Friday, September 28, 2012

From Pro Baseball Player To Monk

This is a very interesting story:
SILVERADO, Calif. – On the morning Grant Desme ceased to exist, he was at peace. He spent years searching for serenity, convinced it was coming soon, next, now. It never did. Life was a blaring stereo, and he had become numb to its noise. The sound finally abated when he arrived here. He believed God muted it.

So on Christmas Eve two years ago he and seven other men marched into the church at St. Michael's Abbey and readied for a transition the church considered spiritual death. Grant Desme would go by another name. His plainclothes would become a head-to-toe white habit. For the next two years, he would commit to the dual life of a priest-in-training and a monk in the Norbertine Order. The naming ceremony bound him to the virtues of chastity, poverty and obedience.

To determine his new name, Desme submitted three choices from which St. Michael's abbot and spiritual leader, the Rt. Rev. Eugene J. Hayes, would choose. Desme liked Paul, Louis and Moses. None sounded right. Neither did Desme's second round of choices. On his vestition day, he knelt before the Father Abbot Eugene, who handed him a copy of the rule of St. Augustine.

"And in our order," he said, "you will be called Matthew."

Sometime after the ceremony, Frater Matthew Desme approached Father Abbot Eugene. For the rest of his life, people would call him Matthew. He wanted to know why.

"He said it struck him because [Saint Matthew] was a rich tax collector," Frater Matthew says, "and I was a rich baseball player." On the afternoon Grant Desme retired from baseball, he was at peace. The world in which he had immersed himself was shocked and dumbfounded, of course, that a strapping 23-year-old center fielder with power, speed, smarts and just about everything baseball teams want in a player would quit. Sports is a place of great myopia, insular thinking and exaggerated accomplishment that conflates excellence and holiness. In baseball, God is the home run. And Desme knew that God well.

"He was going to be a major leaguer, absolutely," A's general manager Billy Beane says. "He looked like he'd gotten over that hump. And he could've been a lot more. A great talent."

People in the game scrambled to understand why Desme would give up the riches and the platform baseball affords to spread the word of God. The decision wasn't met with derision as much as wonderment. Athletes leave when their talents or bodies or something tangible betrays them. Desme left ascendant.

"I had everything I wanted," he says, "and it wasn't enough."

The Myth of Religion "Shoved Down Throats" is Busted!

Once in a while you might hear someone say that they don't like it when others "shove religion down my throat" or Christians need to "stop forcing your faith on me". Is there a proper response to these statements and what is it if there is?

Well, the simple answer is this. It is impossible to force another person to believe as you do. Even if a gun were pointed at your head, you still have a choice in what you believe. Therefore, such statements are saying either:
  1. you shouldn't be allowed to state your opinion about religion - which is a violation of free speech.
  2. you shouldn't ever share an opinion with someone if it offends - yet, what if that opinion offends me? It is contradictory and silly.
  3. you shouldn't share an opinion about religion if I don't want to talk about it - but this is the closing of the mind and yet most who make the statements above consider themselves "open-minded".
What is really going on is that someone is most likely threatened by religious thought, because it challenges them to go beyond their own formulations about life, salvation, the world, the meaning of life, etc. The other choice is someone might have religious "baggage" from their past they don't want to think about - a bad religious experience.

The word "force" is used as if someone were torturing another person. Rather, when a Christian speaks about faith, they don't "force" it down someone throat or onto someone. Rather, they propose an argument in favor of their beliefs. This is exactly what others do when they offer an opposing argument. An open and free society needs this kind of dialogue to be healthy.

Yes, there are some Christians who are over-the-top when it comes to sharing the faith. Some are just offensive (think of Westboro Baptist members protesting soldiers' funerals). They still have no way of "forcing" faith on others.

What might be some other examples of "shoving" or "forcing" their faith onto someone? Maybe it is by those who go door-to-door to evangelize? But, what about salespeople that do the same thing? They aren't shoving vacuums down people's throat.

Then it must be the way the media always talks about religion. But, then we would also have much more instances of sex and violence "shoved" on us and that doesn't add up.

Maybe it is when a parent teaches a child their faith. That must be it! But, what about when an atheist teaches a child there is no God? Are they forcing their beliefs on their child?

Finally, it has to be when our government legislates based on Christian morality. Yet, even here, if one morality isn't accepted, another one will be.

The conclusion is - there are no real instances of religion being shoved down someone's throat in our modern Western culture.

So, I conclude that these sayings are myths and they are busted!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Read The Catechism In A Year

Brought to you by the great folks at Flocknote, who are doing some great work.
For this Year of Faith, Pope Benedict has encouraged you to study and reflect on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Well, here's an easy way to do it. Simply enter your email address and - starting October 11, 2012 - you'll start getting a little bit of the Catechism emailed to you every morning. Read that little bit every day and you'll read the whole catechism in a year. Cool, right?

Awesomely powered by @CatechismAPI!

BREAKING: Obama Administration To Require All Vegan Shops to Sell Beef!

This is really interesting:
The Obama Administration has mandated that all food stores in the United States selling refrigerated goods, MUST sell beef!

There is an exemption for vegetarians who only employ, and sell their goods to, vegetarians; and, for vegans who only employ, and sell their goods to, vegans.

What are the vegetarian and vegan store business owners to do?

How long will it take for these businesses to go bankrupt if the owners refuse to violate their conscience by carrying beef in their stores? How many people from the area, meat eaters included, frequent and buy some of the excellent products sold at vegetarian/vegan owned shops? Are people forced to shop and work at these places, or is it a choice?
If you haven't figured it out yet, this is satire (not based on a perfect metaphor - but it gets the point across). Requiring Catholics and other Christians to violate their consciences by ordering them to pay for contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilizations is wrong. It is a clear violation of religious liberty.

Elizabeth Scalia makes some good points:
You wouldn’t force a Jewish Deli to stock lobster in reserve for its gentile employees. A reasonable gentile or non-observant Jewish employee would understand who she works for and would not expect it. It would not impact her freedom to buy her own lobster.

You wouldn’t force a Muslim Madrassah to pay for an employee’s pulled-pork sandwich; a reasonable non-Muslim employee would not even think to ask it.
It is utterly ridiculous and a clear infringement on our rights to say we cannot follow follow our beliefs and consciences. The Bishops have made this clear.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

4 Stories Every Catholic Should Know About

  1. HHS mandate allows minors free contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The details of just how bad this law is are now starting to come out.

  2. Under pressure from an organ donor network some doctors are now accused of declaring patients dead when they were still alive, in order to more quickly harvest their organs.

  3. New York City schools are now distributing morning-after pills to students without a prescription or their parents' consent. Children as young as 14 years-old can now get the pills.

  4. Archbishop Myers, of Newark, has issued a very well-written pastoral letter on the sanctity of marriage and what the obligation of each Catholic is in response to the recent attacks on traditional marriage. He warns that those Catholics who oppose the Church's teachings on marriage may not be admitted to receive the Eucharist. 

40 Days For Life - From Aggieland To The Ends of The Earth

40 Days for Life kicks off again today, September 26, and runs until November 4.

This is the fastest growing and largest pro-life activism group in the country and it was started by Aggie Catholics - so we fully support it.

We encourage locals to sign up with the Coalition for Life. Also, there is a kick-off rally tonight at 8pm in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, where Abby Johnson will be speaking.

Here are the campaign highlights for this fall's international campaign:
It's official! This 40 Days for Life campaign will be a record-setter! The campaign, from now through November 4, will be the largest and longest internationally coordinated pro-life mobilization in history ... and you can help save lives by getting involved TODAY!

Here's a quick rundown:
  • 316 locations -- the most ever!
  • 49 US states -- plus Washington, DC
  • 7 Canadian provinces
  • Australia, England, Spain and -- for the first time -- Uganda
  • Many NEW cities ... 46 first-time campaigns
To learn more, visit the 40 Days for Life website.

**An Interview with Aggie Catholic Abby Johnson: Former Planned Parenthood Clinic Director
**An Interview with Aggie Catholics Shawn Carney: Co-Founder of 40 Days for Life

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dr. Scott Hahn: The Cross and The Eucharist

Why Rape And Incest Are NOT Good Reasons To Abort

Many times the Catholic Church, and individual pro-lifers, are accused of being unkind in not having "exceptions" for abortions in hard circumstances, especially for rape and incest.

But, before we answer directly, we need to be clear on a few things:
  • The Church does not teach that a rape victim is at fault in any way, shape, or form. 
  • The Church does not teach that the babies are any less valuable than their mother. 
  • The Church does not teach that the father should not be punished - in fact, the Church teaches that it is an act of justice to punish him in jail.
  • The Church's teaching is not a "no" to abortion as much as it is a "yes" to the foundational right to life for each individual.
What the Church does teach is that regardless of the situation surrounding conception, we all have the inalienable right to live our lives without others killing us. None of us gets to choose the time or situation of our creation. Neither does a child who is conceived in rape or incest. Will a woman have deep wounds that will need a lifetime to heal from? Yes. Is the rape a terrible thing? Absolutely. While many believe the most "compassionate" thing to do for the woman is the "fix" the problem by an abortion, this doesn't help anyone. It kills the child and wounds the woman more.

If a woman decides to kill her baby, she will most likely regret it, as many woman who regret their abortions have documented.

No person deserves to be killed no matter the circumstances surrounding how a life came to be. Think of Mary, who was young and unmarried, when pregnant with Jesus. In today's society she would be told that keeping the baby would ruin her life.

God loves all children much more than any of us ever could. They have a purpose to their lives, just like you and I do, and it is possible to support both baby and mother. Both lives are worthy of our help.
"All human beings, from their mother’s womb, belong to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them and knits them together with his own hands, who gazes on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already sees in them the adults of tomorrow..." -(Pope John Paul II - The Gospel of Life, 61).
The situation in life, the pain that others feel, the evil that is perpetrated on someone, the situation surrounding conception, and any other reason does not negate our inviolable dignity.

We cannot kill the innocent. We must love them and support them. Regardless of how their lives were started.

Below are testimonies of men and women who were conceived by rape.

Fr. Barron on Political Conventions

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stop Procrastinating! Watch This NOW!

Are You "Guilty" Of Being Catholic?

Fort Worth's Bishop Vann Moving To Cali

News from North Texas via Rocco that Bishop Vann is moving. He has visited St. Mary's several times. Please keep him, and his eventual replacement, in your prayers.
Over recent years, it’s hard to think of a national project on which Bishop Kevin Vann hasn’t been intimately involved.

From serving on the three-member USCCB team that oversaw the Stateside implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus and mediating the bench’s oft-delicate relations with the nation’s Catholic hospitals, to filing suit against the Federal government over the contraceptive mandate of the Obama administration’s sweeping health-care reform, the 61 year-old prelate has cris-crossed considerably more ecclesial turf than the sprawling 28 counties of Northwest Texas he’s overseen since 2005.

Now, however, the latest task comes via Rome... and given its centerpiece, well, it’s worth its weight in Crystal.

This morning, the Pope named the energetic head of the booming Fort Worth church to lead the diocese of Orange, succeeding Bishop Tod Brown at the helm of the 1.3 million-member fold in Los Angeles’ southern suburbs.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Best Wedding Present

HINT - it isn't the filming of their wedding, the rings, or the stuff in the box...

Caffeine + Sugar

How much caffeine and sugar do you consume in a day? A year?

What does it do to you?

Check out these infographics

Important Facts About Caffeine

Nursing Your Sweet Tooth

The Power and Beauty of Nature

3 very recent videos on the power and beauty of nature.
"You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you." Nehemiah 9:6 
A fire tornado. Seriously.

Lightening strike in Montenegro. (turn down your volume):

Huge Waves from Typhoon Sanba in South Korea:

An Interview With Patrick Coffin - Host of Catholic Answers Live

Support a Catholic Speaker Month 2012 is a project designed to promote Catholic speakers and introduce speakers to those who may not know about them. It also connects bloggers to speakers, who write about them.
Matt Warner, who came up with the idea in 2009, says it best:
"The goal is to create a rising Catholic tide on the Internet that lifts all boats, including speakers, bloggers, Catholic websites, and more." 
Brandon Vogt took over the project this year and took nominations for speakers to build a list of more than 250 Catholic speakers. From there, over 11,100 people cast more than 82,000 votes to narrow the list down to 100.

I was blessed to be voted into the top 100 Catholic speakers and I also volunteered to interview one of the other speakers who made the list. I chose Patrick Coffin.

Patrick is best known as the host of Catholic Answers Live, the most popular Catholic radio show in the nation. He is witty, intelligent, and charitable - and his voice works perfectly on the radio. He is a husband, father, and author as well. As a speaker he trains others to be better defenders of the Catholic faith.

He will be visiting College Station in November as part of a fundraiser for the local Catholic radio station KEDC 88.5 FM.

Below is my interview with Patrick:

MARCEL - As a way of introducing yourself to us, can you tell us what you are passionate about?

PATRICK - A very good question. I am first of all passionate about learning how to love Jesus better and to make him better loved. I am also passionate about finding more effective ways of being a husband and dad, and about how to fix my short game of golf, about sharing the revolutionary concept of shaving the way your grandpa did (traditional wet shaving with a safety razor and soap brush), about blogging in a way that is non-cliché and helpful, about finding the perfect pipe tobacco, and about the movies of Frank Capra.

MARCEL - You are from Canada, why don't you use the Canadian interjection of "eh" more?

PATRICK -As a Christian, I am obliged to extend forgiveness to you for employing this hateful stereotype of my people.

MARCEL -I am going to speak in Canada next month, should I use it to fit in?

PATRICK -The best way to fit in has nothing to do with linguistics and everything to do with apparel. Don’t come to Canada without your parka, mukluk boots, fur hat – and it wouldn’t hurt to bring some beaver pelts for trading in case your host can’t pay you.

MARCEL - You are the host of Catholic Answers Live (most popular Catholic radio program around), an author, husband, father, and also a magician. Please tell us more about how you became a magician?

PATRICK - I was born with magical powers. That’s all I’m permitted to say at this time. Okay, it’s also true that I started when I was about 14. I was asked to do something for a Boy Scout jamboree and I picked magic. I got a cool magic set, and did everything I could to prepare for the big night except rehearse. I was so nervous at the prospect of getting up before 200 peers (and my poor father in the first row) that I sabotaged my own performance. Every trick failed, I kid you not. But the bug had bitten and I eventually picked up some books and teaching DVDs, and found I had a natural facility for sleight of hand and what magicians call “audience management.” I’ve been doing it as a part-time professional for over 10 years. So…pick a card!

MARCEL - You haven't always been a fired-up Catholic. How did you leave the Church and how did you make it back?

PATRICK - Well, I didn’t write am official “I’m Outta Here” letter to the Pope, but as a callow young man I drifted mentally and morally from the bosom of the Church. Among some other trendy but embarrassing things I did was to hang around a Buddhist Temple (long story), and all of it was an elaborate strategy to rationalize the sins I was committing. My journey back to Christ and the Catholic Church began with an uncharacteristically sincere prayer that God might show me Himself in a way that I knew was not a psychological wish projection (I was very influenced by atheist writes like von Feuerbach) but really and truly the Holy Spirit. Once I opened my heart up just a tiny little crack, the Lord did what I asked and I rather quickly discovered the books and tapes of Bishop Fulton Sheen, G.K. Chesterton (they were good friends, btw, with Sheen attending G.K’s 1936 funeral), and many other Catholic intellectuals and poets. The scales of my dissent fell, and, thanks be to God, they’ve have never returned. I love being a happy Catholic. People don’t know what to do with you.

MARCEL - You will be coming to College Station later this Fall, what do you know about Aggieland?

PATRICK - Another good question. I have always let the child in me come out and just enjoy amusement rides and the sight of plush-costumed cartoon figures strolling about. I’m sure Aggieland will be a ton of fun, even though it doesn’t have that Epcot thing like in Florida.

MARCEL - Has anyone told you about the mandatory snake-handling?

PATRICK -Lo siento, mi amigo, no hablo ingles.

MARCEL - What do you think is the secret to winning back the culture for Jesus and His Church?

PATRICK - Being a saint. The old culture has heard all the arguments save the one irrefutable one: personal holiness. We are perpetually tempted to favor grandiose media empires, schemes and programs. These can add great value, but the game plan of Jesus was to launch His revolution with 12 hicks from a backwater region of a dying Empire, and that has turned out quite well, no? I can’t wait to get to thank the good folks at KEDC and to meet those who live in and around College Station plus, you know, I’ll get to see the station itself and the college that serves it so well.

MARCEL - Any final words for our readers (remember - Jesus is watching)?

PATRICK - Yes, and what a powerful way to conclude. My final words, in no particular order, are: endoplasmic; wrench; brandy; ineluctable; misfit; petal; topping; and meander. Especially meander.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How Marriage Echoes Forth God

Proof That Jesus Was Married?

In another effort to continue the debate on whether Jesus was married, another scholar has "discovered" some writings that state he was. Before I discuss the veracity of such arguments, here is what the article said (emphasis added):
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …'”

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

The finding is being made public in Rome on Tuesday at an international meeting of Coptic scholars by the historian Karen L. King, who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

The provenance of the papyrus fragment is a mystery, and its owner has asked to remain anonymous. Until Tuesday, Dr. King had shown the fragment to only a small circle of experts in papyrology and Coptic linguistics, who concluded that it is most likely not a forgery. But she and her collaborators say they are eager for more scholars to weigh in and perhaps upend their conclusions.

Even with many questions unsettled, the discovery could reignite the debate over whether Jesus was married, whether Mary Magdalene was his wife and whether he had a female disciple. These debates date to the early centuries of Christianity, scholars say. But they are relevant today, when global Christianity is roiling over the place of women in ministry and the boundaries of marriage.

The discussion is particularly animated in the Roman Catholic Church, where despite calls for change, the Vatican has reiterated the teaching that the priesthood cannot be opened to women and married men because of the model set by Jesus.

Dr. King gave an interview and showed the papyrus fragment, encased in glass, to reporters from The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Harvard Magazine in her garret office in the tower at Harvard Divinity School last Thursday. She left the next day for Rome to deliver her paper on the find on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies.

She repeatedly cautioned that this fragment should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married. The text was probably written centuries after Jesus lived, and all other early, historically reliable Christian literature is silent on the question, she said.

But the discovery is exciting, Dr. King said, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.

“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” Dr. King said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”

Dr. King first learned about what she calls “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” when she received an e-mail in 2010 from a private collector who asked her to translate it. Dr. King, 58, specializes in Coptic literature, and has written books on the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary of Magdala, Gnosticism and women in antiquity.
 Continue Reading.
I want to point out that Dr. King is a scholar on gnosticism, not early Christianity. She has no expertise on the Christian understanding of Jesus, Christian doctrine, or the historical evidence of Jesus.

Gnosticism is an early heresy which had it's height in popularity in the 2nd and 3rd century, many generations after Jesus died. They created a "secret knowledge" about Jesus and re-wrote many stories about His life. They are mythical and fictional.

Yet, modern scholars, basing their research off of these Gnostic writings, have tried to re-write history. Some say they expose the Church for putting down the hidden “gospels”, which really are not true gospels at all. Nor are they accurate reflections of what we know about Jesus. This doesn't even get into the fact that the Da Vinci Code helped to popularize these myths.

In other words, there is nothing to see here.

What we do know is that Jesus wasn't married.

The most historically accurate documents (starting with the Biblical writings and then non-Christian historical sources) tell us he was never married. The only documents that tell us he was married are these later Gnostic writings that are not historically accurate - they are later innovations and distortions of history.

On the other hand, we could say Christ was married, but not to a woman, but to His Church, which the Bible describes as the Bride of Christ. Jesus himself said that:
Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?"
"Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast." – Matt 2:18-20
He then goes on to teach that celibacy is a great calling:
"For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." -Matthew 19:12
Christ wanted to show the radical love He had for us by giving Himself completely to us, His Church. Part of his plan of salvation included this radical sign of love for us in renouncing marriage for "the sake of the kingdom". So, what would change about the faith if Jesus was in fact married to a woman?
  1. Our understanding of marriage, and sex.
  2. Our understanding of the goodness of celibacy and virginity.
  3. Our understanding of the mission of Christ.
  4. Our understanding of the purpose of the Church.
  5. Our understanding of the nature of heaven as "the marriage feast of the lamb".
In other words, an attack on the historical evidence that Jesus wasn't married is an attack on the basic doctrines of the Catholic Church and orthodox Christianity. Many scholars know this and are going right to the heart of the matter to try and place doubt in many believers minds.

Don't buy the distortions and historical inaccuracies that are wrapped up into propaganda.

Did I mention a lot of books on this topic become big sellers and make the scholars lots of money, because they elicit headlines from the media, such as the following one for the NY Times article linked above - "A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus' Wife".

Dating Is Hard - Even For Superman

Monday, September 17, 2012

Should Same-Sex Couples Adopt?

Q - A friend does not understand why it would not be good for a homosexual couple to adopt children. Her reasoning is having two dads is better than no parents at all and is it so earth shattering - there are lots of disfunctional families that probably do more damage than simply the fact that the two parents are of the same gender. I am uncertain how to answer, can you help?

A - Thanks for the question. I know there are a lot of emotions and opinions on this matter, because my family has been heavily involved in adoptions, foster parenting, and social work for many years. My dad worked for the TX Health and  Human Services for many years and my sister and wife were/are social workers. Also, my parent's have fostered double-digit numbers of kids, my sister adopted a special-needs child, who was then adopted by my parents after she died.

I know what kind of problems and emotions surround this issue.
But, before I directly answer the question, I will remind everyone about paragraph 2358 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
We are to love all our brothers and sisters. Each one of use, no matter our sexual compulsions and tendencies, is called to chastity - to rightly order our sexuality according to our nature and state of life. Furthermore, we are to be sensitive to the issue of same-sex attraction and treat everyone with respect and charity.

Now, the biggest thing we have to look at is this - what is best for the children?
We should not get distracted into a "rights" issue. Nobody has a "right" to adopt a child - rather it is a privilege and grave responsibility that one accepts. Also, the legal responsibility of the state is to protect the children's best interest, not further expand "rights" of those that are not the biological parents of children.

Therefore, the possible answers include:
  1. the adopted children will be better off in any kind of "family" (e.g. same-sex, opposite sex, etc), even if not perfect.
  2. the adopted children would be better off in a traditional family (married mother and father), even if not perfect.
  3. the adopted children would be better off in a perfect family or in state custody.
I think we can all agree that option #3 is not one to consider. So, we have 2 other options.

Either we allow the kids to get adopted into any kind of "family" situation, including same-sex couples' households or we limit the pool of adoptive families to stable, married, mother/father homes.

What does the evidence bear out? There are competing conclusions, but we can draw some conclusions, nonetheless.

First of all it seems the data supports the traditional family structure as the best place for children to be raised. This makes sense. Nature tells us that a child, which is created by a biological mother and a biological father, would flourish in a stable family with both a mom and dad. Each parent brings different gifts to the relationship that a same-sex couple cannot replicate. In other words, 2 moms or 2 dads can't replace what 1 mom and 1 dad can give the child. This is shown, even in gay-parenting advice manuals.

Research shows that same-sex couples are less stable, have higher rates of psychological problems, abuse, drug use, infidelity, etc.

Therefore, many studies have shown is that the data suggests the following - that children are best served in heterosexual hom because:
such homes are safe from the kinds of unique stresses and relatively more harmful level of adult psychological disorder inherent to households with a homosexual adult.
In other words, the children do better in a stable home with a mom and a dad.

But, this isn't the end of the story. Many studies, including the most recent by Dr. Mark Regenerus (which was printed in a peer-reviewed journal and showed showed same-sex parented homes are not as good for kids), have been attacked viciously, even though the data and study have been proven to be sound.

In other words, it is politically incorrect to even question whether it is better for kids to be in a same-sex couple home. This is intellectual dishonesty.

On the other side of the coin, there are several studies which seem to show that same-sex parents are just as good. But, Dr. Regenerus showed many flows in the methodology of these studies - as has Dr. George Rekers. Here is a paragraph from Dr. Regenerus' study:
Concern has arisen, however, about the methodological quality of many studies focusing on same-sex parents. In particular, most are based on non-random, non-representative data often employing small samples that do not allow for generalization to the larger population of gay and lesbian families ( [Nock, 2001], [Perrin and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, 2002] and [Redding, 2008]). For instance, many published studies on the children of same-sex parents collect data from “snowball” or convenience samples (e.g., [Bos et al., 2007], [Brewaeys et al., 1997], [Fulcher et al., 2008], [Sirota, 2009] and [Vanfraussen et al., 2003]). One notable example of this is the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, analyses of which were prominently featured in the media in 2011 (e.g., Huffington Post, 2011). The NLLFS employs a convenience sample, recruited entirely by self-selection from announcements posted “at lesbian events, in women’s bookstores, and in lesbian newspapers” in Boston, Washington, and San Francisco. While I do not wish to downplay the significance of such a longitudinal study—it is itself quite a feat—this sampling approach is a problem when the goal (or in this case, the practical result and conventional use of its findings) is to generalize to a population. All such samples are biased, often in unknown ways. As a formal sampling method, “snowball sampling is known to have some serious problems,” one expert asserts (Snijders, 1992, p. 59). Indeed, such samples are likely biased toward “inclusion of those who have many interrelationships with, or are coupled to, a large number of other individuals” (Berg, 1988, p. 531). But apart from the knowledge of individuals’ inclusion probability, unbiased estimation is not possible.
In other words, the data can't be trusted, but is used as rock-solid evidence to support same-sex families anyway. This doesn't even point out the researcher bias inherent in some studies and how laws play a part in all of it.

In no way am I arguing that a person (or couple) who has a same-sex attraction is incapable of loving and raising a child. My point is merely that it isn't the best environment for them.

The mentality that we need to be inclusive and okay with the "anything is fine with me" attitude isn't helping kids. That is the point. Children's interests are not best served when we ignore the facts.

No child is a lab upon which we should perform social experiments.

Finally, we know that the family is the place where culture either builds or falls. If the family structure is intact and healthy, on the whole - the culture will flourish. But, if it is constantly attacked, re-defined, and trivialized - it will fall.

The state has an interest in upholding whether or not the traditional family is supported, because we are all better for it. Therefore, the Catholic Church teaches that same-sex couples should not adopt - for the sake of the children, families, and ultimately, for the sake of our culture.

This is the same for any non-married, cohabiting couple. The Catholic Church would not support their adoption of a child either.

The only rights being violated are those of the children. They have a right to a stable home and a mother and father, when possible. Intentionally depriving a child or a mother or father is not just.

Here is what the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith wrote about this topic:
"As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case."
I hope this helps.

Sex, God, Catholic Church, and Culture

This is the second video on Fr. Barron's comments on the Hookup Culture. You can find the first video here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

An Open Letter To Politicians

We are Catholic.
We are also citizens of the United States of America. We have this message for you.

You, along with all other persons who hold or seek to hold public office will be in our prayers and if you are elected (or re-elected) we promise to pray for you as you serve us.

Our nation is struggling financially, and we have hope things will get better. Yet, we believe the nation's recovery should not come at the cost of the principles that have made our nation strong. While the economy is extremely important, we can not abandon the foundational principles which define us as a nation and expect to be great.

With that being said, we have quite a bit to ask of you. Our hope is you will consider our words carefully. We are always Catholics first. Some of us may be Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, etc. Some of us do not claim a political party. Regardless, we choose to never abandon our faith for the purposes of politics. This is because being Catholic is not defined by political party affiliation.

As elected representatives, you work for us. We do not work for you. Because you are called to work for the common good of all - we remind you that abortion isn't just another issue. It is THE issue, unlike any other of our time. Without life, no other human right matters. Pope Benedict XVI said the following:

"In attacking human life in its very first stages, it is also an aggression against society itself. Politicians and legislators, therefore, as servants of the common good, are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God's love."

In addition, we will not ignore attacks on life and family - euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, cloning, same-sex marriage, torture, etc. We will not forget the poor, the disenfranchised, immigrants, the elderly, the young, the disabled or any other group that society might not champion. Nor will we allow you to forget them either. We take our responsibility to be good citizens very seriously.

We will look past the rhetoric, the slogans, and the ads. We will look for integrity, character, ethical behavior, and honesty. We expect you will see your position as a great responsibility to serve and not one of mere authority.

We ask that you implement policies which protect life, family, true freedom, and just laws - to do so our country needs you to be virtuous.

If we are to go forward as a nation, then common sense dictates our leaders become examples for us to rally around. Being holy is the only option. If you are a Catholic, you have a special obligation to follow the Church's teachings, in addition to your obligation to defend and uphold the Constitution. Neither are optional once you are in office.

We believe, the "personally opposed" argument is a smoke-screen and we see right through it. Please don't abandon your faith in order to win an election, make a political deal, stay high in an opinion poll or make money. It is not worth it for you or us.

We will encourage our fellow citizens to vote and give you their feedback and opinion.

We appreciate your service to our country and to us. We promise to pray for you, support you, challenge you, and expect a lot from you.

We leave you with these two quotes from our Church leaders:
"It must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals. The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church’s social doctrine does not exhaust one’s responsibility towards the common good."
—Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 
"For the Christian people of America conversion to the Gospel means to revise "all the different areas and aspects of life, especially those related to the social order and the pursuit of the common good." It will be especially necessary "to nurture the growing awareness in society of the dignity of every person and, therefore, to promote in the community a sense of the duty to participate in political life in harmony with the Gospel.""
—Pope John Paul II 
Thank you and God Bless,
-Marcel LeJeune - Aggie Catholics

If you would like to add your name to this list. Please leave a comment below. 

Feel free to re-post in other places - but please let us know where you have posted it. Thanks.

Dunking Your Ring

There are quite a few Aggie Traditions that all Aggies are proud of. They include:
But, there is one unofficial tradition that stands out on a day like today (when many students are receiving their class rings) - "dunking" your ring in a pitcher of beer and then chugging it. Regardless of the sinfulness of getting drunk intentionally, it is just not a wise or good thing to do and becomes an abuse of alcohol.

Because it isn't a good idea, St. Mary's wanted to provide an alternative. We started a new tradition of "dunking" your ring in holy water several years ago.

Texas A&M University loves it and had a story on it a few years ago in a news release. It was also picked up by the religion blogger for the Dallas Morning News.

We encourage all students who are getting their Aggie rings today to honor their time at Texas A&M by getting it blessed. to get it blessed means to set it aside for something holy. In other words, you are dedicating your ring to God's service. Every time you look at your ring you can then be thankful for your time at A&M and remember the gifts God has given you associated with your ring - ability to learn, your education, family, friends, etc.

Also, unlike dunking your ring in alcohol, it comes with:
UPDATE: We have been frequently asked if it would be wrong to put your ring in a glass of beer and drink it - without chugging the beer. There is no problem with doing so - as long as the person is over 21 and remains sober. The problem isn't with putting your ring in alcohol and drinking it. The problem is with abuse or alcohol.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Catholic Teaching on Donating Your Body to Science

Q - What does the Church teach about people donating their bodies to science (e.g. cadavers used by med students)?  I know the Church strongly recommends that our bodies are buried when we die, but at the same time, this seems like an altruistic cause to further someone's education. Thoughts?

A -
Thanks for the question. You are correct - the Catholic Church tells us that we are to honor our bodies, even after death. We must remember that our bodies are not just storage sheds for our souls, that we can treat as we see fit and then dispose of when we are done with them. Rather, the body is an integral part of who we are as humans. In fact, without our bodies we are not fully integrated human beings.

Thus, we believe that at the end of the world all humans, whether in heaven or hell, will be raised from the dead and our bodies and souls will be one again.
The Catechism says this about our bodies:
365 "The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature."
Thus we have a human beings, not just bodily beings (animals) or spiritual beings (angels). I could go on for days about the importance of our bodies, esp. in a modern culture that views it as nothing more than a tool for pleasure, but I must digress. Suffice it to say that the theology of the body is something we all need to know well.

Now, to directly answer your question, I will start with another quote from the Catechism (isn't that a great book?):
2300. The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit.

2301. Autopsies can be morally permitted for legal inquests or scientific research. The free gift of organs after death is legitimate and can be meritorious. The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.
Thus, even when donated for scientific research, for organ transplant, etc. the body must be treated with respect. When the experiment, dissection, etc. is done, then the body should receive a Christian burial and all bodies should only be used when proper consent is given.

For the person who is donating their body to science (or organs for transplant), it is an act of charity.

So, it is okay to dissect a cadaver, but the medical school has the duty of having cadavers that are ethically received and treated. They must:
  1. Get consent to use the bodies of the deceased (keeping the identity of the cadaver anonymous to those who might dissect them)
  2. Always treat the bodies with reverence.
  3. Give the bodies (or ashes) a Christian burial (if the person was a Christian).
We shouldn't forget the dignity of humanity behind anatomy and science.

I hope this helps, but if your friend has further questions, I recommend contacting the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Related Post
**Is Organ Donation OK?

Think You Are Having A Bad Day?

It is probably nothing compared to civil war, fleeing your country with nothing, living in a refugee camp, etc.

Please pray for those who are less fortunate than we are.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Hookup Culture - Thoughts by Fr. Barron

As Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said:
“You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.”

How To Stop Procrastinating

If you have trouble with procrastination, and you need to get motivated and moving in the right direction, then the poster below is for you.

How to use the poster:
To use it: when you notice you are procrastinating, pick one of the items from the green, yellow, or blue branches and implement it, using the tips to help you out. Here are the instructions taken from the poster:
Click on the poster to get a larger version.

For more - How to Get Motivated: A Guide for Defeating Procrastination |

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget.

I have jury duty today and wanted to post more on 9/11, but don't have time. I am reminded today of why we have to participate in our civic duties, vote, and be inconvenienced once in a while - it is because this country's freedoms need virtuous and involved citizens to continue to fight for justice and the values our founding fathers built this country on.

Never forget.
Pray for our leaders and our culture.
Pray also in thanks for the freedoms and blessings we have.
Continue to fight for justice.

Prayer to commemorate 9/11/01
God of life, love and peace,
On this day when we commemorate acts of violence and face the dark temptation of revenge,
we ask for your light to dispel our darkness.

By your light help us to see your love for us as the measure we use to love our brothers and sisters.

Help us to see your forgiveness and mercy for our sins as the measure of our forgiveness and mercy for those who offend us.

Help us to see the peace of heaven as the guiding star and model of the peace we strive to build on earth.

As we all around the world strive to protect ourselves from the acts of violent men, help us to avoid becoming violent ourselves.

Watch over our brothers and sisters who protect us in the armed forces, fire, police and emergency services and bless and console their families who sacrifice much for their service.
Grant eternal light and peace to the innocent who died in the attacks of September 11 and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving and protecting their brothers and sisters.
These things we pray through Christ, our Lord and brother.


Monday, September 10, 2012

There Will Be No Rapture, But If There Was You Wouldn't Want To Be Taken Up

The rapture is a 19th Century invention of a Scottish visionary who misinterpreted several verses from the Bible, esp 1 Thes 4:17, which is the most quoted verse by rapture supporters. This is the verse where the word "rapture" comes from. It reads:
"Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together* with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord."
The problem is that St. Paul was talking about the end of the world, which is evident from the context of the rest of the epistle.

Until the 1800s all Christians believed that Christ would not appear again until the end of the world, when Christ would "take up" all the saved left on earth. But, based on a new interpretation of the Bible - taught by a fundamentalist Christian named John Nelson Darby - the teaching of a rapture before the end of the world became more popular, esp. after the publishing of the Scofield Reference Bible, which helped get the teaching out. They taught that Jesus will come secretly and take up all the "saved" into heaven with Him at some time in the future. Those who were not part of the "elect", would be left to suffer on earth.

This belief has become popular in certain Protestant circles (though most Protestants still do not teach rapture theory). Therefore, we get the story of the preachers who try to predict the rapture. But, the rapture is not logical or Biblical and if there is any sort of rapture - you don't want to be taken up.

A good bit of this rapture theory comes from the following verses from Matthew 24:
"Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left." - Matt 24: 40-41
It seems that this fully supports a secret coming of Jesus where He will take the saved, if you read the verse out of context. But, if you read it in the context of the entire chapter, we see it says nothing close.

First of all there is nothing secret about this coming of Christ:
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." - Matt 24: 30-31
No secrets there. Not with being able to see and hear His coming.

Furthermore, Christ makes a direct reference to other times people have been saved from death. In this chapter, Noah is directly mentioned, directly before the supposed "rapture verses" appear:
"For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In (those) days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be (also) at the coming of the Son of Man." - Matt 24: 37-39
Notice that in the Old Testament anybody who was taken out of the world ("raptured") was wicked and damned. The saved are left on the earth. The same is true for Sodom and Gomorrah.

This is exactly what is happening in this passage here and if we aren't all taken at the same time to be judged, then we can assume from the evidence that the wicked will be taken first, to be judged appropriately.

In other words, based on the biblical evidence, when read in context, you don't want to be raptured!!!

Finally, these verses tell us to avoid the people who would ever try to put a timetable on the coming of the Lord. In fact, the warning appears multiple times in this chapter:
  • "Jesus said to them in reply, "See that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah,' and they will deceive many."
    - verses 4-5
  • "If anyone says to you then, 'Look, here is the Messiah!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told it to you beforehand. So if they say to you, 'He is in the desert,' do not go out there; if they say, 'He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it."
    - verses 23-26
  • "But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."
    - Verse 36
  • "Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."
    - Verses 42-44
  • "the servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour"
    - verse 50
Some links for further reading on the Catholic Church and the rapture:
**The Rapture and the Catholic Church
**Catholic Answers on the Rapture.
**Raptured or Not?

Why Become Catholic?

There are many reasons people choose to become Catholic.
Here are some great stories of coming home to the Catholic Church.
FYI - the first two are Aggies who were not Catholic during their time at A&M.

**Taylor Marshall - Former Anti-Catholic then Epsicopal Priest**

**Jen Fulwiler - former Aggie atheist**

**Alex Jones - former Pentecostal preacher**

**Thomas Howard - former Evangelical Protestant**

**Anna - formerly thought Catholic Church was a cult**

**Scott Hahn - Former Presbyterian Minister**

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in joining the Catholic Church - then contact your local parish to find out about RCIA.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cardinal Dolan's Prayers For Democrats and Republicans

He prays as a Catholic should - for things that are not merely political, but those things that justice, charity, and the common good demand of us.

At the RNC:

At the DNC:

Time For Texas A&M

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Top 10 Modern Myths About the Catholic Church

When I decided to write this list, I thought about how it has changed, even in the past ten years. If I were to write this list 10 years ago, it would probably include these items:
  • Catholics worship Mary.
  • Catholics believe non-Catholics are going to hell.
  • Catholics believe the Pope cannot sin.
  • Purgatory no longer is a Catholic doctrine.
  • Catholics were told not to read the Bible.
  • etc.
But, none of those appear on this list for today. This is because the modern person's knowledge about Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, is worse than it was 10 years ago. This means modern people are more secular in their thinking and thus the myths have evolved. Without further commentary I give you:
Top 10 Modern Myths About the Catholic Church

10 - The Catholic Church is anti-woman and misogynistic.
This myth has deep roots. Certainly there are men in the Church's history who may have been misogynistic, but the Church itself has never been. In fact, the biggest defender today of women's basic human rights is the Catholic Church.

9 - A large number of priests are perverts and/or pedophiles.
This just doesn't have any support in the numbers. At worst, the numbers are about 4% of priests can be credibly linked to abuse (this is still WAY too high). But, the priesthood itself isn't full of predators or perverts. By comparison teachers could be as high as 5% or more. This is in no way defending any priest if they did something wrong, but rather a busting of a myth.

8 - Celibacy is the cause of the priestly scandals.
Again, the numbers don't bear this myth. If this were the case, then we should see a much lower rate of abuse in non-celibate ministers. We don't. In fact, it could be higher in others. How a marriage would solve a psychological issue of wanting to abuse children is beyond me.

7 - Catholics don't think for themselves.
The basic idea is that we should never try to rely on any external authority. Rather, we need to make up truth "for ourselves". No, we don't make up the truth. It is above and beyond our opinions. But, we do need to seek it out and work to find it. Having an adult faith means we have to know it, but we should always examine it and test it - as St. Paul says, "Test everything; retain what is good." 1 Thes 5:21

6 - The Church is homophobic and encourages discrimination against gays.
While not accepting any kind of sinful behavior as ok (from anyone), there is no evidence of this myth's veracity. I will let the Catechism answer this one:
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
5 - The Church doesn't allow abortion and contraception so that there are more people they can control.
This is from those that see the Catholic Church only in terms of power (as they define it). So, they can't believe that the moral reasons for opposing these issues makes sense, rather they make the irrational claim that it is all about making more Catholics. No, it is actually about doing the right thing. Read more here and here if you doubt.

4 - The Catholic Church is anti-sex.
Actually, the Catholic Church is pro-sex, when sex is for the proper purposes and is between a married man and woman. Sex can be beautiful and wonderful. In fact, it can be sacred. That doesn't sound "anti" to me.

3 - The Catholic Church supports immigration for everyone because they know most of the immigrants come from Catholic countries and the Bishops want their money.
First of all, the immigration issue doesn't have a "one-size fits all" mentality with the US Bishops. Second, this is a distraction from the real problem - justice on both sides of the borders of the USA. The US Bishops do not condone breaking the law or violating anyone's human rights. How that works in concrete political policy is for us, the laity, to figure out.

2 - The Catholic faith and science are not compatible. 
Another distraction. The Catholic Church's priests and laity have furthered science, not held it back. There are a number of Catholic scientists who are the founders of their area of expertise: Mineralogy, Modern Chemistry, Modern Algebra, Atomic Theory, Astronomy, and more. If you want to know the full story, I recommend this book.

1 - The Catholic faith is stuck in the past and needs to be updated to reach the modern world.
If this were the case, then we should also see significant growth in Protestant denominations that have gone down this path - Episcopalians, ELCA Lutherans, etc. But, it is the opposite, they are losing numbers rapidly. Rather, the truth attracts and the truth never changes.

Top 20 Odd Patronages of Saints

It has long been Catholic tradition to assign a certain patronage to different Saints. These usually are assigned because of a certain location, career, event, etc. that a Saint had. For instance, since St. Luke was a physician, he is one of several patrons of doctors.

There are others who have patronages are quite odd.
NOTE - In making this list, I do not intend to ridicule the Saints or those they intercede for.

Here is my personal top 20 list of odd patronages of the Saints, in reverse order.

20 - St. Drogo - Patron of coffee houses, unattractive people, midwives, mute persons, and cattle.
-I really don't see any pattern here. Was he one of the "catch-all" saints?

19 - St. Joseph of Cupertino - Patron of air travelers, astronauts, and pilots.
Why these three? Because he was known to levitate. I have this feeling that astronauts and pilots are using a different principle of flight than he did.

18 - St. Sebastian - Patron of hardware stores.
I wonder if he prefers Lowe's, Ace, or Home Depot?

17 - St. Joseph of Arimathea - Patron of undertakers, morticians, and pallbearers.
See what you get for giving Jesus your tomb?

16 - St. Friard - Patron against fear of wasps.
When Friard was tormented for his piety, a swarm of wasps went after his tormentors - BZZZZZ

15 - St. Teresa of Avila - Patron of people ridiculed for their piety.
All who are ridiculed for their piety should pray to her - except for St. Friard, who takes care of them himself.

14 - St. Magnus of Füssen - Patron against caterpillars.
Couldn't he just wait until they turned to butterflies? Yes, I know they can turn into moths and caterpillars can destroy crops...

13 - St. Clare of Assisi - Patron of TV writers.
I have this feeling that the writers of Charles in Charge never prayed to St. Clare.

12 - Our Lady of the Annunciation - Patron of Texas.
Of course, us Texans will not settle for anything less than the #1 Saint - Mary.

11 - St. Barbara - Patron against things that go BOOM (lightning, artillery, mine collapse, fire, etc.)
Her father had her beheaded after she became a Christian, then he was killed by lightning.

10 - St. Julian the Hospitaller - Patron of wandering musicians, clowns, murderers, carnival workers, and fiddle players.
St. Julian killed his parents by accident while they were visiting. They were sleeping in his bed and he thought his wife was cheating on him.

- St. Germaine Cousin - Patron of girls from rural areas.
Sometimes the patronages get very specific.

8 - Blessed Columba of Rietti - Patron against sorcerers.
Does this include Gandalf? Not Gandalf, right?

7 - St. Gertrude of Nivelles - Patron of recently dead people.
When is someone no longer "recently" dead?

6 - St. Patrick - Patron against ophidiophobia (abnormal fear of snakes).
I don't think there is anything "abnormal" about fearing snakes.

5 - St. Columbanus - Patron of motorcyclists.
I believe this patronage comes from him multiplying bread and beer for his community. Emphasis on the beer.

4 - St. Drausinus - Patron of invincible people.
If they are invincible, do they need a patron saint?

- St. Benedict of Nursia - Patron of spelunkers.
You will thank me the next time you are caught in a cave.

2 - St. Theodore of Sykeon - Patron for AND against rain.
Hmmmm. I art confused.

1 - St. Isidore of Seville - Patron of the Internet.
He googled himself and found this list.

Just missed the list:
Saint Servatus - Patron against lameness - this list is pretty lame.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Massachusetts Taxpayers Paying For Inmate To Have Sex-Change Surgery

A federal judge has ruled that a prison inmate has a constitutional right to have a sex change and that the taxpayers of Massachusetts must pay for it.
In his ruling Tuesday, Wolf found that surgery is the "only adequate treatment" for Kosilek's "serious medical need."

"The court finds that there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek's Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care," Wolf wrote in his 126-page ruling.

Continue Reading.
This is what the 8th Ammendment says:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The man needs counseling, not surgery and I don't know how it is considered "cruel and unusual punishment" to NOT pay for sex change to happen.

I wonder what the founding fathers of our country would say about this new interpretation of the Eighth Amendment.

Further Reading:
**Sex-Change and the Catholic Church.

How Should A College Student Prepare For "The Real World"?

Question: As students, there is a great pressure put on us about education and careers. It is easy for us as students to separate school from relationships. I am looking for answers about the "real world", after graduation. More specifically, in married life, what is the order of vocations? i.e. God, spouse, jobs, children, etc.

I would also appreciate it if you could recommend any further readings, insight, or reasoning to better learn about prioritization.

Answer (by Kristine Cranley): In order to answer the question ‘how are we to act’ regarding the various obligations of our life, we must first ask the question of ‘what are we created for’.  If we know the end goal of our lives, we have a better sense of how to order our actions toward that goal.   Thus in his exhortation which addresses family life, (Familiaris Consortio) John Paul II begins by defining the human person.  In paragraph 11 he writes:

“God created man in His own image and likeness: calling him to existence through love, He called him at the same time for love

God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion.  Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility of love and communion.  Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being

In other words, the human person is created in order to share in the divine communion of love through Jesus Christ.  We are created by love for love.  Through the total self gift of Christ on the Cross we receive the grace to become sons and daughters of God in baptism, and thus sharers in divine life.  However in order to fully participate in this divine communion of love, we must respond to His grace by giving ourselves back to God in total self abandonment to Him.  The more we surrender ourselves to Him, the more we are purified of selfishness and become vessels of His love to the world. It is for this reason that John Paul II so often quoted the famous passage in Gaudium et Spes 24 “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself”.

Thus our first priority in ordering our lives as Christians is always to give ourselves over to God and to obey His leading in all things.  It is for this reason that whenever anyone would attended a silent retreat with St. Ignatius in search of God’s will for their life, the saint tailored all their prayer meditations to lead up to the praying of the Suscipe prayer at the end of the retreat:  

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Living the ‘vocation to love’ according to one’s state in life

This “fundamental vocation to love” is going to be fulfilled differently in every individual human life, according to the plan of God for each of us.  Generally speaking however, the ‘finding of ourselves through a sincere gift of self’ will for most of us take the form of an irrevocable vow or promise spoken on the day of our wedding or our consecration to the Lord’s service.  Continuing his thoughts quoted above, John Paul II writes:

Christian revelation recognized two specific ways of realizing the vocation of the human person in its entirety, to love:  marriage and virginity or celibacy.  Either one is, in its proper form, an actuation of the most profound truth of man, of his being “created in the image of God.”(FC 11)

Through marriage or consecrated celibacy, a person gathers up the whole of one’s life, past present and future, and gives it to God in a specific state in life.  From that day forward every activity in one’s life will be a fulfilling of (or in the case of sin, a denial of) the sincere self-gift offered to God.  One’s professional life at work must therefore be imbued with the spirit of fidelity to the vows one has made to God.  One is no longer one’s own.  Professional work is placed at the service of the total self gift of love to God and one’s family.  In this way work is made into love, and as such into liturgy – the worship of God and offering of ourselves to Him. 

What does Love Require?

If it is true that the fundamental vocation of every human being is to love, then questions regarding professional life must be answered in light of the essential question “what does love require”.  This is a question which ultimately can only be answered in dialogue with God and in consideration of those you have vowed your life to serve. 

The Sisters of Life, a religious community in New York City, make a 4th vow to “protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life”.  They often receive requests for their service in various aspects of Church life.  Each request must be discerned in light of the vows they have made.  Would this request help further their mission to protect vulnerable human life or distract from it?  Are they already so overworked that granting it would erode their time for intimate personal communion with Jesus in prayer, through which they draw their strength to remain faithful to their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience? 

In married life it is necessary that a family earn the means to feed and care for their children.  Catholic Social teaching speaks of the importance of employers providing a family wage in which breadwinners are able to receive adequate compensation which enables them to support their spouse and children.  The loss of this practice within society forces many families in our day to have two wage earners, making it difficult if not impossible for a parent to refrain from professional work in order to be home with their children. 

This is not to deny that women, including mothers of families, can be actively called by God into the professional work force.  All have different gifts which God has given for the purpose of building up His kingdom here on earth.  I know a woman doctor who believes God has called her to serve Him in the hospital, despite the fact that she has young children and a husband who himself had a good income.  She has been a great force in helping her hospital retain its Catholic roots, and patients that are in critical condition are frequently healed under her care in what seems to many to be an almost miraculous rate.  I believe she truly has been anointed by God for this work in the world.  Even so, she admits that she must daily ask the Lord to guide her as she discerns how much time to spend at work and how much time to reserve to family life. 

The words of St. Edith Stein speak poignantly to women (and men) in my friend’s situation:

Many of the best women are almost overwhelmed by the double burden of family duties and professional life – or often simply of only gainful employment.  … Where are they to get the needed inner peace and cheerfulness in order to offer stability, support and guidance to others?  … To have divine love as its inner form, a woman’s life must be a Eucharistic life.  … Whoever seeks to consult with the Eucharistic God in all her concerns, whoever lets herself be purified by the sanctifying power coming from the sacrifice at the altar, offering herself to the Lord in this sacrifice, whoever receives the Lord in her soul’s innermost depth in Holy Communion cannot but be drawn ever more deeply and powerfully into the flow of divine life, incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, her heart converted to the likeness of the divine heart” (Woman p. 54, 56)

Those of us, still waiting upon the Lord to reveal what form of life He desires our self-offering to Him to take, have a greater availability for professional work or missionary activity.  Perhaps He may ask us to dedicate the whole of our lives to such service.  However if this work is to help us fulfill our ‘vocation to love’ then it must be embraced as a means of loving God and those He brings in our paths. 

Edith Stein writes “Whoever regards his work as a mere source of income or as a pastime will perform it differently from the person who feels that his profession is an authentic vocation.” (Woman p. 44)

Professional work can be made into self offering to God when it is embraced in the spirit of mission.  In an exhortation no less binding for men, St. Edith Stein reminds her feminine listeners, “Whether she is a mother in the home, or occupies a place in the limelight of public life, or lives behind quiet cloister walls, she must be a handmaid of the Lord everywhere.” (Woman p. 54)

Do whatever He tells you (Jn 2:5)

In conclusion, although the above mentioned principles can assist us as we discern how to prioritize our obligations in life, ultimately the answers are going to come from dialogue with the Lord in prayer.  Has he ‘anointed’ me to work in the world or to stay at home with my family?  In what way can I best fulfill my vows to Him in my state in life?  Is my work so consuming that it is interfering with the fulfillment of the vows I have made to my spouse and to God?  What does love require of me in this situation?  If we are taking our questions to Jesus in the intimacy of prayer and choosing to respond as we believe He is leading us we can trust that He will cover over our mistakes and weaknesses and work all our efforts for His glory and the good of those we love.  In this approach we have no better guide than Our Lady, patroness of both married and consecrated life, in her advice to the servants at Cana:  “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).