Friday, June 29, 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...
Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare - [Entire document in PDF format]

Supreme Court Upholds Health-Care Law, Stage Set for First Amendment Showdown - "Indeed, while the ruling did not address the constitutionality of the contraception mandate, legal experts believe two passages signal that the court might be open to First Amendment concerns."

Archbishop Chaput: 'It's Going to Be a Long Fight' - "There are many ways of approaching health care, and I think it’s very important for Catholics to understand the fact that the Church, seeing health care as a basic human right, does not mean [to say] there’s a particular method of obtaining that [right that’s] better than another."

Robert's Opinion: It's Not All Bad - "’s really not all bad. It’s not what we wanted, but then – as I suspect Obama will learn in the coming months – we must remember to be careful what we wish for."

What the Court Said About Obamacare - "...the only way left to overturn PPACA is for the new Congress to repeal it. That is only possible if Romney is elected president..."

Court ruling allows religious freedom lawsuits to proceed with hope - "The direct mention of religious freedom as a reason to find such a mandate unconstitutional is a hopeful sign in the battle over the contraception requirement..."

Pallium Eve - "Every year on the vigil of Saints Peter and Paul, the year's freshly-woven batch of the pallium -- the symbol worn by metropolitan archbishops within their provinces to signify 'the fullness of the episcopal office' -- are placed in the gilt casket shown above, to spend this night in the tomb of the First Apostle."

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Declared 'Venerable' - [Great news!! I've been following his cause for awhile. Glad to read this.]

The Aborted - "We do not recognize that 'the aborted' represent a significant part of the human race, that part which is killed by our choice not to have them among us. But who are they? Both the aborted and those who manage to be born have the same ultimate origin."

Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine - "I have heard a lot about how mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking about the same church?"

Children Reared by 'Mom and Dad' Are Better Off ThanThose Reared by Homosexuals - "In this month’s Social Science Research, University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus reports that Americans ages 18 to 39 who grew up in families where either parent had a same-sex romance fared significantly worse on 25 of 40 measures."

A response to Evangelical calls to disengage from the political fight - "Progress can be slow. That does not mean it is unimportant or that noble efforts should be discarded. It means thinking tactically and strategically, persuading and voting and running for office and putting up yard signs and a thousand other large and small political tasks."

Why Memorized Prayer? - " the Office of Readings for yesterday, I read a great explanation of why we're called to pray memorized prayers: it's so that the Body of Christ can pray as one. "

The case for a boys-only policy for altar servers - "According to the Communications Office of the Diocese of Phoenix, there is growing evidence to support the claim that where altar service is limited to boys, priestly vocations increase.  The best example is the Diocese of Lincoln Nebraska, the envy of all dioceses when it comes to vocations."

A priest who won’t prevent self-intinction - [Fr. Z tellin' it like it is.] "We read about intinction in the document Redemptionis Sacramentum: [104.] The communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in the chalice, nor to receive the intincted host in the hand."

Why Don't We Dress Up Anymore? - "I don't think that the social principle that you should dress up for what's important to you has changed since the 1950s; I think there's simply not that much that's important to us anymore."

Tattoos are a matter of taste, not morality - "The Catholic view of tattoos is surely more nuanced, as no Catholic moralist argues, as far as I am aware, that tattoos are per se immoral. It might be right to have a tattoo for a good purpose. But what that good purpose might be, I wonder…"

Renewal or wreckovation? The renovation of the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg, FL - [I've posted some links here before about some great church renovations and new builds that give me a positive outlook for the future of church architecture. But i must say that I have some mixed feelings about this one.]

This Road Goes Nowhere - [A movie review about a film I had not heard of previously - "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World' - and what a sad commentary this movie is for our society.]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quote of the Week

"The modern mind will accept nothing on authority, but will accept anything on no authority. Say that the Bible or the Pope says so and it will be dismissed without further examination. But preface your remark with 'I think I heard somewhere,' or, try but fail to remember the name of some professor who might have said 'such-and-such,' and it will be immediately accepted as an unshakable fact."
- G. K. Chesterton

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Musings

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

I finally bought a new edition of the Roman Missal. I purchased the New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal, which is the same publication I previously owned before the updated translation was released. The basic layout of this new missal is exactly the same as the older version. However there are some new illustrations incorporated into the text that look less "dated" than the older illustrations. I much prefer the style of these newer drawings. The full-color reproductions of artwork scattered throughout the book are exactly the same as before.

I must say that the most noticeable difference is that the overall quality of the binding is much improved. The older edition I owned was hard-bound and held up well enough, but the texture of the cover seemed cheap and showed a lot of wear from years of handling. This new cover is also hard and sturdy, but seems more durable and has a nice "leather" texture that was missing on the old one. It just seems to be a more solid construction.

I have read that the publishers producing missals after the new translation came out had taken this opportunity to put more care into the construction of these sacred books. A greater effort was made in selecting materials and ensuring a quality product for use in worship. It seems that this effort has paid off. I'm impressed.
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Incidentally, if you have a missal and you find it difficult to quickly turn to the correct Eucharistic Prayer (or other portion of the Mass) without fumbling with page markers or ribbons, I suggest using removable tabs which stick on like Post-It notes without damaging the page or leaving behind a residue. (Follow this link to see what I mean.) They can be peeled off and repositioned several times without loosing their stickiness, and they come in many colors, so you can color-code different sections of the missal. But they are delicate enough that they do not damage the thin paper used in missals. I highly recommend them.

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Obviously I'm back from vacation. It was restful...if short. Hopefully I can get back into blogging with some enthusiasm. We shall see.

Oh, and don't forget to continue with the Fortnight for Freedom prayer. See this post for more details.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom

I'm on vacation this week...that means lot's of time spent with the family - not much time in front of the computer. So expect little or no activity here on the blog. In the meantime, don't forget that the "Fortnight for Freedom" begins this Thursday - tomorrow!
In case you haven't heard about this event, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishop (USCCB) describes it at their website: "The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this 'fortnight for freedom'—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty."

This is an important opportunity to pray in union with our bishops and the whole Catholic Church in America in support of the cause of freedom during this challenging time of persecution for our Christian faith. As a family, we intend to pray the following prayer, together with our whole parish and other parishes across the country:

O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Every day during this "Fortnight of Freedom," take some time to pray this prayer and join your voice to those of fellow Catholics in the cause of religious freedom.
Also, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops provides this Litany in pdf format at their site:

In addition, the USCCB lists a series of reflection for each day of Fortnight for Freedom (also in pdf):

Please join other Catholics in this effort, not only with prayer, but by speaking out in support of religious liberty and against unjust laws.

Friday, June 15, 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...

Open Your Home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus - "Families are changed by making the Sacred Heart the center of their homes."

Why Jesus used bread (rather than the Paschal Lamb) for the Eucharist - "The Lord could have used any food-product as the material 'stuff' of the Eucharist. In fact, Jesus did choose to use bread and wine, but he was not bound to do so."

Big Government as the rival and enemy of religion - "The cultural Left is turning the Catholic faithful into anti-authoritarians. What should have been obvious is becoming clearer to religious conservatives: Government is always a rival, and often an enemy, of religion."

National Character Test: Morality and Religious Freedom Matter - " Alexis de Tocqueville presciently observed in his masterwork, Democracy in America, is that our experiment in ordered liberty depends on the strength of our national character, and that means social issues and moral principles matter."

5 Reasons the Kids-of-Gay-Parents Study Means Its Time for Gay Marriage Supporters to Revisit Their Assumptions - "My particular hope in all of this is that individuals who originally changed their views about marriage because of previous misleading research about child outcomes display the intellectual honesty to revisit their support of same-sex marriage now that we have more conclusive evidence to the contrary."

Transsexuals, Extreme Plastic Surgery, and What We Can Learn from Both - "I think that we, as a society, should take a closer look at our contradictory views on these two related issues, because we can learn something from our reactions to both types of situations."

What’s the Next Stage of Liturgical Renewal? - "There are two things that absolutely must change at the next stage. There needs to be an absolute focus on the need for the sung propers at Mass never to be replaced by random hymns...In addition, the taboo about Mass facing the people needs to be broken. The orientation of the priest and the people needs to be the same: toward the East and the risen Christ."

What if Jesus Had Been Accepted as the Messiah? - [Interesting point to ponder.]

Excommunication as a Restorative Measure - "Excommunication is a punitive device on the part of the Church and is more than merely denying holy Communion. It also publicly rebukes and shames the person."

Yaya Meets St. Anthony - "My mother-in-law, Yaya, is Baptist. ...I rarely bring up the areas of Christian doctrine where Baptists and Catholics differ. In general, I figure there’s no need to wade into controversial territory and risk causing tension between us."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quote of the Week

"Great graces cannot be obtained without humility. When you yourself experience humiliation, you should take it as a sure sign that some great grace is in store."
- Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Musings

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

Monday again... Not really ready for it.In fact I haven't even thought of anything to write for this post. Not a good way to start the week.

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Yesterday was the Feast of Corpus Christi. I was very busy with the family this weekend and was unable to post anything for this Feast Day. So I dug back through some old posts and thought I would include the following for today (I know it's cheating...but really there are no rules for blogging):

Catholics are often accused of "idolatry" because we fill our churches with statues and depictions of saints and religious figures and use them in our prayer life. But anyone who knows anything about Catholic devotional practices can tell you that we do not worship these images. They merely provide physical reminders of our faith and serve to heighten our awareness that all of creation gives glory to God. Everything of beauty in the physical world (from a breathtaking sunrise to Michelangelo’s Pieta) points us to the reality of God’s divine glory. Catholics use physical beauty as a reminder of this truth.

However, if ever there was a plausible reason to accuse Catholics of idolatry it would be the Eucharist. According to Catholic teaching, the bread and wine at Mass cease to be bread and wine, and become the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. In other words, we believe that the bread becomes the incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. We really do bow down and worship that little wafer of “bread” and adore Him as God. We do nothing of the sort to our statues, paintings, mosaics, or stained glass. But to the Eucharist we fall down on our knees and worship.

So if Catholics are wrong about this belief – if the bread does not really become God – then what we do is truly idolatrous. We worship a thing that is not God. Go ahead and accuse us of it, and then we can discuss the merits of your argument.

But if Catholics are right – if the bread and wine truly do transform into Jesus – then other Christians should be flocking to the Catholic Church so that they too can be in His presence. If we are right, then other Christians are missing out on Jesus’ physical presence among us.

So…it is either one, or the other: either Catholics are idol-worshipers or the rest of the Christian churches are denying God’s true presence.

Saturday, June 9, 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...

[A day late...and not as many articles as I would have liked...but at least I got it posted.]

On Feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Emphasizes Importance of Adoration - "The Pope explained that there is no contradiction or conflict between Christ worshiped in the Mass and Christ adored outside the sacred liturgy, since 'communion and contemplation cannot be separated; they go together.'"

Americans Stand Up for Religious Freedom on Bill of Rights’ Anniversary - "The rallies, coordinated by the Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, provided an opportunity for citizens to add their voices to the current legislation efforts and judicial reviews that are already underway."

The Trinitarian Family - [A brief post explaining the significance of the Trinity in honor of Trinity Sunday, June 3.]

Pope to Families: Love 'Is the Only Force That Can Truly Transform the World' - "Your vocation is not easy to live, especially today, but the vocation to love is a wonderful thing, it is the only force that can truly transform the world."

How Can We Know What's True? - "What opened my heart to the Catholic Church was discovering that my Evangelical Protestant method of determining truth did not work, leading only to a cacophony of conflicting opinions, dividing Christians from other Christians."

Rallying Cry for Religious Freedom Goes Out This Friday - On Friday, June 8, the 223rd anniversary of James Madison’s introduction of the Bill of Rights to the first Congress, tens of thousands of people are expected to publicly defend a chief guarantee of the Bill of Right’s First Amendment, the free exercise of religion — and that in its fullest sense: not forcing people to violate their religious beliefs."

Should a Christian Support Obama - "...I cannot sit by in silence and approve of an individual’s choice to continually strip dignity and humanity away from innocent human children. So, THIS is one of the reasons why as a Christian I MUST speak out against our current president."

Freedom of “worship” vs. “religion” — again - "The larger civic argument...focuses on whether government officials can decree that 'freedom of worship' is more worthy of protection than 'freedom of religion,' a much broader constitutional concept."

Is anti-Catholicism on the rise? - "It’s not that people shouldn’t be able to voice disagreement over certain issues. ...[But] one can’t help but notice the overwhelming amount of animosity directed towards those who uphold the teachings of the Church."

What’s Going on With the LCWR? - [A nice little review of what is going on with this Catholic women's group.] The document includes an account of the events leading to its publication. It fully acknowledges the good works accomplished by the women religious of the LCWR communities, but finds that there are serious problems with the LCWR activities.

Pollen is evidence that the Holy Shroud is indeed a winding sheet - "According to university researchers the pollen found in the Turin Shroud corresponds to that of flowers used for funerals in Asia Minor 2000 years ago."

Is the Sacred Host the flesh of Christ's Sacred Heart? - [Concerning Eucharistic miracles where the host is transformed into heart tissue...] "Though it is not (and cannot be) a piece of the physical Heart of Jesus – for this Sacred Heart is now whole and complete in Heaven, in our Savior’s glorified body – the tissue reminds us in the most vivid terms that the Eucharist is really and truly Jesus, and that he gives us his Heart (that is, the fullness of his Love) in the Eucharist."

Raising Saintly Children When I’m A Big Ol’ Sinner - "I don’t think I’ve had a lot to do with that, it’s more in spite of me than because of my handiwork.  These children are the direct result of a lot of prayer."

A Quick Catechesis on Sin (With Pictures) - [Very clever use of images to convey some profound insights.]

God Bless the Brewers of the World: The Feast of St. Boniface - "...I was simply stunned to meet students who thought drinking a sin, and a rather serious one.  Really?  Jesus drank, I replied, in total earnestness..."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quote of the Week

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried."
- G. K. Chesterton

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Musings

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

So, I finally gave up on waiting for my Missal that was on back order. I don't blame the internet company I ordered from. This long wait was not their fault. They obviously have to contend with the publisher and the backlog of orders that flooded the system after the new translation was released. However, I also know that I can find Missals on store shelves at brick-and-mortar shops here where I live. So there is no sense in waiting any longer. I canceled my online order and will now plan a trip to one of those local stores. So much for the internet being a quick and easy alternative to shopping.

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This being an election year, here's an interesting tidbit. Who do you think said the following?...
"...secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, Doroth Day, Martin Luther King, the majority of the great reformers in American history were not only motivated by faith, but they repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their personal morality into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of our morality, much of it which is grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition."
So who said it?

Answer: Barack Obama!
(at the Sojourners/Call to Renewal Conference in 2006)

Now if only he would live up to those words instead of shutting out religious institutions from public debate and forcing faith-based organizations to comply with his secularist agenda. ...But I won't hold my breath.

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There seems to be a loss of interest in the Protestant Facebook Bible Study in which I have been participating. No activity last week, and no sign of activity this week. So for now I will hold off posting anything about it here until or unless something interesting happens there.

Friday, June 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...

Bishop Schneider Says: Communion in the Hand is a Great Wound in the Church - "Msgr Schneider recalled then that Pope Benedict XVI has been distributing Holy Communion in the mouth since Corpus Christi of 2008 to the faithful on their knees: 'A true Catholic, and even more a Catholic Bishop, can not ignore the Pope's  gestures.'"

Democrat Commiteewoman Resigns from Party, Cites Her Catholic Faith- [I know many people disagree, but I personally feel that at this point you cannot be both Catholic and a Democrat.]

Democrats Defeat Bill to Ban Sex-Selection Abortions - [Of course they did... Once again: you can't be Catholic and Democrat. Look at what the Party stands for.]

Sex-selection abortion ban draws majority support but fails in House - "Normally, this majority would be enough for the bill to pass. However, the legislation was brought up under a suspension of normal rules. As a result, it would have required the support of two-thirds of the lawmakers in order to pass."

The Contraception Contradiction - "...policymakers and activists do a profound injustice when they argue that lowering rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion is simply a matter of improving access to contraceptives and ensuring all children are taught how to use them. In many cases, those policies are making matters worse."

Church Is Still Not State - "Americans are a tolerant people, but past some point they push back. With the HHS mandate upon them, a lot of Catholic voters are thinking resistance. It's an old American tradition."

Gay Marriage and the Minority Vote - "Are not radical feminism and homosexuality far greater threats to America’s identity than an influx of immigrants and minorities? Should the conservatives cede the minority vote and allow the Democrats to be the party of the immigrants?"

'Catholic Voices' Reaches America Just in Time for a Full-Blown First Amendment Battle - "Put simply, the challenge for the Pope and for Church leaders throughout the West — and all the faithful — is to 'reframe' the public’s understanding of the Church in the modern world and the shifting dynamics of Church-state battles."

Did Jesus Really Sin? - "Whether it’s Jesus sinning or the Blessed Mother not being a Virgin or other evidence of Catholics being ignorant about their faith, it all adds up to a crying need for sound, systematic catechesis.'

Authority of the First Popes - "Protestantism has been compelled to rewrite all history according to it’s own necessities. As French historian Augustin Thierry has written, 'To live, Protestantism found itself forced to build up a history of its own.'"

Luther and Calvin v. Augustine and Justin Martyr on Free Will - "One of the core tenets of Calvinism is the belief that there's no such thing as free will, particularly in regards to matters of salvation.  What strikes me about this doctrine is that I'm not sure anyone really believes it."

If hope is certain, why can't I be sure of my own salvation? - "If we are saved through hope, and hope is certain; why is it that the Catholic Church teaches that it is a heresy to say that I am certain of my own salvation? How is it that theological hope can be certain without being presumptuous?"

Should We Say Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit? Is there a difference? - "...there are positives and negatives to both terms. This is why I often use both 'Holy Ghost' and 'Holy Spirit' interchangeably on the blog, in lectures, and in conversations."

New Church In South Carolina by James McCrery - [Designs like this let you know that Catholic art and architecture have a promising future.]

My Complete Ignorance of History Finally Pays Off - "I honestly had no idea what was going to happen next during the movie. If you had told me that the President of Mexico was going to challenge the leader of Cristo Rey to a break dancing competition for all the marbles I would've had no basis for arguing against it."