Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Pill and Women's Health

Q - I have asked numerous health professionals, several of which were Catholic, and the general opinion seems to be that birth control pills, when taken not for contraceptive use, can help alleviate debilitating symptoms of PMS, and have no proven risks of cancer or other major diseases. On the other hand, many of my Catholic friends and internet sources say that birth control pills are not safe for anyone, and there are other options. When researching women's health issues like endometriosis, doctors across the board prescribe birth control. Who should I trust for the true facts?

A - Thanks for the question. Pope Paul VI stated in Humane Vitae:
“On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever." (HV 15).
When the purpose is medicinal and not for contraceptive reasons, it can be permissable - in some situations - to use the pill as medicine.

Most doctors know the easiest route to treat a problem and that usually involves some kind of prescription. There are other treatments, but they can be more expensive and you might have to search hard to find them. I highly recommend you call the Pope Paul VI Institute or see a pro-life Ob/Gyn to discuss these issues. I can recommend one to you here in College Station. They might be able to recommend a course of treatment that won't have as many side effects as putting you on the pill.

I am guessing that you are a college student and if that is the case, then I am guessing you are not sexually active - therefore there is nothing wrong (presently) with taking a birth control pill to treat a health issue, but there are other options.

If you are married, then I recommend you seek out alternatives to the pill and only use it as a last option, if necessary. Remember that there isn't always just one way to treat a health issue and different doctors might have different treatments they would recommend. One of the things you would want to avoid is the fact that birth control pills can cause chemical abortions, so other options (many times much better options) that a pro-life doctor can help you with would be what I would highly recommend.

I hope this helps.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Behind Hollywood Shows are Advocates of Radical Agendas

After reading my post "Is GLEE Promoting Planned Parenthood's Sexual Education?" I got an email from a reader who sent me a link to an organization that I had not heard of before, but now believe should be known by others. The group is called - their stated mission is the following:
The Entertainment Resource Professionals Association (ERPA) is a coalition of independent organizations and individuals who work to inspire cause-specific story ideas within entertainment media, and to provide accurate and unbiased public health information to members of television, film and video game industries. ERPA's primary purpose is to serve as a support system and resource for its participants working in this new and growing field, which we call Entertainment Outreach. ERPA members gather monthly in the Los Angeles area to ensure regular networking opportunities. The organization also hosts a listserv for ongoing information sharing.
This group is co-sponsored by The Media Project (a project of Advocates for Youth), and the UCLA School of Public Health. Sounds simple and harmless right?

Not exactly.

The Media Project is a group that advocates for adolescent education of abortion, contraception, sex homosexual identity, etc. Their mission is:
The Media Project, a program of Advocates for Youth, offers entertainment professionals the latest facts, research assistance, script consultation, and story ideas on today's sexual and reproductive health issues, including condoms, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, abstinence, and abortion.
So, they consult with Hollywood writers, producers, directors, actors, and other professionals to bring their agenda to the table. Are they successful in getting their viewpoints across? They sure are and tout their successes on their website.

The industry respects them and uses them as consultants. They are an outreach service of Advocates for Youth. This group has the same agenda, but with many other goals, including sex education curricula in schools, lobbying elected official, research that supports their goals, etc. They are run by a former executive at NARAL - a national pro-abortion group.

So, now the connection all comes together. The list of people involved includes "educators, researchers, public health officials, public relations professionals, writers, journalists, publicists, advertisers and media professionals, among others."

Here are some of the "facts" that are on the AFY website:
  • Abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula teach that sexual expression outside of marriage will have harmful social, psychological and physical consequences, thereby stigmatizing and shaming students who have already had sex;.
  • Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs discriminate against GLBTQ students who can’t legally marry by expressing relationships in strict heterosexual standards.
  • Advocates for Youth believes that it is time to get over the “condom phobia” promoted during the last eight (8) years. Young people need all the facts about condoms and not just the negative spin from social conservatives.
  • Advocates for Youth believes that birth control is basic health care and that confidential access to birth control benefits. Every person has the right to decide when they want to have children and how many.
  • Advocates for Youth supports removing the arbitrary age restriction for emergency contraception over-the-counter for all women of reproductive age. No young woman should have to face an unwanted pregnancy when a remedy exists to prevent pregnancy.
This is all harmful for our children and society. We need to stand up and oppose these kind of programs and the public funding of such programs that run contrary to the health and well-being of our society.

We also need to support groups that are trying to change the culture of the entertainment industry, such as:

We also need to pray for those who work in the entertainment industry and love them enough to try an influence them to change their ways if they are advocating things that are unhealthy for themselves or others.

Marriage - What is the Big Deal?

Marriage is under a barrage of attacks in our culture. Issues such as no-fault divorce, cohabitation, same-sex marriage, and the contraceptive mentality (which separates sex and babies and makes it about pleasure alone) have brought us to the point where marriage is an institution that has been relegated to the trash heap of history. This is unfortunate, because the issue couldn't be a bigger one - without strong marriages our culture WILL collapse. It isn't a matter of IF but WHEN. If you study history you will not find a culture where marriages were denigrated as much as they are presently and yet the culture survived.

So, what to do? We need to turn the trends around and fast. This is why our next Distinguished Speaker in St. Mary's Distinguished Speaker series, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Dr. Morse will speak on "Natural Marriage: Lifelong, Exclusive Union - Woman and Man" This presentation will take place April 8 at 7:00 pm in the church, at St. Mary’s Catholic Center. The presentation is free and open to all. (FACEBOOK INVITE HERE)

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the founder and President of The Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, to promote life-long married love to college students by creating an intellectual and social climate favorable to marriage.

She is also the Senior Research Fellow in Economics at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

She is the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love in a Hook-up World, (2005) and Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn’t Work (2001), recently reissued in paperback, as Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village.

Dr. Morse served as a Research Fellow for Stanford University’s Hoover Institution from 1997-2005. She received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester in 1980 and spent a postdoctoral year at the University of Chicago during 1979-80. She taught economics at Yale University and George Mason University for 15 years. She was John M. Olin visiting scholar at the Cornell Law School in fall 1993. She is a regular contributor to the National Review Online, National Catholic Register, Town Hall, MercatorNet and To the Source.

Here are two articles from Dr. Morse that lay out the argument about why traditional marriage advocacy is necessary and urgent.
A snip from the first one:
When I give campus talks on the risks of cohabitation, I can always count on some smarty to challenge me saying that the risks are not really so great to people like himself. What he usually means (and it is almost always a “he”) is that the statistics are skewed by a large number of poor, uneducated cohabiting couples who are at higher risk for all sorts of problems anyway. Unspoken, but implied, is that he is cohabiting himself and plans not to change based on anything I say.

So, he might argue, this particular boyfriend was just a loser, while the cohabiting men of his own social circle are not. Women of higher income and education will not face such serious problems as this woman living in a hotel room with a creep. But studies that control for education and income still find that cohabitation is risky.

We have created a culture that says sex, marriage and childbearing have no necessary relationship to each other. This culture, like any culture, is made up of the decisions of all of us: the things we choose to do and not do, the justifications we offer for our actions, the things we celebrate and the things we condemn. We have an indirect impact on the culture and therefore on the people around us. Every problem of the poor is exacerbated by the failure of marriage. The “alternatives to marriage” are destroying the culture of the poor.

So I present this challenge to my young friends on campus: “You might get away with participating in social practices that become much more destructive as they trickle down into the lower classes. It is not social justice to claim for yourself the rights to behaviors that you can manage but are a disaster for the less fortunate. Do you want to be part of the solution or part of the problem?”

Federal Government and Family Planning $$$

The Population Research Institute, which does phenomenal work, asks whether the USA should live up to the promise of malaria aid or continue to increase funding for "family planning" (i.e. abortion and contraception).
I think the answer is obvious. But, this video should prove their point.

Speaking of family planning, Planned Parenthood claims that the government shouldn't cut their funding because they provide services that same lives, including mammograms. But, do they? Live Action takes up the challenge of finding out.

Fr. Barron on Whether Hell is Crowded or Empty

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Abby Johnson's New Ad Goes After Planned Parenthood Funding

Abby is really doing some nice work. Remember, she is an Aggie and will be Catholic sometime soon. Please keep her and all in the pro-life movement in your prayers. There is some big momentum building right now.

For more on this ad go here.

Fr. Barron on Living Out God's Will

Very nice commentary on why living God's will is consonant with our own nature as human beings:

Company Uses Fetal Cells From Aborted Babies to Test Artificial Flavors

This is sick!
Debi Vinnedge, the director of the pro-life organization, tells today that, in 2010, her group wrote to Senomyx CEO Kent Snyder and pointed out that moral options for testing their food additives could and should be used. But when Senomyx ignored her letter, the group wrote to the companies Senomyx listed on their website as “collaborators” warning them of public backlash and threatened boycott. They included food giants PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soup, Solae and NestlĂ©. (See update below.)

“The company’s key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products,” the Senomyx web site says. “Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”

Vinnedge says a boycott is important because the collaborating companies provide Senomyx with research and development funding plus royalties on sales of products using their flavor ingredients.

“What they don’t tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors,” she said. “They could have easily chosen animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors.”

Vinnedge says she has contacted the food companies working with Senomyx, but said it took three letters before one company, NestlĂ©, finally admitted its relationship with Senomyx and company officials claimed the line of cells from abortions was “well established in scientific research”.

Both PepsiCo and Campbell Soup also responded.

PepsiCo wrote: “We hope you are reassured to learn that our collaboration with Senomyx is strictly limited to creating lower-calorie, great-tasting beverages for consumers. This will help us achieve our commitment to reduce added sugar per serving by 25% in key brands in key markets over the next decade and ultimately help people live healthier lives.”

Campbell Soup officials told the pro-life group: “Every effort is made to use the finest ingredients and develop the greatest selection of products, all at a great value. With this in mind, it must be said that the trust we have cultivated and developed over the years with our consumers is not worth compromising to cut costs or increase profit margins.”

While Campbell Soup didn’t state they would change their methods, their response, gave Vinnedge hope.

“If enough people voice their outrage and intent to boycott these consumer products, it may convince Senomyx to change their methods,” she said. “Otherwise, we will be buying Coca-Cola, Lipton soups and Hershey products.”

UPDATE: Within hours of its press statement to, the pro-life group received notice from Campbell Soup that the company has severed its ties with Senomyx. Juli Mandel Sloves, Senior Manager of Nutrition & Wellness Communications at Campbell Soup Company, told Vinnedge, “We are no longer in partnership with Senomyx. This fact was discussed during the Senomyx conference call with its investors earlier this month.”

Continue Reading.

A Journey With Christ Takes a Detour Through Aggieland

A great story about how one woman fell in love with Jesus and followed Him wherever He led her. Part of her story takes place here, at St. Mary's Catholic Center. A snip:
A Grand turning point in my life came when I left my family home in Houston to begin my freshman year at Texas A&M University. During the summer before I left I was really very afraid of leaving home. I worried about whether or not I would be able to make friends. I was also worried about keeping my faith. I wanted to have a good support in that respect. I wanted to be challenged to GROW in my faith rather than be challenged to merely RETAIN my faith. I prayed for this, not being able to imagine how it would happen.

At St. Mary’s Catholic Church in College Station, Texas, God answered my prayers above and beyond all of my expectations! During my first couple of weeks of attending St. Mary’s I discovered the faith community and “potential” friends who were also passionate about the Catholic faith. I cannot say enough how thankful I am for how much God has blessed me through those people who became my friends in Christ.

The young people that I met there inspired me, and I soon became involved. I began to attend daily Mass, regular Eucharistic Adoration, bible study, a praise and worship group, and I began to staff the Aggie Awakening Retreats after making the retreat myself. Many of my friends were open to religious vocations and I began to think about it more seriously myself. I began to seek God’s will for my life as I began to trust in His plan of love for me and in His Fatherly goodness and providence.

On December 8th of 2003, I consecrated myself to Mary through St. Maximillian Kolbe. I began to love Mary and know her more intimately, and I wanted to imitate her love and her virtues. I was drawn to meditate on her sorrows and the depth of her share in the Passion of Jesus. I understood that Mary’s love and fiat to God that she gave in the beginning came to an apex in her being with Jesus during His Passion and her offering of Jesus in union with Him.

When I saw the movie, The Passion of the Christ, in 2004, I experienced a strong desire to comfort Jesus in His Passion. I found myself wishing that I could have been there with Jesus in the Garden and on Calvary to comfort Him. I was attracted to saints who were especially devoted to the Passion and to Mary as Mother of Sorrows. Religious life began to make sense for me on a logical level. I began to have a sense that I was possibly being “called” to love and follow Jesus in this radical, exclusive, and whole-hearted way. Even so, I couldn’t quite bring myself to take the initiative to look into it in a practical way by learning about different communities.

Continue reading.
Tip o' the hat to The Anchoress for sending me the link.

Most Dramatic Tsunami Footage Yet.

I think this video is the most dramatic footage of the Tsunami to hit Japan yet.

Please pray for Japan.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Random Stuff

Some things you don't need to know about, but might like anyway:

***The coolest pen I have ever seen. It scans any color from your environment and then calibrates it and automatically loads the right amount of RGB ink to replicate the color.

***For the next World Cup, Qatar is building floating airships that will act as clouds to cool the crowds.

***Why can't our highways be fixed like they fix them in Japan?

***A study for everything means that one study found that religious people are more likely to be obese.

***Tech is moving so fast, but this graphic shows just how fast.

Is GLEE Promoting Planned Parenthood's Sexual Education?

One Catholic writer makes just such an argument. I think too many people don't critically analyze the messages that enters our homes via the TV and internet.

If you don't believe the episode in question is promoting Planned Parenthood - then why would Planned Parenthood hype the episode on their Facebook page? They wrote:
Hey Gleeks, did you see Glee's "Sexy" episode last night? The ep touched on different aspects of sex and sex ed. One scene getting lots of buzz is when Kurt's dad decides it's time to have "The Talk" with him. This clip captures some of the jitters families can experience when talking about sex but also illustrates an opportunity for parents to connect with their kids and convey important information. Thoughts?
The article certainly should get you thinking, at least:
On Tuesday, March 8th, ‘Glee ‘ – which regularly features homosexual relationships and rampant sexual activity by minors – managed to limbo even lower (under a bar set already almost on the floor) with an episode featuring Gwenyth Paltrow as the school’s visiting “sex education” teacher.

Some of you might recall that Paltrow and her mother, Blythe Danner, are also known for their “work” as celebrity supporters of the largest abortion business in America, Planned Parenthood. Twice, the mother-daughter duo has used Mother’s Day as what they called the “perfect time” to send out an email soliciting donations on behalf of Planned Parenthood. Yes, that’s right. Gwenyth Paltrow and her mother used the day dedicated to mothers (whose role it is to protect and nurture their babies, not kill them) to solicit more money for the business that not only killed 324,008 unborn babies in 2008 alone, but that did so while receiving $349.6 million in federal funding from our taxpayer dollars. In 2009, Planned Parenthood received $363.2 million.

Now, as a strong pro-life advocate, I am well aware of the dangers of “sex education.”

The graphic (and very often pornographic) materials and speech that are used not only gets kids thinking more about sex, but also – by purporting sex to be just another item on the list making up your teen’s “health”, sharply takes away from the sacredness of the act, which was intended by God to be only for one man and one woman within the bond of marriage. “Sex education” has been shown to lead to an increase in underage sexual activity, and it is obvious to many that “sex education” is Planned Parenthood’s modus operandi for indoctrinating and attracting new young customers (our kids) through direct marketing to them in our schools. Planned Parenthood has literally infiltrated our schools across the country, including right here in Rhode Island. (The FY 2007 Annual Report for Planned Parenthood of RI reports Planned Parenthood running workshops in the Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls school systems at the middle school and high school levels.) After hearing that Paltrow would be guest starring on ‘Glee’ as a “sex education” teacher, I had to tune in just to witness and report on how far the episode would go – and how much evil would be employed – in what I knew was sure to be an egregious attack on the minds and souls of young viewers across America.

Even I was shocked. The episode began with outright hate speech against Catholicism, and quickly moved on to thinly veiled promotion of students becoming sexually active.

In the first scene, Paltrow’s character tries to pressure another teacher who is in favor of abstinence education into getting on board with her ideology. When the abstinence teacher dissents and says “I strongly disagree. I don’t think that we should barrage these kids with graphic information. They’re kids. I don’t want to steal their innocence,” Paltrow’s character haughtily exclaims: “Are you, like, some kind of crazy Pope lady?”

In a later scene, Paltrow’s character attempts to get the kids all riled up and excited about sex, rocking out and seductively dancing around in a low cut black leather jumpsuit and tauntingly screaming Joan Jett’s song lyrics “Do you wanna touch me there?” When one of the students, in the face of Paltrow’s character’s outrageous display, calmly asks: “What about those of us who choose to remain celibate?”, Paltrow’s character nastily replies: “Oh well I admire your choice…. Although I think you’re naive…and possibly frigid … I do admire your choice.”

This statement is telling, and it fits exactly in line with what many have seen of Planned Parenthood’s “sex education” tactics. Many can clearly see that Planned Parenthood is corrupting a whole generation starting with their covert, unhealthy, and immoral “sex education” agenda.
Continue Reading.

"I Can’t Look at You or Any Other Priest Without Thinking of a Sexual Abuser.”

This is what a man told Archbishop Dolan, Archbishop of New York, in an airport recently. You should read his article on what happened. It is enlightening.
An Airport Encounter

It was only the third time it had happened to me in my nearly thirty-five happy years as a priest, all three times over the last nine-and-a-half years.

Other priests tell me it has happened to them a lot more.

Three is enough. Each time has left me so shaken I was near nausea.

It happened last Friday . . .

I had just arrived at the Denver Airport, there to speak at their popular annual “Living Our Catholic Faith” conference.

As I was waiting with the others for the electronic train to take me to the terminal, a man, maybe in his mid-forties, waiting as well, came closer to me.

“Are you a Catholic priest?” he kindly asked.

“Sure am. Nice to meet you,” says I, as I offered my hand.

He ignored it. “I was raised a Catholic,” he replied, almost always a hint of a cut to come, but I was not prepared for the razor sharpness of the stiletto, as he went on, “and now, as a father of two boys, I can’t look at you or any other priest without thinking of a sexual abuser.”

What to respond? Yell at him? Cuss him out? Apologize? Deck him? Express understanding? I must admit all such reactions came to mind as I staggered with shame and anger from the damage of the wound he had inflicted with those stinging words.

“Well,” I recovered enough to remark, “I’m sure sorry you feel that way. But, let me ask you, do you automatically presume a sexual abuser when you see a Rabbi or Protestant minister?”

“Not at all,” he came back through gritted teeth as we both boarded the train.

“How about when you see a coach, or a boy scout leader, or a foster parent, or a counsellor, or physician?” I continued.

“Of course not!” he came back. “What’s all that got to do with it?”
Continue Reading.

Inception in 30 Seconds

Steven Greydanus reviews the movie Inception in 30 seconds.

I really enjoyed the film.

6 Transitional Deacons Ordained for Dallas Diocese

6 new transitional Deacons is the most Dallas has had for many years. One of them, Deacon Edwin Leonard, was a student of mine while I was the Director of Campus Ministry at Texas Tech University. He also attended a few classes at Texas A&M before he went to Franciscan University and then seminary. Here is a great report on the ordination:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pro-Lifers - Do You Need Inspiration?

Inspiration is found in our young people. It is found in the students, here at Texas A&M and other universities, that are changing the culture. It is found in 40 Days for Life, that was started here at St. Mary's Catholic Center. It is found in groups like Students for Life of America.

You can see the inspirational message of hope here:

Tip o' the hat to Thomas.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Scott Hahn Rocks with Matt Maher

This is fun.

Suicide and Salvation

Q: Is it sinful to think about suicide or killing  yourself? I mean, there are the obvious reasons, such as "Thou Shall Not Kill", and the fact that a suicidal person probably wouldn't make it to confession between the act and dying. However I know from psychology class that mental instabilities are often caused by chemical imbalances--many people are born with them, meaning God put them there or at least created them in the first place. So if such imbalances cause a person to become suicidal, does it meet the criteria for mortal sin? Does it matter if they were a really good person otherwise?

A - Thanks for the question. First off, if you ever serious about harming yourself or know someone who is, then you need to seek help. These kind of thoughts are not normal and you can get help for them. Your life is worth an infinite amount.

Here is a number to
Suicide Hotline - 1-800-784-2433. Please use it if you need to. If you are a student at A&M and are in need of professional counseling, please contact Student Counseling Services. If this is a crisis, please call the help line at (979) 845-2700. If you are a student at Blinn, then please contact Center For Student Development at 979-209-7250 for professional counseling.

That being said, here is what the Catechism says about suicide:

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.
2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.
2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

In other words, we hope for salvation for those who commit suicide. But, in your final question you ask if it matters whether they were good otherwise. We have to be careful of trying to make salvation a balancing act, where the good outweighs the bad and then we get to heaven. This isn't how salvation works. Our salvation is determined by whether or not our souls are in the state of grace at the moment of death. If so, we go to heaven. If not, we don't go to heaven. God alone answers the question of every individual's salvation based on this criteria.

I have had several friends commit suicide through the years, including one of my good friends from my time at St. Mary's when I was a student. But, he was very sick. As I do with all who have died, I place them in the infinitely merciful hands of our Lord and pray for them.

Peace to you. You will be in our prayers and if you need help, please seek it out.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

No Obligation to Abstain from Meat Tomorrow. Want to Know Why? Read Below...

The reason the obligation to abstain from meat is dispensed for this Friday is because it is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. A solemnity is a more important day than a Friday of Lent. Therefore one is not obligated to abstain from meat. Canon 1251 says:
Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
BTW - did you know that beavers, turtles, otters, manatees, and capybaras are not considered meat either? You can read all about it here.

How Can You Prove Jesus Is Truly Present In The Eucharist?

Religion Set to Go Extinct in Nine Nations?

I have to say that this is exactly the kind of study that screams bias and fudging of the data. Here are the highlights:
Dr Wiener continued: "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%."

The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the "non-religious" category.

They found, in a study published online, that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them.

And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.
Continue reading.
In other words they base this on mathematical models and not reality. Silliness. Joe Carter had a very good point about it all:
What is most interesting is that no one seems to have asked the obvious question: If religion goes extinct in societies where non-religious affiliation is more socially useful than religious affiliation, wouldn’t it also follow that religion would reach a saturation point in societies where religious affiliation is more socially useful than non-religious affiliation?

Can you imagine the panic that would result from a conclusive mathematical model that predicted America would soon be 100% religious?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fr. Barron on God, the Tsunami, and the Problem of Evil

Most Irritating Phrases

Competition time. 

Based on the Oxford list of top ten most irritating phrases from 2008, you are charged with coming up with the most irritating combination of them, when combined with my own personal list. Also, add your own.

Oxford's most irritating phrases:
1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

Marcel's most irritating phrases/words (not exhaustive):
1 - Like
2 - You know? OR You know what I am saying?
3 - Don't judge me / You are being judgmental / Judge not (when misunderstood)
4 - actually...
5 - synergy
6 - Any overused sports cliche' (e.g. "110%", "bring our A game", etc.)
7 - It is what it is
8 - OMG
9 - Don't go there
10 - Any word that ends in "z" when it should be an "s" (e.g, boyz, songz, kidz, etc)

Now it is your turn. What is your list of the most irritating words or phrases.
Ready. Set. Go.
(FYI - comments may take a little while to approve. I am about to start jury duty.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New York Archbishop Dolan On 60 Minutes

Everyone should watch this. Well done Archbishop Dolan!

Reading the Bible

Q - How important do you think reading the Bible is for the faith formation of a Catholic? What do you think about the situation in which a practicing Catholic, who has read parts of the Bible and New Testament, doesn’t continue because they “just don’t get anything out of it”?

A - Thanks for the question. Well, the first thing I would say is that if this is the case, there could be an issue with how the person is reading the Bible if they aren't getting anything out of reading the Bible. If we truly believe that the Bible contains the written revelation of all that God wanted to reveal to us about Himself, our relationship to Him, and our salvation, then there is no good reason not to read (and pray with) the Bible. But, we still must learn how to do so effectively and prayerfully. This takes time and practice.

The Bible is not a history textbook, a novel, or like any other piece of literature. It is God-breathed. It is an opportunity to encounter Christ. It is the primary way we can know about the life of Jesus. It is God's Word to us in the written form. So, maybe getting someone who is knowledgeable about how to pray with the Bible to help teach some ways to enter into prayer with the Bible would be a good idea.

As St. Jerome said, "Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ". Do we want to know Jesus intimately? Then we cannot just brush aside the Bible as something that doesn't fit our fancy. From the sound of your question this person has not given the Bible a fair shake or they don't know how to really dive into The Word of God in the Bible, because they have only read "parts of the Bible". Maybe this quote from Vatican II's Constitution on The Word of God can help shed some light on the importance of reading the Bible for every Catholic (emphasis added):

The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles. Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: "For the word of God is living and active" (Heb. 4:12) and "it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thess. 2:13).
Scripture should be an indispensable part of every Christians' daily life. As the quote above shows us, it is a way we meet, talk, and receive grace from the Father.

I hope this helps.

Other Links of interest:
**Good Catholic Bible Studies
**Best Bible Translations
**The Dos and Don'ts of Reading the Bible
**100 Catholic Ways to Pray

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fr. Chris Downey - Rock Musician to Catholic Priest

From comes this video of Fr. Chris Downey, our Associate Pastor and former rock musician.

Part II:

One Mom Asks "Why Do We Let Our Girls Dress Like That?"

A mom who grew up "sexually liberated" and who "experimented" sexually now regrets a lot of her decisions and asks the question "Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?" in the Wall Street Journal.
A snip:
In the pale-turquoise ladies' room, they congregate in front of the mirror, re-applying mascara and lip gloss, brushing their hair, straightening panty hose and gossiping: This one is "skanky," that one is "really cute," and so forth. Dressed in minidresses, perilously high heels, and glittery, dangling earrings, their eyes heavily shadowed in black-pearl and jade, they look like a flock of tropical birds. A few minutes later, they return to the dance floor, where they shake everything they've got under the party lights.

But for the most part, there isn't all that much to shake. This particular group of party-goers consists of 12- and 13-year-old girls. Along with their male counterparts, they are celebrating the bat mitzvah of a classmate in a cushy East Coast suburb.

In a few years, their attention will turn to the annual ritual of shopping for a prom dress, and by then their fashion tastes will have advanced still more. Having done this now for two years with my own daughter, I continue to be amazed by the plunging necklines, built-in push-up bras, spangles, feathers, slits and peek-a-boos. And try finding a pair of sufficiently "prommish" shoes designed with less than a 2-inch heel.

All of which brings me to a question: Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we're being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?

I posed this question to a friend whose teenage daughter goes to an all-girls private school in New York. "It isn't that different from when we were kids," she said. "The girls in the sexy clothes are the fast girls. They'll have Facebook pictures of themselves opening a bottle of Champagne, like Paris Hilton. And sometimes the moms and dads are out there contributing to it, shopping with them, throwing them parties at clubs. It's almost like they're saying, 'Look how hot my daughter is.'" But why? "I think it's a bonding thing," she said. "It starts with the mommy-daughter manicure and goes on from there."

I have a different theory. It has to do with how conflicted my own generation of women is about our own past, when many of us behaved in ways that we now regret. A woman I know, with two mature daughters, said, "If I could do it again, I wouldn't even have slept with my own husband before marriage. Sex is the most powerful thing there is, and our generation, what did we know?"

We are the first moms in history to have grown up with widely available birth control, the first who didn't have to worry about getting knocked up. We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom. Not all of us are former good-time girls now drowning in regret—I know women of my generation who waited until marriage—but that's certainly the norm among my peers.

So here we are, the feminist and postfeminist and postpill generation. We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn't), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don't know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily. We're embarrassed, and we don't want to be, God forbid, hypocrites.

Still, in my own circle of girlfriends, the desire to push back is strong. I don't know one of them who doesn't have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I've ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she'd "experimented" more.
For a lot of modern women and girls the word "modest" has too many bad connotations. They think it means "frumpy" or out-of-style. When in fact it is a necessary protection of their dignity as women.

Men can also dress immodestly, but it is a vice that is seen in more women than men. Regardless of the sex of the person - If you "flaunt it", then "it" (you) will be abused and used. The virtue of modesty protects that which is supposed to remain hidden and reserved only for those that will respect the dignity of the individual before them.

The Theology of the Movie "The Adjustment Bureau"

Fr. Barron comments on the new movie "The Adjustment Bureau" and the bad theology in the movie:

He does have a few spoilers in it, but since I won't see the movie, I watched the whole video.

Fr. Corapi Placed on Administrative Leave After Accusations

This is a big story in Catholic circles. Fr. Corapi is one of the most famous speakers in the country right now and considered a walking saint by a lot of people. Of course we cannot know whether these accusations are true or not at this point. But, what we can do is pray for all involved.

Here is what Fr. Corapi posted on his website - denying the accusations.
A Call for Prayer

On Ash Wednesday I learned that a former employee sent a three-page letter to several bishops accusing me of everything from drug addiction to multiple sexual exploits with her and several other adult women. There seems to no longer be the need for a complaint to be deemed “credible” in order for Church authorities to pull the trigger on the Church’s procedure, which was in recent years crafted to respond to cases of the sexual abuse of minors. I am not accused of that, but it seems, once again, that they now don’t have to deem the complaint to be credible or not, and it is being applied broadly to respond to all complaints. I have been placed on "administrative leave" as the result of this.

I’ll certainly cooperate with the process, but personally believe that it is seriously flawed, and is tantamount to treating the priest as guilty “just in case”, then through the process determining if he is innocent. The resultant damage to the accused is immediate, irreparable, and serious, especially for someone like myself, since I am so well known. I am not alone in this assessment, as multiple canon lawyers and civil and criminal attorneys have stated publicly that the procedure does grave damage to the accused from the outset, regardless of rhetoric denying this, and has little regard for any form of meaningful due process.

All of the allegations in the complaint are false, and I ask you to pray for all concerned.
Here is a good roundup of what we know and what we don't know from Elizabeth Scalia.

Here is a statement from his superior:
Statement from Rev. Gerald Sheehan, Regional Priest Servant

Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity

18 March 2011

Today, as Regional Priest Servant for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, I have the unhappy responsibility to announce that Father John Corapi, SOLT has been placed on administrative leave from priestly ministry, in accordance to the Code of Cannon Law of the Catholic Church. We have received an allegation that Father Corapi has behaved in a manner unbecoming of a priest and are duty-bound to conduct an investigation in this accusation.

It is important to keep in mind that this action in no way implies Father Corapi is guilty of the allegation. It is equally important to know that, based on the information we have received thus far, the claim of misconduct does not involve minors and does not arise to the of criminal conduct. Consequently, this matter will be investigated internally, and unless and until information suggests otherwise it will not be referred to civil authorities. In the event that we learn of any occasion where the criminal civil law may have been breached we will immediately refer the matter to civil authorities.
We shall see. In the meantime pray.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Who Wants a Laser Gun?

Science Fiction is now reality:
G.I. Joe used them to battle Cobra’s evil forces. Han solo shot his first in the Mos Eisley Cantina. For years, hand-held pulse laser guns have been something that existed only in the realm of cartoons and movies…until now.

German hacker [Patrick Priebe] recently constructed a laser pulse gun that looks so good, it could have easily come off a Hollywood movie set. Its sleek white and black exterior adds intrigue, but offers little warning as to how powerful the gun actually is.
Check it out:

Aggies Win The Tournament!!!

No, not that tournament...but a fictional one that Matt Swaim created. Let us just hope that the real tournament ends up like this one:
It’s often said that politics and religion are the two things that one shouldn’t discuss in polite company; which is why I tend to get excited when the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament rolls around, because it at least provides impolite company wherein I can talk smack about the latter. This ain’t Westphalia, baby.

Hence, for the fourth year in a row, we offer you Bracketology: Magisterial Fidelity Edition, a method of bracket-picking that produces mild amusement and pretty much no success. Here are the traditional criteria:

1. In games between religious schools and nonreligious schools, the religious school is picked.

2. In games between Christian schools and schools with other religious affiliations, the Christian school is picked.

3. In games between Catholic schools and protestant schools, the Catholic school is picked.

4. In games between Catholic schools, the one with the highest degree of fidelity to the Magisterium is picked.

Of course, when it comes down to it, I usually follow these criteria about as closely as some of these schools follow the Magisterium, so cut me some slack. Here are just a few of my predictions:
Continue Reading.
In other fun news, my book got a nice review in the National Catholic Register.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


From the description of the video: presents Adoration of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament as the means by which students can renew their lives and find help for their struggles.

Pray For Those On Spring Break Mission Trips

We have two mission trips this Spring Break - one to New Orleans and one to Honduras. They were both featured in a news release by Texas A&M. A few snips:
Still another group will continue with an ongoing project in New Orleans where they are rebuilding hurricane damaged homes. Members of the Aggie Catholic student organization will also be in New Orleans helping a group called “Beacon of Hope,” an organization that encourages rebuilding, fosters repopulation and provides information and resources to rebuild damaged homes....

One group will travel to Honduras to meet up with students from other colleges and help the Missionaries of Christ, a Catholic organization, provide educational materials to people in remote villages.
Please keep all of our Aggies in your prayers! Also, please pray for the people of Mexico. We used to take mission trips there, but the Austin Diocese no longer allows us to because of the violence on the border.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Please Pray for The Victims of the Earthquake in Japan

The earthquake in Japan is a horrible tragedy. Please pray for the people of Japan and other countries struck by the tsunami created. Here is a video of just how powerful the tsunami was:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Abortion In NY City Kills More People Than ALL Other Causes COMBINED!

This is a terrible thing. Horrible.
From Jack Smith at The Catholic Key Blog:
Let’s break it out with some leading causes of death in New York City in 2008:

Cause of Death                                            Number of Deaths
Heart Disease                                                 21,844
Cancer                                                           13,116
Influenza/Pneumonia                                         2,578
Diabetes                                                          1,708
Stroke                                                             1,669
Deaths by All Causes (excluding abortion)      55,391

Induced Abortions                                         82,475

The number of people who died from abortion in 2008 in New York City is 149% of the number of people who died from all other causes. Put another way, abortion accounts for 60 percent of all deaths in New York City. I’m speechless.
Tip O' the hat to Thomas.

Ash Wed "Flash Mob" in Mass

I wouldn't exactly call this a "flash mob", but I also like a lot of flash mobs (when they are harmless fun), but not this. It is not appropriate for the liturgy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review of "Jesus Of Nazareth - Volume II" by Pope Benedict XVI

I was given an advance copy of Pope Benedict's new book Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week
My review is below:

Pope Benedict XVI's second volume of Jesus of Nazareth has been released today. In it the Pope covers the time from Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem until the time of his Resurrection. His purpose for writing the book is stated in the introduction:
I have attempted to develop a way of observing and listening to the Jesus of the Gospels that can indeed lead to personal encounter and that, through collective listening with Jesus’ disciples across the ages, can indeed attain sure knowledge of the real historical figure of Jesus.
This encounter with Jesus is achieved through a unique analysis of the Biblical text. Benedict is trying to change the way in which Biblical scholars and theologians dive into the text and help shift Biblical studies toward a more intimate portrayal of Christ.

The current state of biblical studies in most of Christianity is still heavily dependent upon the historical-critical method of study. This method is really a compilation of various methods of trying to look into the past to examine the Biblical text in light of what we know about them during the time they were written. It tries to understand, as best as can be done, what the human authors of Scripture understood about the world, culture, themselves, God, etc. to draw out the meaning of the text.

Benedict XVI stated in volume I that the method is limited in what it can do for us, because it remains a method which leaves "the biblical word in the past". It also does not approach the text with the eyes of faith, but with a critical eye. This means that it is very limited in the scope of what it can do for us and it cannot bring us to a real encounter with a God who comes to us as a Living Word today.

Because of these limitations inherent to the historical-critical method, the Pope believes it has "yielded its essential fruit", even while it is indispensably helpful for a study of the Bible.

With this in mind, Benedict sets out to help us see the historical figure of Christ through the eyes of faith. This faith should be informed by the historicity of the Gospels, but never devoid of seeing Christ as He should properly be seen - not merely a figure of the past, but someone who is alive and present to us today. This takes faith.

While I believe the Pope achieved his goal, to a certain extent, in the first volume. I also believe he has done a better job of drawing us toward the face of Christ in the second volume. This is a great challenge, because so many things have already been written through the centuries about Jesus, as He is described in the Gospels. But, this unique approach of bringing together the wisdom of the Church's study of the Bible alongside a faithful and intimate portrait of Christ is a real achievement.

In addition to bringing about this new way of reading the Gospels, Benedict hasn't avoided the tough questions that arise when we read the Gospel accounts of Christ's life. He directly answers them and his answers are lucid and his style of writing will be readable for most people. One of the best sections is Chapter 4 - The High Priestly Prayer. In this chapter Benedict gives insights which opened up new horizons to me in understanding this difficult part of John's Gospel. One passage in particular stands out. In this passage he ties together the prayer for unity, the Jewish Feast of Atonement, the mission of the Church, and the Cross.
If we take one last look back over the whole of the prayer for unity, we can say that the founding of the Church takes place during this passage, even though the word Church does not appear. For what else is the Church, if not the community of disciples who receive their unity through faith in Jesus Christ as the one sent by the Father and are drawn into Jesus’ mission to lead the world toward the recognition of God—and in this way to redeem it?

The Church is born from Jesus’ prayer. But this prayer is more than words; it is the act by which he “sanctifies” himself, that is to say, he “sacrifices” himself for the life of the world. We can also put it the other way around: in this prayer, the cruel event of the Cross becomes “word”, it becomes the Feast of Atonement between God and the world. From here the Church emerges as the community of those who believe in Christ on the strength of the Apostles’ word (cf. 17:20). (101-102)
I have been blessed to a large number of Benedict's writings, but during his time as Pope and before. This is one of the best of the bunch.

I give the book a rating of 5 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Fasting is All About

Fun video on fasting. Maybe you can find yourself in this video.

Tip o' the hat to Thomas Peters.

What Real Love Means

A great song by JJ Heller - "What Love Really Means". Lyrics below.

He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He's the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night, "Dear God won't you please...
Could you send someone here who will love me?"

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me
'Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means

Her office is shrinking a little each day
She's the woman whose husband has run away
She'll go to the gym after working today
Maybe if she was thinner
Then he would've stayed
And she says...

Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me?
'Cause nobody has shown me what love, what love really means

He's waiting to die as he sits all alone
He's a man in a cell who regrets what he's done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
"Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home"

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
And it said
"I know you've murdered and I know you've lied
I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you'll listen, I'll tell you that I..."

I will love you for you
Not for what you have done or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew

The Pope Explains Ash Wed and Lent

Fr. Barron on Lent

Let St. John Chrysostom Inspire You During Lent

Want to get the most out of your fasting today and the rest of Lent? Then meditate on these wise words:
Fasting is the change of every part of our life, because the sacrifice of the fast is not the abstinence but the distancing from sins. Therefore, whoever limits the fast to the deprivation of food, he is the one who, in reality, abhors and ridicules the fast. Are you fasting? Show me your fast with your works. Which works? If you see someone who is poor, show him mercy. If you see an enemy, reconcile with him. If you see a friend who is becoming successful, do not be jealous of him! If you see a beautiful woman on the street, pass her by.

In other words, not only should the mouth fast, but the eyes and the legs and the arms and all the other parts of the body should fast as well. Let the hands fast, remaining clean from stealing and greediness. Let the legs fast, avoiding roads which lead to sinful sights. Let the eyes fast by not fixing themselves on beautiful faces and by not observing the beauty of others. You are not eating meat, are you? You should not eat debauchery with your eyes as well. Let your hearing also fast. The fast of hearing is not to accept bad talk against others and sly defamations.

Let the mouth fast from disgraceful and abusive words, because, what gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew-up and consume our brothers? He who condemns and blasphemes is as if he has eaten brotherly meat, as if he has bitten into the flesh of his fellow man. It is because of this that Paul frightened us, saying: "If you chew up and consume one another be careful that you do not annihilate yourselves."

You did not thrust your teeth into the flesh (of your neighbor) but you thrusted bad talk in his soul; you wounded it by spreading disfame, causing unestimatable damage both to yourself, to him, and to many others.

If you cannot go without eating all day because of an ailment of the body, beloved one, no logical man will be able to criticize you for that. Besides, we have a Lord who is meek and loving (philanthropic) and who does not ask for anything beyond our power. Because he neither requires the abstinence from foods, neither that the fast take place for the simple sake of fasting, neither is its aim that we remain with empty stomachs, but that we fast to offer our entire selves to the dedication of spiritual things, having distanced ourselves from secular things. If we regulated our life with a sober mind and directed all of our interest toward spiritual things, and if we ate as much as we needed to satisfy our necessary needs and offered our entire lives to good works, we would not have any need of the help rendered by the fast. But because human nature is indifferent and gives itself over mostly to comforts and gratifications, for this reason the philanthropic Lord, like a loving and caring father, devised the therapy of the fast for us, so that our gratifications would be completely stopped and that our worldly cares be transferred to spiritual works. So, if there are some who have gathered here and who are hindered by somatic ailments and cannot remain without food, I advise them to nullify the somatic ailment and not to deprive themselves from this spiritual teaching, but to care for it even more.

For there exist, there really exist, ways which are even more important than abstinence from food which can open the gates which lead to God with boldness. He, therefore, who eats and cannot fast, let him display richer almsgiving, let him pray more, let him have a more intense desire to hear divine words. In this, our somatic illness is not a hindrance. Let him become reconciled with his enemies, let him distance from his soul every resentment. If he wants to accomplish these things, then he has done the true fast, which is what the Lord asks of us more than anything else. It is for this reason that he asks us to abstain from food, in order to place the flesh in subjection to the fulfillment of his commandments, whereby curbing its impetuousness. But if we are not about to offer to ourselves the help rendered by the fast because of bodily illness and at the same time display greater indifference, we will see ourselves in an unusual exaggerated way. For if the fast does not help us when all the aforementioned accomplishments are missing so much is the case when we display greater indifference because we cannot even use the medicine of fasting. Since you have learned these things from us, I pardon you, those who can, fast and you yourselves increase your acuteness and praiseworthy desire as much as possible.

To the brothers, though, who cannot fast because of bodily illness, encourage them not to abandon this spiritual word, teaching them and passing on to them all the things we say here, showing them that he who eats and drinks with moderation is not unworthy to hear these things but he who is indifferent and slack. You should tell them the bold and daring saying that "he who eats for the glory of the Lord eats and he who does not eat for the glory of the Lord does not eat and pleases God." For he who fasts pleases God because he has the strength to endure the fatigue of the fast and he that eats also pleases God because nothing of this sort can harm the salvation of his soul, as long as he does not want it to. Because our philanthropic God showed us so many ways by which we can, if we desire, take part in God's power that it is impossible to mention them all.

We have said enough about those who are missing, being that we want to eliminate them from the excuse of shame. For they should not be ashamed because food does not bring on shame but the act of some wrongdoing. Sin is a great shame. If we commit it not only should we feel ashamed but we should cover ourselves exactly the same way those who are wounded do. Even then we should not forsake ourselves but rush to confession and thanksgiving. We have such a Lord who asks nothing of us but to confess our sins, after the commitment of a sin which was due to our indifference, and to stop at that point and not to fall into the same one again. If we eat with moderation we should never be ashamed, because the Creator gave us such a body which cannot be supported in any other way except by receiving food. Let us only stop excessive food because that attributes a great deal to the health and well-being of the body.

Let us therefore in every way cast off every destructive madness so that we may gain the goods which have been promised to us in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
-St. John Chrysostom

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No Money = Catholic Hospital Starving A Woman To Death

This story is heartbreaking and enraging:
On Feb. 19, Ms. Nyirahabiyambere’s feeding tube was removed on the order of her court-appointed guardian. Her six adult children — including two United States citizens — vehemently opposed that decision. But they were helpless to block it when Georgetown University Medical Center, frustrated in its efforts to discharge Ms. Nyirahabiyambere after she had spent eight costly months there without insurance, sought a guardian to make decisions that the family would not make.

“Now we are powerless spectators, just watching our mother die,” said Mr. Ndayishimiye, 33, who teaches health information management at the State University of New York’s Institute of Technology in Utica. “In our culture, we would never sentence a person to die from hunger.”

Decision-making on behalf of patients in persistent vegetative states is always a delicate matter, especially if, like Ms. Nyirahabiyambere, they have not left a directive. Her case, which has received no public attention, underscores the thorny issues that arise when a severely brain-damaged person’s life is sustained by medical technology.

With thousands in persistent vegetative states, the issues regularly surface in hospitals and courtrooms — what constitutes “futile care,” what power should doctors or lawyers have to stop treatment and what role should financial considerations play.

In Ms. Nyirahabiyambere’s case, her immigration status adds another layer of complexity.

With less than five years in this country, she is ineligible for the Medicaid coverage that would have paid for her to live indefinitely with a feeding tube in a nursing home. As her children see it, her life is being cut short because she is an indigent immigrant. “It’s all about money,” Mr. Ndayishimiye said.

But her guardian, Andrea J. Sloan, said that prolonging the life of “someone profoundly vegetative” would be questionable even if insurance were available because palliative care is more appropriate. “The essential question of the feeding tube has nothing to do with nationality or payor source,” she said.

Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said the case underscores that “end-of-life decisions have to be treated with great sensitivity — and, ideally, with families fully involved and respected.”

He added: “Any hint that withdrawing treatment might be linked to financial considerations — that’s a huge ethical no-no. That’s death panel stuff.”
Continue Reading.

Fr. Barron Visits Lourdes

Great stuff - an exclusive look at fr. Barron's new CATHOLICISM project. I can't wait for it to be complete.
Thanks to Matt Warner, at Fallible Blogma for this clip.

Fr. Barron on Debunking The Life of Jesus

Good commentary on how some scholars try to debunk Jesus and the New Testament.

Cribs: Vatican Edition

Ever want a tour of the Pope's private quarters in the Apostolic Palace? Well, here you go.

Top 20 Things I Don't Have to Worry About Giving Up For Lent

Here is my definitive list of 20 things I don't have to worry about giving up for Lent. Some won't ever be in my life and some are right where they should be in my life. You can figure out which is which.

  • 20 - Trips to Europe
  • 19 - Katy Perry
  • 18 - Growing a mullett
  • 17 - Shopping at Lane Bryant
  • 16 - Confession
  • 15 - Oprah
  • 14 - Mass
  • 13 - Work
  • 12 - Playing with 5 cute kids
  • 11 - Tofu
  • 10 - Cosmo
  • 9 - Cuddling with armadillos
  • 8 - Ashes
  • 7 - Mango
  • 6 - Growing hair on my head
  • 5 - Spiritual Reading
  • 4 - MTV
  • 3 - Almsgiving
  • 2 - Fasting
  • 1 - Prayer

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Aggie Priest Organizes International Eucharistic Adoration Conference

Fr. Florian was a graduate student here at Texas A&M when I was an undergrad. He is a very good man who has a passion for the Eucharist. His passion has been put into practice as the founder of a community named The Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist. Its goal is "the establishment of perpetual adoration in parishes and the formation of adorers so that they will be able to love Jesus and make Him loved."

This community will be hosting an international conference on Eucharistic Adoration, with several Cardinals who will be the main speakers. It will be held in Rome on June 20-24, 2011. Zenit ran a 2-part story on Fr. Florian, his community, and the conference. Part I is here and Part II is here.
A snip:
Q: The theme of the conference is: "From Adoration to Evangelization." Adoration pushes the adorer to "let go" and let the Lord act more powerfully through him, thus entering into a renewed trust in him. Does this mean that the new evangelization requires us to let go of our own personal visions in order to enter into a new vision, ever renewed by the Spirit?

Father Racine: Yes, the contemplation of the face of Christ helps me to re-center my life on him. Before the Blessed Sacrament I am led to say, like the young Samuel: "Speak Lord your servant is listening" and not, "Listen Lord your servant is speaking!" It is a school of silence in which I let Jesus speak to my heart.

In adoration, I listen and discover the will of God for me. In fact, I receive not only the understanding of his will but also the grace to accomplish it in my life. Too often Christians have the tendency to become absorbed by many different works, which in themselves are good, but which remain inspired by their own will and not the will of the Lord. The Eucharist de-centers me from myself in order to re-center me on Christ and his word.