Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunday Mass Readings

November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent

Reading 1
Is 2:1-5

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your walls,
prosperity in your buildings.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Because of my brothers and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
Because of the house of the LORD, our God,
I will pray for your good.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Reading 2
Rom 13:11-14

Brothers and sisters:
You know the time;
it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is advanced, the day is at hand.
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust,
not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Mt 24:37-44

Jesus said to his disciples:
“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.
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.
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.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Dioceses around the world joining Pope's 'unprecedented' pro-life vigil - "Although it is common for the Pope to encourage prayer for particular intentions, the request for a coordinated worldwide vigil –to be held on the same date and approximately the same time, in all dioceses–  is highly exceptional."

American Anglicans ready to go when Ordinariate is established - "As the Anglican Ordinariates are developed, they will be launched into the deep of mostly uncharted waters. Only the American Ordinariate will have any sort of history or track record to give it some type of map to follow in its establishment."
Archbishop of Canterbury warns Anglicans to brace for shortage of vicars because of exodus to Catholic church - "Dr Rowan Williams made the warning after meeting Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican during an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity"

Pope: I am not opposed in principle to Communion in the hand but prefers communion on the tongue - "The idea behind my current practice of having people kneel to receive Communion on the tongue was to send a signal and to underscore the Real Presence with an exclamation point."

Vatican clarifies papal statement on condoms... - "The Pope again makes it clear that his intention was not to take up a position on the problem of condoms in general; his aim, rather was to reaffirm with force that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms..."

On the Pope's new book, Light of the World - Here is a partial round-up of some of the commentary...

Pope Benedict advocates right sexuality, not condom use, in fight against HIV - "While secular outlets such as Time Magazine characterized this remark as 'a stunning turnaround' for the Church, Pope Benedict goes on to explain that this is not the true and proper way to defeat HIV."

New Developments on the Pope and Condoms - "Each new day seems to bring several new twists to the pope/condom story, so let’s look at what’s happening now."

Notable Catholic news stories (I mean, besides condoms)

Louisiana’s flag becomes more Eucharistic

"Mark Wahlberg: Daily Communicant - "No, I’m not canonizing Mark Wahlberg; I’m recognizing a sort of a modern day Magdalene story."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks for Life

A little excerpt from a piece a posted two years ago at Thanksgiving…

“Sharing a common meal as a way of giving thanks to God is an integral part of many religious faiths, especially the Judeo-Christian tradition which shapes our own cultural understanding of God. Every year observant Jews celebrate the Passover meal thanking God for delivering their ancestors out of bondage in Egypt. Christians adapted the Passover ceremony to reflect what Jesus did at His Last Supper. Christians give ‘thanks’ to God for delivering humanity from the bondage of sin. These Jewish and Christian meals put the faithful in contact with God. And the ritualized form of these shared meals creates a visible link between all those who share the faith around the world and throughout history.

Historically Christians have given a specific name to their ceremonial meal, a name that aptly describes a key element of its purpose. Most Christians in the first few centuries A.D. were Greek-speaking converts to the new religion. Greek was the language regularly used by the early Church. And in Greek the ritual bread-breaking ceremony was often called eucharistia. From this we derive the term Eucharist which is still used today by many Christian denominations to describe the action and the object of their Sunday celebration. The Greek word eucharistia means “thanksgiving.”

…[T]he word “thanksgiving” carries with it a wealth of religious meaning that should not be lost on any Christian (or any member of any faith). To give “thanks” to something greater than ourselves implies that there exists a Being to receive that thanks and bless us in return. And our celebration of Thanksgiving should retain that vital element. Without God, there is no one to receive the "thanks" we "give."

Thanksgiving is not a Catholic “holy day.” But giving thanks to God is a very “Catholic thing to do - especially in our Eucharistic celebrations and adoration outside of Mass. On this Thanksgiving, as we gather with friends and family and enjoy their loving presence, we should keep in mind another Presence of Love in our midst…the bodily Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. The Holy Father has presented us with an excellent opportunity this year to do just that. Pope Benedict requests that Catholics around the world join in a world-wide vigil this Saturday evening on behalf of the unborn. Many dioceses will hold Eucharistic holy hours for this purpose, and countless millions will join in prayer to promote life. More can be found at this link.

Whether you are able to attend an organized Eucharistic adoration or if you participate in this vigil from your own home, please take a moment on Saturday to remember the vulnerable, unborn members of our society and give thanks to God for the gift of life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sunday's Mass Readings

November 21, 2010

The Solemnity of Christ the King

Reading 1
2 Sm 5:1-3

In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:
"Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king,
it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back.
And the LORD said to you,
'You shall shepherd my people Israel
and shall be commander of Israel.'"
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron,
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,
and they anointed him king of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5

R. (cf. 1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
"We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Reading 2
Col 1:12-20

Brothers and sisters:
Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Lk 23:35-43

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
"He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God."
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
"If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."
Above him there was an inscription that read,
"This is the King of the Jews."
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
"Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us."
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
"Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal."
Then he said,
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him,
"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise."

Friday, November 19, 2010

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Bishops of England, Wales announce details of new Anglican ordinariate  - "At the beginning of Lent, the groups of faithful together with their pastors will be enrolled as candidates for the Ordinariate."

Dr Rowan Williams: Ordinariate ‘may be prophetic’ - "He said: 'Well, I think if the Ordinariate helps people evaluate Anglican legacy or patrimony, well and good, I’m happy to praise God for it.'"

The Pope, The Bible and The Response... - "There has been a surprising hush amongst Catholic Bloggers on the Holy Father’s recently released Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini."

"Faithfully, But Not Slavishly": Amid Questions, Bishops Release Missal Update - "As the work of editing and assembling nears completion, there is assurance that the published text will be available in more than ample time for implementation in Advent 2011."

Voluntary extinction: America's one child policy? - Absent a shift in cultural attitudes, the United States will eventually face the demographic realities that Japan, Western Europe, and sooner rather than later, China are facing. These societies will have fewer workers to support an increasing number of elderly.

US bishops elect NYC archbishop as leader in upset - "This is an indication that bishops are going to continue to be leaders in the culture wars." See also: In Bishops' Shocker, TIM WINS!

New Catholic Bishops President Chided Biden, Pelosi on Abortion - "In Archbishop Dolan, the USCCB will be headed by a strong pro-life advocate."

The USCCB's New President, Archbishop Timothy Dolan - New Tone, New Face, New Voice - "Archbishop Dolan brings with him a passion for orthodox Catholic faith, firm conviction on the right to life from conception to natural death, and an unfaltering commitment to Christ and His Church." And: Three Great Things About USCCB’s New President Dolan

Cardinal O'Conner's Revenge - "...the “Seamless Garment” bishops are running out of steam, stopped not only by their overtly political liberalism, which looks painfully passé in the light of the Democratic Party’s crack-up and the nation’s changing mood, but also by the moral fallout of their doctrinal liberalism."

God and George W. Bush - "He became a laughingstock among some. He probably should be a role model."

Why Marxism Always Fails - "Action compelled by government can never transcend itself, because the person has nothing to draw on from within, or look to from without. "

New York Times Columnist Says Death Panels Needed to Fix Economy -  “They laughed when Sarah Palin said Obamacare would require death panels to control medical costs. But for some reason no one laughs when New York times columnist Paul Krugman says the same thing."

Converting Anglican bishop says papal action changed the landscape - "...he noted the scriptural image of the shepherd, who must lead his flock from the front rather than follow it from behind. 'This is what I hope I am doing. I am leading the way and I hope and pray that many of you will follow me in the months and the years ahead,' he explained." See also: Here Come More Anglicans

The Antichrist tells us to "build the city of God" - "It is one of the great heresies of our day that man can perfect himself and can save the world himself. Whether this be expressed as a political party (e.g. Communism), or a religious movement (e.g. Liberation Theology), or an individual work (e.g. Pelagianism) – the Church has always insisted that salvation does not come through human works, but through the grace and the power of Jesus Christ."

A Holy Fear of Man - "We began with the fear of God, but the incarnation of Christ taught us also a 'fear' of man -- that we ought, on pain of sin, to hold in religious awe the liberty and sanctity of the created human person. "

"As Great a Challenge as the Reformation": The Bishops on Social Media - "...I don’t think I have to remind you of what happened when the Catholic Church was slow to adapt to that new technology. By the time we decided to seriously promote that common folk should read the Bible, the Protestant Reformation was well underway." 

In Defense of Provocative Preaching - "I think a lot of people think that preaching is supposed to merely please and encourage them. There is a place for that but good preaching also afflicts and provokes response. Jesus was more than willing  to provoke people and unsettle them."

Countercultural Time -  "...we should not look for ways to cut temporal corners by shifting to Sunday long-established feasts whose celebration during the week once gave a unique rhythm to Catholic life."

And We Can Talk About Things Catholic! - "The Catholic way is varied. The studious use intellectual approaches. Those devoted to Mary use the rosary. Sensitive souls use art. Some ladle soup and visit prisoners. Others simply listen. There are so many ways for Catholics to evangelize."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: The Consuming Fire: A Christian Guide to the Old Testament

Tracing God's Word through History

God speaks to us through His Word. It is therefore essential that Christians engage in serious study of Scripture. But in doing so we must remember that the Bible is not a text book. The Word of God does not instruct us in the same way a math or science lesson informs our brains with facts, figures and formulas. Nor is the Bible a single book; it is a collection of books drawn from many genres including poetry, historical writings, wisdom literature, myth, and so on, each with its own purpose and method of conveying ideas. Among the authors, editors, and compilers of Scripture there are many voices, each lending a different perspective as they carry out the work of the Spirit. Sacred Scripture is the product of centuries of prayer and reflection, editing and compiling – passed on from generation to generation – and lived out as a faith experience.

As opposed to a “textbook” we may think of the Bible as a “conversation.” And it begins with the people of Israel in the Old Testament. Michael W. Duggan, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Mary’s University College in Calgary, puts it this way:

“When we read the Hebrew Bible, we listen to a conversation that lasted more than a millennium, from the first settlements of the Israelites in the Holy Land during the thirteenth century B.C.E until the Roman emperor Hadrian expelled all Jews from Jerusalem in 135 C.E. Throughout these fourteen centuries minstrels, storytellers, priests, prophets, poets, and sages composed and collected the texts that rabbis ultimately arranged as the compendium of Jewish Scripture…The whole compendium, while exhibiting the coherence of a conversation among people of shared commitment, does not say the same thing from beginning to end. Each book – sometimes each part of a book – has its own voice. Just as a good listener respects the uniqueness of each speaker, so the good reader of the Bible discerns the unique contribution of each book or portion thereof.”

Duggan’s book, The Consuming Fire: A Christian Guide to the Old Testament, from which the above quote is taken, proposes to do just that – to discern the unique contribution of each “speaker” in the Old Testament. For anyone interested in embarking on a serious study of Hebrew Scriptures from a Christian perspective this book would certainly be a tremendous resource.

It must be noted that there are many methods for studying the Bible, and many levels at which people feel comfortable delving into such a topic. This particular book is not a simple “Sunday school” approach to Scripture, with Noah’s Ark and Rainbows, and cardboard cutouts of the Ten Commandments. This is a rigorous, academic approach to Scripture. Professor Duggan presents a thorough examination of the text, the history of its writing, a cultural analysis of the ancient Israelites, and citations from the latest scholarly work to construct a detailed view of who wrote each passage and why. This book is not primarily a spiritual reflection on the beauty and meaning of God’s Word. Instead Duggan offers a framework from which such a spiritual understanding could be deepened in light of the history of the text.

This is not to say that The Consuming Fire is devoid of spirituality. It is obvious that Professor Duggan writes with a deep respect for the Word of God. He hopes the reader will use his work as a starting point for coming to a more profound understanding of Jewish Scripture as applied in our own lives as Christians. He honors the Jewish roots of the Old Testament, while yet allowing for the Christian fulfillment of these Scriptures in the coming of Jesus. At the end of each chapter he provides Scriptural passages for further reflection and includes New Testament references that explain the Christian view of Old Testament themes. He insists from the outset, that the best way to use his book is to have a Bible open in front of you so that you can prayerfully consult the actual text that is being examined. This book is meant as a companion on a journey through Holy Scripture.

At just over 650 pages, this is not light reading.  Add to this the text of the Old Testament itself as well as New Testament references, and anyone who undertakes this as a Biblical study is in for a long and intense experience. Although the author wrote this book with the beginner in mind (he assumes that the reader may never have been exposed to the Old Testament before), this text is most suited for a college-level reader and preferably someone who has at least some familiarity with the Old Testament.

In preparing to review this book I quickly read through the entire text to familiarize myself with the overall format and content. The first few chapters give a brief introduction to the Old Testament (the people and places of ancient world, the languages and cultures of the time, and some historical context) all of which prepare the reader for a book-by-book examination of the Canon itself.  The following chapters explore the individual writings of the Old Testament one at a time. The structure of these chapters is as follows:

“Every chapter begins with a reflection on issues of faith and life, which were of concern to the biblical author(s) and with which we may be able to identify today. The examination of every book follows a basic design that aims to give you immediate access to the biblical text. The analysis unfolds in six steps: (a) a description of the historical setting of the events related to the text; (b) a portrayal of the historical situation of the author and his audience (all of whom are usually quite distant from the events); (c) a summary of major themes (i.e., the message that the author conveyed to the original audience); (d) a survey of how various New Testament writers used the book; (e) a list of passages for meditative reading; and (f) an outline of the book.”

After an initial read through of the entire text, I selected a few chapters to study as the author suggested (with Bible in hand, and focused on opening up God’s Word). I cannot stress enough that this method is an intense but fruitful exercise. If done properly, reading this book could easily stretch to an entire year of study, perhaps more. But with enough time and dedication, The Consuming Fire can open up new insights that are well worth the effort.

To put all of this into perspective, we can again turn to Professor Duggan’s example of the divine “conversation.” With regard to the Old Testament, The Consuming Fire tells us who did the speaking, when they spoke, to whom they spoke, and why they spoke as they did. Beyond these details the author merely suggests a general direction for further study and reflection. The Consuming Fire does not directly answer questions about Catholic doctrine or spirituality; it does not provide exhaustive interpretations of passages or explore the nuanced positions of theologians on various matters of the faith. However, what this book does well is explain where the Old Testament came from. The reader will be able to “listen in” on the great “conversation” from the moment when it was first spoke. In this way Professor Duggan’s work gives new life to our conversation with God.

[This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Consuming Fire and be sure to check out their great selection of baptism gifts while you are there.]

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunday's Mass Readings

November 14, 2010
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Mal 3:19-20a

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 98:5-6, 7-8, 9

R. (cf. 9) The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth,
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.

Reading 2
Thes 3:7-12

Brothers and sisters:
You know how one must imitate us.
For we did not act in a disorderly way among you,
nor did we eat food received free from anyone.
On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day
we worked, so as not to burden any of you.
Not that we do not have the right.
Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.
In fact, when we were with you,
we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work,
neither should that one eat.
We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a
disorderly way,
by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.
Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly
and to eat their own food.

Lk 21:5-19

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, "All that you see here--
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."
Then they asked him,
"Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"
He answered,
"See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
'I am he,’ and 'The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end."
Then he said to them,
"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
"Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Pope Benedict issues major document on Sacred Scripture - "...the most important Church document devoted to Sacred Scripture since the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), which was promulgated in 1965." Click here for PDF of full document.

A reflection on Liturgy celebrated "ad orientem" - "It was no different from any other Novus Ordo Mass, with one exception...For the Offertory, Canon and Our Father I faced the altar, not the congregation. " See also this commentary on the same article.

The Body Doesn’t Lie, But Modern Culture Does - "Our soul is male or female and hence our bodies reflect that fact...The soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body and thus our differences and our complementarity are deep and essential as well as necessary."

Crime and Punishment - "Rehabilitation and protection of the public are beneficial side effects of punishment, but they cannot be the motivation for punishment. Retribution is not only more objective and fair, but it also is based on the dignity of the human person. "

I saw a woman walk away with Host, put It in pocket - "...if this is happening regularly in that parish, or more than one person is doing this, then there is definitely 'risk of profanation'.  If the parish priest is unwilling or unable to something about 'risk of profanation', then higher authority must."

US bishops seek to boost number of exorcists - "Exorcisms are more common in Europe. Dozens of priests are authorised to perform the rite, especially in Italy, France and Poland."

The Proper Ordering of Our Loves - "When we love Him first, all other loves fall into proper place and are not suppressed but increased."

The Catholic Church in the Obama Era - "Obamacare, enacted with the decisive support of Catholic members of Congress, is the Enabling Act of our time in the wide-ranging control it cedes to government over the lives of the people...Such a concentration of power violates the principle of subsidiarity..."

1 Catholic Speaker Gives Way to Another - "...House Republicans are not just on the right track morally, but politically. Some House Democrats just learned that the hard way." 

Obamacare: Let the Dismantling Begin - "A full repeal should be passed in the House ASAP. But it will be stopped cold in the Senate. But that’s okay, as that will increase unpopularity of the thwarters of the popular will, setting up 2012 nicely to be an election about repeal."

Jim DeMint Speaks the Truth - "You can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative."

America's Bread and Circus Society - "The sad reality is that much of today's masculinity is experienced only vicariously through a variety of sports teams and personalities. Instead of personally flexing our muscles for God and country, freedom and liberty, or home and hearth, we punch the air and beat our chests over touchdowns and home runs (even though we had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with them ourselves)."

Church of England in crisis as five bishops defect to Rome - "The five are said to be 'dismayed' at the liberal reforms to the Church in recent decades and intend to join the Ordinariate in pursuit of 'unity' with Rome when the new body is established next year." Read the bishops' statement here. See also: Report: Archbishop of Canterbury 'to announce conversion of two bishops to Rome on Monday'  And this great commentary: Anglican Bishops Fly Away Home How many Anglicans will come home to Rome?: Anglican bishop predicts 'thousands' will enter Catholic Church

‘Failed, Utterly Failed’ - "...multiculturalism has to fail because a society needs cultural cohesion to survive—shared language, shared moral standards, a shared work ethic. Multiculturalism provides no cohesion at all."

Schoolboys punished with detention for refusing to kneel in class and pray to Allah - "Parents said that their children were made to bend down on their knees on prayer mats...and they were also told to wear Islamic headgear during the lesson..."

The Dumbest Column I’ve Ever Read - "We have to stop abusing theology to rationalize our lack of courage to end abortion" (Commentary by Fr. Frank Pavone)

Holy Fulton: Amid Dispute Over Resting Place, Peoria Halts Sheen Sainthood  - " money says [New York Archbishop] Dolan won't waste too much time before taking full charge of the cause."

“Mary’s Ultrasound” ad campaign draws criticism from pro-aborts in UK - "Well, let’s face it, Mary’s virginal conception of the divine Son Jesus Christ is a 'pro-life' historical event"

Offbeat: “JP2″ Nightclub opens up in Roman Basilica’s Crypt - "Rev. Maurizio Mirilli, head of youth ministry in Rome’s Catholic Church, has converted a section of the crypt into a nightclub with a live-music stage and a bar stocked with beer..." [I know, it sounds horrible at first, but it is meant as an alternative to the over-sexed, secular night scene in Italy. It is akin the "theology on tap" programs that are so popular in America. Europe could use this kind of thing to bring the youth back to the Church.]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Sacraments of the Church

From the Catechism:

1113 The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation or Chrismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony...

1115 Jesus' words and actions during his hidden life and public ministry were already salvific, for they anticipated the power of his Paschal mystery. They announced and prepared what he was going to give the Church when all was accomplished. The mysteries of Christ's life are the foundations of what he would henceforth dispense in the sacraments, through the ministers of his Church, for "what was visible in our Savior has passed over into his mysteries."

1116 Sacraments are "powers that comes forth" from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are "the masterworks of God" in the new and everlasting covenant.

1118 The sacraments are "of the Church" in the double sense that they are "by her" and "for her." They are "by the Church," for she is the sacrament of Christ's action at work in her through the mission of the Holy Spirit. They are "for the Church" in the sense that "the sacraments make the Church," since they manifest and communicate to men, above all in the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with the God who is love, One in three persons.

1123 "The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ and, finally, to give worship to God. Because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it. That is why they are called 'sacraments of faith.'"

1124 The Church's faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles - whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi (or: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, according to Prosper of Aquitaine [5th cent.]). The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition.

1125 For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.

1126 Likewise, since the sacraments express and develop the communion of faith in the Church, the lex orandi is one of the essential criteria of the dialogue that seeks to restore the unity of Christians.

1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. The Father always hears the prayer of his Son's Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power.

1128 This is the meaning of the Church's affirmation that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: "by the very fact of the action's being performed"), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God." From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.

1129 The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. "Sacramental grace" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. The Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior.

1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Articles concerning atheism

Below are some links to a series of posts by author Michael Novak over at the website Catholic Education Resource Center. Novak presents some brief answers to questions and objections directed at religion in general and Christianity specifically  posed by modern-day atheists (such as Christopher Hitchens). He offers a defense of the faith from every angle. A very good read...

Conversations with New Atheists I
Conversations with New Atheists II
Conversations with New Atheists III
Conversations with New Atheists IV

On the same website can be found this piece concerning atheists and intelligence:
Myth 1: Atheists Are Smarter

And also this post exploring social deficiencies and belief in God:
So That's the Reason 

Or this article written  by Dinesh D'Souza:
Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history 

And finally, this critique of The New Atheism

Some great resources in defending the Faith against nonbelievers.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday's Mass Readings

November 7, 2010
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God's law.
One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:
"What do you expect to achieve by questioning us?
We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors."
At the point of death he said:
"You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,
but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.
It is for his laws that we are dying."
After him the third suffered their cruel sport.
He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,
and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:
"It was from Heaven that I received these;
for the sake of his laws I disdain them;
from him I hope to receive them again."
Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man's courage,
because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
After he had died,
they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.
When he was near death, he said,
"It is my choice to die at the hands of men
with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;
but for you, there will be no resurrection to life."

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15

R. (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye,
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking I shall be content in your presence.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Reading 2
2 Thes 2:16-3:5

Brothers and sisters:
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed
and word.
Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,
so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified,
as it did among you,
and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people,
for not all have faith.
But the Lord is faithful;
he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you,
you are doing and will continue to do.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God
and to the endurance of Christ.

Lk 20:27-38 or Lk 20:27, 34-38

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
"Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her."
Jesus said to them,
"The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out 'Lord, '
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive."


Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward.
Jesus said to them,
"The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out 'Lord, '
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive."