Friday, July 29, 2011

You Are Not Poor!

Forgive me if I get a bit preachy in this post, but sometimes it happens. Nix that, you don't have to forgive me, but just listen for a minute.

Most College students are horrible with money. I frequently hear the claim they are "poor" or the one about "not having any money". Both really bother me.  It isn't the high-life of western civilization for most college students, but it definitely isn't living in a shack, the likes of which can be found a few miles down the road in Bryan. Even less is the "poverty" the likes of what is in the picture - found in the Philippines.

But, I digress. Do college students make some sacrifices. I would say yes. Yet, it is more the lack of sacrifice that most Americans have had to endure, rather than the true lack of money that is what causes the attitude of "poverty".

I work for the Catholic Church. I don't make a lot of money compared to the average person in a similar position in the secular world. But, I do not call myself poor, because I am not. I am able to comfortably provide for my family and myself. We live in a nice house, we eat well and we have good clothes. Money is tight sometimes, but I am ashamed when I say things like "I am broke". Because I haven't missed a meal because of a lack of food once in my life.

So, I thought I would count up some of my blessing and I invite everyone else to do the same.
  • I have the fullness of the grace of Christ offered to me through the Catholic Church.
  • I have the fullness of truth offered to me through the Church.
  • I have a wonderful family.
  • I have my health.
  • I have a great job.
  • I have life.
  • I am part of fewer than 1% of the world population that has a Master's degree.
  • I have great friends.
  • I can read, walk, see, hear, etc.
  • I can worship how I like.
  • I can post my opinion on the internet unlike others who are restricted by their government.
  • I can vote.
  • I am very RICH. I am BLESSED.
You are rich as well.

But, ton understand that you are "rich" might take an attitude adjustment and/ or a few changes in lifestyle.

If you are a college student who doesn't have a lot of money - please don't complain about eating Ramen noodles. Don't complain about not being
able to by the newest tech toy.

Learn to live without. Learn to be satisfied and content with what you need, not what you desire. Peace can be found in such an attitude. It is the attitude of abundance vs. the attitude of poverty.

If you want to develop this kind of attitude, then do a few things.
  • Ask God to give you this grace.
  • Stop complaining about what you don't have.
  • Start appreciating more what you do have.
  • Live off of a tight budget.
  • Tithe.
  • Tithe 10%!
  • Take the advice in this article.
When I talk to college students about budgeting I challeng them to track their expenses and see where they could make one sacrifice to then offer the money to a charity or give to their parish. A few years ago, one student found she was spending a ton of money on coffee at Starbucks. She cut back and started a regular donation to her parish.

It is as easy as that. That is, if you want to be rich.

Fr. Barron on Relationships and Marriage

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is St. Paul Sexist?

Q - Would you please explain for me the passage from 1 Corinthians 11:1-16?
Does the description in 1 Corinthians 11:3 imply some kind of hierarchy therefore subordination from one member to the other? Why is a man not supposed to cover his head while a woman has to? Are these traditions? Finally, Jesus has long hair, do you see any contradiction?

A - Thanks for the questions. I will try and tackle all of them. First of all, we have to remember a few things about the authors of the Sacred Scriptures.
1 - God inspired them to write truth that leads to salvation. Here is what Vatican II said in Dei Verbum:
"since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation."
2 - The human authors are limited by their own humanity and do not write about the natural order of things if they are ignorant about something. God inspires the truth that is supernatural and transcends the natural order. Therefore, a writer could not tell us about modern scientific discoveries thousands of years ago. Thus, when we read the Bible we must consider what the original human author knew about the world. The Catechism says:
109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.
So, when we go through these passages, we must keep these things in mind.
Here is the passage in context:
"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you. But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God."
1 Corinthians 11: 1-16
What is Paul getting at here? Well, it will take a while to break it all down.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you. 
When Paul is saying to imitate him, he is speaking about the preceding passage, not this one. So, I will address the rest of this passage without directly linking them to Paul's example.

The rest of this passage is disputed by scholars. One school of thought is that he is talking about sexual differences between all men and women. Some say it has to do with marital relationships, not the broader differences between men and women. The Greek in this passage for "man" and "woman" can be also translated into "husband" and "wife", so this is where some of the scholars get this thought.

Now, the word "head" in Greek is Kephale. It can mean a physical head of a person's body, ruler, leader, source, or origin. So, there are different ways of interpreting what Paul is saying here. One way of interpreting Scripture is to read it in the context of other passages. Paul also talks about headship in Ephesians 5 and starts off with these passages:
"Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,"
-Ephesians 5: 21-16
So, husbands and wives are to be subordinate to one another - which means to let the other person's interests and welfare come before your own. Also, if a man is to be head of his wife as Christ is, then a man should lay down his life for his wife, as Christ did for the Church. There is no subjugation of women here. Rather, there is sacrificial love for one another.

Now, what about the head covering issue?
The Church teaches that this was a cultural practice in Paul's day and he is asking them to keep the practice up. This is not a matter of doctrine, but a discipline, therefore it can be changed as other disciplines in the liturgy have over time. Thus, the document Inter Insigniores says:
"it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value."
So, there is no moral or Church law that would ever require a woman to cover her head or wear what some women still wear - a chapel veil (mantilla) - rather, this is a personal devotion and women are permitted to wear them if they so choose.

As for Jesus and long hair - we just don't know what he looked like or how he had his hair.

Now, based on archaeological data, we can say that most Jews of Jesus day would have had long hair and beards (by today's standard). But, most women would have had hair much longer, probably down to their waists. So, what Paul is calling long is a cultural standard as well. He is asking men to try not to appear as women do.

I hope all of this helps.

Differences Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches?

Q - Can you point out the major differences between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches?

A – Thanks for your question!

Before we get to the differences, let us affirm what we have in common. While language is different, we both share valid Sacraments. We both hold the Saints and Mary in esteem. We both have authority that comes from the Apostles. We both recognize at least some of the Ecumenical Councils as authoritative. We both center our belief on the Eucharist. We both believe in basic creedal Christianity. Both are legitimate “churches”.

Now, some Orthodox do not like Catholics at all and others are much more open. But, the Catholic Church views the Orthodox as a “sister” Church and we should remember this. Pope John Paul II said that he looked forward to the day when the “Church can breathe with both lungs”, in referring to the Catholic and Orthodox uniting again.

The differences between Orthodox and Catholic start and end with authority. The Orthodox do not believe that the Pope has any special authority over the other Patriarchs and (leaders of the Orthodox churches) Bishops. He is merely another Bishop with the same authority as the rest.

Other issues include:
  • The Orthodox (for the most part) reject the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
  • There is a slight difference, although many believe it to be blown out of proportion (including me), about the spiration of the Holy Spirit. Was it from both Father and Son or the Father alone?
  • The liturgies (worship) are different in style and somewhat in emphasis.
  • Orthodox allow contraceptive use in marriage.
  • Orthodox allow divorce and remarriage.
For more on the divide, you can read this.

Pray for Christian Unity!

FDA Warns Against Spray Sunscreens

A Public Service Announcement from the FDA is below. I have moved exclusively to spray sunscreens and my kids use them too, so this was an interesting find. The Food and Drug Administration says:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking steps to help protect consumers from skin damage caused by excessive sun exposure.
The new measures include the following:
  • final regulations that establish standards for testing the effectiveness of sunscreen products and require labeling that accurately reflects test results
  • a proposed regulation that would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labeling to “SPF 50+”
  • a data request for safety and effectiveness information for sunscreen products formulated in certain dosage forms (e.g., sprays)
  • a draft guidance for sunscreen manufacturers on how to test and label their products in light of these new measures.
Then Consumer Reports says:
The Food and Drug Administration announced last month that it was investigating the potential risks of spray sunscreens. Of particular concern to us is the possibility that people might accidentally breathe in the ingredients, a risk that’s greatest in children, who—as any parent knows—are more likely to squirm around when they’re being sprayed.

As a result, we now say that until the FDA completes its analysis, the products should generally not be used by or on children. We have also removed one sunscreen spray—Ocean Potion Kids Instant Dry Mist SPF 50—from the group of recommended sunscreens in our Ratings, because it is marketed especially for children.

Finally, we would like to reemphasize our longstanding advice that you use sprays carefully, by following these tips:

• Don’t use sprays on children, unless you have no other product available. In that case, spray the sunscreen onto your hands and rub it on. As with all sunscreens, be especially careful on the face, taking care to avoid the eyes and mouth.

• Adults can still use sprays—but don’t spray your face! Instead, spray on your hands and rub it on, making sure to avoid your eyes and mouth. And try to avoid inhaling it.

• Make sure you apply enough. Our tests have found that sprays can work well when used properly—but it is harder to make sure that you apply enough, especially when it’s windy. We recommend spraying as much as can be evenly applied, and then repeating, just to be safe. On windy days, you might want to spray the sunscreen on your hands and rub it on—or just choose one of our recommended lotions instead.

Open Minds

"Don't you have an open mind about everything?" I guess I really don't have an open mind if it has to be open to everything and to tell you the truth, I think that is a very good thing.

An open mind can be a dangerous thing to waste because:
  • Do you really want an open mind about genocide?
  • Do you really want an open mind about rape?
  • Do you really want an open mind about terrorism?
  • Do you really want an open mind about evil?
I think that problem lies in the fact that many who style themselves as open-minded people aren't very "open-minded" about those who disagree with them. They want everyone to think as they do...of course it ends up looking pretty close-minded when quickly examined.

I think GK Chesterton said it best:
Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our Anti-Child Culture

I previously wrote about the anti-child movement, but most of the movement, as I knew it at the time, was fringe groups that had a small sphere of influence. The groups included radical environmentalists who believe humans need to be eradicated and those that want to have a lot of fun and think kids are a distraction.

But, I was wrong, because the trend isn't just fringe groups. A recent article shows how mainstream the movement is becoming and it is a very disturbing trend. Here is a snip:
"Call me a grinch, a misanthrope, a DINK (dual-income-no-kids), or the anti-cute-police, but I hate (hate a thousand times over) ill-behaved children/infants/screaming banshees in upscale restaurants (ok, anywhere, really, but I don’t want any death threats)," writes Charlotte Savino on Travel and Leisure's blog. She lists a slew of a popular destination restaurants with kid-free areas and policies for travelers looking for quiet vacation dining.

Traveling is one thing, but what about in kids' own hometowns? Should kids been banned from local movie theaters, like they were at a recent adults-only Harry Potter screening? In Texas, one cinema chain has even flipped the model, banning kids under six altogether, except on specified "baby days".

Even running errands with toddlers may be changing. This summer Whole Foods stores in Missouri are offering child-free shopping hours (kids are allowed inside but childcare service is available for parents who want to shop kid-free.) Meanwhile in Florida, a controversy brews over whether kids can be banned from a condominium's outdoor area. That's right, some people don't even want kids outdoors.
I echo the article's author when she asks, "When did kids become the equivalent of second-hand smoke?"

What a tragedy, our future interfering with our present pleasures. Another example of the me-first, pleasure-seeking, damn-you-if-you-get-in-my-way attitude that has filled our culture. We are a spoiled culture of people that has forgotten the value of humanity. Where does it come from? It comes from a God-less world view that tells us the ultimate purpose of life is to eliminate pain and maximize pleasure as much as possible, because pleasure is the greatest of all goods.

The sad thing is that if pleasure is the greatest thing there is in life, there is no hope. Without hope in the future our culture has no future.

This is why Catholics must offer the alternative world view that the purpose of life is much more grand and that we are all made for something much better.

We must bring the antidote to our culture which is killing itself and everyone who lives by it's laws of pleasure.

Is Purgatory a Physical Place?

Good question and a good answer from Jimmy Akin.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shakespeare - Celebrity Version

These impressions are spot on. "Jim Meskimen performs Clarence's speech from William Shakespeare's Richard III as a number of different celebrities."

I found his Morgan Freeman almost scary it was so good.

Report Says All Women Should Have Free Contraception

A new report from the Institute of Medicine, a group which describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public", has issued a report that calls for free contraception for every woman who wants it. This includes requiring employers and insurance companies to offer it as well as allowing morning-after pills to be covered.

The CNN story says the following:
If the Institute of Medicine committee's recommendations are accepted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women will no longer have to shell out co-pays, deductibles or other out-of-pocket fees for approved birth control or sterilization methods.

It's unclear whether HHS will implement the report's recommendations. That decision could come as early as August.

"We are reviewing the report closely and will release the Department's recommendations of what additional preventive services for women should be covered without cost sharing very soon," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

She called the IOM report "historic" and said its recommendations were "based on science and existing literature."

The IOM committee recommended that all U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including the morning after pills, should be fully covered by insurance plans.
I have little doubt that the Dept. of HHS will try to force this on us.
So, in order to educate others as to why this is a bad idea, I offer this list:

Top 10 Reasons Free Contraception For All is A Terrible Idea.

10 - The pill causes chemical abortions by changing the lining of the uterus in a woman so that should a newly created child should be created by fertilization of a women's egg, the baby cannot implant into the uterus and is flushed out of the woman and killed.

9 - It causes a multitude of side-effectsThey include:

  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Decreased libido
  • Weight gain
  • Blood Clots
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Headaches

8 - If you are responsible enough to have sex, you should be responsible enough for a baby. But, contraception tells us that sex and babies are two separate things. Thus, we have "accidental pregnancies" when someone uses contraception. No pregnancy is an "accident" because everything happened just like nature intended it to.

7 - Parents would be bypassed in order to get contraception to children. Another case of the government usurping the role of parents.

6 - The Bible says that fertility is a blessing. Contraception says fertility is a curse or a disease that we need to "fix" with a pill, shot, or implant. The first command given to both Adam and Eve is to "be fertile and multiply."

5 - Contraception does not help families or marriages. In fact, the divorce rate and the use of contraception mirror one another. But, when a couple uses Natural Family Planning the divorce rate is .2% and marriages are rated much better.

4 - Contraception makes a woman into an object. When a woman's fertility is seen as a bad thing, then the whole person is not respected. The woman is then turned into an object to be used for mere pleasure. Pope Paul VI predicted this outcome in his encyclical Humanae Vitae.

3 - Contraception fails and lulls people into a false sense of security. The only 100% proven way of not getting pregnant is abstinence. We see that the only proven way to reduce AIDS in Africa was a program in Uganda that focused on abstinence and faithfulness. Condoms and contraception have always failed.

2 - Natural Family Planning (NFP) is ALWAYS a better option. Check this out if you doubt me. Remember also that contraception became mainstreamed in our country after a marketing campaign by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. She wanted to rid the world of the "undesirables" by contracepting them out of existence. She even advised Hitler on eugenics. Her history is scary. She is the mother of contraception (pardon the pun).

1 - To create life with God is the most powerful thing two people can do together. Sexuality is not just about pleasure. It is about real love, the bonding of the spouses, and the openness to life. Sexuality is so much more than our modern idea of it. Contraception perverts sex and leads to the "contraceptive mentality" that sex / love / babies are all separate (though sometimes related) things. We must fight this mentality and free contraception for all.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Not Your Normal Prayer

Channeling Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, this Pastor offers a pre-race prayer for a NASCAR race.
This is a bit surreal and made me laugh.

Tip o' the hat to CMR.

Romantic Comedies can be Romantic Pornography

An interesting take from an Evangelical Protestant website. In my opinion, the article hits the nail on the head on how men need to be men and how the expectation of women can warp men into something they aren't.
A snip:
When you’ve seen one romantic comedy you’ve of course seen them all. There is some level of confusion involving a wonderful woman and an idiotic man. He doesn’t know how romantic he really is until the wonderful woman shows him the way and reveals his fabulous, sensitive, romantic side that was aching to get out all along we find. He so wants to talk about his feelings, just like her best girlfriends! Who knew? Romantic man finally realizes he cannot live without said woman, and pursues her in an ever-so-sensitive if bumbling way. There seems to typically be a fountain involved at some point.

If it’s all not quite “magic,” it sure is fantasy.

That’s where the pornography comes in. Just as sexual pornography twists an understanding for men about real women’s bodies and sexual appetites, so romantic pornography twists the perception for women about real men and how they “ought” to behave toward women, which tends to amount to, well, behaving like a woman. I have a dear friend who once didn’t like a fellow I was dating. Among other shortcomings, he didn’t arrange spa treatments for me, she explained. Seriously. No more chick flicks for that girl.
Continue Reading.
There certainly is a danger in the over-romanticism of masculinity. A man is not wired like a woman. So, to expect a man to act, think, love, feel, or perceive things as a woman does is to fail to accept who a man truly is.

Are there are a lot of guys who could be more romantic in their relationships. Yes. But, to try and make every man into Mr. Darcy and every date into a romantic comedy is to fail to love the men God has put in women's lives for who they are - without trying to change them or compare them to the romantic ideal of what a woman thinks a man should be.

Fr. Barron on Biblical Family Values

This is very good commentary on what real family values should look like.

As a parent one of the greatest things I can remember is that my children aren't my property. Rather, my children are God's children first. I am merely a caretaker of them, along with my wife, for a short time. This change in my mentality about parenting was transformative.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogging Vacation

I will be taking a break from blogging while I go on vacation next week - which means we won't have any new posts for upwards of 10 days. I would appreciate your prayers during this time for the following intentions:

  • For our campus ministry - esp. the retreaters and staff of our retreat this weekend - Aggie Awakening #92.
  • For my family and for a restful week.
  • In thanksgiving for the time of my life. I celebrate my b-day on 7/16.

Thanks to all of our readers and God Bless you.

New Book Changes One Small Part of Our World

I am truly honored to be a contributor to a great project that is already making a positive change in a small part of the world, Mombasa, Kenya. The project is the new book, The Church and the New Media and all the royalties go to starting computer labs for those who can't afford them.

Brandon Vogt, the man with the plan and the editor of the book, writes about it all here. A small snip:
All of these swirling thoughts eventually crashed into each other and I finally realized what God was trying to tell me:

He wanted me to write a book on new media, and he wanted it to be a good story. And giving away the royalties would do just that....In the following months, I worked with some friends at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to set up a project for the royalties--a computer lab in the Diocese of Mombasa, Kenya. We decided that all of the book royalties would go toward buying computers for the lab and to pay for a computer literacy instructor, as well.

Even though The Church and New Media hasn't been officially released yet, CRS has already fronted a large sum of money to the Diocese of Mombasa so they could begin their work.

And today, CRS sent me some of the first pictures of the lab in action. The lab is in the Good Shepherd Catholic Training Center in Ukunda, Mombasa, and is outfitted with ten new computers and flat-screen monitors, and the training has already begun:
Read more about the project and see more pics here.

Brandon truly has a great vision for this project. I hope others will help it to do even more good by buying the book.

If You Wrote a Speech For The Pope - What Would It Say?

This is a neat contest and a way to get people thinking deeply and seriously.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Week In The Life Of A Priest

A great video from Down Under:

Is Harry Potter Evil?

Q - Because the final Harry Potter movie is coming out, I thought I might ask what the Church teaches about the books and movies. Is Harry Potter considered evil or more accurately, should I be careful with the books and movies?

A - Thanks for the timely question. I am guessing this will create a lively discussion. I read the books just a few months ago to see if they were appropriate for my 11 year-old daughter to read. We ended up reading the entire series and talking about them and had some great discussions as a result. I am also working my way through the movies and have watched the first four.

I, unlike some other Catholics, do not believe they are dangerous to read for the average adolescent who is well-formed in their faith and is emotionally secure, for their age - as long as a parent reads and discusses the moral pitfalls with them.

There are some Catholics who believe the series is "evil". It is criticized in this manner because the books contain magic done by witches and wizards. I can see this side of the argument, but do not share such a harsh view. While magic plays a part, as long as the boundaries between the magic described in the books and real occult magic is discussed with a child, it could help a young person understand the real problems with seeking power in magic, not drive them toward it.

What I can say is the Church has no official position on these books or movies. So, we must use our best judgment as to whether or not someone should read them. Is it possible that someone could be spiritually harmful, because of magic, for some who are immature in their faith? I suppose it is possible, but I believe it is unlikely. To be quite honest I have bigger reservations over the moral decision-making of the characters than I do about the use of magic. Also, there are much more dangerous things in our culture including parts of the internet, certain video games, etc.

So, since there is no side the Catholic Church takes on this issue, I might provide some pros and cons (as I see them) and you can make the decision yourself. BTW - I HIGHLY recommend that parents read and discuss the books with their children and only allow them to read them if they are well-formed in their faith, act in a moral manner, and are emotionally secure, for their age.

CONS of Harry Potter:
  • The protagonists of the series (esp. Harry) make poor moral decisions. There is regular rule breaking and the moral decision making sometimes equals "the ends justify the means".
  • The consequences of breaking the rules and doing bad things is not always clear.
  • The only ones who really enforce the rules are the characters who are either evil or questionable. The "good" authority figures generally sweep away punishment or minimize it.
  • The use of magic might encourage some young children who do not understand the occult to think about magic or seek it out too much.
PROS of Harry Potter:
  • Several virtues are highlighted repeatedly, including courage, loyalty, and love.
  • Harry overcomes many terrible events in his life to do something very good in the end.
  • Prejudiced and oppressive leaders are shown to be what they are.
  • Voldemort, the antagonist, is clearly evil and corrupt.
  • The magic used is not occult, but more utilitarian.
  • Some compare the story to the life of every Christian and the moral drama of life that goes with it.
  • The dangers of fame and the drawbacks of power/fame are clear.
Clearly there is no clear-cut way to decide what any individual Catholic or Catholic family should do. The best thing to do is be prudent and follow your conscience.

I hope this helps.

Hugh Hefner is NOT a Hero

CBS had a feature on the Sunday Morning news program (Sunday morning seems appropriate, does it not?) that made Hugh Hefner out to be a great man. I don't know if I would call it news as much as fluff.

A quote from the transcript:
Around the centerfold, the magazine published controversial authors, discussed controversial topics.

"We know about the sexual revolution," Hefner said. "People are less aware of the part I played related to racial equality, gay rights, the changing of drug laws. We were the amicus curiae, friend of the court in Roe v Wade. It gave women the right to choose.

"All these big issues, he was there, and I believe in those many rivulets, is how he made a difference," said Berman. "All these little things make up the total of who this man is."
What we find is that Hefner not only helped tear down the moral fabric in our country through porn, but also abortion and other evils. Of course, he has "no regrets":
"The whole concept that somehow Playboy turned women into sex objects - that's part of who they are! Thank goodness! It is the attraction between the two sexes that gives us civilization."

For that, he has no regrets ... and no plans to stop.
He admits to making women into sex objects, degrading them, guiding them to abortion, and celebrating it all. Hugh Hefner is no hero. As another commentator wrote:
Hugh Hefner is more than a mere icon. Not only does he represent so much of what is wrong with America today, he helped us get here. He mainstreamed pornography, sexualizing not only women, but young children. He fanned the flames of the sexual revolution, mocking virginity and traditional values. He was a prime mover in supporting Roe v. Wade, opening the door to abortion on demand in America. He helped launch SIECUS, paving the way for "comprehensive" sex ed to be taught in classrooms across the country.

Given his legacy, there are few men more deserving of media scrutiny than Hugh Hefner. And few less deserving of pandering profiles shamefully broadcast by CBS News.

Additional Links:
**What is Wrong With Porn?
**Porn Is More Addictive Than Cocaine or Heroin.
**The Cost of Porn.

Governor Sued For Participating in Day of Prayer

Governor Rick Perry is being threatened with a lawsuit if he participates in a day of prayer and fasting:
Texas Governor Rick Perry is facing a federal lawsuit as a state/church watchdog group consisting of atheists and agnostics attempts to block his involvement in the Day of Prayer and Fasting organized for Aug 6.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a watchdog group consisting of 16,600 members, filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District Court of Texas to keep the religious event from occurring, arguing it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The legal complaint says the plaintiffs are “nonbelievers who support the free exercise of religion, but strongly oppose the governmental establishment and endorsement of religion, including prayer and fasting, which are not only an ineffectual use of time and government resources, but which can be harmful or counterproductive as a substitute for reasoned action.”

Perry released a video for the event, officially called “The Response,” earlier this week, calling on Americans to “make plans to be part of something even bigger than Texas.”

“Gov. Perry is looking forward to the Aug. 6th prayer event. He believes it will serve as an important opportunity for Americans to gather together and pray to God, seeking his wisdom and guidance as our nation navigates the challenges before it,” Catherine Frazier, deputy press secretary for Perry, told ABC News.

"We expected this kind of legal harassment, but the right of Americans to assemble and pray has been established for over 200 years. We are confident we will be victorious,” Eric Bearse, spokesman for The Response, told ABC News.
Continue Reading.
President Obama was also invited, but I am guessing he won't be there.

In other atheist news, an Austrian man fought to have his driver's license include a picture of him wearing a pasta strainer, to show his atheistic beliefs. Seriously.

Fr. Barron on The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

South Sudan - 8 Million People Live on Less Than One Dollar Per Day

I complain about small inconveniences in my life.
What a spoiled brat I can be. Father forgive me!
The people of South Sudan, the world's newest country (formed July 9), face crippling poverty and a history of violence. Here is a sampling:
  • Almost the size of the state of Texas but only has 100 miles of paved roads
  • Half of its 8 million people live on less than $1 a day
  • Only 6.4 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities (toilets/latrines).
  • Less than 50 percent of all children receive 5 years of primary-school education.
  • While 1.3 million children are enrolled, only 1.9 percent complete primary-school education.
  • For every 1,000 primary-school students, there is only one teacher.
  • 85 percent of adults do not know how to read or write.
  • A 15 year-old girl has a higher chance of dying in childbirth than of completing school.

More info here on how to help.

My Hero

His Words - Which Challenge Me
I dare you to read all of this and meditate on these wise words:
Dear young people, in such a world is it hard to believe? Is it hard to believe in the Third Millennium? Yes! It is hard. There is no need to hide it. It is hard, but with the help of grace it can be done, as Jesus explained to Peter: "Neither flesh nor blood has revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Mt 16:17).

This evening I will give you the Gospel. It is the Pope's gift to you at this unforgettable vigil. The word which it contains is the word of Jesus. If you listen to it in silence, in prayer, seeking help in understanding what it means for your life from the wise counsel of your priests and teachers, then you will meet Christ and you will follow him, spending your lives day by day for him!

It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness, he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fulness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.

Dear young people, in these noble undertakings you are not alone. With you there are your families, there are your communities, there are your priests and teachers, there are so many of you who in the depths of your hearts never weary of loving Christ and believing in him. In the struggle against sin you are not alone: so many like you are struggling and through the Lord's grace are winning!

His Witness - Which Inspires Me

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

World's Steepest Roller Coaster

I was impressed that my 7 year-old rode the biggest coaster at Sea World this summer. But, this thing makes the Steel Eel look like a child's toy.

The name is "Takabisha" and it is the world's steepest coaster. It is in Japan.
I think they should have named it the pukinator.

This is a view from the ground.

This is a view from the ride itself.

Fr. Barron on The Mystery of Eating Jesus' Flesh

A clip from the new CATHOLICISM series that Fr. Barron has put out and will release on PBS and DVD.

I can't wait to see the whole thing.

Tip o' the hat to Matt Warner.

Catholic Roundup

News and Notes:

ESPN Pushes Same-Sex Marriage and "Equality"

It seems that every time I have turned on ESPN or clicked on their website recently, I have run across another commercial or article that pushes same-sex marriage or a gay "equality" issue. Just a sampling of recent articles I found on ESPN:
These are just a small sampling. Then there are monologues and interviews about "breaking the barriers" in sports. One example:

I did find a couple of articles (compared to an avalanche on the other side) about David Tyree, a former NFL player, who came out in opposition to same-sex marriage. But, the way they frame the issue makes him sound like a zealot to be ignored and caused "widespread opposition". In fact, the one article which defended Tyree's right to speak up had to be defended with another article.

My guess is the reason this is happening comes from the following:
  1. To be liked in entertainment, including sports broadcasting, means you have to lean toward a progressive stance in politics and social issues.
  2. Same-sex marriage is the "in" thing to push right now in sports and politics. It makes you seem "open-minded".
  3. There is still a macho atmosphere around many sports that treats badly those who do not conform to these false understandings of masculinity. We must fight these ideas as well, but not by supporting another error.
  4. Then there are the two reasons I have written about previously.
Pray for our culture and don't forget that we must never unjustly discriminate against someone because of a same-sex desire, but we are called to love them with true love - choosing what is best for them, despite what it might cost us. As the Catechism says:
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Doctor Says Drunken Sex Is Too Normal

Some interesting thoughts on how to solve a sad problem.
He said some of New Zealand's biggest problems - including youth suicide, sexually-transmitted diseases, drink-driving, drug abuse and family violence - stemmed from a culture that said, "If you can remember what happened yesterday you haven't had enough fun".

Drunkenness was "normalised" in New Zealand.

"We have to stigmatise this behaviour, the same way we stigmatise littering in the street," he said.

"We need a nana revolution."

Grandmothers who had stable marriages were to be admired and used as role models, rather than "older sisters who came home drunk".

At this week's Forum on the Family conference in Auckland, 52-year-old Makary said numerous women came into his clinic unable to remember who they'd slept with.

Yesterday he expanded on his concerns, saying that in such cases "sex is not love-making but downgraded to paddock-mating".

Model nanas on the other hand represented love, respect, commitment and family.

Continue Reading.

An Interview With Archbishop Gomez of L.A.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Can Non-Catholics Be Saved?

Q - My dad is a non-Catholic Christian but my mom and I are Catholics. In one discussion he brought up the opinion that the Catholic church believes that the Catholic faith is infallible and that they believe non-Catholic denominations cannot be forgiven of sins. What is the truth on these matters and how can we as Catholics better approach the opinion that only we will be saved?

A - Thanks for the question. All who are saved are saved because of Jesus Christ. Thus, no grace comes by any other means, because it is by His suffering, death, and resurrection that we are freed from sin and made able to go to heaven. Scripture is very clear on this and as Jesus said - "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6

Another truth is that outside the Church there is no salvation. But, we have to understand what this means in context. Think of it this way. There is no salvation apart from Jesus. Jesus established His Body and Bride, The Church, as the instrument of that salvation. Therefore, there is no salvation outside of this instrument of his salvation - outside of Christ's Body/Bride. So, who belongs to this Church and how?

The Catechism teaches:
Who belongs to the Catholic Church?
836 "All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God.... And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God's grace to salvation."

837 "Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart.'"

838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter." Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church." With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."
What about non-Christians? Can they be saved?
843 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."
From this, we can understand the following better:
846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."
So, salvation apart from Christ and His Church is impossible, but this does not rule out those that are not formally Christian or formally part of the Catholic Church, if understood that their salvation still is accomplished in some way through Christ and His Church.

To sum up, I would put the Church's teaching on these matters like this:
  • --No person is ever saved apart from the grace of Christ.
  • --The fullness of this grace comes only through an explicit relationship with Christ and His Church.
  • --Salvation is offered to others, through the limited means they are connected with Christ and His Church. This includes the Jewish people.
  • --All are called into the Catholic Church.
  • --Catholics must evangelize and bring the Gospel to "all nations."
Christ came and preached the Good News to Israel. So did the apostles. We should do the same.

I hope this helps explain better these questions. Peace.

Is Our Lady Appearing at Medjugorje?

I've never understood fully all the controversy surrounding the apparitions at Medjugorje, I know there are problems with it, but can you explain it for me?

A - Thanks for the question. Medjugorge is a site in Bosnia where some children reported to start to receive visions from Mary in 1981. The visionaries say they continue to this day. This is a touchy subject for many people, because I know there are thousands of good Catholics who have visited Medjugorje to see the purported visionaries see and listen to the Virgin Mary give them messages from Heaven. Many believe that she is appearing there and are very sincere in their belief. But, sincerity doesn't prove it is happening nor does a personal belief.

Eventually the Catholic Church will rule officially on whether the visions are valid or not, and they have formed a commission to look into it - which is rare, because they usually do not rule until the visions end. But, until that day I recommned you steer clear of anything to do with Medjugorje. I will lay out why below.

1 - If The Visions Are Not Valid, There Are No Good Options.
Suppose that the visions are ruled to be invalid, and most of the evidence that is coming from the Church points that way, then there is no good option left for a person who believes them to be true:
  • A - They can believe the Church is right, but their experience was not.
  • B - The can believed their experience is correct, but the Church is not.
2 - All Private Revelation is Optional.
Neither option is good for a devotee of Mejugorje. Furthermore, ANY private revelation, even if approved by the Church such as Lourdes, Fatima, or Guadalupe, still isn't necessary for any Catholic to believe in. We are only bound to believe in public revelation and those doctrines intimately tied to publicly revealed truths that come to us from Jesus and the Apostles.

3 - The local Bishop Has Grave Doubts.
The local bishops in Bosnia have repeatedly stated that they doubt the visions are valid. In one statement Bishop Peric said:
"As the local bishop, I maintain that regarding the events of Medjugorje, on the basis of the investigations and experience gained thus far throughout these last 25 years, the church has not confirmed a single apparition as authentically being the Madonna."
These 3 reasons are just the tip of the iceberg. I admit I haven't paid much attention to Medjugorje, because I find everything I have heard from Church officials who oversee the Diocese (and from the Vatican) to be troubling, at best. Some priests involved have been dismissed from their orders, some troubles in the purported messages, and other issues continue to surface.

I hope this helps.

Furthermore - I know this will bring out supporters of the visionaries. For the sake of clarity, I am NOT saying that Mary isn't appearing. I am saying I have solid doubts she is, based on the evidence. We will all know once the Church rules one way or the other. Until then ask Mary to pray for us all.

NOTE - comments will be strictly monitored.

What About the Bad Popes?

So, does a bad Pope disprove Catholic teaching?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Planned Parenthood Exposed in New Report

A new report by Americans United for Life (The Case For Investigating Planned Parenthood) shows that Planned Parenthood has repeatedly ignored the law and acted scandalously.
Although the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA or Planned Parenthood) advertises itself as an organization promoting health for women and families, it is the nation’s largest abortion provider and has been plagued by scandal and abuse.

Furthermore, PPFA and its affiliates receive hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers’ funds every year – a significant portion of which comes from the federal government.

PPFA often tries to underplay the significance of abortion to its business model. However, as this report details, abortion has a tremendous impact on Planned Parenthood’s bottom-line. This is true to a greater degree each year, and Planned Parenthood has plans to expand its abortion business.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the whole thing.
I can guarantee that the mainstream media won't give this story the attention it deserves.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Confession With The Pope

When you go to confession, whether with the Pope or not, and encounter someone much greater - Jesus.

Must We Have Tied-Tubes Reversed?

Q - My wife and I have five children. years back after the 5th child my wife got her tubes tied. Are we allowed to have sex or is it now a sin? Also, if we wanted to give up sex as a sacrifice to God is that allowed?

A - Thanks for the questions. I know you must be wrestling with such a difficult situation, so I will keep you in my prayers and ask that our readers do the same.

The Catholic Church teaches that our fertility is an beautiful part to our humanity, so to have a woman's tubes tied (technically it is a tubal ligation) or for a man to have a vasectomy, is a mutilation of our bodies for a utilitarian purpose. This is because it requires a surgical procedure that renders a person infertile. It treats our fertility as a bad thing and not the gift that it is. (For more about what the Church teaches about contraception and surgical sterility see the links at the bottom). Just a side note, no tubal ligation or vasectomy can be determined to be 100% effective. There is about a 1% chance that it did not work and a chance of pregnancy still exists. Furthermore, many woman regret their tubal ligation because of health issues, psychological issues, loss of fertility, and guilt.

That being said, many people struggle to follow the Church's teachings. It isn't easy to live a chaste life within marriage, because chastity (the proper ordering of our sexuality) requires self-control and discipline. In many marriages this might mean the sacrifice of periodic abstinence within the marriage. This isn't easy. But, it is worth it.

To directly answer your first question, your wife is under no moral obligation to have her tubal ligation reversed. But, she is under the obligation to confess her sin with true contrition before receiving any other Sacraments, including the Eucharist. If you went along with the surgery, then you too should go to Confession.

The decision to have a tubal ligation reversal should be discerned through prayer, consultation with a good priest, and consideration of the factors in your life (e.g. desire for children, health, risk of surgery, chance of successfully reversing, etc).

Now, if you wanted to "give up sex as a sacrifice" is a much more difficult question. I do not have enough information to answer this question. Is it hypothetically possible? Yes. But, for your situation I would highly suggest you both go talk to a good priest who can help you sort out the reasons you might be considering this option.

I hope this helps.

Additional Links:
*FAQ on Contraception
*Humane Vitae and the Catholic Church.

Fr. Barron on Why New Atheists Want You to Lose Your Faith

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Friends" Star Talks About Over-Sexualization of Children

A very interesting interview with David Schwimmer, who played Ross on Friends.
I just hope he realizes that the show that made him famous is part of the oversexualization of our culture and children.
Schwimmer’s new directorial project – a feature film called Trust, starring Clive Owen – is as far from “feel good” as it’s possible to be, focusing as it does on a family’s attempts to come to terms with the rape of their daughter by an internet paedophile. Woven into the narrative are deeper questions about the sexualisation of young girls in modern society (Owen, an advertising executive, is working on a provocative campaign at the time of his daughter’s rape) – questions Schwimmer himself can’t answer.

“All I know is that the sexualisation of young kids to sell products has got much worse since I was a teenager,” he explains – and it’s odd to hear that voice sound intelligent and alert, without Ross’s sluggish overtones.

“Remember the big hoopla over Brooke Shields and her Calvin Klein advert? It almost seems humorous now that there would be such an uproar when you consider what’s around today. I take a shot at that in the film: I want to show that Clive’s character feels culpable about the climate he’s contributing to.”

The problem, he insists, is that motivation from either the public or the government to keep things in check simply isn’t there. “Sex sells and unfortunately there’s this inbuilt hypocrisy in our society: we’re always talking about how inappropriate it is to see an older man with a very young girl but at the same time all our advertising is based on that. Plus, both here and in the UK, we have this real emphasis on how important it is to look young and sexual, so that’s the message we’re sending our girls. Look at the biggest pop stars around at the moment: everything they do is about sex.”
Continue Reading.

How God Uses Our Suffering

A Story Of Abortion - By Andrea Bocelli

Reminds me of another story:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Priest in Mexico Fined For Speaking Against Same Sex Marriage

Coming to a country near you soon.
MEXICO CITY - The spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese in Mexico says an electoral court ruling that he illegally propagandized against a political party that promotes gay marriage is "totally false."

Father Hugo Valdemar says in a statement that he did not consider it propaganda when he told a newspaper in August that no Roman Catholic in good conscience would vote for the party. He says claims that he repeatedly proselytized against Mexico City's ruling Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, are not true.

Valdemar was responding Sunday to Friday's decision by Mexico's highest electoral court ordering electoral officials to have the Interior Ministry fine Valdemar and the Archdiocese.

Valdemar's lawyer Armando Martinez says he is already in an appeals process.

Mexico City legalized same-sex marriage in March 2010.
Continue Reading.
Additional Links:
*Same Sex Marriage: Why Not?
*Two Reasons Same-Sex Marriage Is Gaining Ground

A Must-Read For Every Young Woman

I remember how much I hated dating. It was a drag on my mentally and I really had no desire to participate in it. Looking back on it now, I believe I didn't like dating because of the goals I had set for it. I accepted the popular assumptions that the goal of dating is to use a person for your own selfish reasons.

I wish that I had half of the wisdom that is contained in the book How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert. It might have saved me a lot of heartache and misery and the women I dated as well.

The book is aimed primarily at young single women. But, it is not just a chastity book or a dating book. The content goes much deeper than that. It looks at cultural, psychological, anthropological, sociological, and religious reasons why the modern idea of dating drags many women (and men) down.

The tone in the book is very friendly, but straight-forward. Yet, there is no negativity toward women who have made mistakes in the past. Rather, there is a call to follow the path that will lead women toward true happiness in search for a love that their hearts desire. Of course this search will take patience, prudence, and a lot of work.

Each of the 21 chapters contains loads of stories that Jason and Crytalina have gathered through their travels around the world giving talks on chastity, love, and relationships. They have talked to thousands of young women and men who have poured their hearts out about relationship problems and successes.

The book is practical, challenging, and well-written. I give it 5 stars.

How much did I enjoy this book? I just ordered 88 copies (bulk orders are only $2 a book) to sell at the front desk of St. Mary's.

If you are a young single woman - I can't recommend this book highly enough. But, I also recommend it for young single men. You can learn a lot from it as well.

FULL DISCLOSURE - Jason Evert sent me a free copy for review.

The Church and New Media

The Church and New Media is an important book coming out in August 2011, edited by Brandon Vogt. The book has 12 contributors that highlight different ways in which the Church uses new media to bring the Good News to the world. It has a forward by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, of Boston, and an afterword by Archbishop Dolan, of New York. Some of the contributors include Mark Shea, Fr. Robert Barron, and Thomas Peters. I am humbled to also be one of the 12.

A new website and video have been launched to announce the book.

Did I mention you can also follow on Twitter and Facebook?
You better be able to with a book like this.

Another great thing about this book - 100% of the royalties from The Church and New Media will help establish computer labs throughout schools in the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya.

If you need one more reason to read the book. 5 of the 12 contributors are Aggies:

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

THE GOOD - An Aggie Nun makes her final vows.
Sr. Rose Marie, class of 2007, is a Passionist nun in Kentucky. You can read about her first vows here. You can also see a video of Sr. Rose Marie here.
Tip o' the hat to The Anchoress for sending me the link.

THE BAD - Mother to Have Dead Son's Baby
A woman from Austin, will have a surrogate mother impregnated with her son's sperm, and keep her grandchild as her own. Medical ethics mean nothing anymore and moral relativism now rules the roost.

THE UGLY - Lottery for In-Vitro Fertilization - Win a Baby!
This is disgusting. Life isn't just a commodity to be traded, now it is a prize to be won. Don't forget that IVF is immoral, in all cases, but that doesn't seem to matter when there is money to be made.
Tip o' the hat to CMR for the links.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Competitive Eating and Gluttony

Q - Thanks for all the hard work you put into this blog; it is a daily must-read for me. I managed to catch a part of the annual hot dog eating contest today, and I was wondering: Is competitive eating a sin? The sin of gluttony comes to mind, but I also am thinking about wasting food that could go to others who need it. Of course, I can be guilty of over-eating at times, but it is certainly not on this scale or in the public eye (scandal?). I would be interested to know what you think. Thanks again.

A -
Thanks for the question and for the compliments. We are always grateful for those that read our blog and are very happy that you find it helpful.

Gluttony is a sin when our passions become disordered, esp. in regards to food. The opposing virtue is temperance, which moderates the use of food and other things. Gluttony happens when a person eats an excessive amount, food that is not healthy at all and might endanger our health over a period of time.

Unlike a lot of other sins, this one is more difficult to reign in because the body needs to be nourished. It is clear that in our modern culture we have an obsession with food. Obesity is an epidemic and overeating is the norm. Billions are spent on fad diets and pills and the Food Network is one of the most popular cable channels.

But, that doesn't answer your question - what about competitive eating, which is now treated as a 'sport' and featured on ESPN. Yet, it is not without critics. The American Medical Association has endorsed a resolution that recognized "competitive speed eating as an unhealthy eating practice with potential adverse consequences." One doctor called it a form of binge eating that could result in terrible problems including a ruptured stomach.

The competitions end with many (if not most) of the competitors throwing up the food they engorged themselves on.

This sounds like a clear case of gluttony to me. It also seems that the sin of pride and greed might play a part, because the winners of such contests now become celebrities that can make hundreds of thousands of dollars in a day. But, that may or may not be the case depending on a person's motivation.

As to the wasting of food that others could use, I would be less stringent. It seems we are too quick to say that something could be "given to the poor", but not all good things in life that are non-essential should be given to the poor. Now, that isn't to say we don't have an obligation to help the poor, esp. those that can't help themselves, but not every luxury or excess is sinful.

Pray for temperance - of which the Catechism says:
1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will's mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: "Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart." Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites." In the New Testament it is called "moderation" or "sobriety." We ought "to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world."
To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).
I hope this helps.

Corapi Issue Gets Worse

Pray for Corapi.
Here is a statement from SOLT - his community. This is not good news.
Comments will be off for this post.
Press Release Concerning Fr John Corapi from SOLT Regional Priest Servant
July 5, 2011


From: Rev. Gerard Sheehan, SOLT Regional Priest Servant Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Robstown, Texas

Fr. John A. Corapi submitted his resignation from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity ("SOLT") early in June. SOLT is a Society of Apostolic Life of Diocesan Right with its regional office in Robstown, Texas.

While SOLT does not typically comment publicly on personnel matters, it recognizes that Fr. John Corapi, through his ministry, has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics, many of whom continue to express their support of him. SOLT also recognizes that Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight.

A woman, well known to Fr. John Corapi, mailed SOLT a signed letter detailing allegations of Fr. Corapi's sexual activity with adult women, abuse of alcohol and drugs, improper sacramental practices, violation of his promise of poverty, and other wrongdoing.

After receiving the allegation, SOLT formed a three person fact-finding team to ensure that it handled this matter in accordance with canonical norms. The team included a priest-canonist, a psychiatrist, and a lawyer. Two were members of religious orders, and one was a lay Catholic. Two were men, and one was a woman. All three have national reputations and substantial experience in ecclesiastical processes related to priest disciplinary issues.

As the Society was engaging this team, Fr. Corapi filed a civil lawsuit against his principal accuser. He contended that she had defamed him and breached her contract. The contract, according to Corapi's lawsuit, contained a provision binding the woman to silence about him. He offered the woman $100,000 to enter this agreement.

SOLT's fact-finding team subsequently learned that Fr. Corapi may have negotiated contracts with other key witnesses that precluded them from speaking with SOLT's fact-finding team. Many of these witnesses likely had key information about the accusations being investigated and declined to answer questions and provide documents.

When the fact-finding team asked Fr. Corapi to dismiss the lawsuit, to forbear from foreclosing his mortgage, and to release her and other individuals from their contractual obligations to remain silent about him, he refused to do so and, through his canonical advocate, stated: "It is not possible for Father Corapi to answer the Commission's questions at this time."

SOLT's fact-finding team has acquired information from Fr. Corapi's e-mails, various witnesses, and public sources that, together, state that, during his years of public ministry:

He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute; He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs; He has recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana; He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the Society.

SOLT has contemporaneously with the issuance of this press release directed Fr. John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.

SOLT's prior direction to Fr. John Corapi not to engage in any preaching or teaching, the celebration of the sacraments or other public ministry continues. Catholics should understand that SOLT does not consider Fr. John Corapi as fit for ministry.

Father Sheehan will not be available for comments as he is attending the SOLT General Chapter from July 5-23.

Want To Change the World? Maybe Just Yourself?

Well, change starts with the first step forward and continues as you progress toward your goal. There are three great goals of the Christian life:
  • Give God glory
  • Grow in holiness
  • Go to Heaven
If we want to achieve these three goals we have to make choices, in the present, that will help us reach our future destination. More than anything, we must have faith, hope, and love. Because these are goals that drive the Saints. These positive motivations will give us reasons to make the right choice.

But, making the right decisions isn't easy sometimes. This is where habit and character come in. We must ask God for help in making changes, because changing our bad habits into good ones is never easy. Yet, this is where virtue is formed and a virtuous person (a person of good habits) is a person with character.

Make the right choice today. Take that step forward.
With that in mind, I ask you to take some time to read the following thoughts of Pope Benedict XVI:
I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.

Perhaps some of you have never thought about this before. Perhaps some of you think being a saint is not for you. Let me explain what I mean. When we are young, we can usually think of people that we look up to, people we admire, people we want to be like. It could be someone we meet in our daily lives that we hold in great esteem. Or it could be someone famous. We live in a celebrity culture, and young people are often encouraged to model themselves on figures from the world of sport or entertainment. My question for you is this: what are the qualities you see in others that you would most like to have yourselves? What kind of person would you really like to be?

When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.

Not only does God love us with a depth and an intensity that we can scarcely begin to comprehend, but he invites us to respond to that love. You all know what it is like when you meet someone interesting and attractive, and you want to be that person’s friend. You always hope they will find you interesting and attractive, and want to be your friend. God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints.