Friday, April 27, 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 HHS Mandate: Is it a Religious Liberty Issue? - "The more fundamental problem with the HHS mandate, therefore, is the immorality of the acts themselves in which religious organizations are being 'required' to cooperate."

Congressman Gowdy Grills Secretary Sebelius on HHS Mandate  - You MUST watch this video! The Congressman NAILS IT!""

8 Reasons Catholics are the Worst Protesters - "In this upcoming election, the bishops have called on Catholics to protest the Obama administration's efforts to curtail religious liberty... But there are some major problems facing Catholics, namely that Catholics are the worst protesters in the world."

Hey Bishops:Offer to fund NFP for Mandate! - [No here is an interesting idea.]

Pushing back the limits of subsidiarity - "Where are health care costs low? Laser eye surgery, plastic surgery, etc. Those services that are not usually covered by insurance. In those cases, people shop around for the best and most cost-effective doctors like they shop around for the best and most cost-effective car mechanics."

Of Rosa DeLauro and Other Disoriented Catholics - "The impending fiscal meltdown of European welfare states vindicates subsidiarity by making clear that providing necessary aid to those in genuine need means, among other measures, developing the associational and charitable instincts of civil society. The alternative is state bankruptcy and social chaos."

Can Business Save Your Soul? - "For everybody, holiness is found in doing ordinary daily tasks with an awareness of their importance to our God, and with Gratitude to him. If we try to perform everyday things in a way that will please and honor him, we follow his law and fulfill his even higher expectations."

The Most Pressing Issue in Global Christianity - "Of all instances of religious persecution in the world, 80% are direct against Christians."

Killing the Geniuses - [These numbers are staggering!!] "Conservatively....about 2.5 billion lives have been eliminated from earthly existence by chemical abortion. When the dust settles, and we add at least another 50 million surgically-aborted souls each year worldwide, one gets 1.2 trillion total deaths over the last twenty-four years. That’s over 1 TRILLION souls that had their mortal lives extinguished."

Eliminating The Competition - " America today, our government looks on churches and other non-profit organizations not as a dependable front line in the war on poverty, racism, and social injustice, but as a competitor..."

Feds regulate farm chores for kids - "As one farmer described the new regulations, the biggest 'blow is not teaching our kids the values of working on a farm. Losing that work-ethic – it’s so hard to pick this up later in life.'"

Gay Marriage, Incest, and Polygamy - "One of the most often-mocked arguments in the debate over 'gay marriage' is the argument that permitting gay marriage leads to permitting incestuous marriages, polygamy, and the like.  The  problem is, the argument is solid, and I've yet to hear a coherent answer for it ."

Secularism in America: Growing American movement raises concerns - "A survey released in 2009 by the Pew Research Center found that a quarter of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 surveyed said they were atheists, agnostics or had no religion."

Tithing on Social Media - "We could add a tithing element to our Facebook status updates and tweets on Twitter, giving 10 percent to the Lord. That means one-in-ten status updates or tweets could be related to God, spirituality, inspiration, prayer, or a link to something church-related."

Why is "Christian" Music so Awful? - "A friend of mine used to quip, 'When you’re talking about Christian music it’s pretty safe to substitute "bad" for "Christian".'"

Music for Private Devotion, Not Liturgy - [This link includes a video of GOOD Christian music.]

3 Basic Biblical Questions About the Sacrament of Confirmation - "All Seven Sacrament of the Catholic Church can be seen in Holy Scripture, but often times the biblical origin of the the Sacrament of Confirmation is missed. "

A Catholic Responds – Five Common Protestant Objections to the Sacrament of Confession - " my experience, the Sacrament of Reconciliation ranks right up there with Marian Dogmas among the Church’s teachings that prompt the most questions from those inquiring about the Catholic Faith. The following objections to the doctrine are those about which I am most often asked to respond."

Speaking of Christ: 10 True and False Propositions from Aquinas - "Do you know how to speak about Christ? How to use the exact words so as to avoid anything that could logically lead to — heresy?"

Book Arts: Modern Illuminators and Potentialities for Liturgical Books Today - [Proof that artistry can still be found in the written word.]

Miss America Contestant Told Not to Mention Pro-Life Views - "[Maria] Cahil is a prime example of someone who recognizes that beauty is not only seen in a beauty contest but in the wonderful and awesome development of human life before birth and she is willing to stand up to the powers that be to proclaim that truth."

Sympathy for the Devil and Mercy for the Damned - [Interesting and imaginative piece that explores the Final Judgement.]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Studying James

A Protestant friend started an online Bible study on Facebook and invited people of all faiths to I did. He is beginning the study with the Letter of James because it is short and seemed like a good place for everyone to get their feet wet before diving in to a weightier and lengthier text. My immediate thought was: "Faith and Works" - you're opening a whole can of worms on this one! The Letter of James is exhibit 'A' in a Catholic case against the Protestant notion of "Faith Alone."

So here is a sample of my first comments on this Facebook Bible study. (Note: my friend wanted to cover two chapters at a time, which is rather arbitrary since the chapters in the Bible do not always correspond with a break in thought. And it can really hinder your ability to discuss themes and concepts in the text when your reading is cut off by such a constraint. And often two chapters covers A LOT of material, so the discussions will become overwhelming. But, hey, it's his Bible study, so I'll go with it.):

The first chapter begins by focusing on trials and testing of our faith. Through these trials, James tells us that we must persevere. He says that we must be slow to speak and slow to anger... (1:19). And he says that we must not only be HEARERS of the word but DOERS of the word (1:22). This whole section of James, to me, says that our faith cannot be in isolation. From the outside world we will be tested and tempted, and this will keep us on our toes. And from within ourselves we must control our response to those outside forces - we must control our anger and our words. There is always this tension in our faith from within ourselves and from without - trials and temptations and our own urges to lash out when we feel oppressed. Faith is caught in this tension.

This sets us up for the next chapter where faith is not only being pressured from temptations and trials in a constant tug-of-war, but we must also ACT in faith...we must perform good works. This is the meat of the matter, I think. Our faith is important and we certainly must stay true in our faith, but as James says, "the demons also believe, and shudder." (2:19) The demons are suffering in torment, but their response to that torment is what James is pointing to. Demons believe in God just as we do; but their belief does not translate into good works and LOVE. Belief in God is not enough to save them.

Christians will face trials and persecutions. Suffering through those trials while keeping our faith intact is a good start, but we must look outside ourselves and feed the hungry, cloth the naked, etc. Faith ALONE is no better than what the demons have - they believe in God, but they refuse to do good. We are called to an active living faith. Our WORKS justify us, not our "faith alone" (however strong that faith may be).
...The whole idea of "Faith Alone" never made sense to me. I wish someone could explain it to me in light of what we read here in James. It seems to me that the notion of justification by "Faith Alone" is simply un-biblical.

Interestingly, the ONLY place in the Bible where the words "faith alone" appear together is in James: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (2:24) So I've always found it interesting that the doctrine of "Faith Alone" is believed by Protestant/Reformed Christians.

 ...But of course that's why Martin Luther wanted to remove the Book of James from the Bible.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quote of the Week

"...I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?" 
 - Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Musings

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

Happy Easter! - Yes, it is still Easter. And, as Catholics, we need to remind everyone that this Season continues past Easter Sunday. So wish everyone a joyous Easter.

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First Communion went well this past Sunday. Our son read the second reading at Mass. He was a little nervous, but he did a great job. He practiced the whole week and especially focused on the word "expiation." He totally nailed it - the practice paid off. Now he's just glad that it's over.

I told him that he is now a living tabernacle. Every week the Body and Blood of Jesus will be inside of him. So he needs to be sure to treat the "tabernacle" well and avoid coming into contact anything that is unholy... including sin. He also needs to pay attention more closely at Mass...which he does pretty well at already. I have to say, he's a pretty good kid.

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Today is the Feast of Saint George - you know, the guy on the horse fighting a dragon. What with the mythical beast and all, I always figured that George was a "mythical" saint, sort of like St. Christopher... a symbol of Christian virtue and faith, but maybe not an historical person. However, I stand corrected. Apparently Saint George was a real person. The dragon, I am pretty sure, is just a myth. ;)

Friday, April 20, 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...

Easter Illumination - "To celebrate the Easter season this year, we think the best way to express our sentiments is to allow the leaders of the Church to share some inspiring insights, in their own words."

Holy Mass is encounter with risen Jesus, Pope says - "Christian worship is not just a commemoration of past events, or even a particular mystical, interior experience, but essentially an encounter with the Risen Lord"

Why Did Christ Choose Peter, John, and James for the Transfiguration? - "This great questions gives us the opportunity to reflect on how Old Testament Judaism is the origin of New Testament Catholicism."

Where was Jesus during the forty days after Easter? - " should be added that it was not so much that our Savior wanted to be in other places or had other things 'to do', as though he were too busy to spend time with the Apostles. Rather, it was for the sake of the Apostles’ instruction that he chose not to rest with them continually in bodily form throughout the whole of those forty days."

The 'Fiveness' of Mary - Is It Genuine? - "I would like to believe that this association is part of our Catholic tradition, but I cannot find any reliable written evidence of such a traditional association."

Benedict XVI: God's Revolutionary- "While regularly derided by his critics as “decrepit” and “out-of-touch,” Benedict XVI continues to do what he’s done since his election as pope seven years ago: which is to shake up not just the Catholic Church but also the world it’s called upon to evangelize."

Still soldiering on - "Although insiders say that Benedict is slowing down, he lives at a pace which would kill younger men: a relentless succession of trips in Italy, trips overseas, daily speeches, a multitude of official visitors and the constant pressure of global attention."

Obama taking ‘similar path’ as Hitler and Stalin: Illinois bishop - "The bishop warned that with the Obama administration’s mandate for forcing religious employers to fund contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs, America is on a path leading to the state of past dictatorships when Christians were forced to 'huddle and hide'..."

Prudence and Generosity in Conversation - "Yes, we will be misunderstood when we speak the truth.  But that doesn't mean the truth shouldn't be said.  It just means that it's going to be a long, messy process. ...if you know something about NFP, then say it.  Don't be afraid."

Truth in Advertising: How We Talk About NFP - "No matter how savvy our marketing may be, NFP will remain a radical, counter-cultural choice, at least for the foreseeable future, because it asks…no, it demands that we reject our cultural programming and embrace a different way of thinking."

The Contraception Trap - "I find it ironic when contraception is said to allow anyone to live 'freely.' Secular culture assures women that they can go ahead and engage in the act that creates babies, even if they are not ready to be mothers. They are handed contraception, and told to forget all about the possibility of parenthood."

On Being Open To Life - "This is what being open to life means.  It means being open to life, all of it, from the babies to the toddlers to the tweens to the spouses.  Being open to them, and striving to love them as God loves them."

Men's Real Vocations Are Not Their Careers - "When my husband and I first converted to Catholicism, one of the things I found most refreshing about the Catholic worldview was its understanding of vocation. The Church's view was simple, counter-cultural, and utterly refreshing: If you're a wife or a husband, that comes first -- for both of you."

Raising "Alleluia" Kids in a "Whatever" World - "I think cynicism, ironic detachment, and hopelessness are prevalent in children today. It's odd that a generation to whom has been given marvels of technological advancements, such widespread bitter unhappiness has resulted."

Traditional Catholicism is Winning - "This aging generation of progressives continues to lobby church leaders to change Catholic teachings on reproductive rights, same-sex marriage and women's ordination. But it is being replaced by younger men and women who are attracted to the church because of the very timelessness of its teachings."

150,000,000 New Catholics - "While there were 5,000 more priests worldwide in 2009 than in 1999, what isn't mention is the fact that 'the number of Catholics worldwide is up by 150,000,000 [Yes, million!] during the same period.'"

American Catholic progressivism: An “exhausted project”? - "...the much-touted end of the celibate male priesthood and glorious future of the U.S. Catholic Church featuring the ordination of women seems to be a Siren song that’s falling on deaf ears."

Myth Busters: Catholics Worship Idols - " seems rather odd that it would be claimed of a religion that they worship something that they do not themselves claim to worship  "

10 Misunderstandings - "For about four years of my life I taught Catholic high school and have heard just about every question on Faith that exists.  I think I heard every moral scenario on any number of topics, theological errors, and even historical misrenderings.  Here are the Top Ten Most Misunderstood Things of our Faith."

Framing the Religious-Liberty Issue - "Will the robust networks of free and voluntary associations that Alexis de Tocqueville admired as the sinews and musculature of American democracy continue to flourish? Or will the United States increasingly resemble Western Europe, where the associational instinct (and, with it, civil society) has atrophied under the heavy weight of the European nanny state?"

Catholic bishops issue rallying cry for ‘religious freedom’ - "The nation’s Catholic bishops are calling on the faithful to pray and mobilize in a 'great national campaign' to confront what they see as a series of threats to religious freedom, and they are setting aside the two weeks before July 4 for their 'Fortnight for Freedom' initiative."

Truth From Unexpected Sources - " is a sobering thought that opposition to contraceptive surgery — a clearly stated position of the Church — should be regarded as an absurd notion by pro-choice and pro-life lawmakers alike."

US Bishops: Bloggers play ‘critical role’ in defending Church. Fr. Z makes a proposal. - Bishops: "We call upon them to use their skills and talents in defense of our first freedom."

Is SSPX Homecoming Imminent? - "It appears to me that the Society is preparing its faithful for reconciliation under terms that may be less than perfect, but that nonetheless represent a pathway to healing for the Church as a whole." [An interesting line from this piece: "Could it be that the Holy Father is signaling a universal mandate requiring the reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, something the SSPX and many others in the Church would surely welcome?"]

Andrew Sullivan’s non-threatening Jesus - "The recent story for Newsweek magazine during Holy Week, penned by political and cultural commentator Andrew Sullivan, concerns the “crisis” that is supposedly gripping Christianity."

The Folly of God-denial - "Our nation is experiencing heart failure. It needs an awakening – a spiritual awakening. Desperately. "

When Devotions Aren't Helpful - [I don't agree with everything this author writes here, but he does have a few good points.]

The Anglican “escape” towards Rome - "The 'female episcopate' is a big obstacle on the road towards the common participation to the Table of Christ. And so the 'escape' of Anglicans towards Rome intensifies."

Are Unicorns Biblical? - [Now there is an interesting question.]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quote of the Week

"If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion."
- St. Maximilian Kolbe

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saint Michael and the Holy Roller

My youngest daughter is not quite three years old. Her attention span is somewhere between 5 seconds and non-existent. So whenever she must sit through a serious or solemn event (oh, for instance, let’s say… Mass) she can usually be found wallowing around on the floor, or being passed back and forth between my wife and I, or seeking some other form of entertainment in a book or with a pencil and paper or by making faces at the people behind us. An hour is a long time for a three-year-old to sit still, so we don’t expect much.

Family prayer is no different. Every evening we gather as a family and say a few prayers before the kids go to bed. Our two oldest children recite the prayers from memory and are fully engaged, mentally and spiritually (usually…let’s not kid ourselves). Our toddler however is rolling on the floor, attempting to stand on her head, making faces at everyone around her, and generally trying to get some kind of reaction from us or her siblings. We all do our best to ignore her antics until the final “Amen.”

Our other two kids went through the same phase at her age. As parents, we know that patience and persistence is the key. This too shall pass. As long as she sees “family prayer time” as a regular part of her daily routine, as long as we stick to it and model our own behavior for her to imitate, she will (eventually) learn to stop the antics and participate with the rest of us. She will learn the prayers on her own time. But if we push too hard she may push back and learn to resent her faith rather than embrace it. So, we practice our faith and wait for her to catch up. We wait for it to “click” as her own faith matures.

And you never know when that moment will be. It might happen right before your eyes, and even when you least expect it. It may even be happening as she’s doing back-flips during the Hail Mary. I learned that lesson during Lent this year…

As a part of our Lenten journey we decided as a family to add the traditional St. Michael Prayer to our daily prayers:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

After a few weeks of reading the prayer each night we soon learned it by heart and could recite it together without a printed copy in front of us…all of us, that is, except for our little “holy roller” who continued to flop on the floor and make googly eyes and dance to non-existent music while the rest of us prayed. Needless to say, there was no participation on her part.

So, fast-forward to Holy Week… On the afternoon of Palm Sunday I was looking through a religious catalogue advertising books and statues, rosaries and icons, and other such Catholic goods, when our littlest one came up to me and said, “What’s that?” pointing to an image of the crucifixion, “Is that Jesus?”

“Yep, that’s Jesus,” I said.

“He’s got boo-boos?” she asked pointing to Christ’s wounds.

“Yes, those are His boo-boos.”

“Bad guys do that?”

“Yes, that’s right, bad guys did that to Him,” I said. “And do you know who that is?” I asked pointing to Mary.

“That’s St. Mary,” she said. Then she saw an image of St. Michael casting Satan from heaven, and she asked, “Who’s that?”

“That is St. Michael the Archangel,” I explained.

“Oh…defend us in battle?” she replied.

[Wait! Hold on. What did she say? Is that the Saint Michael Prayer that she’s been ignoring for forty days of Lent? I tested her a little more.]

“That’s right! ‘…defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares…” I prompted her.

“…of the devil,” she finished.

We went back and forth for a couple more lines of the prayer as she filled in the blanks that I left with each pause, until finally she saw something shiny on the floor and was off again in her own little world before we could finish. But for one brief moment I saw a glimmer of hope that amidst all her rolling and tumbling and restless fits during family prayer, something was being absorbed by her little mind.

Teaching our kids the faith is not about dragging them where they don’t want to go, but rather showing the right direction and letting them find the way…even if it means turning a few somersaults along the way.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Musings

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

My son is receiving his First Communion this coming Sunday. Along with the obvious and completely understandable mental and spiritual preparations (such as learning the basic teachings about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, what is meant by the "Sacrifice" of the Mass, some basic prayers and other such things), our parish also has some hands-on "fluff work" for the kids to do. Don't get me wrong...I understand that the "powers-that-be" are trying to make the the event meaningful and encourage the kids to participate more fully in their faith...but somehow singing a cheesy, hippie-Christian song with accompanying rhythmic hand gestures falls short of the dignity of this holy Sacrament (in my opinion). We are also required to design and make a felt banner which will hang on the pew where he will sit. Luckily I grew up in the 70s and 80s when felt banners were all the rage in Catholic churches, so I faked that one pretty well.

Why can't a Sacrament just be a SACRAMENT, instead of a photo-op for moms and dads who have bad taste in music, liturgy, and art?

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Another requirement made for all of the kids in my son's First Communion class is that they meet with Father as a group before the event so that he can prepare them for the Sacrament. This is a great idea; it's an excellent way to demonstrate to these kids just how important the Sacrament is. It reminds me of marriage preparation classes and the opportunity such sessions afford for stressing the Church's teaching on the Sacrament and our responsibility in coming before the priest to receive. As their pastor, our priest will be ministering to these kids at every Mass, and so he wants to know that they understand the weight of the Mass and the reality of Eucharist. The meeting is primarily a technical formality (since their real instruction happened prior to meeting with Father), but formalities such as this add gravity to the coming event. The whole class will meet together with Father as a group outside of regular class time.

Sadly, one mother responded to the announcement of this meeting by saying: "Oh, my son has a soccer game that night. So we won't make it. We'll just make other arrangements."

What kind of message does this send to her son? Is it more important to prepare oneself for receiving Christ in the Eucharist, or to play second-grade soccer? Is she telling him that we can skip out on meeting with Father and sharing this moment with fellow Catholic classmates, but we can't let your team down? Are sports teams more important that Jesus?

Needless to say, I felt sorry for her son.

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In other news: My son is receiving his First Communion this coming Sunday!!! And for that I am extremely happy and proud!

Friday, April 13, 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...

Easter: Through the Octave and Beyond! - "For many Protestants, Easter is over after the Sunday service... As Catholics, however, we're not finished. We have the eight days - the Octave Easter.. it is also a 50-day journey until Pentecost."

Adoration Begins at Easter - "Today we don’t see Jesus in the flesh, as the Emmaus disciples first did, but we do see him in his Eucharistic presence at Mass, know he’s in the tabernacle, and look upon him in a monstrance for adoration."

Church Welcomes Thousands of New Catholics at Easter - "Young and old, single and married, immigrants and native-born Americans, all came together as the newest members of the Church for the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ." [Welcome Home!]

Bishops Issue Statement on Religious Liberty - "The statement injects a palpable note of urgency, clearly identifying immediate threats to religious liberty, and calling on Catholics to shake off their complacency and prepare to confront a new and daunting reality."

Our First, Most Cherished Liberty - "To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary."

Catholics urged to imitate St. Thomas More in contraception battle - "When he refused to violate his conscience by taking the oath, he was imprisoned and then beheaded."

The profound, unapologetic and timely reflections of Archbishop Chaput - "Chaput prescribes two remedies for the anemic role of Christians in public life. One is personal soul-searching on the part of Catholic citizens. The other is a return to the fullness of the Catholic heritage."

Latest on the Mandate: Cardinal Burke Says It’s a Sin to Cooperate & More Evidence Pres. Obama is Losing this War - "It is not only a matter of what we call 'material cooperation' in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also 'formal cooperation' because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong."

British Health Care Problems Point to Obamacare Death Panels - "...we have but to look to countries that already have government provided healthcare to see many incidents of the foolishness that is government control of medicine. Arbitrary decisions are made, people are told they are too old to bother with and treatments are too late to save the patient because of long wait times. "

Was JFK Right to Uphold an ‘Absolute’ Separation of Church and State? - "'I would cheer what John Kennedy said; he was right,' said Cardinal Dolan. 'I would also say that Sen. Santorum had a good point because, unfortunately, what John Kennedy said … has been misinterpreted to mean that a separation of church and state also means a cleavage, a wall, between one’s faith and one’s political decisions.'"

Congressman Paul Ryan Defends Budget, Governing Vision, with Catholic Social Doctrine - "Agree or disagree with Congressman Ryan's exercise of his prudential judgment - and his proposed legislative solutions to the fiscal crisis- he has done what a Catholic in public service should do with the Social Doctrine of the Church.Let the debate begin."

Paul Ryan & Subsidiarity - " is simply the height of irresponsibility to create a linkage in the public mind between “basic human right”, a phrase that creates a very specific impression of something one is entitled to, with something as contingent as healthcare, which could at any moment for any number of reasons outside of anyone’s control suddenly become much more scarce than it is at the present moment."

Replacing ObamaCare: Full Deductibility - [This is the kind of proposals we need when Obamacare is finally defeated.]

Jimmy Carter, Biblical Scholar and Theologian - "Given the specter of James Buchanan, the question of whether Jimmy Carter was the worst president in the history of the Republic must remain unresolved; yet there is no doubt that Carter is the worst ex-president ever."

Test of Fire - Election 2012 Video "Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire? Some things are more important than high gas prices or a faltering economy. They are life, marriage and freedom. This November, Catholics must stand up and protect their sacred rights and duties."

Get Ready For SSPX Pandemonium - "By April 15th the Society of Saint Pius X will give their response to a 'Doctrinal Preamble' outlining 'certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine…' If they do sign and the Pope offers them a Personal Prelature or some such thing, all hell is gonna break loose. Progressive forces within the Church will freak and then they will freak some more."

99.98% of Priests are Innocent - "According to the 2011 Official Catholic Directory, there are 40,271 priests in the U.S. The report says there were 23 credible accusations of the sexual abuse of a minor made against priests for incidences last year. Of that number, 9 were deemed credible by law enforcement."

A Muslim Finds the Catholic Faith...Through Geography and Theology - "I have received my fair share of hate mail and threats of violence, but I conduct myself with what I hope is a simple dignity and refuse to be drawn into a life governed by fear or undue caution."

The Church's Overlooked Teaching on Homosexuality - '"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible,' the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes. 'They do not choose their homosexual condition. ...They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.'"

Mormonism is not a Christian religion - "Mormonism is not a Christian religion. It is not even a Christian heresy. It is a religion that has no real connection with Jesus Christ, except at a semantic level." [This article mentions Mitt Romney, but it is not a slam against him. I am definitely voting for him... and urge others to do likewise. But it is a slam against his religion. Sorry, Mitt, but Mormonism makes no sense.]

Titanic’s Pro-Life Ethic of Women and Children First Recalled - "The men on board Titanic embraced a principle that guided Western Civilization for centuries: that the groom dies for the bride, and men must protect women and children. They were raised in a Christian culture which implicitly embraced these ideals."

What's wrong with blessing children in the Communion line? - An interesting debate. Read this argument first. And then this counterargument.

I Miss Women Wearing Hats and Veils in Church. A brief reminiscence of days gone by - "I know, I know, I am so hopelessly old fashioned. But...there is also something wonderful about the dignity of dressing really well to go to God’s house, something classy, something fitting."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quote of the Week

"You can call happy those who saw Him. But, come to the altar and you will see Him, you will touch Him, you will give to Him holy kisses, you will wash Him with your tears, you will carry Him within you like Mary Most Holy."
- St. John Chrysostom

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week.

The Easter Season has begun! The forty days of Lent gives way to fifty days celebrating Christ's resurrection. The pop culture would insist that Sunday was the end of the Easter season - chocolate bunnies and jelly beans are removed from store shelves and the holiday fades into our memories - but we Christians know better. Just as Christmas Day (December 25) marks the mere start of the Christmas Season, Easter Sunday begins the real Season of Easter. What came before was only a preparation. So keep the spirit alive wish everyone a "Happy Easter" for weeks to come.

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The Christmas/Easter crowd ("Creaters" - those who only show up to Mass for the big holidays) didn't do so well with the new translation this Sunday at our parish. Tsk tsk tsk. Did you not get the memo, folks? It's been changed to: "And with your spirit." Go home and learn it. I'll see you next Christmas.

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Speaking of the new translation... I still have not received my updated missal. Maybe I'll get it by next Advent. Until then: Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Resurrection of the Lord


Easter Proclamation (Exsultet)

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

+        +        +

Regina Coeli

Queen of Heaven, rejoice. Alleluia.
For He, whom thou wast worthy to bear. Alleluia.
Has risen as He said. Alleluia.
Pray for us to God. Alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary. Alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, Alleluia.

Let us pray
O God, Who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast been pleased to give joy to the whole world, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

 Holy Saturday Prayer to be joined with Christ in Death

O Lord, Your sorrowing Mother stood by Your Cross;
help us in our sorrows to share Your sufferings.
Like the seed buried in the ground,
You have produced the harvest of eternal life for us;
make us always dead to sin and alive to God.
Shepard of all,
in death you remained hidden from the world;
teach us to love our hidden spiritual life
with You and the Father.
In Your role as the new Adam,
You went down among the dead
to release all the just
there since the beginning;
grant that all who are dead in sin
may hear Your voice and rise to new life.
Son of the living God,
You have allowed us through baptism
to be buried with You;
grant that we may also rise with You in baptism
and walk in newness of life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Good Friday Prayer

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us
hast willed to be crucified
and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood
for the redemption and salvation of our souls,
look down upon us here gathered together
in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death,
fully trusting in Thy mercy;
cleanse us from sin by Thy grace,
sanctify our toil,
give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us
our daily bread,
sweeten our sufferings,
bless our families,
and to the nations so sorely afflicted,
grant Thy peace,
which is the only true peace,
so that by obeying Thy commandments
we may come at last to the glory of heaven.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday Prayer

O Lord Jesus,
in order that the merits of your sacrifice on the Cross
might be applied to every soul of all time,
you willed that it should be renewed upon the altar.
At the Last Supper, you said:
"Do this in remembrance of me."
By these words you gave your apostles
and their successors
the power to consecrate
and the command to do what you yourself did.
I believe that the Mass is both a sacrifice
and a memorial -
reenacting your passion, death and resurrection.
Help me to realize
that the Mass is the greatest gift of God to us
and our greatest gift to God.

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...

(I realize that I'm posting this one day early... Tonight begins the Triduum celebration. Use this time to get off the computer and onto your knees and pray.)

Origins and Early Traditions of Holy Week  - "Ten things you probably didn't know about the origins of Holy Week. "

The Mass and the World - "Here was the best of art and architecture and music and poetry and storytelling from the Golden Age of Greek and Rome continued and completed by Christianity down the ages. Here through faithfulness to the liturgy which we have received we echo and re-echo the great moments of the past..."

The Seating Plan at the Last Supper - "Most of us who live now think of the Last Supper in terms that are familiar to us. In our imagination Jesus and his apostles sit around a square table on chairs. Jesus is a the center and his apostles arrayed around him. The famous painting of Leonardo Da Vinci (See right) is uppermost in most modern minds when thinking of the Last Supper."

Who is the Naked Man in St Mark's Gospel? - "St. Mark's account of Our Lord's Passion describes a 'young man wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body,' that ran off naked during the arrest of Christ..."

The Seven Last Words of Christ - "The following meditations are based on the writings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary."

Passion Week in an Election Year - "It is appropriate that Passion Sunday falls on April Fool’s Day this year. In the Catholic tradition, many saints have remarked on the “folly” of Christianity."

The Mystical Reason Why Christ Rode Both a Donkey and a Colt on Palm Sunday - "Saint Matthew's Gospel records an interesting detail not found in the other Gospels. Here we read that Christ rode both the ass and her foal or a female donkey and her colt."

Catholic Interpretation of Scripture - "This is part of an on-going series discussing the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine of Scripture.  The topic for this post is interpretation."

There was something about the 20th Century, something awful. Did Pope Leo have the answer? - [This story has to do with the composing of the St. Michael Prayer - which is particularly compelling for me since as a family we incorporated the St. Michael Prayer into our daily prayers for Lent this year. The history of this prayer is very intriguing.]

Did the Greek Old Testament Include the Catholic Deuterocanon? - [Nice summary of main points supporting the Catholic position.]

The Shroud of Turin: A Timeline - [A brief timeline of key events in the known history of the Shroud of Turin.]

NJ monastery to display Shroud of Turin copy - [I had no idea that this existed - and here -n the U. S.!]

Not-So-Smooth Operator - "Obama increasingly comes across as devious and dishonest."

When the Archbishop Met the President - "Mr. Obama knew that the mandate would pose difficulties for the Catholic Church, so he invited Archbishop Dolan to the Oval Office last November, shortly before the bishops' General Assembly in Baltimore."

Crying children call to mind the mystery of the Mass - "When you hear a child crying during Mass, let the sound of those tears call to mind the mystery of the Cross. The Holy Mass is, of course, one with the true sacrifice offered by Christ once for all upon the Cross at Golgotha. The Mass is a sacrifice, it is the Cross. Consider: Who was weeping at the Cross? And who was insensitive to those sounds of weeping?"

St. Caedmon & the Potato Peelings - "You can’t buy love. Not for yourself, not for your kids. You can only choose love by choosing to love. That’s what love is in the end: a choice."

Why Catholics make the sign of the cross - "In my study, I discovered six perspectives on the Sign of the Cross that revealed why making it opens us to life-transforming graces."

Cross-section of crosses and their significance - [A brief description of several styles of Christian crosses, and a downloadable poster showing examples.]

Jesus Is Not a Means, and Our Experience Is Not the End - "Now that I think about it, I’m thankful for times...when I don’t feel much at Mass. Those teary-eyed moments when I’m overcome with emotions are wonderful; but with them comes the temptation to turn them into idols."

Papal Infallibility: A Symbolic, Yet Problematic, Term - "Although papal infallibility is commonly found in popular conversation, how well the term is understood is another matter."

Marriage: A Covenant is Never Temporary - "The Catholic view of marriage is often derided as being punishing and inflexible because of the Church’s stance that divorce is an impossibility; a couple with a valid marriage will always be married in the eyes of the Church, even if they need to live separately from one another."

Baltimore Catholic school to name community center after Bill and Camille Cosby - "A historic Baltimore Catholic school will name its community center in honor of Bill and Camille Cosby, the biggest donors in the school's 184-year history and fierce champions of education, the school announced Friday"

Check out these sites for more Catholic news and stories of interest...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quote of the Week

"There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us."
- Blessed Pope John Paul II