Friday, December 30, 2011

If I Could Only Recommend One Book From 2011

Jen Fulwiler, the amazing blogger of Conversion Diary and the National Catholic Register, sent me the following question:
If you could recommend just one book for people to read in 2012, what would it be?
This is a terribly difficult question for me to answer. So, I will try to do my best.

IF I had to choose one, it would be Fr. Robert Barron's new book, Catholicism.

As I said in my review of the book:
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.
So, how could I not pick it?

Yet, it wasn't easy. Here is why. I read some other amazing books this year. Here is a short list of SOME of the books I really enjoyed.
I could go on...but she did ask for just one.

What Is Man?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Can You Refuse To Pay Taxes Because of Abortion?

Q - Since abortion is against the church teaching, as well as supporting abortion, can we justly refuse to pay taxes that will be used to fund abortion?

A - Thanks for the question.  We have competing principles here and I hope I can sort them out properly.

Principle #1 - We cannot directly support intrinsically evil actions.  Abortion is one of these actions.  Even if a legitimate authority, such as the government, tried to force a Christian to help with an abortion, one could not.  Within this principle we must make a distinction, which will be very useful to us:

*Material vs. formal cooperation with evil.  No matter how hard you might try, there are situations were good an evil are mixed up and sometimes we get caught being complicit in an evil act.

When we "cooperate" in an evil act our cooperation can be either "material" (meaning well-removed from it) or "formal" (close to the evil act).  An example should help understand - If you went shopping at a store because they had the best prices in town on books and while you were checking out you noticed that they also sell pornography, you could still licitly still shop at the store, if you don't intend to support the selling of porn.  But, you are still in material support of the evil. A good rule to follow is that while material cooperation may be licit, we want to be as far-removed from formal cooperation as possible.  So, if there is another option of shopping somewhere with similar prices and selection, which doesn't sell porn, we might shop there instead.  Remote cooperation is licit because we don't intend to cooperate in the evil act and if we did intend to coooperate with evil it is no longer a licit act.

There are times when we are not remote from the evil at all.  A clinic employee who assists in an abortion is formally cooperating in evil, and the act is not remote at all.

The less remote the cooperation, the more we should seek to do something different.  Once it is no longer remote from an evil, we ought never participate.  There are more distinctions we can make within this principle, but we will allow this short answer to suffice.

Principle #2 - We must pay our taxes  in support of the common good as an obligation to the legitimate authority of the state to take care of citizens.  Because we must "render unto Caesar" we must pay taxes to the government.  The Catechism says:
"Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country" - CCC, 2240
Conclusion - Based on both of these principles, paying taxes to a legitimate government (which the US qualifies for) is an obligation we must follow.  If the government uses taxes to help pay for abortion, we would not support such a policy (and actively seek to change it), we would be material cooperating in the evil and such an act is licit.  Thus, we should still pay our taxes. We can never intend to support abortion with our tax money for it to remain a licit act.

If this doesn't satisfy, then think of it this way - Jesus demanded that his followers pay taxes to Caesar and the Roman government was supporting evil acts during that time (e.g., torture, unjust war, worship of pagan gods, etc.).  The situation is almost identical to what we face in the question above.

I hope this helps.  Peace to you and good luck filling out your income tax forms next year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fr. Barron Loved to Listen to Christopher Hitchens

Love Is Never Wasted

I am a fan of the band Coldplay. I think they are one of the best bands of the last 15 years or so. they have great music and lyrics which can cause one to reflect about life.

One of their best songs, in my opinion, is "Fix You" (video below). Even though I really like the song, I think it has a couple of lines a disagree with. One of them is "I will try to fix you". I don't want to get into the problems of trying to fix others, which I do all too often, but I will say it doesn't ever work.

But, the bigger issue is with the following:
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
Love is never wasted. Love is a gift to another person and will be good for both the one who is loved and the one who loves. Loving another person fulfills what we are made for. Our love is always going to be put to good use by God, as long as we allow him to change our hearts in the process.

Just a thought.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

On behalf of St. Mary's Catholic Center, we want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Thank you for reading and following our blog. It is our honor to serve you in this way.

For your final Christmas present from us, check out this amazing story of a man believed to be "brain dead" and was hours away from being taken off of life support, who suddenly recovered.
Sam Schmid, an Arizona college student believed to be brain dead and poised to be an organ donor, miraculously recovered just hours before doctors were considering taking him off life support.

Schmid, a junior and business major at the University of Arizona, was critically wounded in an Oct. 19 five-car accident in Tucson.

The 21-year-old's brain injuries were so severe that the local hospital could not treat him. He was airlifted to the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Phoenix, where specialists performed surgery for a life-threatening aneurysm.

As hospital officials began palliative care and broached the subject of organ donation with his family, Schmid began to respond, holding up two fingers on command. Today he is walking with the aid of a walker, and his speech, although slow, has improved. Doctors say he will likely have a complete recovery. He even hopes to get a day pass from the hospital to celebrate the holidays with his large extended family.

"Nobody could ever give me a better Christmas present than this -- ever, ever, ever," said his mother, Susan Regan, who is vice-president of the insurance company Lovitt-Touche.

"I tell everyone, if they want to call it a modern-day miracle, this is a miracle," said Regan, 59, and a Catholic. "I have friends who are atheists who have called me and said, 'I am going back to church.'"
Continue reading.

Security Blankets and Christmas

Fr James Martin wrote this on facebook:
Yesterday on The Washington Post chat a reader mentioned something beautiful that I had never noticed: When Linus recites the story of the Nativity in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," he unexpectedly drops his security blanket. With the Word of God he has no need for any other security.
See for yourself:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If Shakespeare Wrote The Three Little Pigs

"The Innocence of a Child is Worth Fighting For"

It is worth sitting through the first few minutes or so of this video to get to the message at the end. If you can't wait, then just skip to 2:55.

The man who is talking is a sports broadcaster on WFAA/Channel 8 in DFW.

Christmas Flash Mob

This is awesome. The guys on the escalator made my day. Doing it in a Mall makes perfect sense. Bringing Christ into the place he needs it most in our culture during this season:

Once In Royal David's City

One of my favorite Christmas songs - "Once In Royal David's City".

Lyrics of "Once in Royal David's City" -
Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior Holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Monday, December 19, 2011

10 Last-Minute Catholic Christmas Gifts

10 Last-Minute Catholic Christmas Gifts

This gift is perfect for Catholics and non-Catholics who want to know the real story of the Catholic Church. A wonderful way to evangelize. Fr. Barron is the best modern communicator of the Church's message, in my opinion.

2 - Board Games
A good old-fashioned game night is always in fashion and good for communication and relationships. Our family always love having a new game. Just remember to attach a gift receipt, so the person can return the game for another one if they already have it.

The best Catholic study Bible on the market. Only the New Testament is available so far, but don't wait for the Old Testament to be finished (they have Genesis & Exodus out as well). This one is worth the price and much more.

Yes, this is a shameless plug for my book. But, I have people buying several copies to give away as presents to others, so there are others who agree it makes a good gift. You might also try another book I am a contributor to - The Church and New Media.

One of the most powerful movies I have seen. I wrote the following in my review of the movie: "This movie moved me because it tells us what humanity is all about. It put on film what it means to be a human and that our identity is tied up in our great dignity."

6 - A Subscription to a Good Catholic Periodical
There are some great periodicals out there. Here are just a few of them:

7 - A Prayer Bouquet
Pray for a loved one and list the prayers in a bouquet that you offer them. It is free and worth more, in the long run, than anything else.

Caffeine + support for monks in the cold of Wyoming. What more could a coffee drinker want?

Another great two-for-one gift. Support the poor from around the world and get unique crafts / chocolate / coffee / etc.

10 - Donation To Your Favorite Charity In Someone's Name

This is a great gift for someone who is hard to shop for or who "has everything". A charitable donation has a quadruple benefit - it is good for the other person, good for you, good for the charity, and it is a tax write-off! Don't forget St. Mary's Catholic Center, if you are thinking about this one.

Merry Christmas

The Morning-After Pill Gets a Movie...

This is the sad state of affairs in our culture. The morning-after pill now has a movie which centers around a one-night stand and the resulting issues. The nonchalant attitude about the morning-after pill is a given in the trailer as is having a one-night stand. Sad.

Here is the description from the New York Times review of it:
Fred (Noah Bean) has unprotected sex with Mindy (Rachel Boston), an unstable young woman whom he has just met, and he spends the rest of the film trying to make sure she takes the morning-after pill (which in this case is two pills, taken 12 hours apart).
Lying, cheating, morning-after pill dilemma, a one-night stand - and they make a "romantic comedy" out of it?

Further Reading:
**Contraception: What is the big deal?
**Birth Control Makes Women Less Happy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Science Proves Babies Start Learning In the Womb

From a TED speaker - Annie Murphy Paul - we learn that babies learn sounds, tastes, smells within the womb. They remember these senses and prefer them after they are born. They also learn harsh realities, including Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). This is a scientific breakthrough. Here is the description of the presentation:
To what extent the conditions we encounter before birth influence our individual characteristics? It‘s the question at the center of fetal origins, a relatively new field of research that measures how the effects of influences outside the womb during pregnancy can shape the physical, mental and even emotional well-being of the developing baby for the rest of its life. 
Science writer Annie Murphy Paul calls it a gray zone between nature and nurture in her book Origins, a history and study of this emerging field structured around a personal narrative -- Paul was pregnant with her second child at the time. What she finds suggests a far more dynamic nature between mother and fetus than typically acknowledged, and opens up the possibility that the time before birth is as crucial to human development as early childhood.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Catholic Book Recommendations

Q - What are some books you recommend for college students who want to learn more about the Catholic Church?

A - Well, sometimes it depends on what in particular the person is looking for or needs. But, if I were to give a short (yes, it really is a short list) then it would be something like this.

NOTE: This list generally has popular books that are easy for most people to read. In other words, while you will get good theology, it should not be too hard for a college-aged young adult to understand any of these books.

Source books & Must-have Magisterial documents
The Holy Bible – If you don’t have one and use it daily then the other books will be of little value.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church - If you don’t have it then get it and use it.

Conversion stories:
Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton.
Surprised By Truth edited by Patrick Madrid.
Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism by Scott & Kimberly Hahn.
Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by Dave Currie
Evangelical Is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament by Thomas Howard.
Set Free to Love: Lives Changed by the Theology of the Body by Marcel LeJeune.

General Q&A books or ones that have a very broad scope:
Catholicism by Fr. Robert Barron.
Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli.
Handbook of Catholic Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli.
A Biblical Defense of Catholicism by Dave Armstrong.
Catholic Christianity by Peter Kreeft

Church History:
The Faith of the Early Fathers. Edited by W. A. Jurgens, 3 volumes,
Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church. By Henry Graham.
Triumph by H. W. Crocker III.
What Went Wrong With Vatican II by Ralph McInerny
How the Reformation Happened by Hilaire Belloc
Characters of the Reformation by Hilaire Belloc
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas Woods

Moral Issues:
Humanae Vitae Pope Paul VI
Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West
Three Approaches to Abortion by Peter Kreeft
Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West
Living The Good Life by Mark Lowery
An Introduction to Moral Theology William May

Spiritual Writings (this list could go on forever and leans toward my tastes):
The Imitation of Christ
by Thomas a Kempis
The Lord
by Romano Guardini
Holiness – A Guide For Beginners by Dom Hubert Von Zeller
Listening at Prayer by Benedict Groeschel
Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Spiritual Direction and Meditation by Thomas Merton
Prayer: The Great Conversation by Peter Kreeft
I Believe in Love by Jean C.J. d'Elbee
The Fire Within by Thomas Dubay

Other works not necessarily in only one category or in no category:
Theology and Sanity By Frank Sheed
Theology for Beginners By Frank Sheed
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters
by C.S. Lewis – Another masterpiece
The Great Divorce
by C.S. Lewis – Heaven is in our grasp.
The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism by Patrick Madrid and Kenneth Hensley
The Journey: A Spiritual Roadmap for Modern Pilgrims Kreeft, Peter
How to Win the Culture War
by Peter Kreeft
The Lamb’s Supper
by Scott Hahn
Making Senses Out Of Scripture Mark Shea
Where Is That In the Bible? by Patrick Madrid
A Refutation of Moral Relativism
by Peter Kreeft
How Not to Share Your Faith
by Mark Brumley
Hail, Holy Queen
by Scott Hahn
The Rhythm of Life
 by Matthew Kelly
The How-To Book of the Mass
by Michael Dubruiel
Letters to a Young Catholic
by George Weigel
Catholicism and Fundamentalism
. Karl Keating
By What Authority?
Mark Shea
Render Unto Caesar by Archbishop Charles Chaput
The Church and New Media Edited by Brandon Vogt
The Loser Letters by Mary Eberstadt

I hope this helps.  You can check out all of these in St. Mary's library.

The Cutest Christmas Video Ever...

This is absolutely precious.


Amazing Priestly Drum Solo

This is one rocking priest. Truly amazing drum skills.

Thanks to Fr. Brian Soliven who sent it to me. Here is the description of the video:
An impromptu exhibition of drumming skills of Fr. Rich Mastrogiacomo from New York. Taken during the ordination reception of his friend and classmate, Fr. Brian Soliven, held at Good Shepherd's Church, Elk Grove, California. 
Fr. Rich is the youngest ordained priest in the history of the church in the United States. Congratulations!
The next video is of Fr. Christ Downey, former Associate Pastor of St. Mary's (now a pastor at another parish). He was a former professional bass player in rock bands before becoming a priest.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fr. Barron to Appear on the NBC Today Show Thursday

From an email just sent out:
Father Barron will be on the NBC Today Show tomorrow morning in the 8:00 AM (IN ALL TIME ZONES) hour. Yes, you heard that right. Fr. Barron will be interviewed along with executive producer Mike Leonard on the Today Show to talk about the success of the CATHOLICISM series.

Gendercide: Killing Girls Because They are Girls

India and China have an ongoing holocaust against girls. Where is the outrage?

Even the secular media is picking up on the problem.

37 Million girls lost because they are girls...

Fr. Barron - "Advent is a Preparation For a Revolution"

What a unique way to think about Advent:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top 10 Christmas Carols

Let the debate begin! Below is my subjective list of favorites, with videos of good to great renditions of each. I have also included my favorite line(s) of each song:


10 - Coventry Carol
Favorite line(s):
O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

9 - Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Favorite line(s):
To show God's love aright,
 she bore to us a Savior,
 when half spent was the night.

8 - Joy To The World
Favorite line(s):
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessing flow
far as the curse is found,

7 - What Child is This?
Favorite line(s):
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

6 - Silent Night
Favorite line(s):
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar

5 - O Come O Come Emmanuel
Favorite line(s):
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

4 - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Favorite line(s):
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity

3 - O Come All Ye Faithful
Favorite line(s):
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,

2 - Once In Royal David's City
Favorite line(s):
For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.

1 - O Holy Night
Favorite line(s):
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

Just Missed the Cut:
  • Away In A Manger
  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • The First Noel
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
  • I Wander as I Wonder
  • Go Tell It On The Mountain
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Do You Hear What I Hear?
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • Breath of Heaven
  • We Three Kings

Monday, December 12, 2011

BIG Questions

"The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little."
-Thomas Merton
  • Is there truth?
  • Can truth be known?
  • Is truth universal to all?
  • Does God exist?
  • Did Jesus Christ exist?
  • Was Jesus the Son of God the Father?
  • Is there a Trinity?
  • Is the Bible reliable?
  • Is the Bible inspired by God?
  • Is God active in the world?
  • Aren't all religions the same?
  • What is the origin of the world?
  • Who am I?
  • What was I created for?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What is my mission?
  • What is my purpose?
  • How am I to live?
  • What kind of life (vocation) and I called to?
  • Why is there death?
  • Why is there suffering?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why do good things happen?
  • Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • What is love?
  • How do you know that you know?
  • What happens after someone dies?
  • Is every human life equal in value and dignity?
  • How do we determine right from wrong?
  • Why is having sex outside of marriage considered wrong if you love the other person?
  • How can you change for the better?
  • Why is sin wrong when it can be fun or feel good?
  • How do I go to heaven?
  • Does God answer prayer?
  • Does thought have consequences?
  • Do actions have eternal consequences?
There are many more big questions, in addition to those above

The questions of life will never be completely answered until we die and enter into heaven. But, we shouldn't stop asking them, because we are built to find the answers.

Pope Benedict also encourages your questions - but you should look for and expect an answer from God:
"think about the real meaning of life and to ask yourselves: “Am I satisfied with my life? Is there something missing?” 
Like the young man in the Gospel story, perhaps you too are experiencing situations of uncertainty, anxiety or suffering, and are yearning for something more than a life of mediocrity. It makes you ask yourselves: “What makes a life successful? What do I need to do? How should I plan my life? “What must I do for my life to have full value and full meaning?” (ibid., No. 3). 
Do not be afraid to ask yourselves these questions! Far from troubling you, they are giving voice to the great aspirations that you hold in your hearts. That is why you should listen to them. The answers you give to them must not be superficial, but capable of satisfying the longing you truly feel for life and happiness. 
In order to discover the life-project that will make you completely happy, listen to God. He has a loving plan for each one of you. You can confidently ask him: “Lord, what is your plan, as Creator and Father, for my life? What is your will? I want to carry it out”. You can be certain that he will answer you. Do not be afraid of his answer! “For God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1 Jn 3:20)."

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Little Things Really Do Matter

What kind of "change" is he asking for?

Tip o' the hat to Deacon Greg.

Can Men and Women Just Be Friends?

A question that two young filmmakers at Utah State set out to answer - Can men and women just be friends?

I certainly think the dynamic on college campuses might reflect this kind of attitude. Things are different later on in life.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vatican University Hosts Tattoo Conference

This is an interesting conference, hosted by the Pontifical Urbaniana University, which is just up the hill from St. Peter's Square. Details:
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Tattooed mummies in ancient Egypt, Crusaders who branded their foreheads with crosses, and New Zealand's inked Maori warriors were fodder for an unusual conference at a Vatican university Tuesday on the role of tattoos in shaping identity.

"Into the Skin: identity, symbols and history of permanent body marks" was the brainchild of a Christian arts association and Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, an unlikely expert in the field given Judaism's prohibition of tattooing and the painful role that tattooed serial numbers played in the Holocaust.

Ambassador Mordechay Lewy acknowledged the paradox, saying the living memory of Auschwitz's blue death stamps added another layer to Jewish aversion to tattooing, which many orthodox rabbis forbid because it alters the human body as a divine creation.

Yet Lewy is a respected expert within the field — and a fierce critic of what he calls today's "commercialization" of an important aspect of cultural history that stretches from Jerusalem to Japan.

Tattoos "can symbolize a social rank, identify ethnic affiliation, indicate experience of religious pilgrimage or of a rite of passage," he told the two-day conference that ended Tuesday. "They can also be a sign of rebellion or diversity."

The conference, held at the Vatican's Pontifical Urbaniana University, just up the hill from St. Peter's Square, marked the first of its kind and participants marveled that it came together at all given that the study of tattooing is a relatively new field of serious academic research.

"I was gobsmacked," said Oxford historian Jane Caplan, who wrote a seminal anthology on tattoos in U.S. and European history. "It seemed so unlikely," particularly Levy's guiding hand in helping organize a tattoo conference at the Vatican.
Continue Reading.
Related post:
**Is Getting A Tattoo Wrong?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Plan to Allow Morning-After Pill Over-The-Counter is REJECTED!

This is really good news and quite surprising.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a surprise move with election-year implications, the Obama administration's top health official overruled her own drug regulators and stopped the Plan B morning-after pill from moving onto drugstore shelves next to the condoms.

The decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius means the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive will remain behind pharmacy counters, as it is sold today — available without a prescription only to those 17 and older who can prove their age.

The Food and Drug Administration was preparing to lift the age limit on Wednesday and allow younger teens, who today must get a prescription, to buy it without restriction. That would have made Plan B the nation's first over-the-counter emergency contraceptive, a pill that can prevent pregnancy if taken soon enough after unprotected sex.

But Sebelius intervened at the eleventh hour and overruled FDA, deciding that young girls shouldn't be able to buy the pill on their own — especially since some girls as young as 11 are physically capable of bearing children.

"It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age," Sebelius said. "I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age."
Continue Reading.
If you didn't read the original story, you can do so here.

Star Wars Geeks + Christmas + Christian Pop Music = Greatness

This cracked me up. A parody of Mary Did You Know?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

FDA Considers Allowing Plan B Over-The-Counter With No Age Restrictions

Another sign our culture isn't sliding down the slippery slope, but has the sled out and has greased the slope for a faster descent.
From the Washington Post.
The federal government is grappling with the explosive question of whether to let anyone of any age buy the controversial morning-after pill Plan B directly off drugstore and supermarket shelves without a prescription.

The Food and Drug Administration has until Wednesday to respond to a request from the drug’s manufacturer to make the pill as easy to get as toilet paper and toothpaste, a move pushed by some doctors, health advocates, family-planning activists, members of Congress and others to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Opponents, however, say such a decision would expose girls and women to potential risks from taking high doses of a potent hormone, interfere with parents’ ability to monitor their children and make it easier for men to prey on vulnerable minors.

The request follows a series of steps in recent years that have gradually made Plan B easier to obtain. If it is approved, the pill would move out from behind pharmacists’ counters, eliminating the requirement that women produce a prescription or prove that they are at least 17 years old to get it without a doctor’s order. Instead, Plan B would be available on store shelves, along with condoms, contraceptive sponges and spermicides.

“Hopefully, it will be right on the shelves between the condoms and the pregnancy tests,” said Kirsten Moore of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, a Washington-based advocacy group. “We think it’s good news for women’s health and long overdue.”

Plan B consists of a synthetic form of progesterone; this hormone is found in many standard birth-control pills, but Plan B contains it at higher doses. Taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the pill has been shown to be 89 percent effective at safely preventing pregnancy.

The drug has long been controversial and was the focus of one of the biggest health disputes during the administration of President George W. Bush. Plan B works primarily by preventing an egg from being fertilized. Critics, however, focus on the chance that it may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb, an action they consider equivalent to an abortion. As a result, it has been the subject of intense debate and conflict. Some doctors refuse to write prescriptions for it, some pharmacists refuse to fill requests, and some hospitals refuse to provide it to patients.
Continue Reading.
Give it 6 months and this will be a reality.

Just a thought. At 17 years old you can NOT:

  • Drink alcohol 
  • Vote 
  • Sign for a loan 
  • Buy cigarettes 
  • Join the military without parental consent 

At 17 you CAN:

  • Drive 
  • Drop out of high school 
  • Buy the "morning after" pill without a prescription.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fr. Barron on David and the Priesthood

Watching Fr. Barron's videos is the equivalent of hearing a great homily + sitting in on a great theology class.

Part I:

Part II:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine

The following article is a true winner. You want to read it all.
Here is a snip:
Where are all these bigoted Catholics I keep hearing about? When I told my family a year ago, not one of them responded with anything but love and understanding. Nobody acted like I had a disease. Nobody started treating me differently or looking at me funny. The same is true of every one of the Catholic friends that I've told. They love me for who I am. 
Actually, the only time I get shock or disgust or disbelief, the only time I've noticed people treating me differently after I tell them, is when I tell someone who supports the gay lifestyle. Celibacy?? You must be some kind of freak. 
Hooray for tolerance of different viewpoints. I'm grateful to gay activists for some things -- making people people more aware of the prevalence of homosexuality, making homophobia less socially acceptable -- but they also make it more difficult for me to be understood, to be accepted for who I am and what I believe. If I want open-mindedness, acceptance, and understanding, I look to Catholics. 
Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn't let me have those things, not because she's mean, but because she's a good mother. If my son or daughter wanted to eat sand I'd tell them: that's not what eating is for; it won't nourish you; it will hurt you. Maybe my daughter has some kind of condition that makes her like sand better than food, but I still wouldn't let her eat it. Actually, if she was young or stubborn enough, I might not be able to reason with her -- I might just have to make a rule against eating sand. Even if she thought I was mean.  
So the Church doesn't oppose gay marriage because it's wrong; she opposes it because it's impossible, just as impossible as living on sand. The Church believes, and I believe, in a universe that means something, and in a God who made the universe -- made men and women, designed sex and marriage from the ground up. In that universe, gay marriage doesn't make sense. It doesn't fit with the rest of the picture, and we're not about to throw out the rest of the picture. 
If you don't believe in these things, if you believe that men and women and sex and marriage are pretty much whatever we say they are, then okay: we don't have much left to talk about. That's not the world I live in. 
So, yes, it's hard to be gay and Catholic -- it's hard to be anything and Catholic -- because I don't always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I'll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for.
Continue Reading.
I don't usually use the word "gay". I use the term "same-sex attraction" instead. The reason is a sexual orientation doesn't define who a person is. But, this article isn't about semantics and it is a great one.

Little League Dad Puts The Shoe on the Other Foot

My kids play sports. I am super competitive. But, I leave my personal competitiveness at home, because it doesn't help my kids. Too many parents take little league and their kid's athletic events too seriously.

Now they might no what it feels like:

Can The Saints Hear Us?

Q - I understand that Catholics pray to the saints and to Mary for intercession, quite like we ask our brothers and sisters on earth to pray for us, but here is the question: If only God is omnipresent and all-knowing, how can all of them hear millions of different prayers from millions of different people at the exact same time?

A – Thanks for the great question! There are several reasons that Catholics believe that the Saints in heaven can hear our requests for their intercession. First, let us start with the Biblical evidence.
“And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” --Matthew 22:31-32
----Note that Jesus is telling us that those in heaven are alive. But, they now have a new and higher way of living. They have been glorified in Christ once they enter into heaven. In fact, it could be said that they are much more alive than those of us still on earth.
“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” --Matthew 17:3-5
----Here, during the Transfiguration, Jesus talks to Moses and Elijah, who are very aware of what has been happening on earth. So, from this we can come to the conclusion that death does not separate those in heaven from those on earth.

Remember Paul teaches that we are all members of Christ’s body, the Church.
The Book of Hebrews echoes this when it teaches that those who have gone before us into heaven still witness what happens on earth.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us” --Hebrews 12:1

What I believe is the most amazing evidence from the Bible of the Saints in heaven hearing our prayers is from the book of Revelation.
“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” --Revelations 5:8
----We see that the elders and four living creatures (who represent the Saints and Angels in heaven) are offering the prayers of those on earth before Jesus. I don’t think it could get much clearer. In Revelation 8 there is another incident of heavenly intercession.
“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” --Revelations 8:3-5

Lastly, we have evidence from Christ himself.
“I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. "Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, `Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” --Luke 15:7-10
----Those in heaven could not rejoice over a sinner repenting on earth unless they knew about it.

One more reference of Christ talking about this subject is found in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. Those who have suffered bodily death, still are asking for help for those on earth (intercession) with knowledge of what is happening.

Getting to the question outside the Biblical evidence, we can support the fact that those in heaven can hear our prayers because it fits with what we know about God and humans. Just as no person can achieve heaven on their own power, so a Saint in heaven cannot hear prayers of those on earth from their own power. But, being glorified in Christ they now are partakers of the divine nature. This means they participate in the grace of God to a greater degree than we can even imagine. While God is the only one who by nature is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent – the Saints in heaven can in some way share in these traits. The number of prayers offered is finite, so to be able to “hear” all prayers wouldn’t take the gift of omniscience, but rather just raising our nature to a higher level.

We must also remember that the heavenly existence is no longer bound by time. There is no time but eternity in heaven. Therefore, we must not try and answer a question of this nature by using our own limited understanding of how things work in this life.

Based on the overwhelming evidence from Scripture, the constant Tradition of the Church as well as the fact that it is theologically acceptable, we can be assured that the Saints in heaven can hear our prayers and are praying for us.

I hope this answers your question.