Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shocking Beyond Words

Seriously. I have nothing to add to this.

Spiderman touts Planned Parenthood.

If you thought that Planned Parenthood outdid itself with the "Superhero for Choice", then you need to see the Spiderman comic that has the webhead himself touting safe-sex, masturbation and more.

Thanks to Dawn Eden for this one.

The Best Bargain

I am a bargain shopper.

Yesterday I was shopping at a local discount store (that shall remain nameless). As I walked through the store and perused the “sale” signs and “bargain” bins I was miffed. In my book 30% off does not constitute “clearance” and 20% off barely counts as a “sale”. I quickly abandoned my cart, aware I wouldn’t be making any purchases.

As I continued to walk around the store (in the hopes of a 50% off bin, I suppose) I was perplexed. Everyone else was shopping as if the store was giving things away. People eagerly pulling items off the shelf, filling up carts, walking briskly towards the next “deal”. I almost stopped one student to tell her a better place to find a deal on throw pillows (to furnish her first apartment I’m sure). I refrained.

As I left the store (empty handed) it hit me. They shopped so enthusiastically because they didn’t know there was a better deal elsewhere.

And then I realized that people spend more than they should in so-called discount stores for the same reason people spend less time on God – they are unaware of what a real bargain looks like.

Bear with me for a minute as I compare a relationship with God to a bargain. I mean, if we think about it, isn’t it?

Sure there is a price to be paid. We give our time, we give our attention, we give our love, we give our obedience, and we even give our very selves. This is no small price. But think of what we gain: peace amid the storm, hope in the future, love beyond measure, forgiveness when we fall, healing when we hurt, mercy when we deserve none, strength when we have none, the faithfulness of the Father, the inheritance of the Son, the indwelling of the Spirit.

Yes, there is a price we pay, but look how much more we receive! What we receive far outweighs (quantitatively and qualitatively) what we give. This, my friends, is the definition of a bargain.

Still not sold on the idea (pun intended)? Consider this: all these things above (peace, hope, love, forgiveness, healing, strength, faithfulness, inheritance, indwelling) are actually free! Someone else has paid the price. Christ has bought it all for you, for me.

There was a time in my life when I spent more time on appearances and less time on trying to be a better person, when I spent more effort on impressing people than on pleasing God, when I spent more time buying things than doing things for God. (Lest you think I’m boasting, some of “these” times were recent and I struggle weekly, if not daily, to keep each of these priorities in line.) But then I discovered the great bargain.

People frantically shop for things to make themselves happy, but there is only One Who can satisfy. People are willing to pay more and get less, but there is One Whose whole life was about giving, even unto death. People say nothing in life is free, but there is One Who offers the best bargain around. Dare we abandon our empty baskets early and leave the store empty handed?

Today may we realize the free gift that God offers us in every moment of every day – the gift of knowing, loving and serving Him. And may we eagerly (and gratefully) receive all he has to offer.


What a bargain.

St. Ignatius' Feast day

Happy feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Activities to do today.
  • Tell a Jesuit that you are praying for them.
  • Ask St. Ignatius to pray for you.
  • Sign up for an Ignatian retreat.
  • Join the Jesuit order.
  • Watch a Jesuit video.
  • Stand next to a statue of St. Ignatius and see how short he really was. ->
  • Revel in being an Aggie (half the Jesuits in formation in the Southern province are Aggies).
Any other ideas?

Monday, July 30, 2007

NFP vs. Contraception

A take-off of the Mac commercials.



Thanks to the Curt Jester for this one.

Condoms at World Youth Day

WYD will not hand out condoms. Of course this isn't news, if you know anything about the Catholic Church. But, they make it a news story. But, what I don't understand is how encouraging "young people to have a high level of self-esteem and respect for their bodies, sexuality, relationships, marriage and family life" can be equated to the "head in the sand approach"?

Experts

I need to become an expert in something, so I can make insightful statements such as this.

Never mind that every stream, lake and aquifer in Texas is full. Forget that we have record rainfall and it is green in every part of the state and August is almost here. We need the expert to tell us such things before I believe it!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Goddess

The Goddess wants to be a photographer when she grows up...

Vocations in The South

It is widely known that vocations to the priesthood seem to be growing in many southern states, but still suffering in many other places. This is confirmed by a report that the Diocese of Raleigh will ordain six men soon. This is the highest number since 1956. This is great news.

On a side-note, Fr. David (Director and Pastor of St. Mary's) visited the Raleigh diocese to work with them in increasing vocations. He should know. St. Mary's has more than 20 people who have and will enter formation for the priesthood and religious life in the last two years alone.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Technology - Amazing and Scary

So, Microsoft has a new technology that is amazing and scary. Basically, it pulls together all the images on the web and links them together. To get a feel for it, you have to watch this video that I first saw on Jimmy Akin's Blog.

It does have some amazing possibilities, but as Jimmy points out, it almost seems apocalyptic.

Letter To The Editor

On Sunday, in The Eagle, there was a letter to the editor about the Vatican's recent document on the Church and it was not kind. You can read it below and following it you can read my response that I wrote to him, which was published today (Thur).

Only way to know

Pope Benedict XVI claims that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church on Earth, having "the fullness of the means of salvation." All other churches "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession, he said.

Not only have popes and councils contradicted their teaching, they have, on occasion, had as many as three men claiming to be the pope at the same time. Who rightfully had "apostolic succession"? The Roman Catholic Church's claim to "apostolic succession" was time and again based upon political expediency, avarice, hunger for power and every base manipulation to which man is capable of descending.

If the Roman Catholic Church's basis for being the "true church" lies in its ability to trace the lineage of its bishops back to the Apostles, don't bet the farm. The Scriptures never teach a "succession" to the original apostles (Peter's confession of Jesus - not Peter - is the "rock" on which the church is built). The Scriptures claim that the Scriptures alone hold the "fullness of the means of salvation" because they teach the truth regarding Jesus. Popes and councils have originated doctrines foreign to the pages of the New Testament. If you can't find it in the Bible, then it's not from God and must be discarded as a man-made invention.

I have all confidence that the New Testament has a clear succession to the autographs written by the Apostles and prophets. And that's the only succession that matters. I believe there is one true church, and that church's distinguishing features can only be determined by matching its practices with the New Testament. This is the only way to know which church is the true church today.

CHARLES DURHAM Jr., minister
Twin City Church of Christ


Misunderstanding

As one of the few Catholics who have ever had the honor of leading prayer in a Church of Christ worship service and preaching before a Church of Christ gathering, I would like to express my great respect for the beliefs of minister Charles Durham (Eagle, July 22), whom I consider a brother-in-Christ. With that said, I believe my brother misunderstood what the Vatican intended with the recent document on the church.

Just as most evangelical Protestants wouldn't say that members of a para-church organization aren't any less Christian because they aren't attending what is commonly defined as a "church," so the Catholic Church isn't saying any individual is any less Christian because he or she isn't formally a member of a church (in the strict way "church" is being defined in the document). Salvation, grace and a person's standing with God isn't being questioned. It is merely asking an ecclesiological question: What does it mean to be a "church"?

The answer to that question can be summed up by saying that the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist makes a church a church. I certainly wouldn't expect Durham to agree with the Catholic understanding of that statement; otherwise, he would have to consider becoming a Catholic.

This document has said nothing new. It merely restated what the Catholic Church has always taught about ecclesiology.

Unfortunately, I don't have room to go into what I consider to be the historical errors he makes in the letter, so I would like to formally invite Charles Durham to lunch (my treat) to discuss these matters and any other issues he would like to raise. A brother should do no less. Peace.

MARCEL LeJEUNE
Assistant director
of campus ministry
St. Mary's Catholic Center
College
Station

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Wrongful Birth" Lawsuit

A couple has been awarded $21 million for a "wrongful birth" of a disabled child. They claim they would have had the child aborted had they known it was going to be disabled.

This is a very frightening precedent. Are children all supposed to be perfect? Are we supposed to be the judges of what lives are worthy of living and which are not? Pray! Pray hard for our leaders, our judges, our society!

When the lives of the most vulnerable are optional, then all life is optional. There is no more vulnerable life than that of a disabled baby in a mother's womb right now in our society.

One of the lawyers is quoted as saying:
I believe that this case is so powerful and this tragedy was so preventable and is so poignant, that it is the kind of case that should rise above the fray and rise above party politics
This is why he wants the Florida legislature to lift caps on the lawsuit because the Doctor works for a state agency.

Pope Speaks to Young People

In a message for World Youth Day, the Pope wrote the following. It is very good:

Many young people view their lives with apprehension and raise many questions about their future. They anxiously ask: How can we fit into a world marked by so many grave injustices and so much suffering? How should we react to the selfishness and violence that sometimes seem to prevail? How can we give full meaning to life? How can we help to bring it about that the fruits of the Spirit mentioned above, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (No. 6), can fill this scarred and fragile world, the world of young people most of all? On what conditions can the life-giving Spirit of the first creation and particularly of the second creation or redemption become the new soul of humanity? Let us not forget that the greater the gift of God -- and the gift of the Spirit of Jesus is the greatest of all -- so much the greater is the world's need to receive it and therefore the greater and the more exciting is the Church's mission to bear credible witness to it. You young people, through World Youth Day, are in a way manifesting your desire to participate in this mission. In this regard, my dear young friends, I want to remind you here of some key truths on which to meditate. Once again I repeat that only Christ can fulfil the most intimate aspirations that are in the heart of each person. Only Christ can humanize humanity and lead it to its "divinization". Through the power of his Spirit he instils divine charity within us, and this makes us capable of loving our neighbour and ready to be of service. The Holy Spirit enlightens us, revealing Christ crucified and risen, and shows us how to become more like Him so that we can be "the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ" ("Deus Caritas Est," 33). Those who allow themselves to be led by the Spirit understand that placing oneself at the service of the Gospel is not an optional extra, because they are aware of the urgency of transmitting this Good News to others. Nevertheless, we need to be reminded again that we can be witnesses of Christ only if we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit who is "the principal agent of evangelization" (cf. "Evangelii Nuntiandi," 75) and "the principal agent of mission" (cf. "Redemptoris Missio," 21). My dear young friends, as my venerable predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II said on several occasions, to proclaim the Gospel and bear witness to the faith is more necessary than ever today (cf. "Redemptoris Missio," 1). There are those who think that to present the precious treasure of faith to people who do not share it means being intolerant towards them, but this is not the case, because to present Christ is not to impose Him (cf. "Evangelii Nuntiandi," 80). Moreover, two thousand years ago twelve Apostles gave their lives to make Christ known and loved. Throughout the centuries since then, the Gospel has continued to spread by means of men and women inspired by that same missionary fervour. Today too there is a need for disciples of Christ who give unstintingly of their time and energy to serve the Gospel. There is a need for young people who will allow God's love to burn within them and who will respond generously to his urgent call, just as many young blesseds and saints did in the past and also in more recent times. In particular, I assure you that the Spirit of Jesus today is inviting you young people to be bearers of the good news of Jesus to your contemporaries. The difficulty that adults undoubtedly find in approaching the sphere of youth in a comprehensible and convincing way could be a sign with which the Spirit is urging you young people to take this task upon yourselves. You know the ideals, the language, and also the wounds, the expectations, and at the same time the desire for goodness felt by your contemporaries. This opens up the vast world of young people's emotions, work, education, expectations, and suffering ... Each one of you must have the courage to promise the Holy Spirit that you will bring one young person to Jesus Christ in the way you consider best, knowing how to "give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but [to] do it with gentleness and reverence" (cf. 1 Peter 3:15).

In order to achieve this goal, my dear friends, you must be holy and you must be missionaries since we can never separate holiness from mission (cf. "Redemptoris Missio," 90). Do not be afraid to become holy missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier who travelled through the Far East proclaiming the Good News until every ounce of his strength was used up, or like Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus who was a missionary even though she never left the Carmelite convent. Both of these are "Patrons of the Missions". Be prepared to put your life on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the risen Christ in every corner of the earth.

Oh, that is good!

Cell Phone Tower in Shape of Cross

Well, if you are going to build one, then you might as well have it with a message, right?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Only becoming-one with God can be the true process of man's healing." Pope Benedict XVI

I scar easily.

I have a scar on my right hand from working at a VET clinic (fun story). I have a scar on my left arm from running into a nail at a retreat center (ouch.) I have a scar on my shin from falling off the wing-wall at my old house (yeah, we called them wing-walls.)

I have noticed in recent years that I can actually prevent scarring. If I clean the wound, keep it clean, use ointment and a bandaid . . . the scar is less visible and less likely. (No, this post is not an advertisement for some new medicinal product.)

Recently I picked a scab (yes, gross, I know.) The second I did it I thought, “Why did I do that?! Now, it will scar even more.” (Keep in mind, boys think scars are cool, girls not-so-much.)

Why so much talk about my first aid practices? I scar easily (emotionally too) and I had a couple realizations about wounds of all kinds and genuine healing:

1) So often, we know how to heal a wound, but we don’t. We do not take the time to “clean it out”. Then later we are surprised it is infected. Somehow dumbfounded that there is a scar.

2) Often we let hurts fester. It is like we stand there and stare at a bleeding wound saying “Why did this happen to me?!” without making the logical move to get treatment.

3) We also walk around pointing at the wound saying, “This hurts! You have no idea how much this hurts!” but don’t accept offers from others to help us mend.

4) When we recant an old hurt to a new friend, when we assume the worst of a “forgiven” friend, when we stew and steam and get all riled up again over a past hurt . . . it is like ripping off the scab too soon. The healing takes longer.

What, then, should we do? How do we “clean” an emotional or relational wound? We “get it out” – whether that be writing it out, talking it out, praying it out or a combination thereof. We must get the “dirt” out and not let it fester. We must let it go. Give it to God. Not easy, but necessary.

What is the “ointment” to heal these wounds? Grace. We need to take our wounds to Jesus and let Him heal them with His grace. There is no other way. He brings the new life, the true healing, about. By his wounds we are healed.

Today I find myself a bit grateful I cut my hand recently (on the refrigerator shelf, no less). It has reminded me how real healing happens. I think I’ll go break out the first aid kit and do some mending.

Is This Article Misleading?

The way this article and headline are written makes it sound as if they are telling two different stories.

On the one hand, the headline reads "Georgia Death-row Convict Granted Stay after Vatican Intervenes", but the article says "The execution was stayed for up to 90 days, on orders from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, because some witnesses in the case have recanted their testimony."

So, was it because of the Vatican or the witnesses?

It seems to me the two are only a coincidence and that the writer is jumping to conclusions. I am open to being corrected on this one. Feedback?

Monday, July 23, 2007

NFP?

Q - Why does it seem that the gift of NFP is a hidden secret nobody talks about? As a life-long catholic I have never heard the issue of contraception and why the church opposes it discussed in a sermon during mass. When I was preparing for marriage and was asked what my plans for family planning were I honestly didn’t know how to answer. I knew the church was against contraception but knew virtually nothing about NFP other than the negative rumors about it not working (NOT true!) I was not told how to learn more about it or what it was really about until I attended PreCana, 3 months prior to my wedding, fortunately I felt a call to seek out more information on my own and found this wonderful way of living. I feel like I, as well as many others out there, are let down by there not being enough information readily available for Catholics prior to engagement when things are so busy with wedding planning that many don't look deep enough into such an important part of their marriage - family planning.

A –
Thanks for the question! I didn’t have time to get to it Friday and it looks like that decision was providential. At every weekend Mass here at St. Mary’s, NFP was the topic of the homily. So, I think Fr. David answered your questions better than I ever could.

But, to give you an honest answer. There has not been enough emphasis on it in marriage prep and in catechesis. While some areas around the country are doing a much better job, it usually takes a leader with a passionate vision to get it started. We are trying to do our part here at St. Mary’s by paying for the training of NFP instructors and requiring all engaged couples to learn at least the basics.

But, a cultural change within the Church must happen before we adequately address all the issues that surround this issue. Pray for that change.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bob Gates on the War in Iraq

Whether you support the policy of the Administration in Iraq or not, I think it is good to see the leaders of the Defense Department show some heart when it comes to the individual lives that are taken in the horror of war. Here is a video of the former President of Texas A&M and current Defense Secretary, Bob Gates speaking about one Marine:

Giving Christ a Bad Name

In reading about a "Christian" man who killed a person of homosexual orientation my inclination is to think, this man is giving Christ a bad name. Of course, this is very true. In no way can a Christian justify murdering another human being the way this man does in the story. It is clearly a smearing of the name of Christ.

But, on the other hand, we don't need nuts like this to give Jesus a bad name. We do it so well ourselves. Every time we sin and fail to spread His love to others, we smear his name.

Just taking the splinter out before I point to the plank...

Fiction

In today's paper there is an opinion piece bemoaning the fact that few people read novels anymore. In fact, less than half of the adult population of the US will read a novel for pleasure this year. The rate of adults who read regularly and for pleasure has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years.

This is frightening to me. Books are the backbone of a well-rounded and intelligent person's ability to reason and process. They are an indispensable vehicle for broadening language, expanding one's imagination and increasing cognitive function. But, I digress.

In my small and vain attempt to get all of us to read more good novels, I will provide a list of good books that are all fiction and all have a redeeming value to them. In other words, they can be good for the spirit as well as the mind. Of course, this list is incomplete, but it is off the top of my head.
  • The Brothers Karamozov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
  • The Power and The Glory – Graham Greene
  • The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
  • Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
  • 1984 – George Orwell
  • The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  • The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop – Willa Cather
  • Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  • The Catcher in The Rye – JD Salinger
  • Watership Down – Richard Adams
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beacher Stowe
  • The Lord Of The Rings – JRR Tolkien
  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  • Animal Farm - George Orwell
  • Anything by Shakespeare
  • Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Proper Attire for Church

The Archdiocese of Manila has issued guidelines for proper attire in church. Below is the poster of the guidelines. Unfortunately, in today's society where modesty is a bad word, these kind of guidelines are necessary.

Reporting Rape is "Dangerous" to Planned Parenthood

Dawn Eden has written that PP Golden Gate will now fight the reporting of rape. They call it a "dangerous precedent". From their action report:
The California Attorney General's office recently issued an official title and summary for a new anti-choice ballot initiative. The title of the new initiative is "Mandatory Reporting of Pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Minors as Abuse."

This dangerous new initiative seeks to amend the constitution and current law to require mandated reporters, like Planned Parenthood, to report any diagnosis of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection in patients under 16 as abuse, regardless of the age of their sexual partner.

The estimated financial impact to the state is approximately $11 million for health and social services costs and costs to local law enforcement and the courts.
Of course, as Dawn pointed out, that this is the same group that made the following video. Watch and be amazed.

New Vatican City-State website

The Vatican City-State has released a new website.

From the CW News article, the website:

provides general information about the history, structure, and government of Vatican City, and links to some of the departments of greatest interest to visitors, including the Vatican library, publishing house, and stamp office. The site also provides links to the Vatican Museums and the media sites operated by the Holy See.

The new site makes an impressive collection of photos available online, allowing web visitors to take a virtual tour of the Vatican gardens, the Vatican Museums, and even the collection of automobiles donated to the Popes. There are several webcams, updated constantly, giving viewers different views of St. Peter's Square, the palace of the Vatican City governorate, the Vatican basilica, and the tomb of Pope John Paul II

There are some very nice tidbits of information on the website. Nice.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Environmental Terrorists

Some vandals decided they would save the world by smashing out windows and etching "for the environ" into a man's Hummer.

Of course, after he has to get the glass replaced and the paint fixed - and that will certainly help the environment.

I guess we could call them Green Thugs?

Nice attitude his neighbors have as well:
Now, as Groves contemplates what to do with the remains of his $38,000 Hummer, he has had to deal with a number of people who have driven by the crime scene and glared at him in smug satisfaction.
While we should all be good stewards of our world, this is just stupidity run amok.

Death Penalty

How does the death penalty help us as a society?

I really don't know and I don't understand how a lethal injection isn't cruel or unusual in punishing a human being.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Out for a while

We are going on a staff retreat starting at lunch today (Tues) and going through tomorrow afternoon. So, we will not be posting until we get back. Say a prayer for us please.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Christians Disrupt Hindu Prayer in Senate

Some Christian activists disrupted the prayer of a Hindu leader while he was giving the opening invocation in the Senate.

Yes, we can tolerate others praying, even if it is to false gods.
No, we are not a Christian nation.
This is not a good witness to Christ, even if their intentions were good.

From Bishop Aymond

The following is from Bishop Gregory Aymond about the document released last week about the Church:
The document “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church” does not contain anything new; it clarifies previous writings of the Church.

It reaffirms our belief that Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church almost 2,000 years ago. In order for his church to continue and grow Christ appointed Peter as head of the church. The document emphasizes the importance of Apostolic Succession, beginning with St. Peter; the primacy of the pope; the sacrament of Holy Orders and the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

As our present Holy Father and many other popes previously stated, we are very respectful and appreciative of other denominations because the Spirit of Christ continues to use “them as instruments of salvation.” We want to be in dialogue with other denominations and Christian faiths and work towards unity with them. Christ promised that some day there would be one flock and one shepherd; we continue to work and pray for that day.
Nicely said.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I love too much . . . or do I?

I love too much.

I watched CSI last night and at one point exclaimed out loud “I love this show!” I had strawberries for dessert and thought to myself “I love these!”

I love TV shows (some, not all), funny stories, chips and queso, the color red, and cute stationary. I love scrapbooking and I LOVE my dog Ellie. I love using a 10-inch circular saw (I’ve developed a new love for power tools.) I love completing tasks and being productive. (No long walks on the beach, though.)

Notice above, I didn’t say, “I love too deeply” . . . just too much.

As I make these exclamations about what I love, I start to wonder . . . is “love” really the right word? Perhaps not.

I “love” these things because they bring me joy, pleasure, satisfaction, fun, accomplishment, etc. I love them because of how they make me feel and/or what they do for me. That is not the only, the primary, or even the most accurate definition of love.

And sometimes I think my love for these things confuses my heart as to what real love “feels” like. Do I really know what love is?

Can I really accept God’s disciplining love when I cherish taste-bud-driven-strawberry love? Can I really offer (to another, to God) a sacrificing love when I cherish cuddly-cute-puppy- dog love? Can I really commit to lifelong love (in a vocational gift of self) if I’m used to fickle-I-like-this-something-or-other-today-but-might-get-bored-tomorrow love?

I’m not suggesting we banish the use of the word love save for serious committed relationships and intimate moments. I can validly love something insofar as it is good and reflects the goodness and love of God. (Yup, I’m saying my dog is good and reflects the goodness and love of our Creator.)

But this is a caution to me (and a challenge) to allow myself to experience (and dare I say, cherish) the other less “appealing” aspects of love: discipline, sacrifice, donation, and commitment.

For despite the sometimes “unappealing” nature of these aspects, on the other side of them (when we embrace them and welcome them) is something even more appealing (more joy-filled, pleasurable and satisfying): union with God.

Today may we treasure love of all kinds, but especially the love of our God, which is given completely to each of us. God invites us to return this love in full, not just in things.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Good Reminder

This afternoon I went to help sort items at St. Vincent de Paul. I'm not gonna lie, I had to kinda make myself go. I was tired and hungry and not in the "mood" (whatever that means). But I went.

And I'm glad I did.

For 2 whole hours I didn't think of myself, my life, or my to do list. And it was great.

I met new people, thought about the people who would come to the store and benefit from their ministry- what their lives might be like, what their needs might be.

I guess I have to take back that bit about not thinking about myself. I did think about myself - how little I give and how much I have. I give only what I no longer want or need - not much of a sacrifice. And I have so much (believe me, I know, I've been packing all my belongings into boxes for an in-town move.) It was a much needed reminder for me.

This is the beauty of service - it takes our eyes (our thoughts, our worries, etc) off of ourselves. It opens us up to others and in turn to the love of God.

May we all spend some time each day serving others, whether we are in the "mood" or not!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Just not Right

There is something wrong with this.
Rev. Tori Spelling???

Birth Control and College Students

A recent Houston Chronicle article states that:
About 38 percent of female university students use oral contraceptives, according to the American College Health Association.
Few college students fully understand the gravity of pre-marital sex and know what they are getting into. Of course, our higher education institutions aren't helping. As an example, Texas A&M's Health Center helps with "contraceptive issues" and links to abortion advocacy sites which promote promiscuous behavior.

This contraceptive mentality is destroying our society. How can I be so bold as to make such a statement? Consider this. Contraception leads to a mentality that babies aren't a part of sex. Contraception makes us turn inward, rather than outward - it perpetuates a selfishness on our part. It also sees marriage as an optional social construct (an attitude which harms women and children most of all), which leads to broken families. Broken families are probably the root of most of our problems in western society - lowering of morality, crime, poverty, etc.

If you think you are ready to have sex you should be ready to be a spouse and a parent.

Paul VI was a prophet and yet we are deaf. He wrote the following before contraception was being used widely in the US.
"Upright men can even better convince themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in this field is based if they care to reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificially limiting the increase of children. Let them consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men—especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point—have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion" (HV 17).
Morality, culture and everything else aside, contraception can have the following side effects:
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • heart disease
  • liver problems
  • blood pressure
  • clots
  • strokes
  • can cause death
Did you know that contraception is the only "medicine" that is used to purposely cause the body to function improperly? While some medicines have unintended side-effects, they are meant to help the natural functioning of the body. So, why would anyone ever want to ruin the natural function of their body in order to prevent a gift being given?

For even more, read this.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Religious Vocations Video

Nicely done.

Protestant Churches not True Churches?

A short new document issued by the Congregation for The Doctrine of Faith about the Catholic Church's primacy is getting some negative press. Of course the mass media will spin it in a way that shines a negative light on the Catholic Church, although there is absolutely nothing new in the document.

The document is about the nature of the Church. It answers several short questions with short answers about what Vatican II taught about the Church. The "controversy" is why Protestant churches aren't really "churches" in the proper sense. It says the following:

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.

It is because they do not have apostolic succession or the sacramental priesthood. This is exactly what was taught in Vatican II.

Read the article from the AP above and then compare it to this one issued by Catholic World News. What a difference.

Fun Stuff :-)

*Police raid house because of stinky feet. No, I am not kidding.

*City puts bounty on flies. Again, not kidding.

*Catholic school thinks twice about enrolling boy with last name "Hell".

:-)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Motu Proprio Issued

As expected, the Vatican has issued the Motu Proprio to allow the use of the pre-conciliar Latin Rite mass.

Personally, I don't think this changes much of anything. Most parishes will see absolutely no change. So, it doesn't do anything to effect the average Catholic parishioner. But, what it does do is that it encourages those schismatic communities to reconsider unity with Rome. This is a good thing.

It was also issued with an explanatory letter in which much of the fear and speculation is put to rest. Before talking about this issue with others, please read both.

The USCCB has also issued a document that has 20 questions about the Motu Proprio. I will put some of the better ones below.

1. What is the purpose of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum?
By this Apostolic Letter, promulgated motu proprio, the Holy Father seeks an “interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church with those who have demonstrated an attachment to preconciliar liturgical forms, making it possible for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. Thus does he exhort the whole Church to generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

7. If a priest fails to demonstrate a minimum rubrical or linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form, may he still celebrate the 1962 Missale Romanum?
No. In order to celebrate the extraordinary form, a Priest must be suitably qualified for and not prohibited by any impediments to the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum. This means he must have the minimum knowledge and ability required for a legitimate use of the extraordinary form.

8. As a rule, is it possible for a priest to abandon the ordinary form entirely?
No. The Holy Father states unequivocally that in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

14. Does the wider use of the extraordinary form of the rites of Holy Week reflect a change in the Church’s teaching on anti-Semitism ?
No. The 1962 Missale Romanum already reflected Blessed John XXIII’s revision of liturgical language often construed as anti-Semitic. In 1965, the watershed statement Nostra Aetate, of the Second Vatican Council then repudiated all forms of anti-Semitism as having no place within Christian life. When Pope Paul VI issued the Missale Romanum of 1969, the only prayer for the Jewish people in the Roman liturgy was completely revised for Good Friday to reflect a renewed understanding of the Jews as God’s chosen people, first to hear the word of God. Throughout his papacy, John Paul II worked effectively to reconcile the Church with the Jewish people and to strengthen new bonds of friendship. In 1988, Pope John Paul II gave permission for the Mass to be celebrated according the Missale Romanum of 1962 only as a pastoral provision to assist Catholics who remained attached to the previous rites, thereby hoping to develop closer bonds with the family of the Church. By this new Apostolic Letter, Pope Benedict XVI is merely extending such permission for wider pastoral application, but remains committed to the need to overcome past prejudices, misunderstandings, indifference and the language of contempt and hostility [and to continue] the Jewish-Christian dialogueto enrich and deepen the bonds of friendship which have developed.

19. Does this action call into question the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council?
No. The Holy Father makes clear that the current Missale Romanum is the ordinary form (forma ordinaria) of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The extraordinary form is found in the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Update On Episcopalian/Muslim Priest

I posted last month about an Episcopalian priest in Seattle who decided she would be both Christian and Muslim. I was critical of her Bishop allowing it. Well, a reader sent me a story about her being sanctioned by her Bishop. The time is to be used for her to:
reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam
I applaud the Bishop for doing something and I hope it works.

UPDATE: It seems that Redding questions the divinity of Jesus and the nature of the Trinity (only the two most foundational of all Christian doctrines). Of course this has had no effect upon her teaching at Seattle University - A Jesuit School.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Aggie Catholics = PG13

Apparently, this blog mentions "porn" and "drugs" too much.

Try it out.
Tip o' the hat to The Daily Eudemon for this one.

Driving with JPII

Some believe that JPII had a part to play in helping a Formula 1 Driver walk away from an amazing crash, which is below:

Mom? Sis? Help Me Out Here...

A seven year-old girl with a condition that almost always makes women infertile has been given the gift of her mother's eggs. That is right! A child's mother will freeze some eggs so her seven year-old daughter can use them if she wants to when she gets older.

This is another extreme example of how we are becoming manufacturers of life, rather than the caretakers of it.

This line, in particular, stands out to me:
We were very sensitive to the ethical issue
It seems as if sensitivity is all that is required to make an "ethical" choice.

I know there are many people who want to know what is wrong with such a practice. The issue lies in treating babies, and their conception, as commodities or things. It also removes procreation from the marital act between man and wife and makes creation a thing done by people in scrubs using microscopes. In other words in vitro fertilization must take place.

As the Congregation for the Docrtrine of the Faith writes in Donum Vitae:
Human procreation requires on the part of the spouses responsible collaboration with the fruitful love of God; the gift of human life must be actualized in marriage through the specific and exclusive acts of husband and wife, in accordance with the laws inscribed in their persons and in their union.
And

Human embryos obtained in vitro are human beings and subjects with rights: their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence. It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable "biological material". In the usual practice of in vitro fertilization, not all of the embryos are transferred to the woman's body; some are destroyed. Just as the Church condemns induced abortion, so she also forbids acts against the life of these human beings. It is a duty to condemn the particular gravity of the voluntary destruction of human embryos obtained 'in vitro' for the sole purpose of research, either by means of artificial insemination of by means of "twin fission". By acting in this way the researcher usurps the place of God; and, even though he may be unaware of this, he sets himself up as the master of the destiny of others inasmuch as he arbitrarily chooses whom he will allow to live and whom he will send to death and kills defenceless human beings.

Donum Vitae goes on to talk about other issues that relate to procreation and science. A good read and not too hard to understand.

EDIT: If this story is too "over the top", then read about the people in our communities and what they will go through to "get" a baby.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Homosexual Persons

One of my former professors (and one of the greatest teachers I have ever had the privilege of learning from), Dr. Mark Lowery, has written a great article on homosexual persons for Ignatius Insight.

Notice that I said "homosexual persons". This is because above all things everyone should be identified ultimately as a person. They are unique and created for us to love, as is everyone. Identifying them solely by their sexual orientation demeans their inherent dignity as persons, which they are before God and man.

Warning: the article is long, but worth it.

Holy Whapping?

The Shrine of the Holy Whapping blog has added us onto their blogroll. Thanks. The name, of course, caught my attention when looking at Catholic blogs, but it is their content that got me to visit more often.

They recently posted on a Muslim who renounces terrorism.
There is always hope that God will change hearts, let us never forget this.

A Country of Addicts

A new study reports that 30 percent of the adult US population has abused alcohol or suffered from alcoholism. This is a staggering number, especially with 42 percent of men (19% of women) suffering from this problem. That is 4 out of ten men!

It isn't too much to say that combined with the fact that more than 25% of the adult male population of the USA admits to having an addiction to online pornography, in addition more than 20% of Christian men admit to having a problem (somewhere between 50-80% of men 18-24 have a problem with porn), that our country is a country of addictions.

Our society is in chains and the addictions are keeping us from seeing the light. To really go out and help redeem the People of God, we (the Church) needs to address these issues.

Of course, the prevailing attitude is that these things are harmless. So, I must make a distinction. There is nothing wrong wit drinking alcohol in moderation (as long as you are legal). But, there is no such thing as using porn in moderation.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Lost In Translation

Our bell "carillon" (electronic version) is currently playing We Are Companions on The Journey.

We are companions on the journey,

Breaking bread and sharing life;

And in the love we bear is the hope we share

For we believe in the love of our God,

We believe in the love of our God.

 

No longer strangers to each other;

No longer strangers in God's house;

We are fed and we are nourished

By the strength of those who care,

By the strength of those who care. Repeat Refrain

 

We have been gifted with each other,

And we are called by the Word of the Lord:

To act with justice, to love tenderly,

And to walk humbly with our God,

To walk humbly with our God. Repeat Refrain

There are some songs that just don't translate well into "carillon".

Not if, but when

Cardinal Sean confirms that the meeting about the Motu Prorio took place in Rome. Some highlights of the Cardinal's thoughts:
There were about 25 bishops there, including the president of Ecclesia Dei Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Cardinal Francis Arinze, several heads of bishops’ conferences as well as some cardinals and other residential bishops.

They shared with us the Motu Proprio and the Holy Father’s letter explaining it. We also had an opportunity to read the Latin document. We each commented on that, and then the Holy Father came in and shared some of his thoughts with us. The Holy Father is obviously most concerned about trying to bring about reconciliation in the Church. There are about 600,000 Catholics who are participating in the liturgies of the Society of St. Pius X, along with about 400 priest.

The Holy Father was very clear that the ordinary form of celebrating the Mass will be the new rite, the Norvus Ordo. But by making the Latin Mass more available, the Holy Father is hoping to convince those disaffected Catholics that it is time for them to return to full union with the Catholic Church.

So the Holy Father’s motivation for this decision is pastoral. He does not want this to be seen as establishing two different Roman Rites, but rather one Roman Rite celebrated with different forms. The Motu Propio is his latest attempt at reconciliation.

Babies and Marriage - No Thank You

A Washington Post article that was summarized in our local paper got my attention yesterday. It stated that the number of people who believe that children are necessary for a happy marriage has fallen dramatically in recent years. In fact, it seems that sharing chores is more important...

This is a frightening development for our culture. When babies are no longer a part of marriage, then what does the purpose of marriage become (in a secular sense)?

Really, can anyone answer that question for me?

Letter to China

PBXVI issued a nice document on Chinese Catholics. In it he asked for improvement of the relationship between Rome and Beijing.

Some of the highlights of the letter include:
-Reminder of the right to religious freedom.
-Call to dialogue and evangelization.
-Pope's desire for normalization in relations between Rome and Beijing.
-Forgiveness is key to helping the split Church in China come into one Church.

Of course, Beijing's reaction to this letter is to say that the Vatican should cease all relations with Taiwan if it really wants to improve relations was not suprising. The two do not have official relations and the Vatican walks on eggshells with Beijing. Say a prayer for the persecuted Church in China.

Edit: I forgot the official explanatory note attached to the letter.