Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

290 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth": three things are affirmed in these first words of Scripture: the eternal God gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself; he alone is Creator (the verb "create" - Hebrew bara - always has God for its subject). The totality of what exists (expressed by the formula "the heavens and the earth") depends on the One who gives it being.

291 "In the beginning was the Word. . . and the Word was God. . . all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made." The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son. In him "all things were created, in heaven and on earth.. . all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." The Church's faith likewise confesses the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the "giver of life", "the Creator Spirit" (Veni, Creator Spiritus), the "source of every good".

292 The Old Testament suggests and the New Covenant reveals the creative action of the Son and the Spirit, inseparably one with that of the Father. This creative co-operation is clearly affirmed in the Church's rule of faith: "There exists but one God. . . he is the Father, God, the Creator, the author, the giver of order. He made all things by himself, that is, by his Word and by his Wisdom", "by the Son and the Spirit" who, so to speak, are "his hands". Creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity.

293 Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: "The world was made for the glory of God." St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things "not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it", for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: "Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand." The First Vatican Council explains:

    This one, true God, of his own goodness and "almighty power", not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel "and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal. . ."
309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.

310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.

311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:

    For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.
312 In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures...

314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God "face to face", will we fully know the ways by which - even through the dramas of evil and sin - God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

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...

Well, I skipped last week, and didn't have much time for this week, so I combined some links from both weeks to come up with this post. Yes, it's a day late... but I've been busy getting ready for Christmas and had some minor sicknesses going around the family. So much for trying to keep up with blogging...

Pope Benedict’s Prayer for America - "Just look at what he told a group of cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and laity from the American continent who were gathered for a congress in Rome to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Synod Bishops for America."

The Empty Manger - [a message from Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life]

Is St. Joseph a Model for Fathers? - "It is not by chance that theologians teach that we owe St. Joseph proto-dulia that in ordinary terms means he is the first among the saints after Mary and we should honor him as such."

Time to Bring Back St. Michael’s Prayer - "As the Church faces this unprecedented barrage of intolerance on American soil, I found a recent letter from the Reverend Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois particularly emboldening.  In a letter to all parishioners in his diocese, Bishop Jenky asked that the powerful St. Michael’s prayer be included in all General Intercessions during each Sunday Mass."

In Rare Op-Ed Article, Pope Asks Christians to Reassess Christmas Priorities - ''Yet Christians render to Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, not what belongs to God,' he insists, pointing out that Christians cannot always comply with governments’ demands."
Court: Obama Admin Must Rewrite HHS Mandate to Protect Religious Liberty - "In a victory for the pro-life battle against the HHS mandate, a federal appeals court yesterday reinstated two of the top legal challenges to the mandate, which requires religious employers to pay for drugs that may cause abortions."

Concerning the HHS mandate, see also these three pieces: Domino’s founder Monaghan sues government to try to stop enforcement of contraception mandate and Hobby Lobby to Take HHS Mandate Lawsuit to Supreme Court and Think the HHS Mandate Won’t Hurt Non-Catholics? Think Again.

Government redistributes wealth, but not like you think - "The government is redistributing wealth, but not downwards to the lower classes as one might suspect. Rather, new data taken from the census bureau and polls shows that the wealthy, not the poor, are primary beneficiaries of this redistribution." [Liberal Catholic "Social Justice" types need to realize that handing the federal government this much power is exactly the WRONG way to help the poor.]

Redistributon as Slavery - "...if you do not subscribe to redistribution ideology, you are attacked as being greedy at best and racist at worst. The problem is that income redistribution in practice promotes one of the same moral injustices found under slavery."

‘Markets Don’t Make Capitalism’ - [A good point, and one that I would like to expand on some day. Socialism and Capitalism are often unfairly compared. But they relate to the Market in different ways.]

Did Hillary Clinton 'play sick' to avoid Benghazi questioning? - [I would not be surprised.]

5 Ways to Help the Pope on Twitter (and the greatest Vatican media project?) - "The Pope's authentic presence on Twitter has been, in my opinion, the single most significant evangelistic move by the Vatican regarding it's use of new media (and maybe old media, too) in our day. At least it has the potential to be so."

In case you missed it, here is the pope's Twitter feed.

'Humanae Vitae' Author Pope Paul VI Moves Toward Sainthood - "Pope Benedict XVI authorized an investigation on Dec. 20 that could result in proclaiming Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) a saint."

Men Getting Pregnant Wouldn’t Change Opposition to Abortion - [...because it's not about women's rights or equality of the sexes - it's about respect for life.]

The Economist Takes Note: It’s Cool to be a Young “Trad” Catholic - "A friend alerted me to this article in the most recent issue of The Economist entitled 'A traditionalist avant-garde' where the author points out that 'It’s trendy to be a traditionalist in the Catholic church.'"

The Angelus and the Liturgy: A Tale of Catholic Identity - "Unfortunately, until the new translation of the Roman Missal, the prayer had been disguised beneath a mistranslation.  I am someone who is very familiar with the Angelus, yet I never realized that the Advent Collect was one and the same."

Why the Modern World Needs Icons - "In our age where we're constantly bombarded with information in the form of the written word, sometimes it's helpful simply to be able to gaze at an image of holy truth, and understand without words."

The Hobbit: A Film of Friendship, Faith, and the Good Fight - "Despite divergences from the book, Peter Jackson’s epic film delivers." See also: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in Review and this: 'The Hobbit' and Virtue

A well done video explaining the reasons in favor of traditional, male-female mariage can be found at this link.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

233 Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names, for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.

234 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the "hierarchy of the truths of faith". The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men "and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin".

237 The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the "mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God". To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel's faith before the Incarnation of God's Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

240 Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

241 For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"; as "the image of the invisible God"; as the "radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature".

242 Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is "consubstantial" with the Father, that is, one only God with him. The second ecumenical council, held at Constantinople in 381, kept this expression in its formulation of the Nicene Creed and confessed "the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father".

243 Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of "another Paraclete" (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously "spoken through the prophets", the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them "into all the truth". The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father.

244 The eternal origin of the Holy Spirit is revealed in his mission in time. The Spirit is sent to the apostles and to the Church both by the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son in person, once he had returned to the Father. The sending of the person of the Spirit after Jesus' glorification reveals in its fullness the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

 249 From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been at the very root of the Church's living faith, principally by means of Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith, formulated in the preaching, catechesis and prayer of the Church. Such formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

201 To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.. . To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 'Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength.'"

202 Jesus himself affirms that God is "the one Lord" whom you must love "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength". At the same time Jesus gives us to understand that he himself is "the Lord". To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith. This is not contrary to belief in the One God. Nor does believing in the Holy Spirit as "Lord and giver of life" introduce any division into the One God:

 We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.
203 God revealed himself to his people Israel by making his name known to them. A name expresses a person's essence and identity and the meaning of this person's life. God has a name; he is not an anonymous force. To disclose one's name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more intimately and addressed personally.

206 In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH ("I AM HE WHO IS", "I AM WHO AM" or "I AM WHO I AM"), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is - infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the "hidden God", his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to men.

207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past ("I am the God of your father"), as for the future ("I will be with you").12 God, who reveals his name as "I AM", reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

208 Faced with God's fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God's holiness. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: "Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips." Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: "I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst." The apostle John says likewise: "We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."

214 God, "HE WHO IS", revealed himself to Israel as the one "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness". These two terms express summarily the riches of the divine name. In all his works God displays, not only his kindness, goodness, grace and steadfast love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness and truth. "I give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness." He is the Truth, for "God is light and in him there is no darkness"; "God is love", as the apostle John teaches.

215 "The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever." "And now, O LORD God, you are God, and your words are true"; this is why God's promises always come true. God is Truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all things. The beginning of sin and of man's fall was due to a lie of the tempter who induced doubt of God's word, kindness and faithfulness.

218 In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous love.38 And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

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...

[Day late again...I know. I've been preparing for Christmas, decorating, etc.]

The Dating of Christmas - "As we approach the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord, periodicals both secular and religious attempt the task of explaining the dating of Christmas. It never ceases to amaze me how even when theories have been sufficiently debunked they continue to persist in popular myth."

Pope to Bishops: Keep Church Charities Catholic - 'In the motu proprio, the Pope directs bishops to foster charitable initiatives across their dioceses and to scrutinize the policies and practices of such programs in order to guard the integrity of Catholic charitable work."

Contraception and Women’s Wellbeing: NFP, Disillusionment, and the Poor - "It is hard to communicate to young women—but we should try— how wonderful it feels as a woman at age forty or fifty or beyond, to have a body free of the health worries associated with decades of hormonal drug use (more on this later), and a marriage permeated with inescapably mutual responsibility respecting sex, not to mention regular conversations about the meanings and consequences of sex, and about why or why not to seek another child." (Part 2 of a 3 part series. Take the time to read the whole series.)

Catholics Don't "Believe" Life Begins at Conception - [We KNOW is does.]

HHS Mandate Takes a Hit -  "Not only did the Obama administration lose, it got a well deserved lecture from the bench: it was taken to task for misrepresenting the current burdens that the HHS mandate has placed on the New York Archdiocese."

FEMA trailers sit empty while storm victims battle cold - [Hmmm...Can anyone say "Katrina"? I guess this President gets a free pass.]

There’s Something about “Mary” - "Mary is a common name in the United States; a very common name. But it used to be much more common. In fact, for generations and generations, it was far and away the most common name given to baby girls in America."

Nothing Special - "Here I am, a week away from celebrating my ninth baby's first birthday, and I can report, with relief and delight, that this kid is nothing special." [Read the whole piece and you'll understand.]

How to Value a Child - [Another interesting piece on parenthood.]

More Babies, Please - "American fertility plunged with the stock market in 2008, and it hasn’t recovered. Last week, the Pew Research Center reported that U.S. birthrates hit the lowest rate ever recorded in 2011, with just 63 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age."

Two Became Three - "When disagreements arise between spouses a solution is often elusive, but the exhortation to love is clear."

Requiescat in pace: Dave Brubeck, jazz giant and convert to Catholicism from "nothing" - "As a composer, Mr. Brubeck used jazz to address religious themes and to bridge social and political divides."

What’s the Difference Between Sisters and Nuns? - [And interesting bit of Catholic trivia.]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

 Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation." Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.

171 The Church, "the pillar and bulwark of the truth", faithfully guards "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints". She guards the memory of Christ's words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles' confession of faith. As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith.

173 "Indeed, the Church, though scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the apostles and their disciples... guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth."

174 "For though languages differ throughout the world, the content of the Tradition is one and the same. The Churches established in Germany have no other faith or Tradition, nor do those of the Iberians, nor those of the Celts, nor those of the East, of Egypt, of Libya, nor those established at the center of the world. . ." The Church's message "is true and solid, in which one and the same way of salvation appears throughout the whole world."

175 "We guard with care the faith that we have received from the Church, for without ceasing, under the action of God's Spirit, this deposit of great price, as if in an excellent vessel, is constantly being renewed and causes the very vessel that contains it to be renewed." 

192 Through the centuries many professions or symbols of faith have been articulated in response to the needs of the different eras: the creeds of the different apostolic and ancient Churches, e.g., the Quicumque, also called the Athanasian Creed; the professions of faith of certain Councils, such as Toledo, Lateran, Lyons, Trent; or the symbols of certain popes, e.g., the Fides Damasi or the Credo of the People of God of Paul VI.

193 None of the creeds from the different stages in the Church's life can be considered superseded or irrelevant. They help us today to attain and deepen the faith of all times by means of the different summaries made of it.

Among all the creeds, two occupy a special place in the Church's life:

194 The Apostles' Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles' faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. Its great authority arises from this fact: it is "the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith".

195 The Niceno-Constantinopolitan or Nicene Creed draws its great authority from the fact that it stems from the first two ecumenical Councils (in 325 and 381). It remains common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

The Pope is now on Twitter. He has not posted any tweets (or rather, his staff has not posted anything yet on his behalf), but you can follow him at this link.

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This is the first week of Advent. Some people have had Christmas decorations up since the day after Thanksgiving (or even before), but at our house we always try to keep Christmas in the Christmas Season and allow Advent it's own space. So our Advent wreath is out, and later this week I plan on hanging a few pieces of garland, and of course we have an Advent calendar on the wall...but that's about it. If it were up to me, I would keep the decorating sparse like this up until the last few days before December 25. But as a compromise with the kids (who see decorations around town and wish we could do the same) we have set December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, as the signal for Christmas decorating. The arrival of St. Nick is a convenient date for Christmas preparation, as he is the origin of Santa Claus and so he ushers in a greater anticipation for Christmas day. We actually don't do the decorating on the feast day itself, but we use it as a signal to start hauling out the tree and other decorations and we then put everything out over the course of the following week or so.

I know, I know... Gaudete Sunday would be a better and more liturgically sound date to use as it truly does signal a dawning of new light nearer to Christmas. But hey, at least St. Nicholas Day is a liturgical feast and so we are not using secular cues to shape our holiday. It's not exactly what I would do if it were entirely up to me, but it is a compromise. And I do like seeing the tree decorated for an extra week or two.

...And we do not play Christmas music until Christmas.

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I saw this image posted by Ignatius Press on Facebook, and thought I would share since it was such a great quote:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

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...

[Technically, it's Saturday...but better late than never.]

10 Things You Need to Know About Advent - "Most of us have an intuitive understanding of Advent, based on experience, but what do the Church's official documents actually say about Advent?"

The "iPope" Becomes @Pope: Coming Soon, A Tweeting Benedict - "In the Vatican's latest move to leverage its profile on social media, a Monday morning press conference will be held on a topic that, not long ago, would've been unthinkable: 'The Pope on Twitter.'"

Tea and Christianity - "The man symbolically washes his hands in a small basin. Kneeling, he holds the tea vessel up above his head in a prayer of thanksgiving. He bows down. His companion bows lower, leans toward him. He straightens up and drinks the tea in one act. When he is finished, he carefully wipes the rim clean. From across the room, I watched this in absolute amazement. My God, I thought, this looks just like the Mass!"

Blasphemous Obama painting goes viral - [You gotta see it to believe it.]

Was Susan Rice thrown under the bus? - "For now, the situation remains a tangled morass of lies, deception, and murky details. The issue is swiftly becoming a national embarrassment and another black mark on the Obama regime."

Sebelius Called on to Quit Over Planned Parenthood Scandal - "A leading pro-life organization is calling on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to quit because of a scandal involving the destruction of Planned Parenthood record during her administration as governor of Kansas."

Why Did Abortion See Its Biggest Decrease in 10 Years? - "...does anyone honestly believe that in 2009 women suddenly became much “better” about using artificial contraception compared to the previous year?"

U.S. Birth Rate Falls to Lowest Ever, Fewer Babies is Bad News - "The Pew research center is out with new data showing the birth rate in the United States has fallen to its lowest point ever. Although Pew doesn’t say it, the abortion culture Roe v. Wade has produced is already causing problems, according to one pro-life opinion columnist."

It’s All About Sex, Not Health - "According to the AAP, pediatricians should counsel 'all adolescents' on emergency contraception 'regardless of current intentions for sexual behavior.'"

Is Feminism the Supreme Religion? - "Two recent incidents have received a great deal of media attention in Canada, raising the question, once again, as to whether secular feminism takes precedence over every other religion."

Reason and Compassion in the Marriage Debate - "The authors explain why debates over gay marriage are only indirectly about homosexuality; the real issue is 'not about whom to let marry, but about what marriage is.'"

Where are demons located? - "Heaven, hell, and purgatory exist now only as states of being."

Accidental Evangelism - "So maybe evangelism isn't just about the soap box, although there is surely a place for that. But maybe the evangelism that I am called to do is this other kind. Live your every day busy life the best way you can, the way Jesus would want you to."

If you find the sitcom "Two and half Men" to be a repulsive drag on the culture, watch this video of one of the actors pleading with people to STOP WATCHING IT.  Later the actor apologized...sort of. See this piece for those details. And finally, some thoughts on what to make of all this:  What Should We Make of "Two and a Half Men" Star's Outburst?

The Telegraph (UK): Pope’s New Book Casts Doubt on “Keystone of Christian Tradition” - [Another example of the media mis-handling and falsely reporting on matters of faith.]

The 7,000 Year Old World - [An interesting look at religion and politics, sparked by some recent happenings.]

10 Ways Catholics Can Transform Modern Culture

Ten Silly Reasons You Won't Pray Today (and Why You Should Reconsider)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

142 By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company." The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith".

148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that "with God nothing will be impossible" and so giving her assent: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." Elizabeth greeted her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.

149 Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God's word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.

150 Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.

151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his "beloved Son", in whom the Father is "well pleased"; God tells us to listen to him. The Lord himself said to his disciples: "Believe in God, believe also in me." We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." Because he "has seen the Father", Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.

152 One cannot believe in Jesus Christ without sharing in his Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals to men who Jesus is. For "no one can say "Jesus is Lord", except by the Holy Spirit", who "searches everything, even the depths of God. . No one comprehends the thoughts of God, except the Spirit of God." Only God knows God completely: we believe in the Holy Spirit because he is God.

    The Church never ceases to proclaim her faith in one only God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings

 A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

Last week I posted fewer entries in my Friday Headlines post than I had lately been posting. That will be the trend from here on out, since the election is now over and the post-election analysis is all but finished. the news cycle has certainly slowed down. I may settle on an exact number of articles (perhaps 10 or maybe 15 per week) to give Friday's some consistency.

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Just a reminder... It is NOT Christmas! I know many people have already begun decking the halls for Christmas. I know that shopping centers, malls, and stores have been decorated for weeks. Downtown lighting ceremonies have already taken place. Black Friday is supposed to start the Christmas Season, but really it does NOT. Please keep Advent in Advent so that Christmas can be in it's proper place.

We have a cultural battle we are fighting on many fronts (life, family, morality, etc.). I know that Christmas decorating out of season seems like a small thing, but the more Christians can assert authentic Christian practices in the culture, the louder our voice becomes. If we can win at these little battles, we can gain strength for the larger battles. So, don't put up your tree yet. Don't turn on the Christmas lights. Just hold of...even if it's only for a couple more weeks. Make a statement. People may take notice and ask why. When they ask why, use that as an opportunity to share...and then share more than just decorating tips. It may open a few doors. This is bigger than just deciding when to decorate. It makes a statement of solidarity with the Church as opposed to solidarity with the world. And when others see our willingness to go against the popular trend, they may be drawn in to join with us, or at least give an honest listen to what we have to offer.

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Speaking of Advent... I will be less able to blog during this Season. Hopefully, I will finish my posts on male-only priesthood and also some of my regular weekly posts, but I may miss a few here and there. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, November 23, 2012

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...

The Real First Thanksgiving - "On the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, also a Thursday that year, men of different backgrounds – fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, and others – reclined at table with a carpenter-rabbi to break unleavened bread and (so they expected) to take up the cup of salvation, the cup foretold in the Todah psalm of the Passover Liturgy..."

A Pro-Family Thanksgiving Top 10 - [Proving that there are still things to be thankful for, even with so many negative things going on.]

A Pope to be Thankful For - "...Joseph Ratzinger is a man, both self-effacing and serious, who has achieved (or perhaps was graced with) a remarkable and winning combination of personal humility, intellectual profundity, and deep faith."

This Thanksgiving: Rekindling the fire of holiness - From Archbishop Chaput: "Over this Thanksgiving weekend, or sometime during Advent, I have a homework assignment for you."

What's So Sacred About Meals? - "I always enjoy trying to articulate the answers to questions like this, but this one left me stumped."

Dear Simcha - [Simcha Fisher with a humorous post for Thanksgiving...answering questions from readers.]

Church of England Votes Against Ordaining Female Bishops - "Although ordination of female priests was approved at the 1992 synod, the measure regarding women bishops, which needed a two-thirds majority with the bishops, clergy and laity, lost by six votes with the laity."

Latin, Ad Orientem and Problem Priests - "In my opinion, non-use of Latin and the ad orientem posture by senior clergy has several negative effects..."

Law enforcement is about to read everyone's email and browsing history -- without a warrant - "The bill would even allow the FBI and Homeland Security full access to your internet accounts without so much as notifying you or a judge. Even your private browsing history could be searched."

Catholic Bishops: We Will Not Obey Immoral HHS-Abortion Mandate - Cardinal Dolan: “The only thing we’re certainly prepared to do is not give in — not violate our consciences and not obey what we consider to be something immoral... That we’re committed on."

Guest Opinion: Star Parker, We Have a National Crisis in Character - "Americans just re-elected a president who opposed the Supreme Court decision banning partial-birth abortion. The leader of our nation thinks it should be legal in America to kill a live, fully formed infant. What does this say about America today and our future?"

Republicans Must Win the Culture War to Regain Presidency - "Politics are downstream from the culture. Plato summarized the two most important questions in a society: Who teaches the young and what do we teach them?"

The Glee Effect: how America went gay - "The hearts and minds of Americans—especially our young people—are being changed when it comes to same-sex “marriage” and homosexual practice because of entertainment, not arguments."

We Take Aborted Babies to the Trash Just Like Our Garbage - "We live in a time where babies are trashed, literally. Even if we do not directly participate in shedding innocent blood and throwing children in the garbage, we condone it when we do nothing to stop this barbaric, evil practice of nonchalant murder called 'choice.'"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

120 It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New.
The Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi.

The New Testament: the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of St. Paul to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, the Letter to the Hebrews, the Letters of James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, and Revelation (the Apocalypse).
121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

122 Indeed, "the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men." "Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional," the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God's saving love: these writings "are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way."

124 "The Word of God, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, is set forth and displays its power in a most wonderful way in the writings of the New Testament" which hand on the ultimate truth of God's Revelation. Their central object is Jesus Christ, God's incarnate Son: his acts, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church's beginnings under the Spirit's guidance.

134 All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, "because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ"

135 "The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God".

136 God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth.

137 Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully understood except by the Spirit's action.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Musings

Almost Thanksgiving. Short week, so I'll keep this post short as well. Not sure how much I'll be blogging this week...

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Saw this on a friend's wall on Facebook:

"If you look to others for fulfillment you will never be truly fulfilled" - Buddha

It sounds like such a wise saying, that we can find true fulfillment only by looking inside ourselves. It is especially appealing if we have ever been hurt or fooled by those around us. At such times we may truly desire a type of spiritual fulfillment that allows us to detach ourselves from the hurt and look inward, away from others. But as Christians we must realize that our fulfillment DOES come from another. We seek fulfillment by allowing that OTHER into ourselves. And we seek HIM in others around us. Christianity does not offer a fulfillment in isolation.

It's easy to be sucked into these Eastern philosophies and also the repackaged, New Age pseudo religions that try to sell us on a spirituality that is divorced from a personal God - religion that seeks fulfillment in isolation. But we need to recognize this falsehood when we see it and not be pulled into the deception. Christianity teaches a spirit of Communion not isolation - fulfillment in the other and simply fulfillment in oneself.

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Thanksgiving = eucharistia (Greek) = Eucharist 

Remember that on Thursday and be thankful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

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...

Papal Encyclical on Faith Announced - "The Pope is preparing a new encyclical on the subject of faith, to be published in the first half of next year, during the Year of Faith."

Pope to Take to Twitter - "Someone else will be typing out the actual tweets, the Vatican says, though he will be signing off on each one."

USCCB General Assembly - 2012 November - Presidential Address - [I especially liked this line...] "The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent." Which begs the question: Why is Fish Allowed on Meatless Fridays?

Cardinal Dolan to his fellow bishops: “If we want the New Evangelization to work, it starts on our knees.” - "This week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops holds its Plenary Assembly in Baltimore; during this morning’s opening session, USCCB President Cardinal Timothy Dolan addressed his fellow bishops."

U.S. Bishops Reject Pastoral Statement on Economic Crisis - [I suspect that there is more to this story than meets the eyes. I think the bishops are realizing that political activism has backfired in the past. They have too often sided with the wrong team.]

New Breviary Project approved by Bishops - "...our Bishops voted to go forward with the work of editing, amending, and in some cases re-translating the elements of the Liturgy of the Hours."

The Recent Unpleasantness - "Simply said, only raw, unadulterated, lived-out-in-the-middle-of-the-world Catholicism can save the United States and perhaps bring us back to a country that acknowledges the natural law, truly takes as its guide the American Constitution, and renounces the allure of empire, returning to its conception as the humble Republic our forefathers founded."

Republican Party Must Remain Pro-Life, Against Abortion - [Where else can pro-lifers turn for political victories?] Also, watch this rising star of the Party: Bobby Jindal: GOP Must Keep Core Conservative Principles

Double Down on Pro-Life - "We know how to change public opinion on abortion. We have been doing it for years: Telling the stories of wounded women, sharing the pictures of unborn infants and offering help that unwed mothers need."

Post-Election Game Plan for the HHS Mandate - "The election left things largely as they were: We count the same number of votes in the new Senate as in the old — not in terms of party affiliation, but in terms of pro-life position."

Bishops Will Push HHS Mandate Conscience Protections in Congress - "A top legislative staffer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says the nation’s Catholic leaders will push again for Congress to approve conscience exemptions for the Obama HHS-Abortion mandate in Obamacare." See also: Top Bishops: “We Will Not Give In” on Obama HHS Mandate

Dozens of States Reject Participating in Pro-Abortion Obamacare - [And so the fight continues on many fronts.]

New York Times Columnist Says Death Panels Needed to Fix Economy - [Oh, it's coming...]

Some first thoughts on Weigel’s call to reconsider civil consequences for Catholic weddings - "George Weigel writes in a thought-provoking essay that we should, among other things, 'accelerate a serious debate within American Catholicism on whether the Church ought not pre-emptively withdraw from the civil marriage business, its clergy declining to act as agents of government in witnessing marriages for purposes of state law.'" And here is the George Weigel piece in question.

I Figured Out The Problem. You. - "I, along with countless others, have been trying to figure out how President Obama managed to win a second term... I have been trying to figure out what the problem is all week, and then I finally did.  The problem is you."

A Victory for Creatures of the State - "One of the stark lessons of Obama's victory is the degree to which the Republican Party has become a party for the married and the religious. If only married people voted, Romney would have won in a landslide. If only married religious people voted, you'd need a word that means something much bigger than landslide."

Bishop Justin Welby Chosen to Lead Anglican Communion - "Anglican Bishop of Durham Justin Welby will become the 105th archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, succeeding the retiring Archbishop Rowan Williams."

Why Conservative Anglicanism is Doomed - "Conservative Anglicanism will either cease to be Anglican, cease to be conservative, or simply cease to be.  As a movement, it is unsustainable, for the following reasons..."

When a Letter of Congratulations Contains a Warning... - "The Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Bishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, has written a letter of congratulations to Right Reverend Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham and nominee as Archbishop of Canterbury."

Also on the new Anglican Archbishop: The Archbishop of Canterbury faces a daunting task in this Godless country

Doctor: Savita’s Death No Reason to Change Ireland Pro-Life Law - "The case has predictably evoked much criticism from the pro-choice lobby of the Irish abortion law, the Irish medical profession and the Catholic faith."

Why I Will Never Go Back to Being Pro-Choice on Abortion - "I am pro-life because of information. I was pro-choice because of lack of information."

Want to Find a Good Husband and Have a Family? Don’t Use the Pill - "The study, conducted over a 10-year period, found that female pill users are drawn to men who are less masculine, less symmetrical-looking, and who are genetically similar to themselves. In contrast, ovulating women look for chiseled-featured, masculine men who are genetically dissimilar to themselves."

When Physiology Facilitates Morality: Good News for Biological Fathers - [Interesting study on the effects of fatherhood on men.]

Do Catholic Parents Have to Raise their Children as Catholics? - "The law on this topic was in fact reworded somewhat in the last few decades, but it is surprising to find that many Catholics wrongly think that this fundamental obligation has been eliminated altogether."

Is the Bible Pro-Choice? - "Recently I've been encountering claims that the Bible is 'pro-choice,' meaning pro-abortion. I've been asked more than once how to respond to this claim. Here's how..."

Radical (Secular) Fundamentalism - "Some of my friends and professional acquaintances who are secularists complain that religious social agencies  will not provide primary services to persons who do not share the faith commitments of the agency’s sponsors."

"Convincing reasons" for faith and hope - a YouTube video of the Holy Father.

Parish Webstore - [This is a new site being billed as a Catholic Amazon - check it out.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quote of the Week

"America you are beautiful...and blessed...The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life."
- Blessed John Paul II

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."
"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."

109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.

110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."

111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."
The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.

112 1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.
    The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.

113 2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church").

114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.