full of really bad reasoning and philosophy by Richard Dawkins.  I wonder why someone would by his line of thinking, but then I figured it out - he sounds authoritative, because of his really cool accent.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sick, Sick, Sick!

A company admits that it is using aborted fetal tissue to make anti-aging cream.
Shameful!

Vampires by Fr. Barron

Monsignor Mike Sis


The former pastor of St. Mary's (during our initial period of phenomenal growth), Fr. Mike Sis, has been named Monsignor by the Pope. Congrats Msgr. Mike!
Father Michael Sis, Pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Austin, as “Chaplain to His Holiness” with the title of Monsignor.
Fr. Mike is a great man who also did a wonderful job as the Diocesan Vocation Director for 3 1/2 years.  He is now the pastor of a large parish in west Austin.

Pope Meets Iranian Ambassador

I don't know how the Pope does it all.

Origin of Halloween

A great article from one of my former professors, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio on the origin of Halloween.
We’ve all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped Church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on Oct. 31 — as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints or "All Hallows" falls on Nov. 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to Nov. 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland. The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, "All Hallows Even" or "Hallowe’en." In those days, Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in Southern France, added a celebration on Nov. 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory? What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland, at least, all the dead came to be remembered — even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the Church calendar.

But that still isn’t our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday centers around dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn’t Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague — the Black Death — and she lost about half her population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife. More Masses were said on All Souls’ Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality. Read more.
While we are at it, here are some good links.
**Info on All Saints' Day - celebrated Nov 1 - what is up with the saints?
**Info on All Souls' Day - celebrated Nov 2 - why we commemorate the dead.
**Also, don't give money to anyone asking for it for UNICEF while trick-or-treating - they support abortion.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

USCCB email

I got the email from the USCCB. We will be including the bulletin insert, announcements, and prayers of the faithful as they ask us to do.

Here is the text of the email below. It is entitled "Urgent Help Needed Now for Health Care Reform":

USCCBThe President of the Conference and the Chairmen of the three major USCCB committees engaged in health care reform have written all the bishops and asked that this material on health care reform be printed or hand-stuffed in every parish bulletin and/or distributed in pews or at church entrances as soon as possible.  Congressional votes may take place as soon as early November.

Material, as PDF files for easy download and reproduction, is available at http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/resources.shtml#bulletins. Please use what is most appropriate for your parishioners. We can also provide high resolution files if your printer prefers those; please ask your printer to contact Deirdre McQuade at dmcquade@usccb.org.

Also, below are suggested pulpit announcements and prayers of the faithful. This text can be modified and copied as needed.

More information can be found at www.usccb.org/healthcare. Please contact your diocesan leadership (especially the diocesan communications, pro-life and social justice offices) if you have specific questions.

Thank you for your urgent actions and prayers on behalf of this nationwide effort!
AnnouncementAnnouncement--Weekend Bulletin Insert is Distributed


To be announced at all Masses on the weekend when the Bulletin Insert is distributed.

Congress is preparing to debate health care reform legislation. The Catholic bishops of the United States strongly support genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all, from the moment of conception until natural death. However, all current bills are seriously deficient on abortion and conscience rights, and do not yet provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor.

In your pews/bulletins today, youll find a special flier/bulletin insert from the U.S. Bishops Conference asking you to please contact your Representative and Senators immediately and urge them to fix these bills with pro-life amendments. The flier/bulletin insert includes a web address that allows you to send an email message to Congress with a click of a button. The bishops have asked for our swift action and the commitment of our prayers for this critical effort.  Thank you for your help.  We can help make sure that health care reform will be about saving lives, not destroying them.
Announcement--Weekend After Bulletin Insert Is Distributed

To be announced at all Masses on the weekend following the Bulletin Insert distribution.

Congress is preparing to debate health care reform legislation. The Catholic bishops of the United States strongly support genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all, from the moment of conception until natural death. However, all current bills are seriously deficient on abortion and conscience rights, and do not yet provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor.

Last weekend you received a special flier/bulletin insert from the US Bishops Conference asking you to please contact your Representative and Senators immediately and urge them to fix these bills with pro-life amendments. The flier/bulletin insert included a web address that allows you to send an email message to Congress with a click of a button. Additional fliers/bulletin inserts can be found at___________ (back of church, etc.).   The bishops have asked for our swift action and the commitment of our prayers for this critical effort.  Thank you for your help.  We can help make sure that health care reform will be about saving lives, not destroying them. 
 
Prayer Suggested Prayer of the Faithful

That Congress will act to ensure that needed health care reform will truly protect the life, dignity and health care of all and that we will raise our voices to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable and to preserve our freedom of conscience. We pray to the Lord.

Pope Speaks

About using new media for evangelization:


He also speaks on the importance of reading Sacred Scripture every day in order to allow it to light our way + faith and reason:

Random Items

**The New York Times declined publishing an op-ed piece by Archbishop Dolan, so he stuck it on his blog.  Worth a close reading.


**The Legionaries and Regnum Christi has been barred from the Archdiocese of Miami.

**Someone in the UK has gone crazy.  In an attempt to "protect" children, they cannot be supervised by their own parents on public playgrounds unless the police vet them first.  Rather, "rangers" will assist in supervising them.
[stunned] wow..... [/stunned].

**Cardinal George is asking every bishop in the US to personally contact the politicians in their dioceses to talk about healthcare and opposing the current bills because of abortion.

Planned Parenthood Goes Off the Deep End

This is absolutely horrifying.

FOX NEWS ALERT!

URGENT - US Bishops Ask For Help on Healthcare Reform

The US Bishops are asking for urgent action on the healthcare reform bills currently in Congress. AmP has the full story, but here is an email sent out:
From: Tom Grenchik, Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities

To: Diocesan Pro-Life Directors & State Catholic Conference Director

Re: URGENT: Nationwide USCCB Bulletin Insert on Health Care Reform

Attached [see below], please find an Urgent Memorandum highlighting USCCB plans and requests for diocesan and parish based activation on health care reform.

The President of the Conference and the Chairmen of the three major USCCB committees engaged in health care reform have written all the bishops and asked that the attached USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert on health care reform be printed or hand-stuffed in every parish bulletin and/or distributed in pews or at church entrances as soon as possible.

Congressional votes may take place as soon as early November. If your Arch/bishop is not in agreement with disseminating the bulletin insert, you will be hearing from his office immediately. You may wish to check with his office ASAP to see how you may be of assistance in distributing the Bulletin Insert, far and wide.

Tomorrow, the USCCB will be e-mailing these same materials to a large number of parishes across the country, already on a USCCB contact list. The parish list is incomplete, so we will still have to rely on diocesan e-mail systems to reach EVERY parish. Thank you for your great help with this.

Also included are suggested Pulpit Announcements and a Prayer Petition.

There is also a copy of a newly-released ad for the Catholic press, which may be printed as flyers for the vestibule or copied on the flip-side of the Bulletin Insert. The flyer/ad directs readers to www.usccb.org/action where they may send their pre-written e-mails to Congress through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center. If you wish to sponsor the ad in your local Catholic paper and need a different size, please contact Deirdre McQuade at dmcquade@usccb.org.

Please encourage parishioners to pray for this effort as well. More information can be found at www.usccb.org/healthcare.

Thank you for your urgent actions and prayers on behalf of this nationwide effort!
With this email are four attached documents - print these out, share them and take action:

  1. HC Cover Note to Leaders, Final.doc (a digital version of the email above)
  2. HC Bulletin Insert 10-23-09 Final.pdf (the one-stop nationwide parish bulletin insert)
  3. HC Pulpit Announcement & Prayer, Final 1.doc (a how-to for distributing the materials)
  4. HC Ad Saving_Lives_Flyer_FINAL.pdf (a flyer to be placed on bulletin boards, etc.)


Louisiana Bishops on Healthcare

The Louisiana Bishops have released a statement on healthcare.
STATEMENT OF THE LOUISIANA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
ON HEALTH CARE REFORM
October 26, 2009

The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops recognizes the need to reform access to health care in the United States. The Catholic Church has been and continues to be an advocate for health care reform that provides medical care for all in an accessible and affordable manner.

According to church teaching, health care is not merely a privilege, but a basic human right. In Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII stated that “rights are universal and inviolable, and therefore altogether inalienable.” These include, but are not limited to, the “right to medical care,” and “to be looked after in the event of ill health.” The New Testament Scriptures further reveal an apostolic duty, commanded by Jesus, to heal the sick while proclaiming the Gospel (MT 10: 7-8).

For centuries, Catholic hospitals have served and ministered to the sick and the dying. Other Catholic institutions have welcomed and served the elderly, handicapped, expectant mothers, newborns, and others with physical, emotional or spiritual needs. This is an important expression of our respect for the innate dignity that lies within every human being, regardless of race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or social class.

This respect for life and dignity directs us to urge congress to support reforms that:
Exclude public health care monies for abortion;
Prohibit any form of euthanasia;
Protect the right of conscience of a health care professional or institution;
And Respect the right of a physician and a patient to decide treatment for the healing of that patient without interference.

Finally, in shaping public policy on access to health care, we appeal to congress for a plan that ensures basic affordable medical care for all, including legal immigrants, and a plan that protects the role of personal and private entities in carrying out their health care mission.

The bishops urge that any health care plan embraces all of these principles, and invite all Catholics to pray for all legislators that they will be enlightened by God to know what is good for our society and particularly those in need.

Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops
3423 Hundred Oaks Avenue
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
(225) 344-7120

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

40 Days for Life

Some news from 40 Days for Life campaign:
NEW "BEING HUMAN" EPISODE PREMIERES THURSDAY NIGHT AT 5:30PM

Filmed in the Brazos Valley by an Emmy Award winning director, this new episode of "Being Human" airs in 128 million homes tomorrow night!

WHAT: "Being Human III: What is It"

WHEN: Thursday, October 29 at 5:30pm Central

WHERE: Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)

What are we talking about when we discuss abortion? This episode focuses on the essence of the abortion debate: the humanity of the baby.

This episode interviews a physician, former abortion providers, and a philosophy professor who question and answer when life begins and what personhood means.

"Being HUMAN: What is It?" dives into what many people in our nation attempt to avoid, the reality of abortion. This powerful, moving and challenging episode captures the viewer's mind through reason and inspires the viewer's heart through honesty.

Hosted by Shawn Carney, this episode includes Fr. Frank Pavone, Peter Kreeft, PhD., and former abortion provider Carol Everett.
These are some of the best quality shows ever put on EWTN. I highly recommend it.

Also, check out Shawn Carney in the streets of New York. Shawn is a friend and a great pro-life leader for the Coalition for Life and 40 Days for Life.



I can't fail to mention that Shawn is an Aggie Catholic and both the Coalition for Life and 40 Days for Life started with Aggie Catholics in the lead.

Papal Messages

Two recent papal messages:

1 - On Africa and the Synod of African Bishops:


2 - On Scripture and Tradition:

Why Didn't Jesus Marry?


Q - What would be so different about the faith if Jesus had a wife? Why does it matter?

A - Thanks for the question. What we do know is that Jesus wasn't married. The question is hypothetical, but has some very interesting points that I would like to address.

The most historically accurate documents (starting with the Biblical writings and then more) tell us he was never married. The only documents that tell us he was married are later writings that are not historically accurate - they are later innovations and distortions of history. For instance the gnostic Gospels are non-Christian documents that invented many legends about Jesus. These have been made popular today with books such as The DaVinci Code.

In a real sense, we can say Christ was married to His Church, which the Bible describes as the Bride of Christ. In fact, Jesus himself said that:


Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?"
Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. – Matt 2:18-20

He then goes on to teach that celibacy is a great calling:

For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it. -Matthew 19:12

Christ wanted to show the radical love He had for us by giving Himself completely to us, His Church. Part of his plan of salvation included this radical sign of love for us in renouncing marriage for "the sake of the kingdom".   This radical sign of love and sacrifice for his bride tells us what marriage is supposed to be all about, what his mission was, about his nature, and more.


Remember, human marriage is not eternal - till death do us part - but Christ's marriage to his Church is everlasting.


So, what would change about the faith?
1 - Our understanding of marriage, and sex.
2 - Our understanding of the goodness of celibacy and virginity.
3 - Our understanding of the mission of Christ.
4 - Our understanding of the purpose of the Church.
5 - Our understanding of the nature of heaven as "the marriage feast of the lamb".

So, in a sense, it would change our understanding about almost everything contained in the Catechism.

Liturgy Reflection for this Sunday, Nov 1

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cardinal Pell to Vatican?

Cardinal Pell is an Australian heavyweight. He might be moving to the Vatican soon, if the speculation is correct.. I like it.
CATHOLIC circles in Rome and Australia are abuzz with speculation that Pope Benedict XVI will shortly appoint Australia's Cardinal George Pell to a prestigious job in the top echelons of the Roman Curia.

Cardinal Pell's experience as Archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne, and his service on a range of Vatican organisations, is seen as an ideal background to take on a senior Vatican job.

Cardinal Pell, who was ordained in 1966, served as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge.

He is also a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and president of the Vox Clara Committee, which advises the Vatican on English translations of liturgical texts used at Mass.

One possible senior job becoming vacant in Rome is the powerful position of Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which helps advise the Pope on the appointment of new bishops across the world.

Its Prefect, Cardinal Battista Re, who has held the job since 2000, reached the retirement age of 75 this year.
Tip O' the hat to Carl.

Mary Poppins?

Mary Poppins like you have never seen her before...

Texas Bishops on Healthcare Reform

The Texas Catholic Conference has released a statement on healthcare reform from the Bishops of Texas (pdf format):
Statement on Health Care Reform
From the Bishops of the Texas Catholic Conference
October 27, 2009

In 2005, the Texas Catholic Conference issued a pastoral statement on the urgent need for health care reform. Today, as the health care debate unfolds in our nation’s capitol, the Bishops of Texas feel it is once again appropriate to express hope that our national leaders will work together to bring about genuine life-affirming reform to our nation’s health care system.

Improving our nation’s health care system is the responsibility of all. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, addressing the Pontifical Council for Health Care, reiterated this responsibility, stating that “going to the aid of the human being is a duty: both in response to a fundamental right of the person and because the care of individuals redounds to the benefit of the group.”

Our Catholic moral tradition teaches that every human being, from the moment of conception to natural death, has an innate dignity that entitles him or her to certain rights and protections, including the fundamental right to life and the right to affordable healthcare, which flows from the right to life.

As the Catholic Bishops of Texas, we are hopeful that such reform legislation will someday be enacted into law. However, we must also express our concerns that the current healthcare reform proposals being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate do not yet rise to the level of guaranteeing these fundamental rights and protections.

True health care reform must maintain longstanding public policies that restrict funding for abortion and respect the consciences of health care providers. The language in the Capps amendment, which is part of several proposed bills, does not adequately ensure the protection of all human life. In addition, the cost structures of any health care reform plan must not impose excessive financial burdens on low and moderate income individuals and families. Measures must also be in place to safeguard the health of all of society, including the poor, the elderly, and immigrants. Legal immigrants and their families must be allowed timely access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage and an adequate safety net must be maintained for those who remain uncovered.

Health care reform is a vital concern to us in Texas, as our state has one of the highest numbers of uninsured persons in the nation. Health care is a fundamental component of the Catholic Church’s ministry. In Texas there are 43 Catholic acute care hospitals, 8 nursing homes and 17 other Catholic-sponsored service organizations including hospice, home health, assisted living, and senior housing facilities that provide quality health care to millions. The Church itself is a major purchaser of health insurance for the thousands of employees in our many agencies and institutions. The Catholic Church in Texas brings both everyday experience and strong convictions to the issue of health care reform.

The Catholic Bishops of Texas will continue to support reform of our nation's health care system in ways that respect the lives of all human persons while providing affordable access to health care for all. We will be a committed partner in advancing reform on this life-and-death issue; but if the final form of the legislation does not include acceptable language in these areas then we will have to oppose it vigorously. We will continue to pray that our national leaders will place the poor and those most vulnerable first, for only when they do will our nation achieve genuine health care reform.
Notice the challenge to those trying to reform healthcare. Do it right or we will oppose it!

A Day of True Beauty

A facebook event has sprouted up on the A&M campus that I fully support - it is called "A Day of True Beauty".  Here is the description:
A Day of True Beauty is a chance for the women of Texas A&M to show how beautiful they really are. The goal is for every woman to come to school or work on the A&M campus wearing no makeup and wearing their hair naturally. Yes, this means no products or styling devices used.

The purpose of this day is for women all over campus to stand up and say that they are beautiful, regardless of what they are wearing and what product they are using, to say we are beautiful exactly the way we are.

In today's society so much importance is placed on the way people, and women in particular look. We have been altering our appearances for generations to improve on our natural beauty. What does this say about us?

Please do not misunderstand. None of the administrators of this event are anti-beauty products. Actually all of us use them every day and for the most part enjoy their effects. However, we want to make the point that we are just as beautiful without them.

Men, you are welcome to "attend" this event and not use any kinds of products as well. It is specifically geared towards women but we would really appreciate your support. We would love it if the guys on campus stood with us in agreement that we are just as beautiful naturally.

Depending on the response we get for this event, it could potentially be huge. That would be so amazing. Please invite all your friends, guys and girls and spread the word. On December 2nd, 2009 the Women of Texas A&M will declare that they are beautiful, exactly the way they are.
As a husband, a father, a brother, and a son I say - you go girls!
The picture is of my youngest daughter and I soon after she was born.  She is beautiful from the moment of her creation and will never stop being beautiful.

I Hate The Pope

The message several columnists have for us - "I hate the Pope".  All because he opened the doors to the Anglicans who want to become Catholic.  Here are examples of opinion pieces put out this week.

#1 - David Gibson at the Washington Post.
-A response by Carl Olson.

#2 - James Carroll at the Boston Globe.
-A response by Matthew Archbold at CMR.

#3 - Maureen Dowd of the New York Times.
-A response by Fr. Z.

The Puppy Whisperer

I need this guy to come calm down my puppy.


Tip O' the hat to Patrick.

What is an Aggie Catholic?

Possible answers to this question include, an agnostic Catholic, an angry Catholic, and others. If you want other possible answers or if you want to help answer the question for someone, click here.

Marriage and The Catholic Church


Q - What does the Catholic Church teach about marrying a non-Catholic?

A - Thanks for the question. We must examine what the church teaches about matrimony before I can properly answer your question.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacred bond between one man and one woman. It is Sacramental and creates an unbreakable bond while both spouses are alive. This bond is made by the consent of each spouse given to the other, which God seals with his grace.

If two baptized Christians wed, the Church views it as a sacrament. While the pastoral advice given to the couple in marriage preparation would be similar, faith issues are a bigger concern. This certainly means the marriage will have extra hurdles to overcome, but it does not make the marriage impossible. What should happen before a Catholic and a non-Catholic Christian marry is a sincere discussion of the issues and differences between them, including children, freedom of each spouse to grow in their faith tradition, etc. Also, permission must be sought and obtained by the Catholic spouse to marry a non-Catholic.
Thus, the Catechism says:

1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home.

If a baptized Christian marries a non-Christian, the marriage is non-sacramental, though still valid. But, this creates a much bigger issue for the marriage. First, you must get a dispensation from the Bishop to marry a non-Christian. Second, the Catholic spouse must always, while still respecting the other spouse's freedom, seek conversion of the non-Christian spouse. The Catechism says:

1637 In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task: "For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband."138 It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this "consecration" should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith.139 Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.
Above all we should remember that any marriage will require open discussion, true love, faith, and selflessness by both spouses to be both good and glorifying to God.

From a practical stand-point, you must always take into consideration the fact that any marriage that contains such issues will have to overcome them somehow and has a smaller chance of succeeding.  Thus, I recommend that one not enter into mixed-marriages lightly or without much prayer and discernment.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Archbishop of New York Has a Blog

Not bad either.  In his latest post he supports Bishop Tobin taking on Rep. Kennedy.
Tip O' the hat to Rocco.

Backstreet Fun

An office somewhere was being highly unproductive for an entire day...



Tip O' the hat to CMR.

Choir


Q - We sing in a great Catholic choir that uses beautiful music from the Church's treasury. A choral music summer school is coming up, and our choir director is encouraging many of us to attend to improve our musical skills. It is ecumenical and part of it involves singing the music learnt in choir at Protestant services. Are Catholics permitted to do this? (It would not, of course replace our attendance at Mass).


A - Thanks for the question.  Yes, you are okay in attending.  There should be nothing wrong with you participating if you still attend Mass.  In fact, if you ever look closely, you will find that many of the hymns we sing in Mass were not written by Catholics.  In some hymnals, the majority are not written by Catholics.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong (or right for that matter) about a hymn based on its origin.  What determines whether a hymn should be used in Catholic worship is the content and musical style (R&B, rap, rock, etc. are not appropriate).

Also, to pray and collaborate with other Christians is a good thing.  We want to be cautious about is making sure we are still participating in the Sacraments and not taking communion in non-Catholic churches.  We also need to make sure we are firmly grounded in Catholic prayer and have a good understanding of the truth of the Catholic Church, so if we are challenged, we have answers.  If you do these things, then this sounds like a good opportunity.

I hope this helps.

Links a Plenty


**A senior Anglican bishop is ready to become Catholic.  This is big news that could start a wave of Anglicans moving into the Church.  On a related note, some are predicting this could cause a rapid movement of Russian Orthodox / Catholic relations - to the point of having unity soon.  This could get even more interesting.
Pray for unity between Christians.

**A nun volunteering at an abortion clinic as an escort?  Yup, and her superior is defending her.  Ed Peters has some comments.

**Bishop Tobin responds to Representative Kennedy's statement on the Bishops and health care.

**Sometimes those two dads at Creative Minority Report have some great writing.  Sometimes they are just goofy.  This link is to an example of the former.

**A unchurched and "dechurched" young adults study.  Interesting info.

**In one of the most bombastic columns in a while about the Catholic Church, Maureen Dowd throws a fit. Pray for her.  I am not motivated enough currently to respond.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Longing

Tonight at Rudder Auditorium we will host The Longing. This program is designed to reach out to college students and discuss sexuality in a way that is approachable, applicable, and honest. Mike Mangione and His Band will start us off and Christopher West will be leading the night. You should get there early.

Here is a story in The Battalion (A&M's student paper) about the event.

Catholic Headlines

**The USCCB has strongly stated that they will not support healthcare that allows for abortion coverage.  So, Patrick Kennedy decides he will lecture the Bishops on how to be a good Catholics.  When politicians, from any party, start trying to teach Bishops how to be Catholic, you know they are wrong.


**The Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X will be starting formal discussions soon.  Keep them in prayer.

**The Baltimore city council has decided to go after pro-life pregnancy centers by requiring the disclaimer that they do not provide contraception or abortion.  If we are going to be honest about services rendered, then why not require the abortion centers to state that they don't provide real crisis counseling help or any alternatives to getting an abortion?

Christopher West Responds to Critics

If you missed it, there was a lot of criticism about Christopher West after he appeared on Nightline.
You can read about it here, here, and here (that is just a sampling).

West has responded finally.  You can read the entirety of his response here.  Here is the beginning:
When the public conversation about my work unfolded following my appearance on Nightline last May, I did not think it was wise for me to respond until I had submitted the matter to my local bishops. Now that Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop Kevin Rhoades have issued a statement, it seems appropriate for me to offer some reflections as well.
First, I want to thank the many men and women – former students, married couples, catechists, theologians, seminarians, priests, deacons, religious, and bishops – who contacted me to offer their encouragement during this time. Your prayers and support were a tremendous gift to me. I would also like to thank those scholars and teachers of the faith who wrote in support of me, especially Janet Smith, Michael Waldstein, Michael Healy, Father Thomas Loya, Matthew Pinto, and, of course, Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Rhoades. Your willingness to speak out on my behalf remains a profound consolation.
Second, I want to thank those of you who offered thoughtful critiques of my work and helpful suggestions on how to improve it. I have taken them to heart. Indeed, I have always weighed my critics’ observations carefully and prayerfully. They have helped me refine my approach a great deal over the years and I remain very grateful for that.
That said, much of the criticism that appeared after the Nightline interview significantly misrepresented what I teach. Rumors were repeated so often that subsequent commentators simply treated dubious accusations as fact. Although I do not intend to respond point by point to the various criticisms, it seems I would be remiss as a teacher of the Theology of the Body (TOB) not to reflect briefly on what seems to be the pivotal point of the conversation. It is “pivotal” in the sense that people’s perspective on this point pivots them in very different directions when evaluating my work. This point is also critical in as much as it leads us to what I, and many others, consider to be “the pearl” of John Paul II’s TOB.
I offer these reflections in a spirit of humility and love for all those involved, not in an effort to “defend” myself. I am well aware that those looking for flaws in me will always be able to find them. I, like every interpreter of the Pope’s thought, bring my own personal perspectives, gifts, and shortcomings to the table. That’s why I remind my readers and students often to “test everything; hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess 5:21). The same applies to what follows.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Video Explaining it The Anglican/Catholic Issue

Anglicans and the Catholic Church

NOTE - last updated on Oct 21 at 4:49 pm.

The Vatican has created a new structure that allows for disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church and keep much of what makes Anglican worship distinct and have their own bishops and priests (who can marry) which oversee the governance of the group.

Here is more info on the news.  This really is the biggest Catholic news since Benedict XVI was elected pope.

**The official release 
From the Vatican:


**Fr. Dwight Longenecker is a Catholic priest who was previously an Anglican.  He asks "
what will the Anglican response be?"  That really is the $1 million question isn't it?

**
Inside the Vatican Magazine has a lot of good information.  Robert Moynihan has some good insights, including the strange way the information was released.  It points to some major changes starting in Rome.

**Phil Lawler has more info on how this might be one of the
most media-savvy moments ever for the Vatican.

**Cardinal George,
head of the USCCB, has released a statement.

**A 
CNA story has some reactions from both sides.

**
Creative Minority Report is all over it, with timely updates.

**The
Traditional Anglican Communion has a statement out that is very positive about it all.

**
Rocco also has details.

**As I said earlier, read these as well:
-Damian Thompson.
-
AmP
-
Ed Peters


**Thanks to
Thomas at AmP for the following videos.


Raw video of the press conference in London:



**A video from the Vatican's YouTube channel.


UPDATE #1 -
**Fr. Rutler, another former Anglican, has a frank analysis of the situation, to say the least.

**Deacon Keith Fournier says it is a "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

**Overseas, the BBC has pretty straightforward information on it all.

**The AP article makes it out to be a conservative vs. liberal item, as does the National Catholic Reporter (no surprise there).  Unfortunately, that is not the way we should look at this at all.  It is about unity in truth, which transcends political affiliations.

UPDATE #2 - 
**John Allen gives some insights. He is very well connected.

**America Magazine tells us "history is being made" and I couldn't agree more.

**Get Religion says the plan has a long history.  More than most of us thought.

**Damian Thompson has the inside scoop on how this is going down in the UK.  Spoiler - the Anglicans are not happy at all.

**The Anchoress is all over it.

UPDATE #3 - 
**Sherry at Intentional Disciples has some important comments about the evangelical side of the Anglican communion.  She reminds us that the Anglo-Catholics are #3 after the liberals and evangelicals, neither of whom want anything to do with Rome.

UPDATE #4 - 
**Fr. Longenecker is raising some very good questions and has some cautions for us.
     -He warns us of the risks involved in tossing aside debate/discussion on ecumenism as it has been done.
     -Here are some of the potential hurdles and issues.

**For a very unique perspective, you should read Fr. Christopher George Phillips' blog.  He is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Church in San Antonio.  This is one of the few Catholic Anglican-use parishes around.

UPDATE #5 -
**Great summary video.

Evangelicals and Catholics Together

With all the discussion about the Anglicans, we can't forget that there are other Christians whom Catholics have ecumenical dialogue with.  One of the groups with a good sense of what ecumenism truly can be is the group Evangelicals  and Catholics Together (ECT).  While they are not an "official" group sponsored by the Catholic Church or any evangelical churches, they do important work in furthering the theological discussion.  

Some who participate in ecumenism wrongly believe that unity is more important than truth, ECT does not.  They start with an honest appreciation for dialogue, what each tradition holds as doctrine, the things held in common, and the things that divide.  So, there is no false ecumenism in ECT where truth is put on the back burner.  They sincerely want the same goal "that they all may be one" as Christ prays in John.  But, not unity that sacrifices truth.

With all of that said, the newest statement by ECT has been put out.
It is on Mary and worth a read.

How To Get More Out of Mass

Listen to the latest "Faith and Reason" radio show online.
How to Get More Out Of Mass.
-Part I
-Part II
-Part III

Dostoyevsky

One of the greatest novelists of all time is Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  His Brothers Karamazov is the best fiction I have ever read and #1 on my list of novels.  So, in light of my admiration for his skill, I offer these quotes of his writing.
“If God does not exist, then everything is permitted”

“The secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to live for.”

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love”

“It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them -- the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.”

"Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man."

"The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month."

"There are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

80s

I am on an 80s kick.  So, how about a few 80s songs that I am guessing today's college students might have missed.

Tracy Chapman - Fast Car


Thompson Twins - Hold Me Now
They are one of the most under-appreciated 80s bands, although in this version you can skip the first 1:30.


Hall and Oates - Kiss On My List - Another great 80s group that should get more love.

Huge News From The Vatican

Didn't see this one coming.  From the Vatican:
Today’s announcement of the Apostolic Constitution is a response by Pope Benedict XVI to a number of requests over the past few years to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church.

Pope Benedict XVI has approved, within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.

The announcement of this Apostolic Constitution brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution.

The Apostolic Constitution is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. Without the dialogues of the past forty years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nurtured. In this sense, this Apostolic Constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation. The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.

With God’s grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England’s House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission. Joint days of reflection and prayer were begun in Leeds in 2006 and continued in Lambeth in 2008, and further meetings are in preparation. This close cooperation will continue as we grow together in unity and mission, in witness to the Gospel in our country, and in the Church at large.

London, 20 October 2009

+ Vincent Gerard Nichols

+ Rowan Williams
Okay, so lets us translate.  The Vatican has created a new structure that allows for disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church and keep much of what makes Anglican worship distinct and have (possibly) their own bishops or senior priests which oversee the governance of the group.

I can't stress how big this news is.  More to come soon.  In the meantime, read these for more:
-Damian Thompson.
-AmP
-Ed Peters

The Church is Missionary By Nature

We are all called to be evangelists. The Church (us) exists to bring others to Christ.
“Just as the whole economy of salvation has its center in Christ, so too all missionary activity is directed to the proclamation of his mystery.” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 44)
In its simplest form evangelization is sharing your faith with another person either explicitly or implicitly. A simple definition of evangelization comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It says evangelization is, “The proclamation of Christ and his Gospel by word and the testimony of life, in fulfillment of Christ’s command.” (CCC, 905)

The gospel is first and foremost the message of God becoming man and he lived, died and rose from the dead in order to draw us to his Father. As St. Paul tells Timothy,
“This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Tim 1:15)
We must not fail to keep this simple message of faith at the front of our minds. The great commission is a call to all of us to heed the call to evangelize:
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
The Pope reminds us of this call to evangelize.


How can you spread the Good News today?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whooping In Mass

Q - Is it appropriate for an Aggie, or anyone for that matter, to make a "whooping" sound while inside the Church? I have attended St Mary's Church a few times and have witnessed this on more than one occasion.


A - Thanks for the question.  Before I get into my answer, I would like to let everyone know what your question is about.  Texas A&M is a school full of traditions.  One of the traditions is what is called a "whoop".  This is when an Aggie wants to show approval or excitement about something.  Only juniors and seniors have the privilege of whooping.  You will hear Aggies whooping after yells (we don't have cheers at A&M) or any other time someone is excited.  It also happens at St. Mary's in the place of clapping.

I highly recommend you read these two posts about distractions / problems in Mass.  I think they get to the same issues as whooping and they give my philosophy on dealing with issues such as these.
1 - Holding hands during the Our Father.
2 - Clapping during Mass.

Vatican Visitation to Religious

Fr. Barron gives us some good insights.

How Much Do You Love Me?


TheLonging

You Don't Wanna Leave

Another song from Mike Mangione & His Band.  They will be part of The Longing with Christopher West.
**Friday starting at 7pm at Rudder Auditorium on campus.  FREE!**

You Should Read

A list of things you should read:

**Cardinal George's interview in the National Catholic Register.  It has loads of good stuff on the Catholic Church's future and influence in the USA.  He touches on healthcare, pro-life issues, evangelization, etc.

**Archbishop Chaput's reflection on Catholic charities.  Here is a snip to whet your appetite.
The mission of Catholic Charities and all Catholic social ministries is not humanitarian but religious—to proclaim by our words and deeds the love that God has shown to the world in Jesus Christ. The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are not an option for the Church. They are a duty. Nor are they a generic act of kindness. They are a form of distinctly Catholic witness.

Today, more urgently than ever, those of us who are Catholic need to recover a gospel hunger to help the homeless, the disabled, and the immigrant. We need to deepen the professional skills in our charitable services; we need to offer our gifts to the world—and we need to be committed Catholics first. We need to love and serve the poor; we need to thirst for social justice—and we need to remember that the poorest of the poor is the unborn child who cries out for our protection. There can be no social justice while the weakest and most innocent among us are legally killed.
**Bishop Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh has written his first pastoral letter to his diocese.  He is calling the diocese back to the basics.

**Bishop Nickless of Sioux City also has a pastoral letter.  His letter is about the proper implementation of Vatican II and how it has been misappropriated in many quarters of the Church.  The quote below, among others, has some up in arms:
The so-called “spirit” of the Council has no authoritative interpretation. It is a ghost or demon that must be exorcised if we are to proceed with the Lord’s work.
**The threat of pornography to children.  This study shows the link that pornography has to the exploitation of children.

Liturgy Reflection, Oct 18

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fun

Kareem embarrasses himself on Jeopardy.

Stuff

**The National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper not known for being orthodox, has some strong words about the US Bishops new pastoral letter on marriage and marriage prep.  I think two other writers have much better views on this issue.  1 - Carl Olson.  2 - Ed Peters.

**Steven D. Greydanus really likes the new movie Where the Wild Things Are.  I am looking forward to this one.


**Why should college students (or anybody) study philosophy and theology?  Because it is impossible to be a "big picture" person if we don't.  Peter Kreeft has more to say on this.

**The Diocese of Austin has a new order in town, The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.  They have started a new motherhouse that currently has 8 sisters here in the diocese, but will be built to hold 100.  This is one of the fastest growing orders in the country (if not the fastest of all).  They are holding a discernment retreat that is very popular in Nov.  I am sure we will eventually have a lot of Aggies joining them.
Also, we will have all 8 Dominican sisters here next weekend along with 4 other religious sisters from 2 other orders.  Add that up with our 4 sisters on staff and we will have 16 around St. Mary's next week.  Fun times!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

St. Teresa of Avila

Today is the feast of one of the great saints of the Church - St. Teresa of Avila.  She is also a doctor of the Church for her great mysticism.
"Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All thing pass; God never changes Patience attains All that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices." - St. Teresa of Avila.
St. Teresa pray for us!

Fr. Barron on Hell

Very good stuff.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More on the Poker-Playing Priest

Below is the audition video that got Fr. Andrew Trapp onto the new poker game show.  He also has a website explaining the show and other details.

"Unsafe" Abortions - Revealing the FACTS!

A recent study, by the research arm of Planned Parenthood - the Guttmacher Institute, states that "unsafe abortions" kill 70,000 women a year.

This study was done in order to be used by the pro-abortion movement to push for governments in poor countries to make abortion legal and easy to access.  What they don't report is that millions of babies die every year through abortions whether they are "safe" or "unsafe" to the mothers!

A very similar study done years ago was examined by a friend who happens to hold his Ph.D. in statistics.  What we found was that the numbers were very off and bent to support their data.  Here are some of the problems from the previous study:


This is like stitching a quilt from fish nets. Here is the main data that you need to know: The primary author works for and the article is published by the Guttmacher Institute. The Institute is named after an Ob/Gyn and former president of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Alan Guttmacher. Nearly a quarter of the citations for this article are from a division of the Guttmacher Institute.

Aside from that, here is what I see (note that I defer to their definitions):

-If an abortion takes place in a polity where induced abortion is illegal (or severely restricted), it is deemed as unsafe, even if done so by trained providers. Here is a noteworthy quote: "Moreover, illegal procedures are harmful even when they do not lead to these consequences [death or hospitalization], because they require women to take actions in violation of the law and often without the knowledge or support of their partners or family."

-If complications arise from an abortion in areas where it is restricted, they are no doubt due to unsafe abortion procedures, so most post-abortion complication records are categorized as unsafe.

-The data for 2003 is actually an amalgam of several years' worth of data. Trend estimates for 2003 were used when appropriate. If there was no information for 2003, a value from a previous year's estimate was used in its place.

-The researchers "corrected" some data for under-reporting. The correction inflation was usually about 140%. The US correction factor was 105%; Bangladesh was 300%. Therefore, for countries where abortions are illegal, the total number of abortions was estimated, then inflated, and then all of these were considered unsafe.

-Consequently, nearly all of the abortions in Africa and Latin America, which make up nearly a quarter of the total number of worldwide abortions, were deemed unsafe.

-If less than 50,000 of the abortions were considered safe in a particular region, then all of the abortions in that region were considered unsafe. Curiously enough, Southern Africa nudged up to 100,000 safe abortions, thereby keeping Africa from being listed as 100% unsafe.

-100% of the abortions in the region including China and North Korea are safe (implying forced=induced & safe).

-100% of the abortions in Northern and Western Europe and North America were safe.

-Oddly enough, when you estimate and then inflate the number of abortions in regions where they are illegal and unreported, you arrive at the fact that the incidence of abortions is no higher for polities that have unrestrictive abortion policies.

-No margins of error were reported for these estimates, even when survey data was utilized.

-Based on the information presented in this article, there is no way to reproduce the statistics; there is a tremendous amount of rounding error and the underlying raw data is essential unavailable given the "corrections."

-I found an estimated 260 million live births in the world in 2003 based on numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau International Data Base (rather than the 205 million used as a basis for the results of this study). Assuming that number is correct and the number of worldwide induced abortions for that year estimated by this group is also correct, then the upper threshold for the worldwide number of abortions is not 20% but 14%. This does not factor in miscarriages, spontaneous abortions, and still births.

The Catholic News Agency ran a story I wrote about this previous study.

Stay tuned, because I am guessing this is an instant replay and if it is, we will be all over it.