Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Psalm 23

Doesn't get any cuter:



Now I have to go home and hug my kids!
Tip o' the Hat to Intentional Disciples.

It can be risky to live in the moment.

Do you ever get pre-mad?

You know, when you think about or anticipate something someone might say or do (perhaps something they have said or done many times before) and you get all riled up before anything is actually said or done?

I’ve gone so far as to pre-argue and figure out what the other person might say or do should an argument ensue over the thing they haven’t actually said or done yet. Silly, I know.

At this point you are either laughing because you do this yourself or you are thinking, “who is this crazy lady?” If all this sounds too weird, ask yourself this instead: Have you every worried about someone or something?

Worrying is a close relative to being pre-mad. You allow yourself to be upset and emotionally affected by something that may or may not happen in the future (usually over which you have no control).

Why do we humans do this? Why do we worry? Why do we get pre-mad?

I think it has something to do with a desire to be in control. In some sense it is easier to worry now than to be caught off guard later by some bad news or tragedy. It is easier to get pre-mad now than to assume the best about someone and be disappointed later.

We use these things as defense mechanisms, but the catch is there might not be anything to defend against.

It is risky to live in the moment – to let the days unfold without worrying or getting pre-mad. It somehow seems “safer” to hunker down, assume the worst, and worry.

But is it?

This challenge to live in the moment is not a new one. Consider the story of the Israelites in the desert collecting extra manna and trying to save it for the next morning (but “it became wormy and rotten” and made Moses angry). Recall the story of Sarah who worried the Lord’s promise of children would not be fulfilled and scurried around to “make” it happen in her time by getting her maid, Hagar, pregnant. (Worrying and scurrying often go hand in hand.)

But lets also consider those who rose to meet the challenge of living in the moment. The widow with only one handful of meal and a little oil, who obediently fed Elijah and was delighted when her supply did not run out and "she and her household ate for many days." And the disciples who went out in pairs with “nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts” and were provided for along the way. (Mark 6:8)

What is the difference between those who worry (scurry and get pre-mad) and those who don’t? Trust. They trust that the One Who is in control of the future knows their need and will provide. Perhaps in His time and in His way, but He will provide. We need not worry (Matt 6:34)), we need not scurry (Luke 10:4), we need not get pre-mad.

Imagine what our lives would be like, if we spent all the time and energy we waste worrying about a future we cannot predict, on getting to know and trust the One Who can.

Wow. Definitely a better use of our time, of our lives!

Today may we trust our God enough to live in the moment – to accept the days as they unfold and trust Him to do the unfolding.

Sigh. Sounds dreamy to me and not risky at all.

Consumer God

This is a good video on the consumer mentality that has invaded our culture and in many ways our churches and faith.



Tip o' the Hat to Domenico.

Chinese Totalitarianism

China is dangerous, but not because of lead paint in toys.

Orthodox Church and Catholic Church

The Russian Orthodox Patriarch has said that the Catholic Church must not see Russia as "mission territory" before a meeting between himself and the Pope happens.

I don't know how this can happen. The Church exists in order to evangelize. To give up missions is to cease to exist.

Read more.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stir me up, Lord!

I’m not a big fan of infomercials, but I think I need the garden claw.

I have four crape myrtles in my backyard. Last month when my dad was in town we noticed that despite the large amounts of rainfall we’d been having, these trees were struggling. It seemed strange. So much rain, yet such persistent thirst.

As I have been watering the past few weeks I discovered that the soil is the culprit. It has formed some sort of impenetrable shield. The water simply pools and sits on top and eventually drains off towards the fence. The trees remain dry.

Hence, I need the garden claw. Somehow I need to stir up the soil, break it up, so the water can reach the roots.

Sometimes I find myself in need of a spiritual claw – something to stir me up so I can be the “good soil” of Matthew 13 and better receive God’s grace and love and mercy and, well, all that good stuff I need to grow.

But I too have some sort of impenetrable shield. I have a tightly packed schedule with no time for random moments of joy or happy interruptions. I have a preconceived notion of how people should act with no room to embrace the beauty of who God created them to be. I have stubborn ideas about what people should do (how they should “operate”) and completely miss the gifts they offer. I have attitudes and ways of thinking (not always the most charitable!) that need stirring up (and perhaps tossing out) that prevent God’s love from pervading all I think and say. I have old habits and older hurts that prevent God's grace from seeping into my heart. I have plans (mine, not God’s) that prevent me from enjoying a very unpredictable thing called life.

Thankfully, God’s blessings (His mercies!) are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) . . . but do they simply pool on the surface and then drain off towards the fence, never to sink in and change us for the better? I hope not!

Today may we be stirred up! Let God break up the crusty, dry dirt we’ve packed so firmly around us– break up the routine, break up the old habits, break up the hardness of heart. Let his satisfying, life giving grace seep in to our roots.

I think I might like infomercials after all.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Direction of Culture

Our culture is quickly going down the road of eugenics. This is the belief that selectively killing off the "unwanted" will improve humanity.

Eugenics has once again reared it's ugly head in Europe. This time a woman wanted to have an abortion to kill one of her twin babies - the one with Down Syndrome. But, the doctor killed the wrong baby. They wanted to decide that one life was worthy of life and another was not. Where does the line get drawn when decisions like this start being made?

Read more.

Want to Go to Heaven?

If you want to go to heaven, the Pope says you need an "I.D. Card" or a "Passport".
Read more.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Fun

Smile!



Tip o' The Hat to Whispers in the Loggia.

Common Sense

Some common sense is finally being forwarded in the political battle of helping people with AIDS. Read about it here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Warning

The Catholic Bloggers are going nuts over the Anti-Catholic nature of the new movie, The Golden Compass. This is based on a children's book and has some very disturbing issues with the Church.

I refer you to the following blogs:
An American Papist
Ignatius Insight
Against the Grain
The trailer has some attention-getting lines for me in regards to the subject matter, I must admit.

Why?

This is just stupid.

Leadership

We just finished our leadership symposium and had a great time. My thoughts on reflecting on it are that in most ways poor leadership is a reflection of our own lack in spirituality and shortcomings.

For instance, when we don't delegate, it can be an issue of pride thinking someone else can't do the job as well.

When we talk too much at a meeting and become a distraction, it can be because we want others to like us or think we know a lot.

In other words, if we want to be good leaders, we need to take the initiative to be virtuous. This is why I define "Catholic Leadership" in the following way:

Catholic leadership is leading a group in participating in God’s will by giving up of your self.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Holding Hands During the "Our Father"

Q - I have a question! Is it wrong to hold hands during mass when we say the Our Father, after the host has been consencrated to the body and blood of Jesus? Someone told me the U.S. Bishops do not want us to do this. Is that true? Just curious!

A - No, that is not true. The US Bishops have not said anything about the issue one way or the other nor has the Vatican for that matter. Although there is quite a bit of differing opinion on the matter, there is no authoritative law about whether we should or should not do.

Now, does that mean it is the best thing to do? That is up for debate and it is a debate which really is a distraction in many ways - but I digress. Suffice it to say that there is nothing intrinsically "wrong" with holding hands. While it isn't proscribed in the rubrics that we hold hands, it also doesn't say we cannot.

WARNING - PERSONAL OPINION ON THE HORIZON - I would prefer not to hold hands and it isn't because it isn't in "the rules" that we can. It is a theological argument that Pope Benedict XVI made in his book, Spirit of the Liturgy. The point of holding hands is a sign of community and communion. Since this is the case, it is a misplaced sign, because we aren't truly in communion until we have exchanged the sign of peace. this is why Communion happens after the Sign of Peace, because it is the sign of communion par excellence.

Now, my opinion certainly isn't authoritative and I do find myself holding hands, especially with my children. I also do not think anyone is going to have to answer for their "hand-holding opinion" when they reach the gates of Heaven. So, I would rest comfortably doing whatever you would like to do.

I advise that we not get too distracted by little things such as this in Mass. It takes away our true growth in holiness. I myself was once what I call a "liturgical cop". After talking to my spiritual director about how to straighten out the liturgy in one parish, he looked me in the eyes and said "I think that you should worry about your own holiness and not this". That straightened me out and helped me to hang up my badge.

Are there times we should speak up? Yes. Do I believe this is a war that we need to fight? No. I hope that helps. If you want further clarification or if it still bothers you, then ask to talk to your pastor about it. But, do so in a non-accusatory way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

College Student Debt

With the debt craze we have in this country, you think we would attempt to do more to make college affordable. I don't have the answers in this area, but maybe you do.
So, I ask - what can we do to keep college tuitions down?

With tuition at DePaul running $24,300 per year, it is out of hand. How can anyone afford that? Federal financial aid is "up 95 percent since 1995-96". Wow!

More on this debt crisis of college grads.

Visit With Alexy II

Pray that this meeting might take place sooner rather than later.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fr. Corapi

Preach it!

I'm Back

I was at an addictions training put on for the Austin Diocese last Thur and Fri (with and emphasis on sex addiction). It was very well done and I was honored to be one of the persons that helped organize it.

The Diocesan Anti-Pornography Task Force, that I am a member of, has developed a brochure for those struggling with this issue. I have some of the content below.

19 Strategies for Helping Yourself Strive for Purity

1. Get rid of all pornography you own. Destroy movies, magazines and dump all electronic images.

2. Stay off of the computer if it is a temptation. If you have to get on a computer, then do so when other people are around. DO NOT get on the computer for any reason, if you are alone and it is a temptation.

3. Pray more. You must rely on God to deliver you from the problem. You will not be able to stop by using your own power.

4. Frequent the Sacraments and Daily Mass. The grace you need to conquer the

temptations will be found here.

5. Find an accountability partner. Check in with each other frequently

6. Fast. It helps you to develop self control. You have had a problem with self control sexually, but most men have self control issues in other areas as well.

7. Avoid the occasion of sin. Think about when, where and how you are tempted. Then think about strategies to avoid these circumstances.

8. Use holy images. Your mind has been filled with unholy images; fill it with the image of Christ, Mary, and saints.

9. Ask Mary to intercede. It may sound funny, but it is hard to be tempted when asking the Immaculate Mother of God to help you.

10. Read Scripture daily. Let God’s Word penetrate deeply into your life.

11. Go to confession with the same priest frequently.

12. Do not suppress the thoughts of temptation. Redeem them. Offer them to Christ through his cross.

13. If you feel that despite your best efforts, you are unable to stop viewing pornography, seek help from a mental health professional who specializes in addiction. He or she will be able to help you determine whether or not the behavior is an addiction, and will help you get the tools you need to conquer it. (See the back of this brochure for recommendations about where to call for help).

14. If you are married and your spouse does not know about your problem, you need to talk about it. The problem must be admitted to before it can stop.

15. Use blocking software to limit access on your computer. Also, software at xxxchurch.com can send an accountability report to your accountability partner.

16. Do not drink or use drugs while trying to overcome the temptation. Drinking or using drugs can lower inhibitions, which make us more likely to act impulsively.

17. Don’t beat yourself up after a setback. The devil wants you to give up. Seek forgiveness and start again, no matter how humbling or hard it may be. God always forgives and loves.

18. Meet with a priest or spiritual director to formulate goals and learn techniques for growing closer to Christ and becoming the person God calls you to be.

19. Exercise use of the Virtues - prudence, fortitude, temperance, modesty, purity, and self-control.

Prayer for Chastity
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Dearest Jesus! I know well that every perfect gift, and above all others that of chastity, depends upon the most powerful assistance of your providence, and that without you a creature can do nothing. Therefore, I pray that you defend, with your grace, the gift of chastity and purity in my soul as well as in my body. And if I have ever received through my senses any impression that could stain my chastity and purity, I ask you, who are the supreme Lord of all my powers, to take it from me, so that I may with a clean heart advance in your love and service, offering myself chaste all the days of my life on the most pure altar of your divinity. Amen.

Scripture When Facing Temptation

“For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:20

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians. 4:13

“Nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

“Every athlete exercises discipline in every way … to win an imperishable crown.” 1 Corinthians 9:25

“Create a clean heart in me O God.” Psalm 51:12

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:2-3

“Go not after your lusts, but keep your desires in check.” Sirach 18:30

“I said: ‘I will confess my offenses to the Lord.’ And you, Lord, have forgiven the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5

“You were once in darkness, but now you you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness.” Ephesians 5:8-11

“Let us cast off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:12

Counseling

The Diocese of Austin Office of Catholic Family Counseling and Family Life offers counseling services onsite and also maintains a referral list of Catholic friendly counselors in various areas throughout the diocese. For more information about our services, or to schedule an appointment, please call (512) 726-0405.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fly Vatican Air

Nope. Not kidding. :-)

The Myth of Coat Hanger Abortion

The myth of coat hanger abortions has now gone to billboards. Of course it made the news ( and rightfully so) because a storage company sponsored the billboards, but that is beside the point - it is a myth.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Real Beauty

This is a very nice video to get you thinking...



This is from the Campaign For Real Beauty from Dove soap. While I support their efforts to increase self-esteem by re-capturing what "real beauty" is, I don't agree with all of their conclusions, including making beauty "democratic". From the website, I cannot figure out if they want to re-define "real beauty" as something non-physical or if they would like to find beauty in every woman's body.

I do not believe that the end of self esteem issues for women is feeling physically beautiful. Rather, real self esteem comes from the one who created us with a purpose, regardless of what we look like physically.

I am probably nit-picking it too much though. A major corporation working to do something positive for the image of women is nothing to shake down too hard.

Just War and Killing?

Q - Since the Iraq War is not a "Just War" are soldiers breaking the Commandment "Thou shall not kill" whenever they kill an enemy combatant?

A - Thanks for the question! Before I directly answer your question I should issue a caution. There is no "official" determination by the Church that the Iraq war is just or unjust. It isn't within the Church's duty to determine such things. While individuals may make prudential declarations of their own private judgement (including the Pope and Bishops), it is not an authoratative declaration of the justice in a particular war. The Catechism states (emphasis mine):

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

- there must be serious prospects of success;

- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine.

The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

Therefore, the Church itself states that the judgment about moral legitimacy is for the governmental officials, not the Church. Here is more on the teaching on just war.

With this being the case, we cannot say that the war is just or unjust as a Church. But, we as individuals have the freedom to apply the principles of just war as taught by the Church. For a take on the application going in opposite directions, I suggest you read the following articles which approach the subject differently:
Just War, As It Was and Is - James Turner Johnson
Iraq: Then and Now - George Weigel
War & Statecraft: An Exchange - Rowan Williams & George Weigel
Just War: An Exchange - Paul J. Griffiths & George Weigel

Now, as to whether a soldier would be violating the commandment to "not kill" - in most every case the answer is no. The commandment is better translated to "not murder", that is, not to kill innocents.

If a soldier purposefully kills a non-combatant for an unjust reason or murders someone, then they would certainly be violating the commandment. But, if they were defending themselves or others, and accidentally killed someone or had no other choice, it isn't by default a violation of the commandment. Also, the determination of an "unjust war" wouldn't necessarily change this. For it to be considered murder a soldier would have to believe the war to be unjust and then kill. This would be akin to murder.

For Sale?

From the Houma Courier classifieds via my aunt:
CHEST DRAWER
4 Drawers. $50
985-856-....

CHEST OF DRAWER
$25
call 985-.....

MOSLEM FOR a family of
four at St. Joseph #193A
$10,000 or best offer call
227-..............

The Beach and the Inferno

I took a few days off to spend with the family at the beach. It was a wonderful relaxing time. I was able to read Dante's Inferno and was glad to end it in just a few days of reading. It was a good reminder of the nature of man, that some would choose to go to hell rather than love God. I also got a good taste of just how hot the fires Dante describes are - when I was running through the hot sand dunes.

It was a relief to begin Dante's Purgatory, knowing that there is hope still alive.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Do What You Must

Good Point!

Good Question.

The APA is asking a very good question. The problem is, the answer was already provided, but they didn't want to hear it. Why? Because the answer came from Christianity.

The over-sexualization of our culture will be a major reason for western society's downfall unless we quickly start to reverse the trend.

On a related note, women who have breast implantation surgery are much more likely to commit suicide. Again, the answer to the problem is simple. When women (or men) try to find happiness or self-worth in sex, they inevitably end up less happy than before.

Our worth is found in a relationship with God. Because our dignity comes from God and we cannot fully understand that dignity without a true relationship with the one who has implanted it within us. But, because our culture says that we have no worth outside of our own selfish pleasure, we are on a path of destruction and grief, not happiness and glory.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Church, Conversion, and Change

Robert George has a fabulous post on First Things. I will give a few snippets below, but highly recommend you read the entire post.

In any event, for those of us who believe that the Church is a reliable teacher of truth, and that her doctrine is fundamentally sound, the last thing we desire is a transformation of the Church’s historical teachings. (If we wanted that, we would become Unitarians or join the United Church of Christ or, at least, cast our lot with the Episcopal Church in the United States.) What is in need of transformation is not the teaching of the Church but the human mind and heart to which these teachings are addressed. Christianity is a religion of transformation. No one is literally born into it; even infants at baptism are converted to it. There is not a Catholic on the planet or in the history of the Church who is not a convert.

Conversion is effected, by God’s grace, by transformative acts of the intellect and will. And the process of conversion is lifelong, whether one begins it a few days or weeks after birth or on one’s eighty-fifth birthday. Christ is constantly calling us to conversion and making available to us the divine graces that are its fundamental resources. We falter and fail; he lifts us up and puts us back on track. We grow in him, so long as we are faithful in responding to his acts of love for us by our acts of love of God and neighbor.

The Church doesn’t need fundamental transformation; it needs to be about the business of transforming us. This is a task for the whole Church: bishops, priests, and other religious, and the laity. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, this work of transformation of minds and hearts necessarily includes work of cultural transformation. For better or worse, culture is character-shaping and, thus, person-forming. That’s why the task of cultural renewal and reform is part of the Christian task—an essential part. It may not be rejected or neglected by the Church or her leadership in the name of evangelization of individuals; indeed, it is crucial to the project of evangelizing individuals. The task of evangelization is immeasurably more difficult where culture works powerfully against the witness of the Church by fostering, facilitating, and encouraging sin and undermining the efforts of religious communities and families to encourage in their members, especially young people, respect for themselves and others and fidelity to the law of God and moral truth.

Truth spoken in charity.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Catholics No Diffirent than Mainstream Americans?

A new survey by Barna comes to the conclusion that Catholics in the US are, for the most part, no different from our mainstream counterparts. While I agree with most of the conclusions, we must read such data with a skeptical eye, because many times these kind of surveys miss the slight changes in culture that can end up tipping the scales the opposite direction. Barna concludes that
The trail of Catholicism in America is a clear example of culture influencing faith more often than faith influencing culture.
With this, I would have to disagree. Catholicism has had a major impact on culture in many ways in this country. But, we have a much lesser impact than we previously have had.

I do believe the answer is to continue to evangelize both the culture and individuals and until the Church has a return to our missionary roots in this country, we will continue to see a slide in influence.

Yes, there are many signs of hope. But, the signs are somewhat isolated. Growing, but isolated. We need an explosion of the Holy Spirit. This can only come when we overcome our fear of sharing and living out the faith.

Death Penalty and St. Thomas

Q - St Thomas Aquinas in his "Summa contra Gentiles" spoke of his firm support of the death penalty. I know Church thought draws upon a lot of his works including Summa Theologica so why the difference in thought regarding the use of capital punishment? Thanks for your help!

A -
Thanks for the question! While the Church certainly does use St. Thomas quite a bit, we should note that he isn't a one man magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church). So, while he may be the most important theologian ever (that conclusion is debatable) we do not give him any charism of infallibility.

That being said, the Church has not ruled out the use of the death penalty. It merely questions the prudence of using it in today's society. As I have stated in a previous post, the death penalty is not an intrinsic moral evil like abortion or euthanasia. In other words, the Church does not absolutely exclude a government's right to have recourse to the death penalty. In fact, a Catholic, in narrow circumstances, can support the death penalty and still be in good standing with the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent." (CCC 2267)

Crime Doesn't Pay

Crime literally doesn't pay for this guy.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Extremely Dangerous

Remind me never to try this:


Or this - warning...this hurts to even watch:

A Great Loss

The world lost a great Christian leader and evangelist in France, Cardinal Lustiger.
Lord rest his soul.

Quote O' The Day

“Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to the garage makes you a car.”
--Laurence J. Peter

Friday, August 3, 2007

Prayer Request

Please pray for the little brother of one of my former students from Texas Tech. His name was Caleb and he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor last year.

Caleb died this morning.
Please pray for Caleb, Natashia (my former student), and their family.

God rest his precious soul. Caleb was four years old.

Here is the website for him.

Friday Fun

Friday fun - Tip O' The Hat to Mark Shea.




Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Four Gospels

Q - Who exactly were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? I have heard from a Muslim that they never met Jesus and were merely writers who used third hand information thus their works can not be reliable. What is an appropriate response for this? Thank you for your help!

A - Thanks for the questions! Scholars might argue about authorship, but we can rest assured that the writers of the Gospels were of the apostolic age, if not actual followers of Jesus (or apostles of the apostles).

The Catechism tells us:
126 We can distinguish three stages in the formation of the Gospels:

(1) The life and teaching of Jesus. The Church holds firmly that the four Gospels, "whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up."

(2) The oral tradition. "For, after the ascension of the Lord, the apostles handed on to their hearers what he had said and done, but with that fuller understanding which they, instructed by the glorious events of Christ and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, now enjoyed."

(3) The written Gospels. "The sacred authors, in writing the four Gospels, selected certain of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form; others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus."
Tradition holds that Matthew and John were two of the twelve apostles and that Mark and Luke were "apostles of apostles" (Mark of Peter and Luke of Paul).

The Church holds that the tradition would be the norm, unless proven definitively that this is not so. Now, some scholars, esp. starting with German theologians in the 1800's started to question the traditional understanding of authorship based on textual analysis. In other words, they can't prove it was not the four tradition holds to be the authors definitively. Scholarship does has a duty to explore these issues. But, should do so with the eyes of faith. While modern analysis would question John and Matthew more than Luke and Mark at this point, that is missing the point.

Regardless of authorship, the Gospels are authentic representations of Jesus' life, words, ministry and miracles. Early Christians wouldn't have accepted them as true if they were not. We can trust them to be accurately apostolic and authoritative. Authorship (and not "third hand" as accused above) by non-apostles does not mean non-authoritative. Apostolic Tradition is still present in the writings.

Remember that a Muslim will not approach the Gospels as a Christian will. So, don't try to "prove it" to the other person, but rather present the truth in charity and let it stand on it's own. Arguing it to death won't convince another person of the truth of the matter.

Baptismal Robes Gone Wild


This is funny and over-the-top all rolled into one.

Dressing up your baby boy to look like a Pope for his baptism? Well, at least make it the John Paul Baptism/Christening Boys Robe Set.

Pre-Marital Divorce?

Yes. CWN is reporting that a test case is going through the courts now.

News?

What happened to actual news stories that were not written/videoed to make money by sensationalizing and tantalizing the readers/viewers?

Take a look at CNN. On their website and their various networks you will mostly find bad interviews of witnesses and victims of the bridge collapse. While it is a horrible accident (God help those who were injured and the dead) and it does raise multiple questions about bridge safety, we don't need headlines that read "Driver: 'We were just dropping...'" or "'I thought I was dead,' survivor says".

Gone are the days of news. We only have sensationalism now.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Texans know summer heat

“Oh my gosh it is so nasty outside!” a friend exclaimed coming through the door. “Yeah, it is so hot out there” another added fanning herself with her hand.

I stepped outside to see what all the fuss was about and a smile crept across my face. The birds were chirping. A gentle breeze was blowing. It was probably 85 degrees. It was early August . . . and we were in Minnesota.

I assured my northern friends that this was not “hot”.

Hot is when you can’t go outside barefoot without burning the soles of your feet. Hot is when you can’t wear shorts in your mom’s old Ford LTD because the vinyl seats leave burn marks. Hot is when you sweat just thinking about going outside or when your AC simply can’t keep up and inside starts to feel like outside. Hot is when you walk out of a commercially cooled building (a mall, department store, etc.) and the “heat wave” just past the sliding doors knocks you back and you cower at the thought of temperature inside the car. If there is one thing we Texans know well, it is summer heat.

A few years back my brother, sister-in-law and I went to an outdoor music festival. After a day of sweating, water consumption, and self-fanning we learned the high temperature that day was 107. No wonder we were hot.

The saving grace that day wasn’t the self-fanning or cool water (though they helped) it was the umbrellas my brilliant family had packed to create shade. Throughout the day I was amazed at the difference the shade made. A flimsy little umbrella kept the sun from scorching our necks and held back the pounding heat.

This scripture took on new meaning: “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, or the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” Psalm 121:5-7

The Lord is our shade. This is an image I can relate to.

I’ve never been in an earthly battle and needed a “stronghold” or “fortress”. I’ve never literally fled from an enemy and needed a “refuge” (Psalm 18). I’ve never weathered a real hurricane and needed a true “shelter from the storm”. But I’m a Texan and I know what it means to need shade.

And our Lord is far more effective at providing shade than a flimsy umbrella. He can keep the worries of life from scorching our joy. He can keep the stress of decisions and the heartache of tragedy from pounding down on us. He can be our shade.

Notice that shade doesn’t make the sun disappear, it simply minimizes the effects on us. Letting God be our shade won’t mean life is perfect with chirping birds, gentle breezes and 85° weather. But it will mean that we have the strength and grace to weather even the worst heat wave.

Today let us put ourselves in God’s presence, in his shade. Let his shade ease your pain, soften your anger, and calm your nerves. “The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade.”

NFP vs. Contraception, II

Another good one.