Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Should I Give Money To The Homeless?

Q - After graduating from A&M last year, I took a job in Houston. On an average day I probably pass by 30-40 people who are homeless and holding up signs asking for money. At first I could just drive by, but as time passes, I start feeling guilty about not helping. If I gave only $1 to every homeless person I saw it would take more than $10,000 dollars a year. Is there anything wrong with not giving money to the homeless?

A - Thanks for the question.  Guilt can be a good thing or a bad thing, so sorting it out is necessary.  Guilt is good when it is proper - we have done something wrong (or not done something we should) and then we feel guilty.  This should lead to repentance.  But, sometimes our consciences can be faulty.  It can make us feel guilty when we ought not. This is self-condemnation that is not spiritually healthy and leads to scrupulosity - which is an overactive conscience.

With this being said, it isn't uncommon for someone to feel guilty about seeing someone who has so little on the streets while we have so much.  Yes, we have a lot.  We ought not compare our belongings to those who have more, when we live in the wealthiest country in the world for all of history.  So, a twinge of guilt is common and in some ways expected.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Our response, and our duty, is to always help those who are in need.

Catholic Social Teaching has what is commonly referred to as the "preferential option for the poor".  When you feel that twinge of guilt, it is because you feel a solidarity with your fellow human being.  Vatican II put it this way:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. - GS, 1
Remember that Christ had a special love for the poor and even chose to be born into poverty.  As followers of Christ, we are called to imitate his love for others.

So, does this mean that you have to give money to every homeless person you meet?  No.  That isn't necessarily your job, nor is it necessarily good stewardship of the resources you have been entrusted with by God.  Many homeless are addicts or mentally ill.  They don't need to have money that might feed their addiction.  Rather, it is a good idea to hand them food or give the money to a local charity that can assist them in ways they need.  A shelter, soup kitchen, skills training center, etc. is a better option to give your money to.

Yes, all Christians are obligated to help and assist the poor.  But not all of us are called to do as Mother Teresa did when she would work hands-on by getting the poor off the streets.  Some are called to volunteer time and talent.  Some are called to give money to charities.  Some are called to give their entire life.  What is your call?  That is for you and God to talk about - for you to discern.

I hope this helps.

Pope Talks About The New Evangelization

The New Evangelization is an effort to re-evangelize peoples and cultures that were once Catholic. The Pope talks about the Church's efforts in achieving this below:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Improv Greatness

This one features Stephen Colbert:

But, this is one of the best:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fr. David's Letter To The Editor

Recently, Rev. Kyle Walker (a local campus minister for United Campus Ministries and a very good man, whom I disagree with on many things), wrote a letter to the editor. His letter is below and is followed by Fr. David's letter in response:

Kyle Walker's letter:
The military has realized the value of soldiers who fight for us with integrity yet happen to be gay. Churches are beginning to recognize the same thing. This last week, my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), took a bold and important step by removing a blanket policy that previously prevented gay people in public, committed relationships from being ordained in the denomination.

This week in basketball, we find Phoenix Suns executive Rick Welts and Charles Barkley making the case that athletes who are gay somehow manage to win games and do their jobs.

It seems the idea of discounting a person's competence or worth simply for aspects of his or her genetics has taken several recent hits in our society -- and rightly so.

Aggieland is not immune to the effects of bigotry against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. Each year I stumble upon at least one Aggie who has been taught to hate himself or herself for being gay so much so that they wish to commit suicide. The work involved in helping them understand that they are not defective can be lifelong.

With all the competent pastors, psychologists and professors in our community, there is simply no excuse for Bryan-College Station and Texas A&M University not to be on the side of what is good, right and just regarding GLBT people. Yet, recent events on campus suggest we have a way to go.

Next week, I will travel with other clergy from our community to an event sponsored by the Human Right Campaign in Washington, D.C., and meet with those of various traditions who are willing to speak to this reality and encourage our leaders to do the same. This event, Clergy Call, represents a growing number of religious leaders locally and nationally who are committed to valuing all God's children.

Fr. David's letter:
Like the Rev. Kyle Walker (Eagle, May 20), whom I know and respect, I also work with a number of people each year who experience same-sex attractions.

I represent Courage, a national ministry of the Catholic church that reaches out to these men and women. So I want to point out that the claim that same-sex attraction is a genetic condition is not entirely true. To date, no scientific study has proven that same-sex attraction is simply genetic, though in many instances biological conditions may play a role in its development.

To follow the latest research into the cause and treatment of same-sex attraction, one may consult the website of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

The people I work with also often feel ashamed and trapped by the message that the only choice they have is to identify themselves as being "gay" and begin to live out that lifestyle.

Consequently, they are greatly relieved to discover they are not "gay" and do not have to accept that label and that they can lead a happy, healthy, integrated life of chaste friendships and relationships and if they so choose, can even seek out therapeutic means to deal with their unwanted same-sex attraction.

College Station
For more on the Courage apostolate, visit their website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Q - How does one fast? What is reasonable?

A - Good question. The only time that fasting is obligatory for Catholics is during those times of the year that are set apart as special penitential days (Good Friday & Ash Wednesday). The Church law allows for one full meal "but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening" also.

So, if you choose to fast outside of these two times it is not an obligation, but should be done in freedom. If you want to fast more than what the Church has set as guidelines you can do so, but I recommend you talk to a spiritual director beforehand. A simple set of rules to follow may be that you don't want to hinder your ability to perform the other things you are obligated to take care of. For instance, you don't want to weaken yourself to the point of not being able to pay attention in class if you are a student or take away your ability to concentrate at work. You also want to fulfill other obligations to your family, friends, etc.

Why do we fast? By denying ourselves something good, we remember what the highest good of all is - GOD. We also practice self-discipline and self-mastery, which we need in order to achieve holiness. Jesus fasted in the desert and calls us to as well.
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matt 6: 16)

"and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2:37)

Yet when they were ill, I...humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm 35:13)
Peace to you in your desire to grow closer to God.

New Texas Las Mandates Sonograms Before Abortions

This is good news.
Austin – Texas Governor Rick Perry Thursday signed into law a measure requiring women seeking an abortion in the state to first get a sonogram.

Texas is one of several U.S. states with strong Republican legislative majorities proposing new restrictions on abortion this year. The Republican governor had designated the bill as an emergency legislative priority, putting it on a fast track.

Under the law, women will have to wait 24 hours after the sonogram before having an abortion, though the waiting time is two hours for those who live more than 100 miles from an abortion provider.

"Governor Perry was pleased to sign this important legislation, which bolsters our efforts to protect life by ensuring Texans are fully informed when considering such an important decision," said Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for the governor.

A sonogram is an imaging technique using high-frequency sound waves to produce images of a developing baby in a woman's uterus.

Under the measure, women will be offered the option of hearing the heartbeat and seeing the sonogram image, which they may decline. But the woman's doctor must describe the image, explaining the size of the embryo or fetus and the presence of organs and limbs.

In certain cases, including those involving rape and incest victims or serious fetal abnormalities, the woman could decline to hear the description of the sonogram.

Opponents of the legislation said the law interferes in the doctor-patient relationship by adding a government requirement for a procedure that could be traumatizing to women going through an already difficult situation.

During debate on the House floor in March, Democratic state Representative Carol Alvarado wielded a trans-vaginal probe used for sonograms early in pregnancy.

"This is government intrusion at its best," she said during that debate.
Instead of me answering the arguments of the opponents of this legislation. I will let you, dear readers, do that in the comments.

Do You Struggle With Prayer? The Pope Understands.

Poverty: Where We All Started

Another good video from the Population Research Institute.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tech Making Lives Better - Paralyzed Man Able to Walk Again

What an incredible story:
A 25-year-old paraplegic is now walking again, thanks to a groundbreaking procedure developed by neuroscientists at the University of Louisville, UCLA and Cal Tech. The Oregon man, Rob Summers, was paralyzed below the chest in 2006, after getting hit by a speeding car. This week, however, doctors announced that Summers can now stand up on his own and remain standing for up to four minutes. With the help of a special harness, he can even take steps on a treadmill and can move his lower extremities for the first time in years. It was all made possible by a spinal implant that emits small pulses of electricity, designed to replicate signals that the brain usually sends to coordinate movement. Prior to receiving the implant in 2009, Summers underwent two years of training on a treadmill, with a harness supporting his weight and researchers moving his legs.
Continue Reading.

Steven Tyler's ex-Girlfriend (the Woman he forced to get an Abortion) Is Now a Catholic Pro-Lifer

A very sad story you should read:
My maiden name is Julia Holcomb and I am writing in response to Kevin Burke’s article Post Abortion Trauma from the National Review. I found the article he wrote about Steven Tyler remarkably compassionate while outlining the trauma of abortion. My name was mentioned in this article, as it has been in several other articles that have been written lately, and in several books. I decided it was time to tell my story honestly, to the best of my memory, hoping to bring closure and peace to this period of my life.

In November of 1973, shortly after my 16th birthday, I met Steven Tyler at a concert in Portland, Oregon. To understand what leads a 16-year-old girl to find herself backstage at an Aerosmith Rock Concert, and in a three- year live-in relationship with Steven Tyler, you need some essential background information.
Continue Reading.

Catholics, Truth, and Other Religions.

Q - How can the Catholic Church proclaim that we know the truth, and that we know so much about God and religion and what to do here on earth much better than other religions? When people of other "faiths" pray, aren't they praying to the same God as us? If there is only one God, how could they be praying to anyone else? I know that part of being explicitly "Christian" means believing in the divinity of Christ, but in many cultures, the perception of a human also being God is much less reasonable to grasp. I know from learning a second language based within a culture entirely different from my own that meaning can get "lost in translation," causing severe misconceptions between cultures. Couldn't it be that really many religions believe in the same God, the one faith, but in different ways, and the reason we see them as different faiths is because our cultural perceptions are just different? I just don't see how you can put God in a box, and say that this one thing is concretely, absolutely true but this other thing is not. God didn't give us that power.

A -
Thanks for the question. As you said further in your email - "it is a huge question" and I agree. This is one of those big questions that seem to poke up at us at one time or another. I hope I can do justice in my answer to the seriousness of your question.

What I might do first is to assure you that it isn't an impossible task that God has set before us - to know about Him, His creation and His revelation to us. Otherwise, God has created us to be uncertain of His plans for us. But, before I go on I want to state a few things:

1 - Humans make mistakes, God does not.
2 - Human knowledge is limited, God's knowledge is not.
3 - Human faith is imperfect and is made unnecessary once we reach heaven and see God face-to-face.
4 - To believe in God, as revealed through Christ, is rational.
5 - Our understanding of God is limited and imperfect - but this does not mean we cannot know what He has revealed to us - otherwise He is a bad teacher.

I would like to also affirm that you are correct in saying that if a person worships and believes in the one God, then they are (in some imperfect way) worshiping and believing the one true God. This is why the Catechism says:
The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day. (CCC 841)
They may not understand the nature of God correctly, but they still adore Him. In fact, the Church acknowledges and lifts up the truths that are found in other religions:
The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.(CCC 843)
Now, this does not mean that all religions are the same or that we are incapable of knowing truth. To say this is a relativistic outlook. Relativism is the philosophical belief that truth cannot be known objectively because it is relative to a person, place, time, situation, etc. But, this is a contradiction in and of itself - because we cannot reject objective truth by stating an objective truth.

Is Christianity true? Well, first we have to define what we mean by "true". Truth is that which corresponds to reality. So, we would say that other religions are partly true, but not fully so. Only Christianity has the Truth of the nature of God - found in the Trinity and the Incarnation of Christ. Where contradictory truths are taught (e.g., Jesus is God vs. Jesus is not God) then both cannot be true.

The claims of Christianity are exclusive:

  • Either Jesus is God or He isn't.
  • Either God revealed Himself to us through the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition or He didn't.
  • Either God gave real authority to the Catholic Church or He didn't.

There are many more claims, but these will suffice for our answer here. Are these claims true? Well, I can prove them partly - in that I can show they are rational and believable. Whether or not an individual decides to accept these propositions is an act of faith - not just intellect.

I disagree with you on one point. God did give us the power to know Him personally by revealing Himself to us.

  • He reveals Himself to us in several different ways and on different levels. He reveals his existence to us through creation. Aristotle believed in a creator - yet he didn't have any kind of special revelation given to him.
  • He reveals Himself to us through our consciences. We know that we are supposed to do good and avoid evil. This is the voice of God within.
  • He reveals Himself to us through others. Have you held a baby in your hands or had a person comfort you? This is God's work.
  • He most explicitly and especially reveals Himself to us in the extraordinary way of giving us Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

This isn't putting God "in a box" but rather stating that God isn't a liar and that according to the nature of truth, He truly reveals Himself to us. If we get specific, we can see this is true. So, answer these questions:

  1. -Did Jesus exist? No historian worth his salt denies this.
  2. -Did the apostles die for their belief in Him? Again, yes.
  3. -Did they die for the truth that He was God or a lie? The logical answer is that it is for truth.

I myself have experienced Christ and I know Him personally, so the truth of my faith does nothing that is contrary to reason, but goes beyond the limits of reason. Being a Christian isn't about us searching for God, it is about God searching for us.

It isn't about being triumphalistic, exclusive or arrogant about truth. Christ claimed He was God, He can't both be God and not be God. I choose to believe, by the weight of evidence and guided by faith. But, remember that we are not saved because of our knowledge of God, but our faith in God. Thus, the Catholic Church, while it claims to have the fullness of the means to grace and truth - does not claim that you have to be (explicitly) united to the Catholic Church for salvation.

As for cultural perceptions changing truth - this boils down to cultural relativism - as if truth were subject to cultures. The Church does teach that the means in which we speak about God might change somewhat from culture to culture - but the underlying truth is the same. For instance, Catholics in Africa frequently dance to praise God. But, because of the implications of what dancing means in our western culture, we do not have liturgical dancing here. This is an application of the same truth - that we worship with both body and soul. But, the truth isn't different because of cultures. If that were the case, then once again, God is a bad teacher.

There are many good books that answer, in more depth than I did here, these questions. I will recommend two to you:
1 - Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
2 - Handbook of Christian Apologetics - Kreeft and Tacelli

I hope this helps in some small way.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is Raising a Child "Gender-Neutral" Harmful?

Another family has decided to raise their children in a "gender-neutral" environment. This means that they have not let others know whether they baby is a boy or a girl and they do not tell them how to dress, what to play with or the societal expectations of how they should act. This also means they are setting their child up to be abnormal. It is a social experiment on their own children in order to push an agenda and try to further "societal change" toward a progressive culture.

I believe it is at least extremely damaging to the children and could be abusive. But, the progressive thinkers in psychology and gender-studies believe that being male or female is a societal construct that is forced upon us by antiquated ideas and societal norms. The truth about what gender we are is deep inside and must be brought out by experience and finding our "true selves", whether that is transsexual, bisexual, male, female, etc.

The problem with all of these ideas is that they make a false separation between the body and the "true self". If you aren't your body, then what are you? If the real you isn't your body, what happens to the real you when it doesn't have a body to hold it any longer? What is the body, if it isn't a part of you?

These questions and many more highlight the need we have for the theology of the body. There are clear answers.

Modern society has placed a litmus test upon the way in which we relate to one another: this test is basically one of function. The secular criteria of functionality has become commonplace in the way our society thinks of equality and if this is so, then we must probably conclude that the Church is archaic and sexist. But in the eyes of the Church, equality between men and women is based on something much more important than mere function. Our equality goes beyond mere function and takes us to the heart of humanity.

In the beginning, Adam was alone in his humanity and he knew something was missing. God also knew this and said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). What we see here, is that Adam did not enjoy the full range of his human capacity for relationships with creation as it was. As a human, he needed something else to be complete. The “other” that gave him the full meaning of relationship was Eve. Thus, they are created for and ordered to one another.

An important note we must make about the creation narrative is that Adam was not referred to as “male” until there was a female to contrast with his maleness. As Pope John Paul II point out, prior to Eve, Adam is just “man” in the sense that is used to define all of humanity; that is, mankind as a whole in which gender is not even considered. Adam only takes on the masculinity that is part of his nature after Eve is created and she can then provide the femininity that is needed to give masculinity its meaning. In other words, without female, there is no male. God created this distinction between male and female and it is consequently a divinely instituted distinction.

What happened next in the Garden of Eden is what we have come to know as marriage. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Here, the dynamic of the relationship between man and woman changes. Now we not only have man and woman in the narrative, but we have husband and wife. This brings on a real change in both the relationship of Adam and Eve, and in Adam and Eve themselves. The two become one. They complement each other in the differences that they bear by their nature. But the two are not interchangeable. The woman cannot be husband and the man cannot be wife. To complete each other they first must realize that in their differences, they find what the other needs to be complete. Exactly the opposite happens in modern thought when, attempting to make man and woman equal, it ends up making them the same, thus denying precisely that which truly makes us equal, our reflection of the divine.

It is now becoming clearer why the Church has a view which seems to be in conflict with society - it is. According to a function-based definition of equality, the roles that a woman once had are now open for men to fulfill, and vice-versa. We each are capable of doing what everyone else “does” regardless of our nature. This then justifies such ideas as that women should be priests because women can do anything that a men can do as priests (proclaim the Gospel, wear vestments, give homilies, run parishes, and so on). But as we have seen, this way of thinking about humanity is a denial of the purpose in which God created us -- male and female. If we are able to be whatever we want, just by willing it, this boils down to a refutation of what God intends each of us to be.

If we as men and women seek to understand our differences, then we also must ask how our differences complement each other, and how we are tied to one another and to God.

If we side with society and the world-view that humanity is defined by function, then, for example, the unborn child has no rights since it cannot “do” anything, and more generally women and men are no longer distinguishable except by how we might function. But if we side with the Church and the sacramental view of humanity, then our dignity is tied to the fulfillment of our beings as found in each other and in the relationship that God created between men and women at the beginning. What does this criterion of equality based function end up doing to us? It means that we can never truly be equal; for true equality can only be found by acknowledging our differences and then finding that which transcends them.

It also means we shouldn't experiment on innocent children.

Fr. Barron on Why It Is a Great Time to be a Priest

Pray for our priests!

The Rapture and the Catholic Church

Q - What is said about the rapture in the Catholic faith? I have read part of the Left Behind series and I heard a lot about the group that was thinking the rapture was supposed to happen this weekend - so I wanted to know how much it is like Catholic beliefs.

A - Thanks for the question. I know that this can be quite a confusing issue for many Catholics. The Catholic Church does not believe in the rapture theory.

Let us look for a bit at the rapture and where it came from. It started in a dispensationalist movement within Protestantism. Dispensationalism was created in the late 1800s and popularized in the early 1900s by the Scofield Reference Bible. It divides the times through the Bible, into the present, and the future as periods of history (called dispensations) where God has a different kind of relationship with His people in each period. Thus, it has a heavy emphasis on trying to study what will happen in the future.

A dispensationalist view of Scripture is literal, as in word-for-word. The current dispensation started at Pentecost and will continue until the rapture, where Jesus will come secretly and take up all the "saved" into heaven with Him.

After the Rapture, all those left on the earth will face a time of tribulation and then a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth in Jerusalem. This comes from a certain reading of the book of Revelation. This literal reading makes for a kind of third coming, because Jesus comes for a second time in the rapture then again to set up his earthly kingdom.

The Catholic Church teaches that Christ came first 2,000 years ago and will come only once at the end of the world to conquer evil and end time on earth as we know it. There is no rapture. This theory was started by a Scottish visionary and has no basis in Scripture or Tradition.

When will this happen? Nobody knows and if they think they do they are fooling themselves:
**“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day” (3:8).

**“You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” (Lk 12:20)

Here is what the Catechism says:

674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old."St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".

And more:

675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.


678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching.Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned.Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.On the Last Day Jesus will say: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."

Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. - 1Thes 5:1-2
I think that says it all.
For more on this I recommend the following books:
Will Catholics be Left Behind? - Carl Olson
The Rapture Trap - Paul Thigpen

Friday, May 20, 2011


**Facebook inspires a couple from Israel to name their baby "Like".
Oi vey!

**I like chess because it challenges me to think. I don't play it enough though. Yet the thought of trying to figure out strategy in three-man chess sounds very daunting.

**For all the hippies who want to remember the VW camper buses they used to own - now you can buy a VW Camper tent.

**Netflix now uses the most internet bandwidth. More than HTTP or Bit Torrent.

**Panera restaurants now has three 'Panera Cares' locations where people pay as much or little as they can afford. Cool idea. I hope it continues to work.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Did Yoda Translate the King James Bible?

I went to a function at a local Baptist church a while back. During my visit I noticed a verse from the King James Bible that read:
"this do in remembrance of me." - Luke 22:19
I almost laughed out loud when I had the thought that it sounded like Yoda. It was then that I realized Yoda sounds more like King James English than modern-day English.

Then I found out that many Star Wars fanatics believe that George Lucas based Yoda's dialect off of the King James Bible. So, I decided to put together this list:
Top 10 Yodisms in the King James Bible.
Make sure you read in your best Yoda voice

  • 10 - "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." - John 13:7
  • 9 - "hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." - Revelation 3:11
  • 8 - "I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye." - 1 Corinthians 16:1
  • 7 - "Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days" - Daniel 1:12
  • 6 - "Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." - Acts 19:4
  • 5 - "without him was not any thing made that was made." - John 1:3
  • 4 - "When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them" - Ezekiel 1:21
  • 3 - "And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:" - Luke 15:29
  • 2 - "Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:" - Acts 16:1
  • 1 - "this do in remembrance of me." - Luke 22:19

I still think the KJV is a better translation than the NAB.

Pope Benedict says "All Catholics Have a Duty To Pray for The Church in China"

Pray for persecuted Christians, wherever they are:


Jesus' life via Twitter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do We Still Recognize Beauty When We Encounter It?

I think the following social experiment (by The Washington Post) will surprise many. Tell me what will happen if you add this up:

An beautiful and difficult piece of music 
a $3.5 million violin 
a free performance in a train station.

What do you think would happen if he played for 43 minutes with his violin case open for donations?
If you answered he would make money, you are somewhat correct. He made $32.17 ($20 from the one woman who recognized him).
-But, his concert three days before the experiment sold out Boston's Symphony Hall where the cheap seats were $100.

If you answered people would stop and listen, you are somewhat correct. Out of over 1,000 people that passed, only 7 stopped for a short time. There was never even a small crowd that formed.
-2 weeks later his concert was standing-room only in a nearby city.

Why can we not recognize beauty any longer? I believe it is for these reasons:
1 - We are too busy. 
We think that there are other more "important" things to do. Yet how many hours are wasted on TV, Facebook, phones, etc.?

2 - We are too clouded in our thinking. 
Our culture holds up the feeding of all of our appetites as the recipe for happiness. Think of what we are being sold on a daily basis - porn, materialism, relativism, etc. We have stifled the three things that lead to true happiness - truth, beauty, and goodness.

3 - We navel-gaze too much. 
Navel-gazing = the are caring about ourselves alone. This means we are not a loving culture, because to love we must go beyond ourselves.

4 - We have lost the virtue of leisure:
Leisure isn't just mindless pleasure outside of work. It is the act of thinking about things as they truly are. It involves contemplation and deep-thinking. Since we are a shallow people who do not pray, there is very little true leisure.

To stop and think about what is true is a great thing.
To stop and recognize beauty is a great thing.
To stop and find goodness is a great thing.
Don't let another opportunity to do so pass you by.

Here is video of people passing Joshua Bell by:

To read the article on the social experiment - click here.

Taking Things Too Seriously?

Then check this out.

New Roman Missal iPhone App

This looks very good. I love when Tech meets Faith.
This app will help you to learn the new Mass, and realize it's the same Mass as ever - only better.

Best of all, The New Mass app can be used even now, with the current Mass!

Now you can reference the updated Mass on your iPhone or iPod Touch.
BTW - a new book on Catholics and New Media will be published at the end of the summer. I happen to be one of the contributors. Keep an eye out for The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Now THIS is a Marriage Proposal That Gets 4 Stars

One of the best ever.

10 Reasons To Love Being Bald

As a shiny and proud bald man, who really doesn't mind that The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh My Hair Away...I have a list for you:

10 Reasons To Love Being Bald

  1. Save  money on haircuts and hair products. 
    -I will save somewhere between $5,000 - $10,000 over the course of my lifetime.
  2. Save time.
    -I don't have to fix my hair, dry it after a shower, or even look in a mirror most days.
  3. Look better with a goatee (or any kind facial hair)-Have you ever noticed how many bald guys have goatees? It is because they look so stinkin' awesome...
  4. Never get carded.
    -We carry our "over 21 ID" loud and proud on top of our heads.
  5. No "hat head"
    -I can take off a hat and never have to worry about what I look like once I go inside.
  6. No dandruff.
    -No hair = no flakes.
  7. Bald guys are more "manly".
    -Baldness is caused by testosterone. Duh, winning!
  8. Bald heads are more touchable.
    I never got random head rubs before being bald. Now some people can't resist.
  9. Cooler in the Texas heat.
    Natural air conditioning.
  10. God made us to be this way.
    FYI - Most of the really cool male Saints were bald.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vatican Issues Rules To Bishops' Conferences on Abuse of Minors

Glad to see these norms be issued. Below is a video with highlights.

The Three Temptations of Facebook

Jen Fulwiler, who blogs at Conversion Diary and the National Catholic Register has a great article about the temptations that Facebook users have.

Did I mention that she is an Aggie and is a contributor, along with me, in a new book to be released at the end of the summer - "The Church and the New Media"?

Here is a snip of the article:
A while back I did a computer fast where I shut down my computer and put it away completely for an entire week. No email. No web surfing. No Facebook, Twitter or blogging. I didn’t even use my mobile phone for anything other than making actual phone calls. It ended up being an even more illuminating experience than I could have imagined. Not only did my little experiment reveal some stark truths about how I use my time in a typical day, but it showed me just how much my interactions with the online world had impacted my spiritual life, as well.

Naturally, the minute my fast was over I ran back to my computer like I was Richard Gere in the final scene of An Officer and a Gentleman, and these days I’m pretty much back to living as if my laptop were a bodily appendage. But I have remembered some of the lessons I learned during my week of living like it was 1995, and they’ve helped me keep my relationship with Facebook, Twitter and other social media in check. I find that if I can watch out for the following pitfalls, I can (usually) maintain a healthy relationship to the online world:

The Top Three Spiritual Pitfalls of Facebook, Twitter and Other Social Media:

1. Overvaluing your own opinions

In what would end up being one of the most ridiculous moments of my computer fast—perhaps of my entire life—I happened to see a commercial I didn’t like on television, and instinctively reached for my computer to update my social media sites with some pithy commentary about it. When I remembered that that wasn’t an option, I grabbed a pen and paper and jotted down my thoughts to share when I was back online. I think it was at that moment, when I looked down and saw that I had deemed the message “UltraShine shampoo makes women look like Dee Snider” so worthy as to be captured and proclaimed to the world, that I realized that my involvement with social media just might have made me start to overvalue my own opinion.
Continue Reading.

Webinar on JPII

I like Michael Barber, he does good work and is one of the best young Catholic theologians in the country. So, a free webinar with him on JPII sounds good to me. But, you have to pre-register.

John Paul II on the Trinity as the Model for the Family

with Dr. Michael Barber

Thursday, June 2nd at 6:00 p.m.

Learn more about recently Blessed John Paul II's understanding of God, family, and culture and how a true understanding of the family can Impact Culture for Christ.

Join us as Dr. Michael Barber hosts a webinar entitled John Paul II on the Trinity as the Model for the Family, sponsored by John Paul the Great Catholic University.

The webinar lasts about a half-hour and there will be a Q&A session during which Dr. Barber will answer your questions.
Sign up here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Who Is Next?

It is very humbling to know that so many people read this blog regularly. We now have over 1,200 followers + thousands of others that visit us regularly.

If you want to follow or subscribe to the blog, you can do so in several different ways. Here are the numbers of people following us in each different way:

You can also join 4,087 people on Facebook who "like" us in addition to 142 Twitter followers.

The bandwagon is leaving. Jump on...

The Scariest Conversation I've Ever Heard

A great article from my buddy - Matt Archbold of Creative Minority Report.
A number of years ago I was told to meet two “money guys” at an expensive social club in Philadelphia. I was earning money in politics at that point. I’d started off just writing press releases and speeches but I got in pretty deep pretty fast and I’ll admit I liked it. High stakes at high speeds can be addictive. I can’t remember how long ago this particular night was but I know I was still drinking so it was at least six years ago.

I knew my job. It wasn’t to walk out of the meeting with money but it was to make sure that the guy who called or met them the next day would. I would laugh at their jokes but not too loudly. I would drink but not enough to lose control. I would tell stories because if there’s one thing people love it’s a little inside dirt. It makes them feel part of it all. And when the moment was right I’d tell them how grateful we’d be for some help. Half the job was picking the right moment. So I drank and laughed and waited.

While eating dinner the two money guys, who’d been strangers before that night, learned of an acquaintance they had in common. They both knew the same girl. From their description she sounded young, beautiful and kind. They described her with a kind of awe. One said he’d been “chasing” her for weeks and added, “I finally took her down last week.” Then they high-fived. Two men in suits high-fived and then they laughed the kind of laugh that made me want to run for an emergency exit.

He meant “took her down” as in a National Geographic documentary. The strong preying on the weak. I sat there stunned. I think that moment scared me more than anything I’d ever heard before or even read. In history books you can read about wars and infamous acts of man’s inhumanity towards man but it’s hard to feel it. This scared me more. Two normal successful men talked about a girl as prey.
Continue reading.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fr. Barron on St. Thomas Aquinas' Writings

Why Co-Ed Dorms Are A Bad Idea

A very insightful article that questions the movement toward co-ed dorms. Many universities do not even offer single-sex dorms any longer. This is a bad thing, as explained below:
Many universities, especially religiously affiliated ones, state that they seek to foster both the intellectual growth and the ethical development of their students. Such universities set for themselves a rich goal: to educate the whole person, to develop students inside as well as outside the classroom, to enlarge the mind and the heart.

Two problems face such universities, and indeed virtually all universities: binge drinking and a hookup culture. Binge drinking hampers academic excellence insofar as heavy drinkers are more likely to skip class, fall behind in classwork, and have alcohol-related health problems that hamper academic success. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, college binge drinking is the leading cause of death in young adults.

In addition to hampering academic excellence, binge drinking also inhibits ethical development by focusing heavy drinkers inwards, on private self-indulgence, rather than outwards to service of others. Binge drinkers are more likely to commit illegal and unjust behaviors, including sexual assault and vandalism. Binge drinking also negatively effects sober or light drinking students who find themselves sexually harassed, insulted, and woken up in the middle of the night.

The other problem on campus, depicted so vividly by Tom Wolfe in I Am Charlotte Simmons, is the hookup culture. Especially for women, hooking up is related to depression, which can damage academic success. Sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and pregnancy scares likewise hinder intellectual focus. The hookup culture also inhibits ethical development through a focus on private indulgence in which other people are used for pleasure, rather than on loving, committed relationships. Its practices also impose on others by displacing roommates who get “sexiled.”

What is the solution to these problems? Although there is no perfect solution, meaningful, significant reductions of the extent of both problems are possible.

The answer is simple. Most parents would view it positively. It is compatible with the traditions of religiously affiliated schools. What one change ameliorates both binge drinking and the hookup culture?

The answer is single-sex student residences. Research indicates that students in single-sex residences are significantly less likely to engage in binge drinking and the hookup culture than students living in co-ed student residences.

Let’s look at the connection between binge drinking and co-ed dorms first.
Continue reading.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is Jesus Really Present In The Eucharist?

Full Communion

Q - What does the phrase "to be in full communion with the Church is to accept all her teachings" mean? What if one's informed conscience disagrees with a teaching? What does Hans Kung's status with the Church mean for the previous two answers?

A - First, let us define some terms.
Full communion = Those who have a relationship with Christ and the Catholic Church. That relationship is expressed through the primacy of grace in the Sacraments of Initiation.

Communion is a gift from God. It is not created by man. Until our communion with God and each other is consummated completely in heaven, the Sacramental communion with others and God is the extension of this relationship while on earth. This Sacramental communion echoes the visible and invisible dimension of union with the Church and Christ. Because Christ was both spirit and body, we are to be united to him in both ways. This unity is therefore Sacramental.

Remember that when we are talking about unity with the Church, we are talking about unity with Christ's body. There is one Christ and one truth. The Father spoke one Word of Revelation in the form of the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must see the teachings of the Church as a whole Word of Truth, spoken by the Father to reveal Himself to us. It isn't as if there are some truths that we get to choose from and throw out the rest. There is one truth about God and His Church.

Therefore, communion is about the interpersonal relationships within the Church and the bond of unity. We cannot forget that communion implies the human and divine dimensions. This means that communion is not just a work of man, but primarily a work of God and our participation in his communion of Father, Son and Spirit.

The act of receiving someone into the Church fully (one who is already baptized) includes a statement of faith in which they profess the following:
I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.
It is a statement of faith in the one truth of God, as revealed through Christ and entrusted to the Church. To be in full communion is to hold the one truth of Christ as true in all it's forms.

While the conscience should always be followed, we must always form it according to the teachings of the Church. The Catechism talks about the Conscience in paragraphs 1776-1802. This is a short section that talks about the formation and following of the conscience that I highly recommend. As it states in paragraph 1785 - the authoritative teacher of the conscience is the Church. So, to disagree with the Church is to fail to follow the correct teacher.

There is more on Communion with the Church in the following documents:

On Hans Kung, the question becomes - can a loyal Catholic theologian publicly dissent from Church teaching and remain in full communion? The answer; it depends, but with some serious conditions to that answer.

If the Church has taught something infallibly or made a "definitive statement" on matters of faith or morals (in other words, something that is closely related to revelation and is to be "firmly accepted and held" - examples include contraception and all-male priesthood) then no, one cannot dissent publicly.

If however the teaching is on ordinary teaching on faith/morals (pastoral judgements and applications of certain principles) or prudential teachon on disciplinary matters, then one can dissent with some conditions. Those would include; informed disagreement after sincere effor of submission of intellect and will or external conformity not possible, duty to inform magisterium of problems raised by teaching, patient, humble, open-minded dialogue with magisterium (must remain open to being taught), and finally must not use a pressure tactic or journalistic approach to try and change a teaching (e.g., petitions, etc)

For more on the issue of communion as it relates to Theologians and dissent, you can read the Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith's letter about this issue - Donum Veritatis.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Who Wants to Get Really Upset? If So, Keep Reading...

If you raised your hand and want to get upset. I give you the headline of the year -
"Cheerleader Has To Pay $45,000 To The School That Kicked Her Off The Squad For Refusing To Cheer For Her Rapist".
The Supreme Court this week refused to hear the case of a teenage girl who was kicked off her cheerleading team after refusing to cheer for the boy who sexually assaulted her.

As a result, she now owes the school $45,000 in legal fees.

The girl, known only as MS, accused a fellow student of raping her at a party. He plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge to avoid jail time and was allowed to return to school and the basketball team.

She continued to cheer for the team during games, but refused to shout the boy's name or clap for him when he shot free throws. When the superintendent discovered what she was doing, she was kicked off the team.

She sued the Texas school, arguing that her free speech rights had been violated, but two courts ruled that as a cheerleader she speaks for the school, not herself, and did not have the right to refuse.

A federal appeals court upheld the ruling and ordered her to pay court costs for filing a "frivolous" lawsuit.
Additional details here and here.
No comment needed...

Scientist Says Evil Can Be Eradicated With Empathy...

I have to say, there are a lot of bad theories in the Psycho-sciences, but this one is terrible. A snip:
As a scientist seeking to understand random acts of violence, from street brawls to psychopathic killings to genocide, he has puzzled for decades over what prompts such acts of human cruelty. And he's decided that evil is not good enough.

"I'm not satisfied with the term 'evil'," says the Cambridge University psychology and psychiatry professor, one of the world's top experts in autism and developmental psychopathology.

"We've inherited this word.. and we use it to express our abhorrence when people do awful things, usually acts of cruelty, but I don't think it's anything more than another word for doing something bad. And as a scientist that doesn't seem to me to be much of an explanation. So I've been looking for an alternative -- we need a new theory of human cruelty."

Baron-Cohen, who is also director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge, has just written a book in which he calls for a kind of rebranding of evil to offer a more scientific explanation for why people kill and torture, or have such great difficulty understanding the feelings of others.

His proposal is that evil be understood as a lack of empathy -- a condition he argues can be measured and monitored and is susceptible to education and treatment.
Continue Reading.
What is evil? Where did it come from? Check this out.
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Check this out.

Speaking In Tongues?

Fr. Barron Coming To PBS!

The new CATHOLICISM series is now going to be aired by PBS in Chicago and then distributed around the country. This is great news!
WTTW/National in Chicago will broadcast in prime-time and distribute nationwide four hours of CATHOLICISM - a multi-part documentary series - in October 2011.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Life Without Prayer Has No Meaning" -Pope Benedict XVI

Steven Tyler Regrets His Girlfriend's Abortion

What a sad story. We rarely hear about how abortion affects men, but we need to.
Long before he won accolades as an American Idol judge, Steven Tyler was a bona-fide rock star, with all that that implied. In 1975, when he was in his late 20s and the lead singer for the band Aerosmith, Tyler persuaded the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Julia Holcomb, to make him her legal guardian so that they could live together in Boston.

When Miss Holcomb and Tyler conceived a child, his longtime friend Ray Tabano convinced Tyler that abortion was the only solution. In the Aerosmith “autobiography,” Walk This Way (in which recollections by all the band members, and their friends and lovers, were assembled by the author Stephen Davis), Tabano says: “So they had the abortion, and it really messed Steven up because it was a boy. He … saw the whole thing and it [messed] him up big time.”

Tyler also reflects on his abortion experience in the autobiography. “It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives. … You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a traumatic event as follows: “1. The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. 2. The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.”

Those who support abortion rights assure us that post-abortion complications are a myth. But Steven Tyler cuts through this fog of denial and lays it on the line: Jesus, what have I done?

This is the cry of a post-abortive father whose very intimate exposure to the reality of abortion fits the textbook definition of trauma — as set down by the very same American Psychiatric Association that assures us abortion is a safe procedure with no negative effects on a man’s or a woman’s mental health.
Continue reading.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sonogram Bill Makes it To Governor's Desk

This is really good new from Austin.
State Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, said he and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, had agreed on “the cutout” exempting victims of rape and incest from undergoing the sonogram procedure and on an exemption requested by state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, for women living more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion provider. The bill would require them to have the sonogram at least two hours before the abortion instead of 24.

As currently written, HB 15 would require a woman to receive a sonogram and listen to a description of the fetus. The woman could choose to view images and hear the heartbeat of the fetus or she could refuse, although she would be required to hear an explanation from a doctor or medical professional about what the sonogram image showed.

With 75 House co-sponsors, House Bill 15 is virtually assured of passage and will become the first of the governor’s designated emergency items to make it to his desk for signing.

Smells Like The Vatican

The Pope's Cologne.
There are a million punchlines to this one.
  • An infallible smell.
  • Why God gave us a nose.
  • Not for Luther.
  • Tested on funny looking Swiss men.
Some offered in Comments:

  • Indulge your senses
  • Frankensensational
  • Don't smell like a relic...smell incorrupt
  • Smell like a German Shepherd
  • Magisterial Musk
  • Papa's Profumo
  • An 'in scent' for the masses
  • Put on the odor of sanctity
  • Smells like... salvation
  • He can't attract the ladies. But you sure can.
  • For Petes' Neck

Please add your own.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To Lead Others Into the Arms of Jesus

We had a Norbertine priest from St. Michael's Abbey in California visit us last week. Here is an amazing video that introduces the community. It is excellent.

St. Michael's Abbey is a community of Norbertine Canons Regular in Orange County, California, dedicated to preserving the time-honored traditions of the Catholic Church for the last 900 years, fostering a vibrant Christ-centered culture via the sacraments, and forming the priests of tomorrow through common life, common prayer and education. St. Michael's Abbey continues to grow quickly, ten-fold since its inception. It now numbers over 70 priests and seminarians.

Members of the abbey live a monastic life, that includes following the Rule of St. Augustine, chanting of the Divine Office and Mass every day along with an active apostolate. The abbey's principal apostolate is its preparatory school, a boys' boarding school (9-12) focused on forming the Catholic leaders of tomorrow. The priests are also involved in parish work, retreats and writing and translation of spiritual books.
Tip 'o the hat to John.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why Do Catholics Have Extra Things?

Q - Do we really believe we won’t go to Hell if we wear a scapular and pray every day? More generally, there are things not in the bible, like the rosary, etc. that many people say are unnecessary. Why do we have extra things? Isn’t being good and following God’s Word good enough?

A - Thanks for the question. I will get to the scapular issue toward the end of this post.

Is God's Word good enough? Absolutely! But, we must have a proper understanding of what God's Word is. It is not just the Bible. It is so much more - it is a person, Jesus Christ. Christ is the fullness of everything that God the Father wanted to tell His people on earth. Jesus came and showed us the plan of the Father through his words, actions, miracles, and life. The truth of this message was then passed down through the words, actions, miracles, lives, and writings of His followers. Some of the writings are extraordinary, in that they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and thus they are brought together in our Sacred Scriptures. But, the authority and truth of the other ways that The Word is brought to us don't go away - they are also brought together in Sacred Tradition. The two (Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture) go hand-in-hand to bring us God's truth. God's Word is always enough - because Christ is enough!

While there are Catholic "extras" that aren't necessary for salvation, they can help us grow in holiness - these are not part of the deposit of revelation we call Sacred Tradition, but traditions (with a lower-case"t"). An analogy might help. You could get a hot dog with just a bun and the hot dog. But, every person likes to dress them up differently. I personally like them loaded with ketchup, mustard, onions, etc. This is the same with all the Catholic extras, such as the different forms of prayer (rosary, praise and worship music, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, etc.) and different devotions (Marian, saints, different sacramentals, etc.). We don't all have to do the same things, because we are all different and have different spiritual tastes. Just because a devotion isn't found in the Bible doesn't mean it isn't helpful to us spiritually.

Now, back to the scapular. There are several different kinds of scapulars and each has a particular focus, but this is a particular kind of spirituality that comes from wearing a cloth pendant. The origin of the scapular is found in the religious communities and their clothing, called a habit. The cloth pendant identifies the wearer with the spirituality of a particular religious community, for instance the brown scapular is connected with our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Carmelite communities. Thus, a wearer of a scapular that is associated with a particular order is to be inducted (called invested) into a community by a priest.

Regardless of what community a scapular is associated with, each is an outward sign of their devotion to Mary. There are particular promises that are associated with some scapulars. The most common is the brown scapular which is said to free one from the fire of hell if worn at all times. This isn't a magic charm that keeps you out of hell. Rather, it is a promise that if you maintain your relationship with Christ and His mother that your are assured of heaven through His grace and your faith.