Friday, May 31, 2013

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...

US Catholics to join Pope Francis in Eucharistic Adoration - "The Pope has invited the world to join him in an hour of adoration at 5 p.m. Rome time this Sunday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, which he will lead from St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. See also: Adoration With Pope Energizing Catholics Worldwide

"Do We Let God Lead Us... To Not Be Afraid To Give?" – On Corpus Christi, Francis Calls Church Beyond Its "Fence"

Pope Francis Calls All Catholics to Evangelize -  " evangelize is not just a task undertaken from time to time; or even most of the time.  It is, to put it simply, the Churcgayh’s defining identity; it is what she exists for.  Faith is only worth having when you give it away."

Praising God frees us from sorrow, Pope proclaims - "Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who is 'the author of joy, the Creator of joy,' Pope Francis said that Christians learn to praise and become joyful, which leads to 'true Christian freedom.'"

Pope Francis: Following Christ is Not a Cultural Gloss - "We should not reduce the proclamation of Jesus to being a mere cultural 'gloss' or 'veneer', it must go 'straight to the heart' and change us."

If Atheists Can Go to Heaven, Why Bother with Faith? - "While some news reports suggested that these remarks are a departure from the theology of Pope Benedict, in reality Francis’ predecessor had made similar attempts to reach out to non-believers."

IRS Bombshell - Harassment continued as recently as 4 weeks ago! - "It remains unclear if Obama was ever aware of the IRS harassment, as he claims to have first heard stories of it from the news media."

Top IRS Officials Targeted Conservative Groups, Not Just Staffers - "Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups."

Issa forced to issue subpoena to get cooperation from State Department - "The Oversight Committee is working diligently to find out what really happened in Benghazi and why President Obama did not make a better effort to protect the mission there."

Leading Catholics call for prayer, fasting to fight gay marriage - "The faithful were called upon to pray, fast and make personal sacrifices to help the court make a ruling favorable to traditional views of marriage."

Taking it to the Streets: Time to Join the New French Resistance Defending Marriage - "What occurred in Paris this weekend is a sign of a resistance movement which is spreading. We must all take our place within its ranks.  It is time for us to take it to the streets. Marriage and the family and society founded upon them are under a wholesale assault and the future of freedom is at risk."

The Boy Scout's New Policy - "There is a certain incoherence to it, I contend, that makes it impossible to defend.  After all, what rational justification could one think of for admitting gay youths but banning gay leaders?"

Girl Scouts Join Planned Parenthood at Huge Pro-Abortion Conference - "The global organization is a well-known advocate for sexual and reproductive rights, including abortion, for youth, and claims to speak for all of its 10 million members."

Abandoned Baby Rescued From Sewage Pipe Doing Better, Mother Found - "Reports from Chinese media indicated the baby was found in the toilet sewage pipe in a residential building in the city of Jinhua after residents on the fourth floor called the fire department with reports of a baby crying."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Quote of the Week

"Reprimand and rebuke should be accepted as healing remedies for vice and as conducive to good health. From this it is clear that those who pretend to be tolerant because they wish to flatter-----those who thus fail to correct sinners-----actually cause them to suffer supreme loss and plot the destruction of that life which is their true life."
- St. Basil the Great 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Catechism for the Year of Faith

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

1322 The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.

1323 "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'"

1324 The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."

1325 "The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."

1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.

1333 At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: "He took bread. . . ." "He took the cup filled with wine. . . ." The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, fruit of the "work of human hands," but above all as "fruit of the earth" and "of the vine" - gifts of the Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and wine," a prefiguring of her own offering.

1334 In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God; their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God's faithfulness to his promises. The "cup of blessing" at the end of the Jewish Passover meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup.

1336 The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. "Will you also go away?": the Lord's question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has "the words of eternal life" and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.

1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love. In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; "thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament."

1340 By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus' passing over to his father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom.

1341 The command of Jesus to repeat his actions and words "until he comes" does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did. It is directed at the liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their successors, of the memorial of Christ, of his life, of his death, of his Resurrection, and of his intercession in the presence of the Father.

1342 From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the Lord's command. Of the Church of Jerusalem it is written:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . . Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.
1345 As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year , explaining what Christians did:
On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.
1346 The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity: 
- the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions;
- the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.
The liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist together form "one single act of worship"; the Eucharistic table set for us is the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Musings

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

Today is Memorial Day...and also my wedding anniversary...and the day after my youngest daughter's birthday. So as you can imagine, I've been rather busy this weekend. I spent a lot of time with the family and not so much time in front of a computer. So I didn't have much time to blog. Instead I'll just leave you with this prayer in honor of our soldiers:

Heavenly Father,
On this Memorial Day,
we pray for those
who courageously laid down their lives
for the cause of freedom.
May the example of their sacrifice
inspire in us the selfless love of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bless the families of our fallen troops,
and fill their homes
and their lives with your strength and peace.
In union with people of goodwill
of every nation,
embolden us to answer the call to work
for peace and justice,
and thus, seek an end
to violence and conflict around the globe.
We pray through Christ our Lord.

Friday, May 24, 2013

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...

Be salt of the earth, not 'museum Christians,' pope says at Mass - "Pope Francis said God gives Christians flavor, or salt, in order for them to share it with others and make a difference in the world..."

Pope Francis calls for change within the Church - "Francis spoke of the need to 'take to the streets of the world' and to 'reach the very outskirts of existence.'"

Vatican denies pope performed public exorcism - "The Holy Father had no intention of performing an exorcism, but -- as he often does with the sick and suffering people presented to him -- he simply intended to pray for the suffering person before him..." To see the video for yourself, see this article: Exorcism or not, it's still a miracle

8 things to know and share about Pentecost - The original day of Pentecost saw dramatic events that are important to the life of the Church. But where did the feast of Pentecost come from? How can we understand what happened on it? And what does it mean for us today? Here are 8 things to know and share about it..."

Evil Face of Jihad in London Suburb: Muslim Attackers Hack a Young Soldier to Death and Behead Him - [This was a horrific act! I am afraid that Islam is not the moderate religion of peace we are told by the Left and the mainstream media.] But from this horror comes this story of compassion and love: Undeterred by terrorists, mother and daughter comfort dying British soldier in London 

The Cold, Cruel Fate of a World that Is Terrified of Suffering - [Some thoughts about the Oklahoma tornado.]

What capitalists should learn from the Pope's critique  - "The Church is not imitating the rhetoric of the socialist movement; the socialists are exploiting the teachings of the Church."

It's Time to Demand Intellectual Honesty About Abortion - "We need to be the ones framing this debate. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be sidetracked by spurious arguments anymore."

Congress Sees Gruesome Photos of Born Alive Babies Abortionist Killed - "The photos were provided by former clinic workers who came forward to blow the whistle on Karpen’s heinous acts."

Dehumanizing Humans: When Animal Rights Trump Our Right to Life+ - " some, belief in human superiority (or 'exceptionalism') is a form of bigotry, dubbed 'specism.' Ironically, these same individuals must engage in deep—albeit wrongheaded but uniquely human—thought to conclude that some animals are our equals."

IRS Hid Results of Probe of Targeting Pro-Lifers While Obama Campaigned - "The Internal Revenue Service conducted an internal probe over its targeting of pro-life and conservative groups that ended well before the 2012 presidential election, but reports show the results were hidden."

Time to Go for the Kill - "The IRS scandal provides Republicans and conservatives with the opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare now." See also: IRS Scandal and HHS Mandate: Wrong for the Same Reasons

Obamacare Preview: UK’s NHS Kills 24 Disabled People Weekly Via Rationed Care - [Wow! Can't wait for that to start here. Yippee.]

Why I'm Starting a New Boy Scouts: My Catholic Scouting Manifesto - [With the recent developments concerning the Boy Scouts and homosexuality, this is an interesting proposal which Catholics ought to consider.]

Does Jesus Want Us to Support Same-Sex “Marriage”? - "Although it is true that the gospels do not record Jesus directly condemning homosexual acts, to conclude on this basis that he in any way approved of them is faulty reasoning."

In Bed Together: The Dept. of Justice and the Same Sex Agenda - "The Department of Justice (yes, THE U.S. Department of Justice) has an LGBT organization called DOJ Pride."

Why Cardinal O'Malley Is Staying Home - "Boston College's seniors graduate today without the traditional blessing of their Archbishop, Cardinal Sean O'Malley. That's because the college chose scandal over solidarity by inviting a politician who flouts Catholic Church teaching to be its commencement speaker."

How to Become An Annoying Catholic (In Eight Easy Steps) - "So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of Apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord."

Change and permanence - Even though we live in a world of constant change and are able to adapt ourselves to it, most of us feel more at home with the familiar, the old, the predictable. In the midst of change, we seek, at least, a certain amount of stability, permanence."

Constantine Has Been Beaten to Death - "It’s almost unfathomable to me that in this day and age Fundamentalists still have not learned to verify the validity of their anti-Catholic arguments."

Top 10 Catholic Facts Revealed in the 2013 Pontifical Yearbook - [Just a few interesting statistics about Catholics around the world.]

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Catechism for the Year of Faith

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

1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."

1288 "...the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ's will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church."

1289 Very early, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name "Christian," which means "anointed" and derives from that of Christ himself whom God "anointed with the Holy Spirit." This rite of anointing has continued ever since, in both East and West. For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means "chrism." In the West, the term Confirmation suggests that this sacrament both confirms and strengthens baptismal grace.

1293 In treating the rite of Confirmation, it is fitting to consider the sign of anointing and what it signifies and imprints: a spiritual seal.
Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is a sign of abundance and joy; it cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds; and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength.
1294 Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life. The pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing and strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and comfort. The post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is the sign of consecration. By Confirmation Christians, that is, those who are anointed, share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off "the aroma of Christ."

1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father's seal. Christians are also marked with a seal: "It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.

1300 ...In the Latin rite, "the sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through the anointing with chrism on the forehead, which is done by the laying on of the hand, and through the words: 'Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti' [Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.]." In the Eastern Churches of Byzantine rite, after a prayer of epiclesis, the more significant parts of the body are anointed with myron: forehead, eyes, nose, ears, lips, chest, back, hands, and feet. Each anointing is accompanied by the formula: "the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit."

1302 It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.

1303 From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace: 
- it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, "Abba! Father!"; 
- it unites us more firmly to Christ; 
- it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us; 
- it renders our bond with the Church more perfect; 
- it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross:
Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God's presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.
1304 Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the "character," which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.

1306 Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that "the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time," for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.

1310 To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act.

1311 Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate that this be one of the baptismal godparents.

1313 In the Latin Rite, the ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop. If the need arises, the bishop may grant the faculty of administering Confirmation to priests, although it is fitting that he confer it himself, mindful that the celebration of Confirmation has been temporally separated from Baptism for this reason. Bishops are the successors of the apostles. They have received the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders. The administration of this sacrament by them demonstrates clearly that its effect is to unite those who receive it more closely to the Church, to her apostolic origins, and to her mission of bearing witness to Christ.

1314 If a Christian is in danger of death, any priest can give him Confirmation. Indeed the Church desires that none of her children, even the youngest, should depart this world without having been perfected by the Holy Spirit with the gift of Christ's fullness.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Quote of the Week

"The Church has ever proved indestructible. Her persecutors have failed to destroy her; in fact, it was during times of persecution that the Church grew more and more; while the persecutors themselves, and those whom the Church would destroy, are the very ones who came to nothing.  ...Again, errors have assailed her; but in fact, the greater the number of errors that have arisen, the more has the truth been made manifest. ...Nor has the Church failed before the assaults of demons: for she is like a tower of refuge to all who fight against the Devil."
- St. Thomas Aquinas 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Musings

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

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit, the end of the Easter Season, and marking the anniversary of the beginning of the Church's mission converting the world to Christ: Happy Birthday Catholic Church!

+        +        +

We in the United States and the rest of the developed West are lucky to live in a society with so many comforts and luxuries. But sometimes, as we go about our daily grind, we forget to keep that in perspective. We may grumble sometimes when an appliance breaks down, or when we're stuck in traffic, or if our favorite TV show gets canceled... Certainly these are annoyances, but in many parts of the world people contend with far worse problems. Imagine if your family were killed by insurgents in a civil war, or you don't know where your next meal will come from, or if you wander the streets with only the clothes on your back and no place to lay your head. These are Third World problems that most of us here in the First World will never have to face. Suddenly that broken garage door opener doesn't seem so bad.

I recently watched a YouTube video poking fun at our First World complaints. (You can watch the video here.)Since seeing this video, my wife and I constantly reminded each other how lucky we are, even in the midst of the problems we may be facing. The YouTube video is certainly funny, but it can also be a serious reminder to keep in prayer all those in need in the faraway places of the world.

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At our parish we have a choir loft in the back of church, which is a pretty long walk from the altar. When the choir and organist are present at Mass, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist brings a small ciborium down the isle to administer the Sacrament to them during Communion time. There is no ceremony or is simply one among many extraordinary ministers walking to his or her station to serve the congregation. The Eucharistic minister walks down a side isle which happens to pass right next to our usual pew, and for some time now, we as a family have adopted the practice of making the sign of the cross as the Eucharist passes by. It may not be necessary, and no one else in the congregation does it (as far as I know), but it has certainly raised our own awareness of Christ's Eucharistic Presence and has been a great teaching moment for our kids.

Friday, May 17, 2013

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...

"Let's Ask Ourselves: Are We Open to the Holy Spirit?" - [An appropriate reflection from Pope Francis as we prepare for Pentecost - includes full text of Wednesday general audience address.]

Pope: 'If we annoy people, blessed be the Lord' - "...let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal, onwards, as the Lord says to Paul, take courage!" [Very glad to here the pope say this... I know I have annoyed a few people when I share the faith. But when you speak the truth, you must expect some to reject it.]

Church needs believers with zeal, not couch-potato Catholics, pope says - "'Today let us ask the Holy Spirit to give this apostolic fervor to all of us and also the grace to be a nuisance to the things that are too quiet in the church' and go to the 'outskirts' of life, he said."

Pope Francis surprises attendees of Italy’s March for Life - "The organizers of the event did not know the Holy Father would meet with them, but were delightfully surprised when they saw the popemobile heading their way."

Today, a Social Teaching Triple Header - "On May 15, three popes made major contributions to the development of Catholic social teaching..."

R.I.P., American Family - "With the assistance of emotionally charged slogans like tolerance and diversity—always applied selectively—liberals have set their sights on the American family. And it will never be the same." See also: How the West Really Lost God

Justice and the Marriage Debate - "Proceeding from different but all-too-often-unarticulated conceptions of what marriage is and why it matters for society, advocates on both sides tend to lock into patterns of reasoning that seem impervious to opposing arguments."

A Primer on Rights, With Reference to Gay Marriage - "If Rights exist–and no one is ques­tion­ing that they do–they come either from God or from the state.  There is no other option. "

Hints on How the Supreme Court May Rule on Homosexual "Marriage"? - "Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently commented on the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in a way that may shed light on how she—and the Court—will rule in the cases involving homosexual 'marriage' that are currently before the Court."

Cultural Imperialism on the March: Obama Promotes Gay Pride Worldwide - "...the Obama administration, after promoting homosexual rights and marriage in the US, has undertaken the task of universalizing the rationalization for sodomitical behavior and is doing so with high moral rhetoric—in this case, by appropriating the language of human rights."

Bill Donohue: IRS Targeted Catholic League - "Just weeks after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I was notified by the IRS that the Catholic League was under investigation for violating the IRS Code on political activities as it relates to 501(c)(3) organizations."

The IRS Scandal Round-up - [There is a lot of information here...but worth reading.]

News to ruin your morning: IRS official who targeted conservatives for audit now oversees your Obamacare compliance - "One f the greatest faults with Obamacare is that the IRS is the chief enforcer of the act as far as individual citizens are concerned. Consume Obama's insurance and you'll be fine. If you don't consume enough however, it will be up to Ingram to penalize you."

‘Very Frightening’: Prominent Catholic Prof. Claims IRS Audited Her After Speaking Out Against Obama and Demanded to Know Who Was Paying Her - [She's not the only one!]

Did the IRS Target Pro-Life Groups, Too? - "It looks like the IRS also targeted pro-life groups for some very special attention, and not just by stuffing their applications for tax-exempt status in a broom closet."

Kermit Gosnell Found Guilty on Three First-Degree Murder Charges - [By now this is old news, but it is such good news it bears repeating.]

Gosnell Gives Up Appeal, Prosecutors Agree to Life in Prison, No Death Penalty - "In total, Gosnell was found guilty of 21 out of 24 felony counts of illegal abortions beyond the 24 week limit and found guilty on all but 16 of 227 misdemeanor counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law."

Nine of 12 Jurors Convicting Kermit Gosnell of Murder Were "Pro-Choice" - [I wonder if any opinions were changed?]

Monsters Inc: Douglas Karpen Picks Up Where Kermit Gosnell Left Off - "With a web of underground killing fields in New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Maryland, and now Texas clinics, this is no longer a hypothetical question of children’s safety. It’s a pervasive practice that had obviously gone undetected for years–until Gosnell trial’s and Lila Rose’s undercover videos." See also: Kermit Gosnell 2, Abortionist Douglas Karpen, Now Faces Investigation and this: Media Ignores Abortion Doc Who Killed Babies With His Bare Hands

Time to ask Obama about Gosnell - When President Barack Obama was asked about the murder trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, he said 'I can't comment on it because it's an active trial.' Now that a jury has found Gosnell guilty...we can find out what Obama thinks about the case and the country's abortion culture." Of course, we already have his own words: New Audio Surfaces of Obama Defending Infanticide in Illinois See also: When Politicians Allow the Murder of Infants

Are Embryos Human After All? - [Some great thought experiments presented here.]

Death penalty in Cleveland horrors? Wait, who died? - "Clearly, journalists are struggling here to try to determine how to answer a question that, in court debates, has often turned on theological issues linked to personhood, ensoulment, human rights, etc., etc. To be blunt: Precisely when does an undesired 'fetus' turn into a 'unborn child' when the biological, dare I say 'journalistic,' realities are the same?"

Cleveland Kidnap Victim Wants to Reunite With Son Conceived in Gang Rape - "How could any woman possibly want to carry to term, give birth to, and parent a child conceived in rape? We hear this question all the time on political soapboxes. It is a mantra that hurts women, because it rejects the idea that women will naturally love their children regardless of the circumstances of their conception."

Chilling note scrawled by bloodied Boston terrorist reveals motive - "Legal analysts say the note will be admissible in court. It will combine with his earlier testimony, provided before he was mirandized, to build the case against him."

Culture of Corruption: Why Obama's misuse of Marines is wrong - "Yesterday, during a light sprinkle, Obama ordered two Marines to hold umbrellas over his head and that of the Turkish Prime Minister. Marine Corps regulation MCO P1020.34F, Chapter 3, does not allow a male Marine to carry an umbrella. - Ever. "

NBC Worries Pope's New Saints Will Hurt Islam's Feelings - [...Because that's what we should do. Tiptoe around them. Being careful not to hurt their feelings. - I have some advice to all who read this: Stop watching the mainstream media.]

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor...But Not Your Homeschoolers - [Not a good development for homeschooling families.]

The Little Way v. The Great White Way - "We now live in an age in which the world is our soapbox. Social media makes it possible to regale the world with instant updates on the food we ate for breakfast, on how our children did in school, and on how many imaginary crops we planted on non-existent acreage each evening before bed. If we want to rant about the latest news headlines, there is always an audience somewhere ready to be held captive for a few seconds."

What do baby names tell us about the reliability of the Gospels? - "You might be surprised, but the names of the figures mentioned in the gospels actually provide evidence that they're true. Here's the story..."

Did Dinosaurs Die Before the Fall? - [Not a complete treatment of the question, but an interesting presentation nonetheless.]

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why Catholics Call Priests "Father"

Much of what follows is taken from material I have posted on this subject in the past. I am posting it anew for two reasons: 1) this is always an important issue to address, as it does cause concern among non-Catholic Christians, and 2) this very issue was raised with me on at least two separate occasions recently - it is thus fresh on my mind and deserves my attention. As a bonus, I had already planned on re-posting my blog series on the "male-only priesthood," and this current post presents a nice lead-in to that topic.

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Non-Catholic Christians often object to the Catholics using the term "Father" as a title for priests. The primary reason: the Bible forbids it! That seems like a very good reason, and one that Catholics ought to heed...that is, if it were actually true. However, as with many criticisms concerning Catholic practices and teachings, this common misunderstanding stems from a poor interpretation of Scripture. Here is the passage in question:
“But you are not to be called 'Rabbi' [Master], for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-11) [Emphasis added]
The verse we are most concerned with here is in bold in the quote above. Protestants insist that Jesus meant these words literally. When He said to call no one on earth "father," that meant that you should call absolutely no one on earth "father" – – end of story. Thus Jesus instituted an outright ban on the use of this title among Christians. If this is true, then Catholics are obviously in disobedience to Jesus’ clear scriptural command.

A few problems arise from this literalist interpretation, which becomes clear when we consider the larger context of our verse. If Jesus truly meant to ban outright the use of the title "father," then He also forbade anyone to be called “teacher” (vs. 10, above): "Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ." If we take these verses literally, then Jesus breaks his own command just a few verses later by calling someone other than the Christ “teacher.” In Matthew 23:13 He says,  "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees…” Indeed Jesus never avoided the word “teacher” after seemingly banning the word here. He uses it freely as a title for people other than Himself. Nor does the average Protestant avoid using the word "teacher." How many Christians – the very ones who criticize Catholics for calling their priests “Father” - call their Sunday school instructors “teacher”? This would violate Jesus’ command every bit as much as Catholics calling their priests “Father.”

Furthermore, notice in verse 8 at the beginning of our passage from Matthew above: Jesus forbids the use of the word “master” (a form of which is “Rabbi”). But we all use a form of the word “master” whenever we say Mister or Misses (words that are derived from the same word as "Master"). So do we violate a direct command from Jesus anytime we attach the word “master” to our own names? If Catholics are unbiblical then so are Mr. Protestant and Mrs. Evangelical.

Surely there must be some other way to interpret this text. Jesus must not have meant to ban the word “teacher” since He Himself used it immediately after saying not to do so. He would not have made such a strict rule only to break it in His very next breath. And how can Protestants criticize Catholics for using the term "father" when clearly Protestants use "teacher" and "master" themselves.

So what about the word "Father"? Are there any biblical examples of this title being used? The answer is a resounding, yes:

Paul calls himself a “father” in the same spiritual sense that Catholics use the term: “For if you were to have countless tutors [also rendered “teachers” – notice Paul uses this forbidden term too] in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father [‘I have begotten you’] through the gospel.” (1Corinthians 4:15) Paul often called those who were under his spiritual care his “children” implying his spiritual fatherhood.

In Acts, as Stephen is about to be martyred he calls the Jewish leaders “fathers”: “Hear me, brethren and fathers!” (Acts 7:2)

Also in Acts, we find a reference to “our father David” (Acts 4:25). Not all Jews were directly descended from David; nonetheless the title “father” is applied to David because of his spiritual fatherhood rather than a direct biological connection.

Jesus calls Abraham “father”: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) Often the Patriarchs (which is from the Latin for father – “pater”) of the Old Testament were referred to as “fathers” because of their great importance in the Jewish faith. Hebrews 1:1 does this as well: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways…”

Shockingly, Jesus even calls the devil a “father”: "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth.” (John 8:44)

And of course, apart from the Bible, we cannot neglect to mention our everyday usage of the term. We all call our own male parent “father” and we use terms like “father of the country” or “founding fathers” for our secular heroes.

So why is it that Catholics are singled out, when clearly the Biblical and historical evidence shows that this passage from Matthew was never meant to be taken literally? Or more to the point, why did Jesus speak in such stark terms if He did not mean exactly what He said? How are we to interpret this passage from Matthew?

In Matthew 23:8-11, Jesus is using a rhetorical device called hyperbole – which means to exaggerate in an extreme way in order to make a point. We do this when we say things like, “I had to wait forever in line…” or “I’ve done this a million times…” No one takes you literally when you say these things, because everyone knows that you are overstating the truth in order to make a point. You are speaking in hyperbole.

So Jesus did not mean to forbid the use of certain words. Rather He intended to emphasize that our earthly experience of teachers and masters and fathers pales in comparison to the Teacher/Master/Father that is God.

Thus regarding teachers, Jesus’ point is this: Christ is the Ultimate Teacher. He is THE Teacher - above all other teachers. Just as Jesus is the most perfect of all human beings and deserves to be called Son of Man more than any of us do, so too does He deserve the name Teacher more than any earthly teacher does. Likewise, the word “Father” describes God as the Ultimate Father above all others. Anything we experience of fatherhood here on earth (even our own biological father) is an imperfect reflection of the divine paternity of God. The two are miles apart. And the same can be said of masters.

The reason Jesus is stressing this difference is not to ban these words from usage. The real reason is found in the final lines of our passage above: “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus is telling us to avoid puffing ourselves up with pride concerning titles and official names. We may be father, master, or teacher to our fellow Christians, but these titles bear with them a humble acceptance of servitude, not a grand air of superiority. Catholics call their priests “Father” because as priests they accept the role of service and self-giving that is a reflection of God’s own gift of Self as Father to us all.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Quote of the Week

“The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming, not from a few Socialists surviving from the Fabian Society, but from the living exultant energy of the rich resolved to enjoy themselves at last, with neither Popery nor Puritanism nor Socialism to hold them back… The roots of the new heresy, God knows, are as deep as nature itself, whose flower is the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life. I say that the man who cannot see this cannot see the signs of the times; cannot see even the skysigns in the street that are the new sort of signs in heaven..."
- G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Catechism for the Year of Faith

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

1210 Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.

1212 The sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. "The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity."

1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),4 and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."

1218 Since the beginning of the world, water, so humble and wonderful a creature, has been the source of life and fruitfulness. Sacred Scripture sees it as "overshadowed" by the Spirit of God:
At the very dawn of creation
your Spirit breathed on the waters,
making them the wellspring of all holiness.
1219 The Church has seen in Noah's ark a prefiguring of salvation by Baptism, for by it "a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water":
The waters of the great flood
you made a sign of the waters of Baptism,
that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness.
1220 If water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, the water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the mystery of the cross. By this symbolism Baptism signifies communion with Christ's death.

1221 But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation wrought by Baptism:
You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh,
bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea,
to be an image of the people set free in Baptism.
1223 All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. After his resurrection Christ gives this mission to his apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

1226 From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans. Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household," St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer "was baptized at once, with all his family."

1229 From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion.

1231 Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its proper place here.

1232 The second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church "the catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps." The rites for these stages are to be found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). The Council also gives permission that: "In mission countries, in addition to what is furnished by the Christian tradition, those elements of initiation rites may be admitted which are already in use among some peoples insofar as they can be adapted to the Christian ritual."

1247 Since the beginning of the Church, adult Baptism is the common practice where the proclamation of the Gospel is still new. The catechumenate (preparation for Baptism) therefore occupies an important place. This initiation into Christian faith and life should dispose the catechumen to receive the gift of God in Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.

1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.

1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole "households" received baptism, infants may also have been baptized.

1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon. In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize , by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, "the tinder for sin" (fomes peccati); since concupiscence "is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ." Indeed, "an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."

1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature," member of Christ and co-heir with him,70 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.

1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification: 
- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues. 
Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.

1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: "Therefore . . . we are members one of another." Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body."

1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.

1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord ("Dominicus character") "for the day of redemption." "Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life." The faithful Christian who has "kept the seal" until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life "marked with the sign of faith," with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God - the consummation of faith - and in the hope of resurrection.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Musings

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

Today is May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. May is Mary's month, and this being the day after Mother's Day today is the perfect day to pray a rosary. Pick up your beads and get at it.

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Remember that we still have one week of Easter left. Don't forget to wish someone a Happy Easter while we are still in this liturgical season. Of course the pop culture forgot about Easter many weeks ago, but as Catholics we are called to transform and transcend the culture. Surprise someone with a "Happy Easter!" greeting while there is still time left. You might get a strange look , but you may also get an opportunity to share your faith.

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Last week was busier at home than I expected, so I did not get around to posting here on the blog as I intended. This week should be less hectic, so hopefully I'll have more time to blog. As usual though, I won't make any promieses. :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

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...

7 things Pope Francis wants you to know about Jesus' Ascension - "Recently, Pope Francis gave an explanation of the Ascension, what it means, and how it affects our lives. Here are 7 things he wants you to know."

What the Lord’s Ascension Means  - "What the feast of the Ascension means is that the One who had to leave us for a time, even to the extent of taking physical leave of those whom he most loved in the world, is thereby much closer to us now." See also: The Ascension: What’s In It For Me?

Mary’s Month - "In this special month, in which we will celebrate Christ’s Ascension into Heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, I encourage you to deepen your devotion to Mary."

Mother’s Day: Gender Matters - There are many, many excellent mothers who do things very differently. ...And yet all these differences don’t necessarily tell us whether or not a woman is a good mother. That’s defined by the relationship she has with her child, by who she is to that child."

Pope Francis Calls Whole Church to Evangelical Spirit, Ecclesial Spirit, Missionary Spirit - "In an inspiring homily delivered on May 5, 2013, during the Holy Mass offered especially for those involved in Confraternities committed to ecclesial, evangelical and missionary service, Pope Francis again sounded the major theme of his pontificate."

Pope says Christians must learn to patiently endure trials, each other - "Learning how to patiently carry 'the weight of difficulties, the weight of contradictions' is something people learn gradually, he said. It's a process of maturation that lasts a lifetime. 'It's like fine wine.'"

Sourpusses hurt the church's witness, mission, pope says at Mass - "Pope Francis said joy is a 'pilgrim virtue,' one that moves Christians to journey out into the world preaching the Gospel and proclaiming Christ."

Pope to Women Religious: Unity With the Church Is Part of Your Vocation - "Pope Francis told leaders of women’s religious orders today that their vocations can only be recognized within the fold of the Church." See also: Careerists and Climbers Doing "Great Harm" to the Church

Pope to Nuns: Don't Be Old Maids - "Francis also warned the sisters against using their vocations for personal ambition, saying priests and sisters who do so 'do more harm to the church.'"

Why Pope Francis Doesn't Give Communion - "Receiving communion means receiving the body of the Lord, with the awareness of forming a community. But if a man, rather than uniting the people of God, has devastated the lives of many persons, he cannot receive communion, it would be a total contradiction." See also: Pope Francis Urges Bishops to Deny Communion to Pro-Abortion Catholics

Pope Leo’s Ideal Was Not State Control - "Leo’s ideal is not State control, with individuals as wardens, but a society built up of societies; a culture truly social, based on human friendships and family ties and alliances."

Gosnell, abortion and the sanitizing of facts - "The prosecution’s case is dramatic stuff.  Yet many of the nation’s prestige media have tried to ignore the details of Gosnell’s trial – which under any other circumstances would be swarmed over as sensational."

Senate Republicans Demand Hearing on Gosnell, Abortion Clinics - "Congress and States should gather information about and correct abusive, unsanitary, and illegal abortion practices and the interstate referral of women and girls to facilities engaged in dangerous or illegal second- and third-trimester procedures..."

Deliberations continue in notorious Philadelphia abortionist case - [It seems like it shouldn't take that long, but here's why...] Why is the Gosnell Jury Taking so Long? See the Jury Sheets

Details of Kermit Gosnell Abortion Horrors Taking Emotional Toll on Jury - "The News Journal reported that some of the jurors appeared somewhat downcast when told they had to reach 227 separate verdicts on those counts." [These people need our prayers as they dig deep into the evil perpetrated by this man.]

Gosnell: Tip of the Iceberg? - "Now, there is substantial evidence that a situation resembling elements of the Gosnell case existed for years at the Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge..."

Gallup Poll: 58% of Americans Oppose All or Most Abortions - [A bit of good news as America begins to wake up.] And this: Reporter Covering Gosnell Murder Trial Changes His Mind on Abortion

Women's Rights? Why Every Woman Should Oppose Abortion - "Countless women have been made to think that they have no other option but abortion; that they are not capable of being good mothers. They have been coerced by cowardly, weak men, who want to avoid stepping up to their responsibilities and make women think that this 'is the best choice'. Abortion is never a 'choice'. It is an invasive, destructive, violent and agonizing act against womanhood."

Like Slavery, Planned Parenthood Now Targeting Black Women - "The struggle for racial justice in America – whether fighting slavery, or fighting for civil rights – has always been informed by absolute standards of right and wrong, of good and evil, that transcend even the cleverest human mind. Black history is testimony to where we wind up when those standards get lost."

Arguing Against Abortion - Here you will find a "list of resources, which, though far from comprehensive, may be of use to pro-lifers."

Cleveland kidnapper may face death penalty — for beating pregnant captive until she miscarried - "Courts and legislatures have been wrestling with that contradiction, where a fetus is something less than a person for purposes of lawful abortion but a full person for purposes of 'unlawful termination,' since Roe was decided."

"Psychic" Sylvia Browne Told Kidnap Victim's Mom Her Daughter Was Dead - "Psychics and mediums, despite what so many people tell you, are not just harmless fun. It's likely they are either complete and heartless frauds or they could actually be something much worse."

Sen. Graham predicts Benghazi investigation bombshell - "We're going to find political manipulation seven weeks before an election. We're going to find people asleep at the switch when it comes to the State Department, including Hillary Clinton."

More on Wedding Attendance... - [A follow-up to a piece I linked to last week.]

John Milbank: Gay Marriage a “Strategic Move” That Has Nothing to Do with Gay Rights - "We have sleep-walked into the legalisation of practices whose logic and implications have never been seriously debated..."

Homosexuality & Diabetes: An Unspoken Likeness - "Diabetes is a too-common affliction in America today. But even if you disagree with what the following people say, what is interesting is that they are saying these things with no scolding from the usual suspects: mainstream media powers, grandstanding politicians and airheaded celebrities, et al. Nobody is calling these people bigots or haters or anything of the sort. And, in fact, there is a lot of truth in what they have to say."

Redefining Marriage: A Battle Hundreds of Years in the Making - "The floodgates opened in the nineteenth century, an age of religious and social experimentation.  The loosened moorings could be sensed in the experimental polygamies and polyamorous practices of various American sects of the 1840s. The real threat, however, appeared later..."

Answering the Question: The Right to Marriage and Infertile Couples - "Does the 'office of marriage' involve the capacity to undertake a work or action: an unimpeded conjugal union that is naturally ordered to the procreation of children--or does it also involves the capacity of knowledge (whether certain, probable, or possible) of a result (conception) in addition to the action?"

The madness of liberal moralizing - "The paradoxes of liberal morality were on glaring display last week. The Obama administration OK’d the sale of “Plan B” post-coital emergency contraception over the counter without prescription (or parental consent) to girls as young as 15. At the same time, the City Council moved a step closer to banning anyone under the age of 21 from buying cigarettes (the legal age is now 18)."

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted: Catholic and American? Part one - "...many Catholics have at best ambivalent feelings about the relationship between Catholicism and America. ...Should Catholics still be excited about being American citizens?"

Do Catholics Represent Evangelicals in America’s Legal Elite? - "...Evangelicals do not seem overly bothered by the fact that relatively few of them occupy positions at the top of the legal profession–no Evangelicals sit on the Supreme Court, for example–and wonders why. One explanation, he says, is that Evangelicals believe, and are comfortable with the fact, that Catholics represent their outlook on things."

Protestant South Becoming a New Catholic Stronghold - "Catholics in the South say their experience holds lessons for their Northern counterparts." [Dominus vobiscum, ya'll!]

War of the Words: Who Do We ‘Worship’? - "Using ‘worship’ as another word for ‘adoration’ of God is probably a sure-fire way to avoid confusion in dialogue with non-Catholics. There’s no reason to stop using it in this restrictive sense. But this shouldn’t lead us into confusion about the historical uses of the word. It pays to have a firm grasp of this."

But Whom May We Evangelize? - "...when we talk of evangelization today, we have to talk directly and seriously about and to the systems that are politically and culturally closed to any such notion that Christianity can be presented freely in their domains."

Would God Really Send Someone to Hell? - "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in hell chose it."

20 Arguments For God’s Existence - [Lot's of information here - a great resource.]

The Theology of the Bottle - "God made wine (and King Beer) to give us joy, and the habit of moderation in all things will make sure it remains servant and never master." See also: Cause for Mirth: The Return of Abbey Brewing to the United States