Friday, September 30, 2011

29 Years Old and Hears Voice For First Time

Wow. What an amazing video. From the description of the video:
I was born deaf and 8 weeks ago I received a hearing implant. This is the video of them turning it on and me hearing myself for the first time :)

WARNING - THE AGGIE CATHOLICS BLOG HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER BY RUSSIAN CATS

MEOW! WE WILL NOW POST VIDEOS OF THE TRENDING STARS OF YOUTUBE - ALL OF THEM RUSSIAN CATS!!!

SPIDER CAT:


CAT AND PRINTER:


CAT AND PRINTER II:

Fr. Barron on Why Pope Benedict Went To Germany

Thursday, September 29, 2011

You Want to See Some Talent?

Watch this. What a voice.

Tip o' the hat to Deacon Greg.

Who Are You and How Much Are You Worth?

We humans have lost our identity. As a people, we no longer have the answers to these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What is the purpose to life?
  • Who is God?
  • Why was I created?

These questions and the corresponding answers directly effect what we believe, how we view life, and how we live. The root of the issue is this - without an identity in Christ, we cannot see ourselves, others or the world in the proper context. We mistake a lie for the truth.

What is the truth? It is that each of us are created in the image and likeness of God. Big deal, you might think. But, it is. It is our identity. We are adopted into the family of God (the Trinity) and made partakers of the divine nature. This means we that our nature is caught up into God, by our participation in God's divine life. A new-found identity in Christ means we can no longer look at ourselves or others in the same way. This is why the John Paul the Great quoted the following verse more than any other from Vatican II:
Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. (Gaudium et Spes 22)
If we want to know who we are, who others are, and the answers to the other questions that have been planted deep within us, then we need to understand who Jesus is and who we are in light of Christ. When God became man in the Incarnation, He didn't lower His own divine nature, which is impossible - because God is unchangeable, rather He raise up our human nature higher. The document goes on to say our nature
has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man.
This is our "supreme calling" - to find who we are in Christ. To live fully in the Fathers' love, truth and grace. This is what we were made for.

This is the truth about the mystery of humanity. We were made to live this way, to find this truth. When we do so, we find what real human "dignity" means.

The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.
When we do not live in this truth we bring suffering upon ourselves and others. This is the root of EVERY problem in our society today. Let me offer a few examples of this.

1 - Abortion. When we do not see a developing baby in light of the mystery of God and humanity, then the dignity of a baby who can't act as we act or do as we do is lost. They then become something that impedes our attempt to be happy, as we understand it. They are an inconvenience.
But, if we see the child through the eternal eyes of God they have an inestimable value. They are priceless and their dignity is not dependent on what they "do". Their identity is a son and daughter of the Father. They are the brothers and sisters of the God-Man, Jesus.

2 - Relationships. When we enter into a relationship with another person who is as valuable as me, then I will do nothing but truly love them and give of myself to them. I will never treat them as someone who exists for me, but rather who exists for God. They are never to be used. They are always to be valued. What I say to them and what I do with them will always reflect this reality. More than anything - I will never use God's own beloved in for my own selfish pleasere or allow them to enter into any danger, whether it be a physical, mental, spiritual, or social danger because of me. This means chastity and charity are the virtues that will come from such a relationship.

3 - The poor. How would I treat my own child if they were to come to me and in need of food? I would give it them. Just so, God's children sometimes are in need and we are called to treat them as God's children, not as someone who is inconvenient. If we see them for the persons they truly are, there is no other reaction but for us to do what is best for them.

4 - Self Esteem/Worth. The times we see ourselves as worthless or without dignity are the times we fail to see ourselves in light of the Incarnation. God took on flesh, not for His own sake, but for my sake and your sake. He became a man in order to show that there is nothing more worthy of love than the height of His creation - human beings. Nothing more worthy of love than you. Not a "feeling" of love, but a sacrificial love. A love that humbles Himself to live and die for another. That is love. It is for you.


5 - Suffering. Without Jesus crucified, there is no purpose to suffering. It is to be avoided at all costs and is the worst thing that can happen to us. Without the crucifix, pleasure becomes the highest good. But, pleasure comes and goes. When it is gone, our lives lose meaning. The Cross rightly orders our lives. It points us to the real meaning to life - living in the truth of who we are as humans made by God for sacrificial love. In this identity we can find why God allows suffering - in order to draw us closer to Himself.

Theses are just a few examples, but this is part of the antidote to the problems of our culture. This is also a broad stroke that when refined became JPII's Theology of the Body.

The mystery of man and the mystery of God isn't just fun to think about. It is the most important thing to search for. It is what will change us and our culture. It is the answer to the questions of life. As Gaudium et Spes 22 ends it says it all.
Such is the mystery of man, and it is a great one, as seen by believers in the light of Christian revelation. Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us. Christ has risen, destroying death by His death; He has lavished life upon us so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in the Spirit; Abba, Father
Amen.

World Contraception Day

World Contraception Day was held on 9/26 and targets young people with information about contraception (from a pro-contraception perspective). Tell me what you believe these videos are communicating about using contraception. My thoughts after the videos.





So, what do these videos teach young people?

  • sex is all about pleasure.
  • don't change your sexual behavior, rather use contraception.
  • when using contraception, there are no bad consequences to having sex with whomever and however you please.
  • sex is what makes you happy.
  • children are a terrible thing.
  • babies ruin your life.

What am I missing?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron's New Book - Catholicism - A Review

When I was a child, I was blessed to attend one of the most beautiful churches in the United States, St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, in Beaumont, Texas. A hidden jewel of a church in southeast Texas, this Cathedral completely captured my Catholic imagination during my childhood. The murals, stained-glass windows, architecture, statues, and decorations all radiated the glory of God for me. I was filled with wonder and awe at the beauty of God's creation every time I entered the church. Some of my earliest, and fondest, memories included staring at at the dome in the center of the cruciform sanctuary in St. Anthony.

This awe and wonder for the Catholic Church was felt once again when I read Fr. Robert Barron's new book, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Church. As a disclaimer, I must admit that I am a huge fan of Fr. Barron. I believe he is the best communicator of the message of Jesus Christ in the United States today. His new book does not disappoint.

I believe this book is the best modern overview of the Catholic Church's truth, beauty, and goodness I have ever read. More than just another book about Catholicism, Fr. Barron takes us on a journey through space and time, to visit the great thinkers, artists, writers, and Saints of the Catholic Church. He doesn't just tell us about the Catholic Church, but helps us love her.

His narrative is rich and descriptive. While Fr. Barron certainly uses Catholic teachings to tell us about the Catholic Church, the book is much more than just a doctrinal treatise on Catholicism. Fr. Barron uses Catholic art, music, architecture, and history to paint his picture. Furthermore, he tells us the stories of the lives of Saints, both ancient and modern, to guide us in how we are to live out the faith. Finally, he wraps it up in a call for us to embrace that which is truly Catholic, not just the pitiful image of a dying Church which modern pundits have sold to many people in our modern world.

I cannot think of a single person I would not recommend this book to. From fallen-away Catholics to practicing Catholics and from atheists to Muslims, all of them would benefit from reading Catholicism.

Fr. Barron's style is easy to read and he is nearly lyrical in his prose. He adeptly addresses philosophical and theological arguments, so the average person will be able to grasp difficult concepts. He also allows the truth about Jesus to speak for itself, rather than trying to convince or push.

If I could give him 6 out of 5 stars I would, the book is an absolute masterpiece, and if you think I am speaking in hyperbole, I challenge you to read the book for yourself.

Source
Fr. Barron took me back to St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica and sat me in the third pew from the front, left of center. He then pointed to the great dome and had me once again gaze at the beautiful art that was above me. Through Catholicism, I once again gazed with wonder and awe at the beauty of God's creation and ultimately I found Jesus anew in the Catholic Church - through this book.

What more could I ask for?

Reflection on a Mission Trip to Honduras

A Life Changing Experience: Reflections on a Mission Trip to Honduras 

During Spring Break 2011 a group of students, a staff member from St. Mary’s and a priest went on a mission trip to Honduras. The group worked with the Missioners of Christ, ministering to the people in the mountains. The Catholics in these villages are visited by a priest only once a year at the most. In the absence of a priest, delegates (ministers and leaders) of the village preside over the Liturgy of the Word every Sunday. Realizing the need for more catechesis and contact with the people, a local priest had the idea to send out missionaries to some of the villages in his parish on a monthly basis. And that is how these mission trips started. The trip was amazing and life changing for everyone who went. The following are reflections from two of the group members, Packer Stevenson, a former student, and Fr. Charlie Garza, an Aggie Priest.

A challenge to take action by Packer Stevenson
When I went to Honduras, I experienced a simplicity and a wholeness in the people that I did not yet see in the States. Yes, these people lived without many material things, but they were so in touch with what mattered--their faith, their families and their relationships. They were so open to human interaction, so willing to serve and so ready to make themselves available to others. Naturally, that is what our group got caught up in doing. We were serving, reaching out, coming out of our comfort zones. It was an entirely new culture, climate, diet and lifestyle for many of us, but I don't think we have ever felt so whole before in our lives. There was a pervasive peace and joy in our group, and it challenged many perceptions we had previously about what can truly fulfill us.

In Honduras we gave what we could and left the results up to the Lord, and there was a profound peace from that exchange. What the trip has taught me is this: there is a great need all over the world, spiritually in the States & Europe and materially most everywhere else. Now, instead of rationalizing away my capacity to fulfill those needs, I challenge myself to do something about it. It's easy to let someone else take care of it, but I know from my experience in Honduras that if I truly desire to know the joy and happiness I was created for, then that means me taking action for justice and trusting in the Lord.
Continue Reading for Fr. Charlie Garza’s account.
If you are interested in going on a mission trip during Spring Break 2012, there are two options:
• Domestic
- Where: New Orleans, LA
- What: Hurricane relief and other service projects
- Contact: Jessica Huff

• International
- Where: Comayagua, Honduras
- What: Evangelization work with the Missioners of Christ
- Applications are available at the front desk of St. Mary's
- Interviews run through October 7
- Contact: Carolyn Leatherman

Do's and Don'ts of Evangelization and Apologetics

Q - I was asked if our understanding of Mary is a necessity for our salvation. My quick response to that question is that Jesus alone is the way to salvation. However, a friend went into details of explaining how Mary is an integral part of the holy family and that we need to hold her in high regards to understand the beauty of our salvation (That's a very short randition of their explanation). After this I felt like the people who asked the question were not understanding what he was trying to say and were about to form misconceptions in their minds. So, I reitterated that Jesus's sacrifice is the way to salvation.

So, how do we present an explanation without underpresenting the truth of the Catholic Church while also not pushing someone away by saying something along the lines of "The Catholic Church is the only correct religion, and your religion is not adequate."

Because ultimately, by saying, "As Catholics we believe" we give the listener an out. They can just say to themselves, "well I'm not Catholic so I don't have to believe that." However, if we say, "The Catholic Church has the fullness of truth and you need to recognize it" then we are pretty much guaranteed to chase the questioner away from the Church for a long time.

What do you think is the best way for us to present answers to questions without chasing away the listener or undermining the truth of the Catholic Church?

A -
Thanks for the question. Here is what I would do, starting with a list of Do's and Dont's in evangelization (sharing the faith) and apologetics (defending the faith).

Do:
  • listen to the other person. It is more important that you really understand where they are coming from and try to meet them at that place, than it is that you find the perfect answer to a supposed question. Nobody likes a one-sided conversation.
  • remain calm.
  • trust that God can work in your inadequacies, because that is all we have to offer.
  • try and find common ground to build upon.
  • speak the truth - but for the right reasons. The best reason to speak the truth is out of a genuine love for the other person and their welfare.
  • be kind. As St. Peter says - "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear." -1 Peter 3: 15-16
  • ask probing questions. Try to find out not only what they believe, but try to guide them to where you want them to go. This is called the "Socratic Method" of dialogue. It asks probing questions in order to guide the other person into the truth. Peter Kreeft has written numerous books using this method and they might help you get used to using it.
  • be as charitable as possible. Try to always think about the good of the other person.
  • build on the faith or goodness the person shows you. We are not in the business of tearing others down.
  • ask if they have any prayer intentions and then ask if they want to pray for you right then and there. It can be a powerful witness to pray with someone.
Don't:
  • try to win an argument. Archbishop Sheen once said "Win an argument, lose a soul." I agree.
  • allow the conversation to wander from topic to topic. Stay on one topic until you exhaust it.
  • get upset. Your emotions might boil, but allowing someone else to see frustration, anger, etc. won't help.
  • allow your pride to get the best of you. Even if it seems you have no answer, know that the Church does or that you need to continue to grow in knowledge. Humility is a gift.
  • speak about what you don't know about. "I Don't know" is a great answer. But, follow that up with an invitation to get together again and talk after you do your homework on the subject.
  • give up hope.
  • over-explain yourself. Too much of a good thing is still too much.
  • use too much churchy lingo. Try and explain and define your words and phrases - even basic ones you might assume others know (e.g. faith, hope, love, grace, salvation, savior, prayer, etc.).
In your particular case, here are some suggestions.

It isn't necessary to always preface your conversations with "as Catholic we believe" or any other such thing. If it is true, it is true for all.

Now, that being said, your personal witness is still a powerful tool to use in evangelization.

Speak the truth. For instance, a simple phrase such as - "Mary plays an important role in my spiritual life, just as she did in Jesus' life" - can spark a conversation. Then ask questions. For example, a part of a conversation you might have:
-Do you believe Jesus makes mistakes?
---No.

-What role do you believe Mary played in Jesus' life?
---I guess pretty important, she was his earthly mother. But, she was just a normal woman.

-I would say she is more than "normal". She bore God in her womb. That isn't what you consider "normal" is it? (this could only be said with a big smile).
---No. I guess you are right. But, what I mean is, she isn't any better than you or I. She still needed to be saved.

-I agree. She is a creature who needed salvation. So, by nature she isn't any better. But, by grace she is. No other woman was chosen to carry God in their womb. What a great gift, wouldn't you agree?
---Certainly. But again, her soul was no different.

-Wasn't it? Grace isn't something that just works on a body, it works on a person - body and soul. So, grace entered her entire person by entering her womb. This is why the Bible says she was "full of grace." I don't know how else could she be "full of grace", do you?
---I certainly don't
We can see this conversation is presenting the truth, but in a non-offensive and non-triumphalistic way. We do not beat anyone up with our truth, nor do we avoid it. We present it out of love and kindness, but with probing questions, it also helps the other person take hold of it for themselves.

I find this one of the best methods of evangelizing others. But, practice it. It doesn't necessarily come naturally.

We should not downplay the role of Mary and the Saints in our spiritual lives. Here is a bit more on that.

I hope this helps. Please let me know how your evangelization efforts are going sometime in the future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Breaking News: Congress to Investigate Planned Parenthood

This is really big:
In a Sept. 27 letter to Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) – the chairman of E&C's oversight subpanel, who launched the GOP investigation earlier this month, including a request for reams of documents related to funding – the Democrats argue that there's "no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood."

"The HHS Inspector General and state Medicaid programs regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings," Waxman and DeGette wrote. "These audits have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity, or other abuse that would justify a broad and invasive congressional investigation."

Current law already prohibits the federal funding of abortion. But Planned Parenthood critics argue that, because money is fungible, there's no practical way for the group to isolate the private funds it receives for abortion services from the federal funds it receives for contraception and other family-planning programs.

As part of his investigation, Stearns has asked Planned Parenthood to turn over documents detailing "how the segregation between family planning and abortion services is accomplished … and what internal audits, controls or reviews are conducted to ensure this."

In a Sept. 15 letter to PPFA, Stearns also asked what procedures are in place "to ensure that suspected sex trafficking is reported to the proper authorities." Continue Reading.
More:
LifeNews
LifeSiteNews

Cheating

Q - Can you write about what is wrong with cheating? Thanks.

A - Thanks for the question. There are several questions here:
  • What is cheating?
  • Is cheating a sin / bad / unethical / wrong?
  • Why is this a big deal or not?
Let us start with some definitions. Cheating can take on many forms. Athletes cheat by taking steroids. Accountants cheat by fudging the balance sheets. Students cheat on exams and papers. Spouses cheat with another person they aren't married to. Journalists cheat by making up stories. Cheating is acceptable to many modern people as long as you get away with it (taxes anyone)? It is seen as a shortcut or an opportunity to the easy way to do things.
It is pervasive in our culture.

In many ways teaching "ethics" doesn't help much because they tend to raise questions without giving concrete answers to many unclear situations. This can confuse students further (in some cases).

So, how to define it for everyone? How about this:
To defraud, to deceive, to elude, to violate the rules, to swindle, to act fraudulently or dishonestly.
I think that covers all of our bases. Now, is it wrong to do these things? Do the good ends justify the means of getting ahead?
No.

There is no good reason to cheat. It is a sin in every case and can be grave matter and if done with full knowledge and full consent, then it can be a mortal sin. (see CCC 2413)

When dozens of A&M students cheat on an ethics test (happened in '07), something is definitely wrong. Furthermore, almost 75% of students admit to cheating.

A culture that allows cheating as if it isn't a big deal is a sick culture. There is a disconnect between our idea of what honesty is and the reality.

The person who wouldn't lie to a priest in confession has no problem lying to a teacher by cheating on a paper. The person who would never steal out of the collection basket, will download music or movies illegally. The principles are the same.

It is a very big deal. Think of it this way:

  • Stealing = taking what isn't your own. How would you feel if someone took something you own?
  • Lying = purposefully telling an untruth to someone who has a right to the truth. How do you feel when you are lied to?
  • Cheating =  not playing by the rules established or agreements agreed to. How do you feel if someone cheated you?

The answer is found in Christ's call to us to " So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." - Matt 7:12 Christ defines truth as part of the nature of God - "I am the way, the truth and the life". We must be true and honest as Christians in every way.
We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. - Hebrews 13:18

How Was the Canon of The Bible Established?

Q - How was the Biblical canon established? I understand that it happened over centuries and wasn't officially finalized until many years after Christ, but why were some books accepted while others were rejected? Who were the primary figures in the establishment of the Biblical canon, and when was it established?

A -
Thanks for the question.

The word "canon" means rule or measure. In terms of the Bible, it specifically refers to the list of the books that are inspired by the Holy Spirit and are thus deemed Sacred Scripture. Therefore, the books in the Bible are called canonical and the books that are not determined to be inspired by God are extra-canonical. How did this determination come about? This is what we will examine here.

Almost all Christians believe in the truths found in the Bible, but there are two different lists of what belongs in the Old Testament - the list used by the Catholic Church (and most Eastern Orthodox) and the list used by most Protestants. The Protestant canon contains 7 fewer books than the Catholic canon. These 7 books are called the deuterocanon ("second" canon). These books were given the name deuterocanon because a few hundred years ago we did not have copies of them in Hebrew and they were not part of some Hebrew Bibles. Thus, they were deemed to be part of a second canon written in Greek. We now have manuscripts, or partial manuscripts, that show that most, if not all, of the books were written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Protestants call these seven books apocryphal, meaning that they are not part of the canon of the Bible.

Thus, we have two different lists of what books should be part of the Old Testament.

Many Christians have never reflected on the history of the Bible and how it came to be. They just assume that it is authoritative and we should consider all the books in the Bible as Sacred Scripture.

Here is a brief history of how the Bible came to be put together.
  1. Jesus came and taught his disciples. During the time of Jesus there were several different lists of the Old Testament Scriptures in different Jewish groups.
  2. Jesus' disciples spread his message orally for years.
  3. His disciples started to write down the messages of Jesus.
  4. During the early Church some Jews decided to try and set the OT canon. This failed to solve the issue of different lists for different Jews. Thus, the Jewish canon was never decided authoritatively by the Jews. Once Jesus came, the Jews no longer had the authority to set the Jewish canon for Christians.
  5. Different local Churches started to compile these different writings. Many of the lists differed from one another dramatically.
  6. The Catholic Church started to discern, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what was inspired and what was not. This goes for both the New Testament and the Old Testament.
  7. Several Catholic Councils of Bishops declared the list of Scripture as we have it today - Council of Hippo, 393 A.D. / Carthage, 397 A.D. / Carthage 419 A.D.
  8. This list remained fixed through hundreds of years.
  9. Saints, bishops, Popes and the Council of Florence (1442 A.D.) affirmed the list.
  10. The list is challenged seriously for the first time by Martin Luther, when he rejects the 7 deuterocanonical books. He decides to throw them out of his new canon. Thus, the Protestant Bible is first born in the 1500s. He bases this decision on faulty evidence:
    1. He claimed they contained doctrines contrary to the rest of Scripture (rather, he didn't like the teachings that supported Catholic doctrines).
    2. He claimed that the Jews had set this canon (rather, there were still different lists by different Jewish groups).
    3. He claimed that only the Scriptures written in Hebrew were of the canon (rather, he didn't have access to the documents that show they were written in Hebrew).
  11. The list of Sacred Scripture is put down dogmatically in the Council of Trent, which followed the Protestant Reformation. This is because dogma is usually not declared unless first challenged seriously.
You can see from this short history that the canon was established by the Catholic Church early on. All Christians agree on the New Testament, but still differ on the Old Testament canon.

Here is some other evidence in favor of the Catholic list of the OT canon.
  1. God never gave the Jews a way to settle the debate over what books should be in the Jewish canon.
  2. In the time of Jesus there were several different groups of Jews with different lists of their Scriptures:
    1. The Samaritans and Sadducees accepted the law but rejected the prophets and writings. 
    2. The Pharisees accepted all three. 
    3. Some Jews used the Greek version called the Septuagint. This is the list that the Catholic Church uses. Textual analysis indicates that most of the New Testament writers quote most often from the Septuagint in the NT, therefore indicating that they used and accepted it.
    4. Some smaller groups with different lists.
  3. The early Christian Church Fathers accepted the deuterocanonical books as inspired.
To summarize - the Catholic Church put together the different books of the Bible, while guided by the Holy Spirit. This list was not challenged until Martin Luther threw out 7 books. Unfortunately, many Christians uncritically accept the lie that the Catholic Church added 7 books, which doesn't square with the evidence. We can be confident that the books in the bible, as ratified by the Catholic Church, are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit for our salvation.

I know this is the Cliff Notes version. If you want more details, I highly recommend the book - Where We Got the Bible by Henry Graham.

I hope this helps.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Impact of Social Media

Don't downplay the impact of social media. It is changing the world.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fr. Barron on Conscience

Through The Eyes of a 3 Year-old

I have the cutest kids (thank God for their mother). They constantly bring me tons of joy and remind me just how little I know about life and love. Sometimes they just crack me up. Here is one of those times.

My youngest, Elise, is 3 years old. A few weeks ago, my wife and our 5 kids went to visit my wife's only sister and her family while I had to work all weekend. My sister-in-law's two girls are both in high school and my kids really love spending time with them.

So, after attending a vigil Mass on Saturday, my wife agreed to take the kids to the Bible church my sister-in-law and her family attend instead of waiting around for several hours by themselves on Sunday morning. The kids generally thought the service was "weird", the music was "too loud", and the pastor, "talked too much".

I wouldn't expect any other reaction from my kids.

During the service Elise was sitting on the lap of her 16 year-old cousin and had the following conversation about another difference she noticed:

Elise - "Is that your priest?"
Cousin - "Um, yes that is our priest."
(not wanting to confuse a 3 year-old by distinguishing between a Catholic priest and a Protestant minister, she answered yes.)
Elise - "Why is he dressed that way?"
Cousin - "That is what he always wears on Sunday."
Elise - "Well our priest wears a dress."

Did I tell you that I love my kids?
I do. Gold star for Elise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Home Bible Study Fined By City For Meeting In California

If you don't think religious freedom is in serious danger in this country, then you need to read this story, which is just frightening.
A Southern California city is demanding that a small home Bible study group stop meeting unless they obtain a cost-prohibitive permit. 
Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm were fined $300 for holding the Bible study. The Fromms appealed the ruling to the city of San Juan Capistrano, which was ironically founded as a mission in the late 1700s. In fact, San Juan Capistrano is home to California’s oldest building still in use, a chapel where Father Junipero Serra celebrated mass. 
“Imposing a heavy-handed permit requirement on a home Bible study is outrageous,” says Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute. “In a city so rich with religious history and tradition, this is particularly egregious.” 
A hearing office told Fromm that regular gatherings of more than three people require a conditional use permit. Officials also stated that further religious gatherings in the home would be subject to a $500 fine per meeting. Fromm appealed. The city rejected the appeal. Now, the Pacific Justice Institute is taking the next step by appealing to the California Superior Court in Orange County. 
Fromm says there was no noise beyond normal conversation and quiet music on the home stereo system. The Christians met inside the Fromm’s family room and patio area. Many neighbors have written letters of support, denying they were disturbed by the presence of the Bible study. Continue Reading.
We need to fight this. Please make this story known and if you live in California, I ask that you contact your representatives.

Smile and Wipe Your Tears Away

This video will make you smile and cry at the same time. The smile is the most important part.

What a wonderful gift to give to a child. What a beautiful little girl.


Tip o' the hat to Deacon Greg.

Fr. Barron on the Freaky Supernatural Things in Christianity

This is great stuff. Another clip from the new Catholicism series from Fr. Barron, which will be on PBS and released on DVD soon. Here is the description of the video:
In this exclusive sneak peak of CATHOLICISM, find out about St. Theresa's "Interior Castle" and where to find your very own castle. Fr. Barron also shares some excellent thoughts on the place of all those "freaky supernatural elements" of our faith and on the scientific reductionism that doesn't get them.

Tip o' the hat to Matt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pope Addresses Agnostics in Germany

An Amazing Video from The Space Station

This video took my breath away. Here is the description:
A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line) and the stars of our galaxy


It just so happens that the Commander of Expedition 29 (current expedition) on the International Space Station is a graduate of Texas A&M. Here is a video of Col. Mike Fossum, from space, to the football fans before last weekend's game:

40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life kicks off again September 28 and runs until November 6.

This is the fastest growing and largest pro-life activism in the country and it was started by Aggie Catholics and is run by Aggie Catholics - so we fully support it. We encourage others to sign up locally with the Coalition for Life.

This year's campaign highlights from the 40 Days for Life blog:

  • 291 locations (the most ever, and this number may still go up by a few as we work through a few final application details!) 
  • 48 US states — plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico 
  • 7 Canadian provinces 
  • Australia, England, Spain and — for the first time — Germany and Argentina 
  • Many NEW cities … 46 first-time campaigns

To learn more, visit the 40 Days for Life website.

Friday, September 16, 2011

US Bishops Call For Urgent Action By All Catholics!

We must stand against the new Health and Human Services guidelines which ignore a person's right to oppose acts which violate their conscience and faith.
More from the USCCB:

URGENT ACTION ALERTS: New Threat to Conscience 
On August 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an "interim final rule" that will require virtually all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and related "patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity." These are listed among "preventive services for women" that all health plans will have to include without co-pays or other cost-sharing -- regardless of whether the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or even the woman herself objects to such coverage.
Concerned Americans have until September 30 to send their comments to HHS.
  • Write to HHS opposing their recent preventive services mandate. 
  • Download our Nationwide Bulletin Insert in both English and Spanish to use in your parish and communities. 
On September 7, Cardinal DiNardo, chair of the bishops' Committee on Pro-LIfe Acitivities, urged Congress to support conscience protection legislation in light of this "unprecedented threat to religious freedom." Please add your voice to his:
For more information on the HHS mandate and its inadequate conscience protection, read our Preventive Services Backgrounder.

Additional resources are provided below.
Continue Reading.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2 Cool New Online Features

1 - You can now edit videos directly on YouTube. I am guessing this is just the start. Once people start using these features, YouTube will roll out additional features to their editing and desktop video editing software might become a thing of the past.




2 - You can now search flights with a new search feature from Google called Flight Search. It is easy to use and better than almost any other flight search I have used. There are a few kinks to work out, but I like it a lot.

Fr. Barron on Aborting One Twin and Keeping The Other

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This is Love

Working Your Way To Heaven

Q - Over the past few days, I’ve been reflecting on Christ’s Passion and Ressurection. I also reflected on how Catholics often get into arguments with non-Catholics about good works and salvation. We say they are necessary, non-Catholics often say that they are not (due to Christ’s Passion). I thought about how Christ took the punishment for our sins and saved us from evil. I began to wonder why good works were necessary for salvation if Christ has basically offered us all clean slates. Am I right in saying that we aren’t really “earning” our salvation, but instead (by avoiding evil and doing good) are keeping ourselves from rejecting it? Basically, Christ has offered us Heaven, and we work to keep from rejecting that offer, and not necessarily earning the rights to it? If that is correct, then what disagreement is there between Catholics and non-Catholics? If it’s not correct, then how should I be looking at it? 


A - Thanks for the question. Thinking deeply about salvation and grace is a very good thing. Let me first tell you what the Catholic Church teaches about salvation and good works:

The Catholic Church does not believe that faith alone is a complete view of salvation or justification, when faith is defined as merely an intellectual knowledge of Jesus. This is because an intellectual faith is an incomplete faith. But, most protestants do not define faith in this way. So, the common understanding of faith would include a definition that is closer to our understanding of faith, hope, and charity combined. So, in this difference of definitions is a great deal of our differences in how we understand salvation through faith and how works play a part.

The Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation issued a joint declaration on justification several years ago. This is one part of that declaration:
25.We confess together that sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. By the action of the Holy Spirit in baptism, they are granted the gift of salvation, which lays the basis for the whole Christian life. They place their trust in God's gracious promise by justifying faith, which includes hope in God and love for him. Such a faith is active in love and thus the Christian cannot and should not remain without works. But whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis of justification nor merits it.
There are still some issues on this subject that divide, but this doctrine rejects faith alone, if it is a mere intellectual assent and affirms faith alone if it works out in hope and charity. This is why St. James rejects an intellectual faith alone when he says.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. - James 2:24
The Bible talks about the intimate connection between faith and works in many places. Here are some examples:
  • "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works." -James 2:14-18 
  • "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." -1 Cor 15:58 
  • "For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones." -Heb 6:10 
  • "Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works." -James 2:20-22 
  • "For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct." -Mt 16:27 
  • "The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor." -1 Cor 3:8 
  • "Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance." -Col 3:23-24
Here is a quick summation of the doctrine on faith/works the Catholic Church teaches:
  1. We cannot work our way into heaven or salvation.
  2. We are saved by grace. Thus, the Council of Trent states: "We are said to be justified by grace because nothing that precedes justification, whether faith or works, merits the grace of justification. For 'if it is by grace, it is no longer by works; otherwise,' as the apostle says, 'grace is no more grace' [Rom. 11:6]" (Decree on Justification 8).
  3. Works and Faith need not be seen as an either/or issue. As CS Lewis once stated: "Regarding the debate about faith and works: It’s like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most important."  
  4. The Catholic Church rejects the belief of "faith alone" if faith is not lived out. As St. James says, "faith without works is dead." -James 2:20
  5. Catholics and Protestants can agree that faith is absolutely necessary to salvation. We can also agree that works must be present for faith to be "alive". 
I hope this helps.

#1 Cause of Death in African-American Community?

Heart Disease?
AIDS / HIV?
Cancer?
Violence?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What is Life Worth?

A short ad from Virtue Media:



A longer one:

Does Truth Come From Feelings?

Truth is that which corresponds to reality.

Can you determine truth by how you "feel"?
No.

Truth is not determined by me or you. Truth is not something relative to time, situations, people, or cultures. Truth transcends these things and is eternal.
But, way too any college students think you can determine truth by how you feel about something.

A snip of an article from the NY Times:
The default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste. “It’s personal,” the respondents typically said. “It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say?”

Rejecting blind deference to authority, many of the young people have gone off to the other extreme: “I would do what I thought made me happy or how I felt. I have no other way of knowing what to do but how I internally feel.”

Many were quick to talk about their moral feelings but hesitant to link these feelings to any broader thinking about a shared moral framework or obligation. As one put it, “I mean, I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it. But different people feel different ways, so I couldn’t speak on behalf of anyone else as to what’s right and wrong.”

Smith and company found an atmosphere of extreme moral individualism — of relativism and nonjudgmentalism. Again, this doesn’t mean that America’s young people are immoral. Far from it. But, Smith and company emphasize, they have not been given the resources — by schools, institutions and families — to cultivate their moral intuitions, to think more broadly about moral obligations, to check behaviors that may be degrading. In this way, the study says more about adult America than youthful America.

Coolest Dad Ever!

This is amazing. During his lunch break, a dad draws on a lunch bag so his kids can take them to school the next day. Below are some of my favorites. The entire collection can be found at Lunch Bag Art and I recommend you check it out.

This is the coolest dad since Dale Price dressed up in a different costume every day his son got on the school bus during his sophomore year.

***Oops, the teacher didn't like this one. The note says, "Drawings are very cool! But not the comments :(  TXS Irma."
I guess she never read Calvin and Hobbes:

E.T.

Bee and Roses:

Lord of the Rings anyone?

Brainy Smurf:

Beaker from the Muppets:

Batman vs. Vader - who wins?

Lunch Bag Art (Lunch Bag Art) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Pope Says Dating Should Lead to Maturity

The Pope, who is a celibate old man, understands dating better than the average young couple. Listen to his wise words and absorb them:

Monday, September 12, 2011

We Need To Pray for Texas

In the grips of the worst one-year drought in the history of Texas, things don't look like they will get better any time soon. In fact, 100+ temperatures are still the norm in the forecast.

Here are a few facts to put it in perspective:
  • Texas' current drought is the most severe one-year drought on record, according to Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon of Texas A&M University. 
  • Texas had the warmest summer for any state going back to 1895, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The state's average temperature was 86.8 degrees Fahrenheit (30.4 degrees Celsius). 
  • August 2011 was the hottest month in Texas history, according to the NCDC. The average temperature was 88.1 F (31.2 C), breaking the previous record of 87.1 F (30.6 C) set last month. 
  • In San Angelo, Texas, the record for warmest month was set three times in three months from June to August, according to the National Weather Service. 
  • June to August was the driest summer on record, with only 2.44 inches of precipitation. 
Putting it in perspective: 
  • January through August 2011 has seen only 7.47 inches (6.2 centimeters) of precipitation, also a new record to that stretch. 
  • The most severe Texas drought overall is still the 1950-1957 drought. During the most intense year of that drought, 1956, Texas set its all-time record for lowest 12-month precipitation, 13.69 inches (34.8 cm) ending in September. 
  • Levels of extreme (81 percent) and exceptional (14 percent) drought in Texas totaled 95 percent of the state's area, according to the Drought Monitor. 
Wildfire woes: 
  • The hot and dry weather has created dangerous fire conditions. Nearly 18,612 wildfires have burned 3.5 million acres of Texas so far this year, according to the Texas Forest Service. That's about the size of Connecticut. 
  • Wildfires have destroyed more than 1,000 homes statewide. 
  • Six of the 10 largest wildfires in Texas history occurred in 2011. 
  • Texas has been fighting wildfires since Nov. 15, 2010. 
  • The damages from this year's wildfires are estimated at more that $5 billion, according to news reports.
Pray for relief. Pray for rain. Pray for Texas.

Friday, September 9, 2011

We Need Men Like This

We need men who aren't scared of what other men think, but what God thinks.

Tip o' the hat to Mark.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

College Class Teaches Population Control, Guided Meditation, and Abortion

What would you do if you attended a college class that taught the following:

  • Abortion and Contraception are part of a healthy sexual life.
  • Guided Yoga Meditation as an alternative medical treatment.
  • A woman's fertility should be treated as a disease.
  • This highlighted sentence:


A concerned student sent me this. So, what would you do?

46% of Abortions Are For College-Aged Women

This is a startling statistic and a good response. Students for Life have started an initiative called "Pregnant on Campus" to work on helping women who are pregnant on college campuses.
The Pregnant on Campus Initiative is a response to the stunning statistic that approximately 46% of abortions in America are performed on college-aged women. This comes from a study done by the Guttmacher Institute. When faced with an unintended or crisis pregnancy, many students feel forced to choose between continuing their education or raising their child. Too often, college campuses do not provide the necessary resources or environment that support pregnant and parenting students.

The Pregnant on Campus Initiative aims to address this issue by helping campus pro-life groups to create effective and lasting change on their campus. We encourage and challenge pro-life groups to address this issue on their campus by engaging in service activities geared to providing necessary resources to pregnant and parenting students.

Whether the project is creating a campus support group or installing diaper decks in bathrooms. Whether it involves establishing an Assistance Fund for Pregnant and Parenting students or securing affordable housing on campus, these projects serve a great purpose that will serve students for years to come.

The fact is that there is a severe lack of resources on campus for pregnant and parenting students. When asked if there are any resources on their campus, many students are startled and do not know how to respond.

We recently went to a college campus to see if any students could direct us to pregnant and parenting resources…check out our findings: Check out Pregnant on Campus.


If you are a local college student and ever find yourself pregnant, you are not alone and there is help locally. Please contact The Gabriel Project Life Center.

Tip o' the hat to CMR.

Fr. Barron on Anger, Forgiveness, and 9/11

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An Interview With Fr. David

From the Catholic Spirit.
Father David Konderla is literally right at home in his ministry at Texas A&M University. The pastor of St. Mary Catholic Center, which ministers to Aggie Catholics, was born and raised in Bryan. He attended Mass at Texas A&M before he learned to walk. Though never a student at the school, he spent plenty of time on campus as a young adult. Over the years, Father Konderla watched as St. Mary’s ministries grew; today he leads the center, which is one of the most respected campus ministry programs in the country.

In spite of his Catholic education and upbringing, it was not until age 23 that faith began to steer the course of Father Konderla’s life. “That was when things clicked for me that I really do believe this faith, these things that I’ve learned all my life about Jesus and the church … How I live my life should be different because I believe these things,” Father Konderla said.
Continue Reading.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nuns Start Gourmet Popcorn Business

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have started a new venture called Prayerfully Popped - gourmet popcorn. One of my friends and an Aggie Catholic, Sr. Lynn D'Souza, is a member of the order. She invented the low-gluten host for those suffering from Celiac disease, which was approved by the Vatican for use in Mass.

The business will also help train business students at the University of Arizona:
We are excited about our Prayerfully Popped Project for so many reasons! It is a new, revenue building venture for us. It will help us to sustain our communal life of prayer and also to assist other charitable organizations. Much of our eagerness stems from the divine collaboration between our sisters, the local Tucson community, friends of the monastery, and the University of Arizona business students that brought this project to life. We look forward to the entrepreneurship opportunities we will be able to offer young men and women starting their business careers.
FYI - almost all popcorn is gluten-free as well.


Prayer Requests

Please join us in praying for the following intentions:
  • Relief from the heat and drought.
  • Safety for those suffering from wildfires. Here is the latest:
Wildfire update – Sept. 6, 2011 Current situation:
· Yesterday Texas Forest Service responded to 22 new fires for 7,544 acres, including 10 new large fires.
· In the past seven days Texas Forest Service has responded to 181 fires for 118,413 acres.
· It appears that in the past 48 hours, more than 700 homes have been destroyed. As better assessments come in, we will continue to update the situation report.
· 251 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans
  • For the repose of the soul of Msgr. Charles Elmer, who died on Friday at the age of 88. A war hero, Msgr. Elmer landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. After he was ordained, Msgr. Elmer was appointed chaplain at Texas A & M. In an interview in 2003, he said, “Sometimes I think of those ten years at A&M as the best of my life.” Most recently he served as a spiritual director for seminarians at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston. May he rest in peace, and Gig'em Msgr. Elmer!

Friday, September 2, 2011

News You Don't Need To Know - But You Might Want To Know

***Bored UCLA student joins Libyan rebels. At first I thought the idea was hatched as a way to get attention and for poor reasons, but on second-thought it was for really really poor reasons and then for attention.

***Post-it Note wars. "Some people have too much time on their hands", would be a vast understatement.

***1 in 25 business leaders may be a psychopath. Did you know that 80% of statistics are made-up? I hope this is one of them.

***Facebook is not the place to wish someone a genuine happy birthday. This is because one experiment proved that most of them are fake.

***61 Year-old makes college football team as a kicker. I now have a retirement plan that includes the NFL.

Psychiatrist Says Not To Let Your Kids Watch Chaz Bono on Dancing With The Stars

Some very good points about the problems of letting your kids watch Chaz Bono on Dancing With The Stars.
Chaz Bono, the “transsexual” woman who underwent plastic surgery and takes male hormones in an effort to appear to be a man, and who asserts she is a man, will appear on the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars", according to ABC, the network which airs the show. He will be partnered with a woman.

Casting Chaz Bono on "Dancing with the Stars" is part of Chaz’s victory tour, which has included appearances on talk shows and the release of a book called "Transition."

I advise parents to not allow their children to watch the episodes in which Chaz appears. Here’s why: Many of the children who might be watching will be establishing a sense of self which includes, of course, a sexual/gender identity. Some will be girls becoming comfortable with dramatic changes in their bodies. Some will be boys coming to terms with integrating the dawn of manhood with exquisite feelings of vulnerability. Young viewers will include tomboyish girls and sensitive, less stereotypically “masculine” boys. They will also include children who have sustained the losses of loved ones and are wrestling with depression, perhaps wondering who they are absent their deceased mothers or fathers.

The last thing vulnerable children and adolescents need, as they wrestle with the normal process of establishing their identities, is to watch a captive crowd in a studio audience applaud on cue for someone whose search for an identity culminated with the removal of her breasts, the injection of steroids and, perhaps one day soon, the fashioning of a make-shift phallus to replace her vagina. Continue Reading.

What Makes a Real Man?

Some random students were asked the following question on the campus of Texas A&M recently - "What Makes a Real Man?"
Here are their answers:

If you want to have a full answer to this question, then join us in Rudder Theater, on the campus of Texas A&M on Friday, September 9 at 7pm.
 We will learn about love, God, relationships and more.

Jesus Was No "Girlie-man"

I love this post from Msgr. Charles Pope on Jesus.
When I was a teenager in the 1970s Jesus was presented in less than flattering terms, at least from my standpoint as a young man at that time. The paintings and statues of that day presented Jesus as a rather thin, willow-wisp of a man, a sort of friendly but effeminate hippie, a kind of girlyman, who went about blessing poor people and healing the sick. It is true he did that but usually left out of the portraits was the Jesus who summoned people to obedience and an uncompromising discipleship, the Jesus who powerfully rebuked his foes.

1970s Jesus was “nice,” and I should be nice too. In my 1970s Church we had no crucifix. Rather there was a cross and a rather slender and starry eyed Jesus sort of floated there in front of the Cross. The cross, it would seem, was all too much for a kinder gentler Jesus. The cross was, how shall we say…., so “unpleasant.” 

Somehow, even as a teenager, I craved a stronger, manly Jesus. My heroes then were Clint Eastwood and I loved John Wayne movies which my father called to my attention. Now those were men. (I know they were into revenge, but I’d learn about that later).

The “Jesus” I was presented with seemed soft and unimpressive compared to them and, teenager that I was, I was unmoved. Who will follow an uncertain trumpet? The basic message of Jesus 1970 was “be nice” but 1970s Catholicism (which Fr. Robert Barron calls “beige Catholicism”) stripped away the clarion call of repentance and trumpet-like command that we take up our cross, that we lose our life in order to save it.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I actually began to study the real Jesus, the one in Scriptures. He was nothing like the thin little williow-wisp of a man I had been taught. He was a vigorous leader, a man among men. Someone who was formidable and commanding of respect. Someone I could look up to. Continue Reading.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"It's A Girl" = Death

Terrible. Horrible. Genocide.
Time to rise up and fight this...


Tip o' the hat to CMR.

Why I Hate Free Will

More precisely, I hate the free will of other people.

I am a pretty stubborn and prideful guy. This means that I think WAY too much about my own opinion. When I get annoyed, frustrated, or angry with another person, it is my problem, not the other person's. Of course, I usually don't start off seeing things that way, which is why I get frustrated, annoyed, and angry. But, the truth is that I allow myself to wallow in those feelings.

I love my own free will. I love the freedom to choose how I am to act, what I will believe, etc. But, I despise the free will of others all too often. This is because I think I know better than they do. I think things would be fine if they just did, said, and thought how I think they ought to.
What pride!

Why should I choose when or how others change?
Why should I be the one to choose the actions of others?
Why would I ever want to have someone change just because I think it is best?

Of course I shouldn't be the arbiter of what someone else chooses or how they live their lives. But, I think I should.

My spiritual director agrees that most other people think the same way, even if they don't realize it. The few that really and truly love the free will of others are saints. Since we are all called to be saints, we have to all work on loving the free will of others and not letting their decisions change how we react or give away our interior peace.

This AMAZING quote from Jacques Phillipe, from his book Interior Freedom, sums it all up for me.
At times of struggle we need also to recall the conversion we should be concerned about is not our neighbor's but our own. Only if we take our own conversion seriously do we stand any chance of seeing our neighbor converted too. This point of view is realistic and encouraging. We have little real influence on other people, and our attempts to change them have only a very slight chance of success, since most of the time we want them to change in line with our criteria and aims more than God's. If we are concerned first with our own conversion, however, we have more hope of making a difference. It does more good to seek to reform ou hearts than to reform the world or the Church. Everyone will benefit.

Let us aks ourselves this question: "To what degree can the evil in my surroundings affect me?" With apologies to those I am going to scandalize, I say that the evil around us - the sins of others, of people in the Church, of society - does not become an evil for us unless we let it penetrate our hearts.

The point isn't that we should become indifferent. Just the opposite. The holier we are, the more we will suffer due to the evil and sin in the world. But external evil only harms us to the degree we react badly to it, by fear, worry, discouragement, sadness, giving up, rushing to apply hasty solutions that don't solve anything, judging, fostering bitterness and resentment, refusing to forgive, and so on. Jesus says in St. Mark's Gospel: "There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him!" Harm does not come to us from external circumstances, but from how we react to them interiorly. "What ruins our souls is not what happens outside, but the echo that it awakes within us." The harm that other people do to me never comes from them, it comes from me. Harm is only self-inflicted, the Fathers of the Church said long ago.

Fr. Barron on Planet of the Apes

Why Is The Divorce Rate So High?

Some random students were asked the following question on the campus of Texas A&M recently - "Why is the divorce rate so high?"
Here are their answers:

If you want to have a full answer to this question, then join us in Rudder Theater, on the campus of Texas A&M on Friday, September 9 at 7pm.
 We will learn about love, God, relationships and more.

Help A Catholic Chef Get On The Food Network!

Chef Tai is a local chef and owner of Veritas Wine and Bistro and Chef Tai's Food Truck. He is also a Catholic and a parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas here in town. He is competing for a spot on The Great American Food Truck Race on The Food Network. He has been in either first or second place recently, but has slipped to #2. He needs your votes. Can you help a good Catholic chef out by voting?

You can vote up to 10 times a day, everyday, until September 12th.

Furthermore, St. Thomas Aquinas holds an annual live auction and Chef Tai has donated a tailgate or office party for 20 for the auction. Chef Tai said he will double his donation from 20 to 40 people if his truck wins.

Please go vote! Also, please share on other websites, Facebook, and Twitter!