Friday, August 31, 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...

Romney Accepts Republican Nomination - "He offered what would be called in the business world a bottom line comment, 'President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet.  My promise is ... to help you and your family.'"

Must watch this video. This is a powerful testimony to Mitt Romney's character. And here is the biographical film played at the convention.

Cardinal Dolans Benediction: Make Us Truly Free by Tethering Freedom to Truth - "Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Catholic Bishops Conference closed the Republican Convention with a prayer of Benediction." [Full text and video.]

Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan Stresses Pro-Life Themes - [Selected quotes as well as full video.]

Was Ryan’s Speech Full of Lies? - "In general, most of these complaints are not in fact about lies but about what would be much more accurately characterized as presentations of the facts that liberals regard as too one sided or self-serving.  In other words, they are calling 'lies' the kind of points that all politicians make, inflating the errors of their opponents and avoiding mention of their own."

GOP Embraces Religious Freedom - "'We pledge to respect the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard the independence of their institutions from government,' stated the 2012 Republican platform, which was formally approved at the party’s national convention Aug. 28."

GOP adopts anti-pornography platform - "The Republican Party has changed its platform to say that laws against pornography and obscenity “need to be vigorously enforced,” a move that won praise from decency advocates."

Cardinal Dolan Supports Knights of Columbus' Civility Campaign - "The Knights of Columbus are “very encouraged” by Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s request that U.S. presidential and vice-presidential candidates sign a civility pledge developed by the Catholic charitable fraternity." [My thoughts: I don't know... It's a nice idea on paper, but it sets the candidate up for accusations of reneging on his pledge if he says one negative thing about his opponents record.

What Is Social Justice? - "Pope Leo XIII, whose seminal 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum, is still the gold standard for articulating the fundamentals of the Church’s social doctrine, wouldn’t even recognize as Catholic much of the “social justice” drivel bandied about nowadays, some of it from ostensibly reliable sources."

Dr. Deal Hudson: 'A Gloss on an Unreliable Guide to Catholic Voters' - "To anyone who knows Catholic social teaching, or the bishops' own document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, can easily see through its shifty and disingenuous use of Catholic principles and moral concepts."

Are Catholics Becoming Second-Class Citizens? - "It’s hard to believe that this is what things have come to, but it’s indicative of where things are heading."

Why the Pill Is Very, Very Bad (and why even non-Catholics agree) - "Suffice it to say that Pope Paul VI will not be receiving a posthumous prize for his vindicated prophecy any time soon. The more important concern now is whether the modern world will survive a populace that kills or abuses its children, enters into sterile and ephemeral marriages, propagates a plague of venereal diseases and poor health conditions such as obesity, and indulges in largely pornographic entertainments. Hmm, sounds like the fall of the Roman Empire to me."

A Catholic View: In-Vitro Fertilization, the Human Cost - "Unspoken is that most human beings created in the laboratory will die before even given a chance. It is commonly estimated that only one in six embryos created following IVF will make it to birth. However, the numbers published by Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority may be more accurate. In July of 2011 Britain announced that for every child born by IVF thirty embryos were created."

Three-Person Civil Union Granted in Brazil - [Uuuum...I thought the Leftist pro-gay-'marriage' crowd said that this wouldn't happen? I thought they said there is no slippery slope toward anything-gos marriage. Well, what a shock.]

Pro-choice thought experiment - "A House bill to ban sex-selective abortions (acronym 'PRENDA') fizzled out since it didn’t receive two-thirds support. ...So if a 'gay gene' is found, would a PRENDA-like bill attract the same criticisms? Would the LGBT community be silent about 'gay abortions?'"

The Gay Marriage Debate: Brought to you by Contraception - "First, there is the false notion that marriage is a right. Marriage is not a right — not for anyone..." [Also see here for a four part series on same sex "marriage.']

If a priest cannot say Mass in the Extraordinary Form, is he properly trained? Wherein Fr. Z rants. - [Wouldn't it be something if we expected all of our priests to be proficient in saying Mass in the Extraordinary Form? Perhaps we should....]

The Importance of Having a Prayer Corner - "Setting up your own prayer corner is a work of love in many respects.  Decorate it with whatever is conducive to prayer - a crucifix is essential, but beyond that it really is up to you."

Divorce and The Myth of Quality Time - "I can't teach them the best way to throw a curve ball or a slider but I can throw it back to them and I can chase it when they throw it wild and I've got band aids for when it hits them in the head. It's no special skills. It's just being there. Sometimes that's enough."

5 Ways to Stop Your Six Year Old from Becoming a Sex Object - "At a time when they should be learning to read and exploring their artistic creativity, they are instead taking in images and propaganda that makes them believe they must be “sexy” in order to be popular, according to the study, published last month in the journal, Sex Roles."

A Tale of Two Cathedrals: Why “Traditional versus Modernist” Tells Only Part of the Story - [A wonderful analysis of two architectural designs and how to properly incorporate modern design into church building.]

This is pretty interesting, but I can't say that I understand it.... How could Physics explain Jesus walking on water?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quote of the Week

"The way to plan the family is Natural Family Planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily."
- Mother Teresa

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Musings

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

Last week I received a comment on a previous Monday Musings installment from June.  The commenter posed a question about something I had written regarding President Obama's attitude toward people of faith. The question read as follows:

When has President Obama "[shut] out religious institutions from public debate and forc[ed] faith-based organizations to comply with his secularist agenda?"
It's a valid question and it deserves a response. So I posted an answer in the comments section of that post, but I think it only fair to repost it here so that my clarification is not lost in ever-changing world of the blogosphere:
A specific example would be the HHS mandate requiring religious institutions to provide contraception coverage for employees. Religious institutions are being forced to comply with this mandate. I would characterize this mandate as "secularist" because it ignores the very religious nature of the hospitals, schools, etc. that are affected by the mandate. In effect, it forces these institutions to deny their faith and conform to a "secular" agenda. These institutions must comply or face a penalty. Anyone voicing concern that religious liberties are being violated have been ignored, or at best they are given lip-service from the Administration, telling them, "We hear your concern, but we're pushing ahead with our agenda."

So that is why I would say that the Obama has "[shut] out religious institutions from public debate and forc[ed] faith-based organizations to comply with his secularist agenda."

More generally, I would say that the Obama Administration shows it's bias against religious speech in the public sphere when they repeatedly substitute the phrase "freedom of worship" instead of "freedom of religion." The implication being that the Obama Administration views religious liberty as ONLY protecting the rights of religious people to gather in "worship," but not to exercise their religion in any other setting, especially in public debate.

I personally sense a hostility toward people of faith coming from the Democratic Party in general and specifically this President. Obviously you are free to disagree.

Thank you for reading the blog. And I do appreciate the question.

As always, I welcome any questions and comments.

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We attend the early Mass at our parish, which means we are spared the agonizing and painful sounds of the folk rock "worship band" that "performs" at the later service. We at the early Mass usually have a more traditional set of hymns, accompanied by pipe organ, and sometimes even a few Latin classics thrown in. But even our early group has it's musical mishaps. This weekend we had a full slate of 1980s hack-job compositions. they were still accompanied by organ, mind you - but really, you can't make "Gather Us In" or "Sing a New Song" sound good no matter what you play it on. Those weren't the exact song titles that were featured on Sunday (I can't remember the exact ones), but they were of the same caliber and puke-worthiness. I tried to sing along a couple of times, but my mouth refused to open.

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Besides the bad music this Sunday, I also forgot my missal at home. Which means that I was off my game and messed up the response: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof..." I caught myself halfway through and tried to pull out a save, but not before I totally mangled the first half. Ugg!

But hey, you can't yourself too seriously...and that brings me to the picture of the week (a classic):

Friday, August 24, 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 Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary - "The Blessed Mother, in her regal beauty, authority, and power, has not left us orphans, for she is 'the Living Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Inviolate Mountain, the ladder” that joins Heaven and earth.'"

Cardinal Dolan to Give Closing Benediction at GOP Convention - "The news came out during an exclusive interview Raymond Arroyo conducted with Mitt Romney..." See also, this, and this.

Oh, but I guess Cardinal Dolan is not welcome at the Democratic National Convention: check it out here.

Barack Obama: Enemy of the Church? - "A coincidental pattern of antagonism and hostility may not make him an outright enemy of the Church, but he is no friend to Catholics and others of good faith."

Abortion in Cases of Rape: Todd Akin’s Gaffe Spotlights Catholic Teaching — Again - "A furor over a recent campaign-season comment provides another opportunity to clarify Church doctrine."

What Voters Will Remember about Abortion in November - "What the Obama campaign has decided to do is to make unrestricted access to abortion a key component of his campaign. By highlighting Sandra Fluke, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and a host of pro-abortion advocates at the Democratic National Convention, their strategy seems to be to use abortion as a wedge issue in order to paint Republicans as out of touch with most Americans."

A Paul Ryan Round-Up - [A lot of info here from early in the week. Yep, Paul Ryan is still big news in the Catholic blogosphere.]

Solidarity and the Welfare State - "An interesting look at Paul Ryan by Father Barron based upon the twin poles of Catholic social teaching:  subsidiarity and solidarity."

Small-town Paul Ryan: Defender of Subsidiarity - "No doubt this fundamental Catholic social teaching distinguishes Ryan from fellow liberal Catholic Joe Biden, whose job he seeking to take. Both are of Irish Catholic descent, but that is about all they have in common."

Paul Ryan and Government Pelagianism - "Paul Ryan back in May and I was struck by the common-sense approach he takes in evaluating government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. His main point being that government compassion too often measured by inputs rather than outcomes; by money spent and programs created than by how many people are lifted out of poverty." [The author continues with this theme and relates it to prayer...but I think this political observation is spot on too.]

Bishops Dolan, Morlino and Aquila defend VP pick Ryan’s Catholicism - "In the last week three prominent US bishops have publicly defended Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s reputation as a faithful Catholic amidst claims from some nuns and clergy who are claiming otherwise."

Where wages come from - "My suggestion? Treat everyone in the employment relationship equally and justly: employees and employers alike."

Economics, reproductive health and the integrity of the family - "The modern economist who restricts his professional interest to financial data displays a much narrower view of economics than has been characteristic of the Christian tradition."

How Protestants Learned to Love the Pill - "The Protestant Reformation was in significant part a protest against the perceived antinatalism of the late Medieval Christian Church. It was a celebration of procreation that also saw contraception and abortion as among the most wicked of human sins, as direct affronts to the ordinances of God."

Why does the same-sex marriage debate seem so futile? - "What many people fail to grasp is that key terms of the debate are being interpreted in different ways. Unless these are clarified, there is little hope of a meeting of minds. Here are a few of the issues which need to be unpacked."

Should the Bishop Have Bought the Crystal Cathedral? - "One of the major criticisms of Catholic architecture during the past fifty years is that it has incorrectly adopted many of the forms of low-church Protestantism...Are [Spirit-of-Vatican-II "liturgists"] finally admitting their agenda by purchasing a ready for TV megachurch complete with a jumbotron and three huge balconies for the 'spectators'?"

Interesting follow-up to the previous article:  Amazing discovery: Churches are Houses of God

Picture of the Week (in honor of Mary, Queen of Heaven):

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Male-only Priesthood, Part 4

The human person is both body and soul. We must not think of a human as simply a spirit that happens to have a body, nor as a physical being that happens to have a spirit. These two aspects of human nature - body and soul - are intimately linked so as to form one reality, one nature. As we read  in Part 3 of this series:
The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature. (Catechism 365)
So when we speak of one particular man, namely Jesus of Nazareth, as the model for our priesthood, we must consider how His masculinity factors into His own role as priest.We cannot simply erase His physical body and speak only a "spiritual priesthood." If Jesus was a human being then He had a physical body like all human persons do. When we say that a priest stands "in the person of Christ," we must examine how a male priest best fulfills this role for the Church knowing that maleness was an integral part of Jesus' own personhood.

As we make these considerations about the male-only priesthood, it would be helpful to examine another Sacrament which speaks more directly to the male-female reality of being human. That Sacrament is Marriage.

Make no mistake, there is good reason that Jesus' first miracle happened at a wedding feast. The image of marriage points to Jesus' role as the Groom, with the corresponding role for the Church as His Bride. The Church's bond with Christ is like that of a husband and wife - an intimate union; one body; one flesh. The Eucharist demonstrates this reality most fully, as we quite literally share the "Flesh" of Christ. But marriage points to this union of Christ and His Church as well - as the man and woman join to become one flesh. The dinamic of marriage has much to offer in demonstrating Jesus' priestly role toward the Church. Recall what St. Paul has to say of marriage and the roles of husband and wife: 
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
(Ephesians 5:21-32)
Christ in this passage is most certainly the model for all husbands, and the Church the model for wives. But here we also see a priestly role for Christ. He offers Himself as the "sacrifice" on behalf of the Bride. He "sanctifies" her. He "cleanses" her. He "nourishes" and cares for her for she is His own Body.

And we should note that just as in marriage, where the union of man and woman is designed to bring forth new life, so too Christ and His Bride the Church bring forth new life through baptism. The Church is our Mother and we call our priest's Father, as the stand in the place of Christ - with Christ working through them to make us born again.

We could go on drawing comparisons between these two unions (Christ to His Church and husband to wife), but it is certainly clear that the role of priest standing "in persona Christi" (in the person of Christ) is standing in the role of Husband, with the Church as the Bride. This role requires a male-only priesthood.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quote of the Week

"Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son."
- Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Musings

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

While the new Mass translation has become almost second-nature (with a few slip-ups here and there), I'm still not comfortable with the musical arrangements our parish uses. They aren't much different than what was used before, but they sound awkward in places and a bit forced. Why can't we just do chant?

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I had a proud father moment: Our six-year-old daughter's religion teacher informed us this Sunday that she would begin each class with a decade of the rosary so that the kids would have a chance to practice their prayers. "Some of them don't even know their basic prayers," she said, "so this gives them a chance to learn." Then she quickly added, "Well except for her." [Meaning our daughter.] "She knows them all!"

Then, after class, our daughter told us that the teacher seemed unsure how to conclude the session, so she suggested to the teacher that they should conclude with: "May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace." Her teacher thought that was a great idea. Maybe next week our little religion whiz will throw out some Latin.

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I plan on purchasing a new tablet PC soon. This new model will have access to Google features such as Blogger so that I can blog on a mobile device. When that happens I plan on posting a test post here at Faith and Reason to see how practical the device will be for blogging. So bear with me as I attempt this technological feat. It may just be a one-time thing... but then again, I do see some possible uses down the road.

Friday, August 17, 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 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary -  "I once asked a college theology class if anyone could explain the doctrine of the Assumption.  A student replied, 'yeah, that’s the teaching whereby the Catholic Church "assumes" that Mary is in heaven.'"

What You Don't Know About the Assumption - [Well, some of it I'm sure is familiar to faithful Catholics, but it never hurts to review.]

A lot has been written about Catholic Paul Ryan joining the Romney ticket as his V.P. pick. Here's a roundup of some early pieces posted at the time of announcement.

And here are some pieces posted a few days later. Pay special attention to the issue of Ayn Rand and note that liberal Catholics are going to try to find ways throughout this campaign to disparage Ryam's faith.

[As you can imagine the election is going to come up quite a bit in these headlines from now until November. So stay tuned...]

Paul Ryan and the Catholic Vote - "It is little wonder, then, that Catholics turned out for Republicans in the 2010 'shellacking' in record numbers, and that new polling suggests they are turning out for Mitt Romney in 2012."

NOBama 2012: A Catholic Case for Romney - "I do not look at Romney as a man, but as a representative of the broad coalition of interests that support the GOP and resist the Democrats. I look at Obama in the same way, as a representative of an opposite coalition of interests that support the Democrats and resist the GOP. For better or worse, I believe the Church finds itself out of necessity in the GOP coalition."

Paul Ryan’s Bishop Defends Him Amid Attacks on His Application of Church Teaching - Says his bishop: "Since others have, I believe, unfairly attacked his reputation, I have to look out for his good name. That is Church law."

Dolan: Ryan Is a ‘Great Public Servant’ - "So I admire him. He’s honest. He’s refreshing. Do I agree with everything? No, but...I’m anxious to see him in action."

St. Maximilian Kolbe on income distribution - "There are, in fact, different kinds of work which are unequally productive; nor do all workers enjoy the same identical capacities. This leads to a diversity of results achieved, and consequently to differences in people’s profits."

Catholic Herald: The Church should make life harder for Catholics - "Now, while Catholics in other parts of the world are suffering and dying for their faith, we in this country are permitted to abandon things that were easy for things easier still." [Kudos to Fr. Z for finding this piece and posting it!]

Spiritual Growth Within a Catholic Family - "...every now and then, we see a shining moment — a defining moment – when one of our children chooses Christ – growing as Catholic Christians – by yielding more and more to Him."

Seven Point Checklist for Catholic Dads - "I have a long way to go, but I believe living up to the expectations below will keep me headed in the right direction."

Nigerian Woman Writes to Melinda Gates: We Don't Need Your Contraception - "I see this $4.6 billion buying us misery. I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us streets devoid of the innocent chatter of children. I see it buying us disease and untimely death. I see it buying us a retirement without the tender loving care of our children."

Concerning President Obama attending the Catholic fundraiser in New York at the invitation of Cardinal Dolan, I feel like both sides of this debate deserve to be heard: Dolan: Why I invited President Obama to the Al Smith Dinner and this: A Warning For The Cardinal But here's another take on it: The WWJD Stick

[Very busy this week. Not much time to read through articles for this week's round-up. Have anything to add? Feel free to post in the comments section.]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Couple of Articles About the Upcoming Election

I'm putting on hold the fourth part of my Male-only Priesthood posts... partly because I've been too busy to write this week, and partly because I came across a great article that expresses some thoughts that I have had about the upcoming election. The piece is posted over at The American Catholic site. The author conveys some ideas that I share concerning what's at stake for Catholics when faced with a choice between Mitt Romney or four more years of Obama. Here's an excerpt that nails it [Note that this election is not just about two men, but about two competing ideas or philosophies]:

I do not look at Romney as a man, but as a representative of the broad coalition of interests that support the GOP and resist the Democrats. I look at Obama in the same way, as a representative of an opposite coalition of interests that support the Democrats and resist the GOP. For better or worse, I believe the Church finds itself out of necessity in the GOP coalition.

The reason why is obvious. Put aside the academic policy debates for a moment. Put aside the debate over whether or not concern for the poor necessitates a confiscatory welfare regime, whether water-boarding is an intrinsic evil, whether being pro-life means being pro-subsidized single motherhood, or any of the other heated policy debates that politically-minded Catholics like to have. The reality is that the fate of the Church in the United States, which is not historically Catholic or majority Catholic, will necessarily be determined through a struggle of powers greater than itself.
On one side of the struggle is a coalition that respects the right of the Church to exist, even if it does not fully embrace all of her positions. On the other side of the struggle is a coalition that can barely conceal its violent hostility for the Church and is pursuing policies and programs that will have the practical effect of driving her out of public life. It isn’t my intention to make the hard case for that here, but most of us understand what the far-reaching implications of the HHS mandate will be. We understand that the kind of people who would propose and implement such a thing can be counted upon to press even further, especially when they no longer have an election to win. We are well within reason to label these people enemies.

As a matter of self-defense, then, we must work for the defeat of Obama this fall.

Read the whole article here

And while I'm on the subject of the election, Paul Ryan's bishop, Robert Morlino, has written an open letter affirming that Mr. Ryan is indeed in good standing with the Church (contrary to many liberal Catholic accusations), and that as a public servant, Ryan has to the best of his abilities sought to craft policy that is fully in line with Catholic Social Justice teaching. Here's a link to an article at Catholic Online that explains more.

Bishop Morlino wrote in part:
As one looks at issues...and seeks to apply the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, Catholics and others of good will can arrive at different conclusions. These are conclusions about the best means to promote the preferential option for the poor, or the best means to reach a lower percentage of unemployment throughout our country. No one is contesting here anyone’s right to the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, etc. Nor is anyone contesting someone’s right to work and so provide for self and family. However there can be difference according to how best to follow the principles which the Church offers.

Making decisions as to the best political strategies, the best policy means, to achieve a goal, is the mission of lay people, not bishops or priests. As Pope Benedict himself has said, a just society and a just state is the achievement of politics, not the Church. And therefore Catholic laymen and women who are familiar with the principles dictated by human reason and the ecology of human nature, or non-Catholics who are also bound by these same principles, are in a position to arrive at differing conclusions as to what the best means are for the implementation of these principles — that is, “lay mission” for Catholics.

Thus, it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryan’s specific budget prescription to address the best means we spoke of. Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission. But, as I’ve said, Vice Presidential Candidate Ryan is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above. Of that I have no doubt. (I mention this matter in obedience to Church Law regarding one’s right to a good reputation.)
An excellent defense of Mr. Ryan, and a wonderful example of a true shepherd caring for one of his flock. Read the whole letter here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quote of the Week

"If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother."
- Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Musings

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

With Congressman Paul Ryan as the V.P. pick for the Republican ticket there will surely be much said between now and November about his Catholic faith. And of course the same tired old complaints from liberal Catholics will be trotted out - that Ryan is not sympathetic to the poor, he gives tax cuts to the wealthy, he doesn't adhere to Catholic Social Teaching, blah, blah, blah.

The fact is that Catholic Social Teaching does not give particulars on how we should formulate  policy or write laws, construct budgets or tax codes, or exactly how we ought to give relief to the poor. Such decisions are left to lay Catholics who may use their own prudential judgment in deciding such matters. Certainly care for the poor and those in need are essential to Social Justice. But how we go about legislating on these matters is up to each Catholic to decide. Paul Ryan has written and spoken many times to this question and has demonstrated that he takes Catholic Social Justice seriously. 

What really irritates me are those liberal politicians (and their supporters) who drone on and on about their version of BIG-government Social Justice yet they support the killing of innocent babies in the womb and the destruction of traditional marriage and family. These "Catholics" will no doubt be casting stones at Paul Ryan for the next few months, while they carry on with their twisted and evil policies that bring disgrace to the name "Catholic."

Abortion and marriage are NON-negotiable moral issues. Whereas, tax codes, budget writing, and welfare benefits are debatable points on which Catholics are free to disagree. Hopefully we are seeing the beginning of a change in Catholic Social Justice in America.

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On a related note: I can't wait to see the Vice Presidential debate!

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So, our kids had their first religion class of the new school year at our parish on Sunday. The organizers of the CCD class made everyone (parents included) play ridiculous games as an "ice-breaker" instead of using the time to get down to real learning. This is EXACTLY what has been wrong with Catholic faith formation over the past forty years or so - making sure everyone gets along and has "fun" (whatever version of "fun" that might be) instead of teaching doctrine and building a solid foundation of faith. Don't get me wrong, our church's faith formation classes are OK...they do a relatively decent job teaching the faith...but it could be vastly improved with more substance and less frivolous time-wasting.

For the record: I refused to participate. I left with our three-year-old to play on the playground. Our older daughter also sat out of one of the games. She knows cheesy gimmicks when she sees them.

Some people might argue that these events build fellowship and draw people together... Well, maybe. But not everyone likes to do the same activities. Forcing everyone to play the same game or join in on some organized activity when some of those people loathe it only serves to alienate those who wish to NOT participate. Count me in that group.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thie 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...

Still very busy at work... I tried to round up enough posts to fill out this list, but it's a little shorter than I expected. Feel free to add in the comments:

Declaring War on the Church - [After watching this video about Obama "declaring war on the Church," I find even more reason to support Mitt Romney.]

Contraception Increases Abortions - "Artificial contraception claims to make sex available without consequences of children. When it fails, people feel that they need abortion as a continuation of the contraceptive attitude  – the attitude that the child is unwanted."

Wait, Do You Only Have Two Kids? - "When I got married right out of college, just shy of 22, I was fairly certain that I would be having 10 kids over the next 20 years."

Why I Threw Away My Bucket List - "Fulfillment can never be found in experiences; fulfillment only comes from unity with God."

What Guys Need to Know about Women - "When true femininity is allowed to flourish, women will regain their dignity. And from that, we’ll all benefit."

What is Cardinal Dolan Up To? - "Should the Archbishop associate a fundraiser for Catholic Charities with a leader whose administration remains defiantly opposed to Church moral teachings?"

Church-Speak: Strange things Church people say - "As a priest I have come to discover that I use terms, ordinary terms of traditional Catholicism, but given the poor catechesis (another Church word, meaning 'religious training,' by the way), the meaning of what I am saying is lost on many."'s a follow-up to the Chick-fil-A hubbub, then that's it. (Unless something new comes up.)

At the Precipice: “Gay Rights” & Religious Freedom - [Some thoughtful suggestions on what Christians should do to better engage in the gay rights debate.]

What Does the Swiss Guard Actually Do? - [...You mean besides look awesome in those cool outfits. But seriously, this piece does answer the question.]

Oh...and the picture of the week. Try to squeeze in a little more fun before the summer is over:


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Male-only Priesthood, Part 3

As was said in Part 2, the Sacrament of Holy Orders (ordination) causes a real change in the very essence of the one receiving the Sacrament. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
This sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ's instrument for his Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king.
...The sacrament of Holy Orders...confers an indelible spiritual character and cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily.
...he cannot become a layman again in the strict sense, because the character imprinted by ordination is for ever. The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently. (Catechism, 1581-83)
Keep in mind then that ordination literally changes the person in a permanent way. Being a priest is not just about public preaching or spiritual counseling or managing a parish. While these practical things do matter, the priesthood is ultimately about being configured to the priesthood of Christ. With Jesus as the model of perfect priesthood, (He is the High Priest and the source of our earthly priesthood), the recipient of ordination is changed to conform to this ideal of priesthood that we see in Jesus. This transformation is so profound that the priest is said to stand in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) when he is exercising his priestly role.

Who can properly receive such a transformation? Who can stand in the person of Christ? As with any Sacrament we must ask, what requirements must be met for the Sacrament to be valid?

In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we know that Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples. In order for our Eucharist to be valid we must also use bread. Bread is the required stuff for the Sacrament. The same is true of the wine. To remain faithful to Jesus' own actions, bread and wine must be used in order for the Eucharist to do what we say it does - become the very Body and Blood of Jesus.

So too in ordination. In order for a valid ordination to take place, the right stuff must be present. We know that the priest will be standing in persona Christi - in the person of Christ - and as a person we know that Jesus was a man. So it is logical that a man must be the correct recipient for a valid ordination to take place.

Some might argue that men and women are no different when it comes to spiritual matters. God is neither male nor female, He is pure spirit, and so when it comes to the spiritual care of the Church our sex should not matter. But this is contrary to the Catholic Church's teaching on human spirituality. We are never merely "spiritual" beings if we are truly human. The Church teaches that human beings possess both a soul and a body, and these two realities are intimately united:
The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature. (Catechism 365)
So when we say that Jesus was a man, that the Son of God came down to earth and became a man, we mean that He was a man in the same sense that every man is. His body and soul, intimately united, in a male human form. When a priest stands in persona Christi, he stands in the person of a man named Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is not a pure spirit; He is a male human composed of both body and soul.

So for a valid ordination we need the right stuff. If the one receiving ordination is to truly change into an image of Christ, the High Priest, then he must be male.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quote of the Week

"...true freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace."
- Pope John Paul II

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Musings

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

Wow! My work just got extremely busy. Not much time (or energy) in the evenings to blog. Last week I really let it go. This week I hope to do better. Hopefully I'll have the next installment on the male-only priesthood.

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Last week there was a lot of talk about the Chick-fil-A/marriage controversy. Some people got tired of hearing about it. That's perfectly understandable. I mean, it was certainly blown out of proportion by liberals in the first place. It never should have reached to the level that it did. Any business owner in America should be able to take a stand in favor of traditional marriage without raising all the hoopla that Chick-fil-A's owner did.

But in the midst of the controversy a few people tried to blow off the whole issue by saying, "It's just a chicken sandwich. What's all the fuss about?" One late-night comedian said that it shows how divided the nation has become when the most heated argument we have is over chicken sandwiches. People who were tired of the whole mess just wanted to joke about the sandwich and avoid the real issue - marriage. But that's like saying that the Boston Tea Party was just about tea. People who discount the Chick-fil-A phenomenon as much ado about nothing, are missing the symbolic importance of standing up against religious persecution.

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Incidentally, a friend of mine went to Chick-fil-A today and reported back that there are still long lines and busy counters at our local restaurant. Good! Keep buying those sandwiches! Show support to a fellow Christian willing to stand up for traditional values.

Friday, August 3, 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...

Very busy this week...not much time to blog. So here's a short list. Feel free to add any interesting articles in the comments.

First, this from TheBigPulpit: WED. SPECIAL: Chick-fil-A Tolerance Day

The Mark of The Beast and Chick-Fil-A - [This was perhaps my favorite piece written during the whole Chick-fil-A controversy.]

There can be no compromise on same-sex ‘marriage’ - "Since most liberals and even some conservatives, it seems, apparently have no understanding at all of the conjugal conception of marriage as a one-flesh union — not even enough of a grasp to consciously consider and reject it — they uncritically conceive marriage as sexual-romantic domestic partnership, as if it just couldn’t possibly be anything else."

Some cold water for your chicken sandwich and waffle fries - "What we’re seeing is an authentically liberal backlash against a budding ersatz-liberal totalitarianism.  However, we have to wonder if the backlash has enough staying power to open up space for traditional-marriage supporters to be heard."

4 Failures in the Chick-Fil-A Controversy - "In light of the Chick-Fil-A controversy, I now realize modern man is almost incapable of distinguishing between these four things..."

My favorite pic of the week...

Democrats plan to include gay ‘marriage’ in new party platform - [Uuum... The only surprise here is that some Catholics still vote for Democrats.]

President Obama says he’s a Christian. So why don’t people believe him?  - "Indeed, how believable is it that Barrack Obama, a man who battled to prevent the passage of legislation requiring that infants born alive after an abortion be given care, is even remotely inspired by the Gospels? It was hardly believable when he ran in 2008, and it’s even less believable today, after four years of bitter experience."

Determining the top candidates for papacy - [Perhaps a bit early...but interesting nonetheless.]

Beauty is Truth and Truth Beauty - [I am posting this article for two reasons: 1) It is authored by Fr.Z, and I think he's awesome, 2) because of the following line:...] "Why is it that everything from a pile of dog turd to a new copies of classical artworks are being produced and sold as ‘art’."