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...
Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2011 - "As she awaits the definitive encounter with her Spouse in the eternal Easter, the Church community, assiduous in prayer and charitable works, intensifies her journey in purifying the spirit, so as to draw more abundantly from the Mystery of Redemption the new life in Christ the Lord"
Recovering a Catholic Subculture - "One of the worst mistakes American Catholicism ever made was the scrapping in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s of the subculture that had served it well up to that time. That was the era of the great flight from what Catholic intellectuals snobbishly called the 'Catholic ghetto.'"
Understanding the Stages of Spiritual Starvation in the West - "I’d like to take a look at some of the stages of physical starvation and speak of their spiritual equivalent...I will list the physical stage and them describe what I think is a spiritual component."
Exposing Relativism: Three Stories - "The three stories here effectively blow the whistle on relativism, exposing the self-deception and inconsistency which accompany that widely held position."
The Myth of Religious Tolerance - "The closer one examines tolerance and tries to apply it across the board, the more obvious it becomes that it's simply insufficient as a principle to govern society. Even if it were possible to achieve total tolerance, it would be exceedingly undesirable and counterproductive to do so."
Edith Stein: the Apostate Saint - "Why is it that when Edith endorsed atheism, she was still considered a member of the Jewish community?"
Private Totalitarianism, Writ Large - "It is curious how abortion has wound up devouring groups of people – blacks in the United States, females in the East – the very groups its advocates claim to champion. In that, it also eerily mimics the victimization patters of virulent forms of socialism."
The Demands of the Irresponsible - "Corruption is an inherent feature of collectivism. There are no large, honest governments, and there never will be. When political power becomes one of the most valuable commodities in an economy, it will be bought, sold, and traded."
Does God Love the Souls in Hell? - "Is it really a sign of hate or vengeance, rather than love, that God sustains the souls in Hell?"
The Lutherans Are Coming! - "Many Protestants in the original denominations, after 500 years of experimentation, and beginning to realize the futility of it all. It has been half a millennium of one epic failure after another, culminating in the virtual apostasy of modern denominations..." See also: 'Anglo-Lutheran Catholics' to Enter Catholic Church through Anglican Ordinariate
Scientism Is Not Science - "A truly Catholic perspective is to rejoice in science. Our tradition enshrines the understanding that creation is revelation and the more we can know of this creation, the more we can know of God, the more we can know of his Logos, Jesus Christ our Lord."
The Challenges and Graces of Conversion - "As a Protestant, you generally see the Church, particularly the Catholic Church as an 'institution.' For many people, that term has become negatively associated with power, oppression, domination, and restrictions. As a convert, you may discover that this was and is a false idea of the Church. Instead you may find a growing understanding of what it means that the Church is the 'Bride of Christ.'"
Do Those Who Defend Marriage Understand it? - "While it is true that every state that has asked its citizens to decide who can marry has clung to the traditional arrangement, it is also true that few can explain the actual nature of marriage—nor can they adequately define its ends."
Number of Baptized Catholics Grows by 15 Million - "...the number of bishops and priests grew in direct proportion to the number of Catholics worldwide. For the 1.3 percent more Catholics in the world, there were 1.3 percent more of both bishops and priests in the period from 2008 - 2009."
Primacy in Love - "[T]he Church can remain one only from communion with the crucified Christ... Only the eucharistic faith, only the assembly around the present Lord can she keep for the long term. And from here she receives her order. The Church is not ruled by majority decisions but rather through the faith that matures in the encounter with Christ ...in the liturgy."
Would George Washington Recognize God-deprived America? - "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports....reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National Morality can prevail in Exclusion of Religious Principle." [George Washington's Farewell Address]
What's So Great About Democracy? - "Democracy in the hands of the Klingons probably still portends bad news for Starfleet, not to mention your average Klingon." See also: Is Democracy Better? - "Catholics should not believe in the strict separation of Church and State...Instead we believe that the teachings of Christ must consciously influence the governments of the state for the good of the people."
We need constantly to rediscover why the Church is against abortion - "Catholics believe – more fundamentally than in anything else – in God’s Creation of this world and in the fact that, in Chesterton’s words, life in it 'is an experience of a unique and miraculous character, the idea of missing which would be intolerable if it were for one moment conceivable.'"
What You See is Only Part of What You Get – A Meditation On the Magnificence of Mystery - "In the worldly notion of mystery it is something to approach with perseverance and the smarts to conquer. But the mysteries of faith are something to be considered with humility and reverence realizing we can never exhaust their meaning or capture and conquer their full essence."
Communion on the Hand or on the Tongue? - "I guess that my question is a polarising one: on the one side are almost all the faithful who attend the Novus Ordo Mass; and on the other is the eloquent, passionate and often learned minority who attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form."
House Overwhelmingly Votes to Scrap Planned Parenthood Funding - "Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana was the main sponsor of the amendment, which prevents federal funding of Planned Parenthood’s national organization and 102 named affiliates."
The debate continues over the truth about lying... - "Do the activities of Live Action constitute lying?"
Obama decision on marriage law raises questions of religious liberty, future of marriage - "It raises the concern that the Justice Department will treat believing Christians, Jews, Muslims and others as though they are the equivalent of racists."