Monday, March 31, 2008

What the Internet does for us

What amazing changes to our lives the internet has brought. This blog for example. If you wanted to read or hear my random thoughts previously, you had to talk to me or read an article I wrote. Not any longer.

Another great example is the information at our fingertips. Wonderful!

There are of course some bad sides to this equation. Pornography is one of them. Lack of communication skills and predators are others.

But, I think I may have found the worst of them all. The fact that perfectly nice people will take videos of us acting silly and put them on YouTube. Take the video below for example. Just some normal office fun (at A&M and with several people that go to St. Mary's in it). Never before could we all have had so much fun.

Thanks Vic.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Readers (esp. students), I urge you to check out this opportunity to talk about your faith in an open and public forum.
Share your personal reflections on the Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI will be making his first papal visit to the U.S. in April, to help revitalize and strengthen the U.S. church. He will be stopping in Washington D.C. and New York City to offer mass at Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium, visit the White House, and address the United Nations.

We're using the occasion as an opportunity to start a broad-ranging conversation about the rich tradition of Roman Catholicism -- its history, trajectory, and the contemporary issues Catholics are wrestling with. Although we often hear news stories about the Catholic Church, diverse practitioners of the faith have had little voice in telling their stories.

If you are or were Catholic, we'd like to hear your perspectives on what anchors and unsettles you in this vast tradition. We're also interested in the hopes and concerns you have for the church, now and into the future.

Tip O' The Hat To Amy Welborn.

Houston Co-Cathedral Video

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Fun - Comedians

The second part of this bit is Forest Moses Gump - greatness:


Not a "Christian Comedian" but the funniest (and clean) man alive - Brian Regan - (really old version, with sweet hair and clothes):


More Old-school Brian:

Friday Stuff

*The local ABC affiliate in Houston did a very nice piece on the dedication of the co-cathedral in Houston coming up.

*Londonistan is becoming a quick reality.

*"Catholic Higher Education" is an oxymoron in many quarters.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

“Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your heart?”

This morning as I was reading the gospel passage for the day (Luke 24:35-48) I paused. All of a sudden I was no longer reading. God was speaking. He was asking me (not just the apostles of long ago), “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your heart?”

I had been a bit troubled these past few days. Doubting God’s plan. Doubting His love. Questions were rising (bubbling over!) in my heart. Can you really do this? How will this all work out?

Then there were the deeper questions that are always stirring beneath the surface: Lord, do you really understand? Do you really care? Can you do anything about it (my life, my situation)? Will you do anything about it?

And then Christ’s words again (to me and to you, not just to the apostles of long ago): “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see.”

Oh the power of the risen Christ! The wounds are present. Proof of his understanding! Proof of His love! Yet he is resurrected, glorious. Proof he can do something about it! Proof he has done something about it!

And the answers to my questions came flooding in:

“Lord, do you really understand?”
“Yes, every wound, every hurt, every longing, every sin. More than you will ever know yourself.”

“Lord do you really care?”
“Yes, so much I did this just for you.”

“Lord, can you do anything about it?”
“Yes, I can do all things and so can you with my grace.”

“Lord, will you do anything about it?”
“Yes, I already have.”

Both the Cross and the triumph are so clearly present in our resurrected Lord. The pain and the power are both there. “Touch me and see,” he invites.

This Easter day may we touch and see. May we know the depth of his understanding, the wealth of his love, the strength of his arm, and that he has indeed done something about it all.

He has done everything.

He gives us new life.

Glory! Alleluia!

My Day From The Pit

I hate flying. But, something I hate more is flying when I have to ride tiny puddle-jumping planes. Yet, even worse, is flying in a small plane for something I don't want to go to.

Yesterday, all of these (and more) happened. I was called to testify in a murder trial in the panhandle. I didn't know anyone personally, but I was an adviser to an organization the accused was part of. Of course, I wasn't looking forward to going, but had to. So, they flew me out of College Station to Houston on the first leg of the trip before I was scheduled to go to Amarillo.

So, the reason for the trip is not good.

Then, while driving to the airport, I knew the flight wasn't going to be fun, because of the thick clouds and driving wind. Going through security, they tossed my shaving cream because it was slightly too large. Then unpacked my nicely packed shirts and wrinkled them. No big deal, right?

Well, then the flight is delayed a 1/2 hour because of a computer problem and the flight attendant is on her first day and doesn't know what she is doing. We finally take off, but by this time everyone on the plane is miserable, because the air conditioner is not working and it is about 85 on board.

After tossing and bouncing for 50 minutes - the entire flight I have the armrest in a death-grip - we land. Thank goodness, it is all over. NOPE!

I realize that my connection is going to be tight and after waiting for a shuttle to pick us up and nearly getting lost, I walk at warp-speed to my gate, which is empty...I missed my flight because of the earlier delay.

I finally get on the next flight, scheduled for 3 1/2 hours later. I then call the D.A.'s office, who inform me that I don't need to come, the plans have changed. Huh? Then why am I stuck in an airport in Houston? So, now my plan is just to get home, but easier said than done.

There are no more flights back to College Station, so after thinking it out for 15 minutes, I decide to get a rental. I find the shuttle, go to the rental car companies and am told by all of them (after waiting in line several times and doing this for a 1/2 hour) that I can't do a one way rental to College Station from Houston. Great!

Then I remember that there is a shuttle to College Station. So, I get back on the airport shuttle and go to the terminal. But, I am in the wrong terminal. So, I go to the other terminal and finally find someone who knows about the College Station shuttle - but I need a reservation. They give me a phone number and I finally get a reservation (oh, I forgot to tell you my cell phone almost died). But, I have to wait another 2 1/2 hours.

By this time I am very hungry. But, the only place to eat is back through security and I can't get there. I settle for a stale box of popcorn. I get on the shuttle. I go home.

Then, when I get here - they don't take credit cards and I have no cash. Uh-Oh. Luckily the guy is nice and I convince him that since I work for a church he can trust me to mail it to him. I get 4 hours of sleep.

But, through it all God kept me patient and calm. Thank God, I could have really lost it yesterday without Him. :-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Some Great Catholic Blogs

I like a good Catholic blog. So, I am adding a few new ones to the blogroll on the right. Here is who made the cut:

-Called By Name - by the Vocation Director in Cincinnati.
-Random Thoughts - by Fr. Jay Scott Newman, who explores Evangelical Catholicism.
-Et Tu? - The diary of a former atheist.
-Phat Catholic Apologetics - Pretty good blog by a young Catholic.
-Deacon's Bench - A Catholic Deacon on all things Catholic.
-Adam's Ale - Another priest's blog - this time from Cleveland.
-Catholic Media Review - A group of Catholics who write about Catholic Media.
-Catholic Fire - By Jean who blogs as part of her apostolate.

There are some other great ones out there. But, these made the cut this time around.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Prayer Request

We have four students who have had parents die this week. Three of the students are siblings and their mother died suddenly. Please keep the students and their families in your prayers.
May God grant their parents eternal rest.

An Easter Carnival and More...

*Check out this week's Easter Carnival.

*We get some interesting links to our blog, but this one has me befuddled. Can anyone tell me what is going on? I am pretty sure that it is about the post they linked to (about getting more out of Mass), but I want to make sure.

*Silly me, I thought we had a lot of people entering the Church here at St. Mary's - around 23 baptized on Saturday and another 24 candidates (we have another class that will come in to the Church next semester as well). But, some parishes are blowing the doors off of their RCIA classes apparently. Two parishes in the Dallas diocese (St. Mark in Plano and St. Mark in Garland) will have a combined 500 people enter the Church. Two parishes, 500 people. Wow! Welcome home!

*I am all for protests and the freedom to speak out, but it should not be done illegally or in a way that is meant to scare others. Definitely not in a way that disturbs a group's worship. A group called "Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War" disrupted Easter Mass in Chicago during Cardinal George's homily. They squirted fake blood on Mass Attendees and scared the heck out of a number of people, including children. If their goal was to get attention they got it. If it was to get people to agree with them, this isn't the way to do it. Video below.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Dance

This weekend I finished all the trim painting in my hallway. There is officially no more blue painter’s tape in the hallway (which has been there since I moved in last August). Just the crisp white trim against the warm taupe walls. It is glorious.

Every time I look down the hallway a big smile spreads across my face. A few times I’ve even let out a celebratory squeal of delight. (And a wee bit of a happy dance.) Seriously! I have.

After one of those joyful outbursts, it hit me. I wouldn’t be near so happy if I hadn’t waited so long and worked so hard to finish that task.

And I gently heard God say, “Sarah, perhaps this is why I allow delay and struggle in your life. It is for the sake of the joy that I know awaits you on the other side.” Whoa.

Waiting and working bring joy. Who knew?!

So often while waiting or working in life we bemoan the delay and complain about the work. The delay is too long, too painful, too lonely. Joy is the last thing on our minds. The work is too hard, too much, too overwhelming. Again, joy is the last thing on our minds.

This is particularly true during difficult times (during the illness or loss of a loved one) or during transition times (adjusting to a new job, a new city or new friends) or conversion times (adjusting to a new Lord, a new way of life, a new heart). We can be frustrated by the wait and weighed down by the work required.

And yet our Lord knows, and indeed proves through his Resurrection, that there is great joy on the other side of our waiting and our working.

Today as we celebrate with joy Christ’s triumph over sin and death let us remember that he is in control! Our current lot is not a mistake. Whatever waiting and working we are engaged in is ordained by him. Not to torment us, but to draw us closer to him. And to bring us great joy through the wait and the work.

Go on. Look down the way past the current struggle, past the present delay. And let that smile spread. Perhaps even do a happy dance.

He is Risen! Let us rejoice!

Cats

Reason # 4,567,890 to be a dog person:


Reason # 4,567,891 to be a dog person:

Tip O' The Hat to Dale Price.

Attacks On Human Life Getting Bolder

The growing international attacks on human life are coming to the USA quicker than we think. I have already discussed the problems that the Canadians are having (here is one example) and now the Brits are fighting a horrible bill that would allow, among other problematic issues, human/animal hybrid embryos and "savior siblings" where babies would be created using In Vitro Fertilization in order to be killed to "save" the other child who is already born.

This is horrible and we need to support our brothers and sisters in Great Britain who are fighting this kind of experimentation on human beings. We also need to be very accurate in calling it what it is - the culture of death.

This Easter season is a perfect time to bring up these kinds of issues. Why? Because the Resurrection of Jesus Christ shines a light on our humanity. His Body rose from the dead. He didn't just leave it to rot, because it wasn't important. The totality of his humanity is found in his body coupled with his soul. The two make up every human person. Therfore, to use the body as a mere tool is to attack what it means to be human.

If we say the body isn't important, then we deny the importance of the Incarnation, and therefore we undermine what it means to be Christian. This is why the Pope can say in his Easter message - "With his redeeming sacrifice, Jesus of Nazareth has made us adopted children of God, so that we too can now take our place in the mysterious dialogue between him and the Father." Every human is made to be a son or daughter of God.

So, as Christians who believe in the sanctity of life and the dignity of humanity, we cannot stand by as these attacks happen. We must speak out. We must fight against these attacks. But, we must also be proactive here in the USA where it is inevitable that such things are coming. If we can build up a stronger understanding of the importance of protecting life and build a knowledge in ourselves and others of human dignity - then we can be proactive in building a community that can properly defend our world against these attacks.

Get your weapons ready - pray, fast and praise God for His mercy.
Thank you Lord for rising from the dead so that we might live with you forever.
Thank you for giving us an eternal dignity that is coupled with your divinity.
Thank you for your glorious Incarnation.
Thank you for your amazing Resurrection.
Thank you for LIFE!

We are a people of hope. Live in that hope. Continue the battle.
"Fixing the gaze of our spirit on the glorious wounds of his transfigured body, we can understand the meaning and value of suffering, we can tend the many wounds that continue to disfigure humanity in our own day." - PBXVI

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pope To College Students

Had this to say:
The Pontiff reminded the youth that with a "serious personal commitment, inspired by the Gospel values, it is possible to respond adequately to the great questions of our time.'

"The Christian knows that there is an inseparable link between the truth, ethics and responsibility," he said. "Every authentic cultural expression contributes to form the conscience and encourage the person to better himself with the end of bettering society. In this way one feels responsible before the truth, at the service of which, one must put one's own personal liberty."

Benedict XVI said this implies "a mission requiring commitment." And to fulfill this commitment, he affirmed, "the Christian is called to follow Jesus, cultivating an intense friendship with him through prayer and contemplation."

"To be friends of Christ, and to give testimony of him wherever we are, demands, furthermore, the strength to go against the grain, remembering the words of the Lord: You are in the world but not of the world," he added.

The Pope encouraged the youth: "Do not be afraid, then, to be nonconformists when it is necessary; at your university, school and in all places."

"Dear young people of UNIV, be leaven of hope in the world that desires to meet Jesus, often without knowing it," he urged. "To better the world, make an effort above all to change yourselves through an intense sacramental life, especially through approaching the sacrament of penance, and participating assiduously in the celebration of the Eucharist."

2008 Catholic Blog Awards Winners

No, we didn't win an award, but that is okay (you can find the winners here.). For everyone who voted for us, you get our thanks. We got votes in the following categories (everyone we are eligible to be nominated for):
  • Best Apologetic Blog
  • Best Designed Catholic Blog
  • Best Group Blog
  • Best Insider News Catholic Blog
  • Best Overall Catholic Blog
  • Best Political/Social Commentary Catholic Blog
  • Best Written Catholic Blog
  • Funniest Catholic Blog
  • Most Informative & Insightful Catholic Blog
  • Most Spiritual Blog
  • Smartest Catholic Blog

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Process

The previous owner of my home was a gardener. There is an 8 x 16 plot in the back that used to be a vegetable garden. All that remained when I moved in were 9ft. tall overgrown asparagus ferns and a myriad of weeds.

This past weekend I took my first pass at cleaning up that plot. I had hoped to get further along, but ran out of time and enthusiasm as the temperatures warmed up. I made progress, but it is probably only noticeable to me. The weeds still abound, the boarder timbers need repairing, and I am far from ready to plant and even farther from enjoying the fruits of my labor.

And yet I am satisfied. I labored. I made some progress. I am one step closer to my goal.

I think sometimes when we ask (okay, beg) the Lord to work in us we forget there is a process by which he works.

Perhaps we long to see some result, some fruit in our life. We long to be at peace, content, full of hope, joyful, courageous, humble, gentle, or compassionate. We go to prayer and plead, “Lord, make me such and such.” Days go by, perhaps weeks and months and we feel no closer to the fulfillment of that prayer than when we began.

Perhaps we long for some big change in our life – a graduation, a new job, a spouse, a child, a home, a reconciliation with a loved one, a vibrant community to share our faith with. We go to prayer and plead, “Lord, I want such and such.” And it seems that God is still. He is silent. He is not at work.

This weekend’s work in the garden reminded me that there is a process by which real work is accomplished. There is the clearing out of the old, the digging up of the unnecessary or harmful, the stirring up of the dull, the planting of the good, the feeding and nurturing of the new, and then the enjoyment of the growth.

Though we’d sometimes rather skip straight to the enjoyment, there is a process. The fact that we don’t see the results or notice all the efforts does not mean God is still. He is always hard at work in those who come to him in prayer!

As this Lenten season draws to a close may our eyes be opened and our hearts be comforted. May we trust the Lord is at work. There is a process. He has a plan. He is clearing, digging, stirring, planting, feeding, and nurturing. And someday soon we shall enjoy!

What a Gift

John Paul the Great pray for us!
What a gift he was to the Church.

Tip O' The Hat to Rocco at Whispers.

Living With True Persecution

We sometimes think we are persecuted in the USA. Then I watch something like this.


Pray for peace.

2 New York Times Articles

You make your own conclusions. I will merely put up two articles from the NYT.

1 - Staying faithful in a relationship is a fantasy.

2 - Gay couples want more than civil unions, they want marriage.

The Passion

Iranian New Year

A friend of mine from Iran sent me New Year's greetings today. Tomorrow - Thursday, March 20, is Norooz, the Iranian New Year.

Pray for the Iranian people and all in the Middle East - esp. for peace.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Holy Week Catholic Carnival - #164

Howdy (that is how we greet in Aggieland). Welcome to Aggie Catholics (aka Mary's Aggies). We are a blog that focuses primarily on Catholic college students, but we have many others interested in reading what we have to say as well. Right now, we have two contributors - myself (the one full of hot air) and Sarah (who writes reflections a few times a week). We both work at St. Mary's Catholic Center, among dozens of others. St. Mary's is the largest and one of the best Campus Ministries in the country. On to the carnival.

It seems to me the title - "Holy Week Carnival" - is somewhat strange. But, as Christians, we are called to glory in the Cross, even as we mourn the death of our savior.

Holy Week is just that, the holiest of weeks. During this final meditation on the passion and death of our Lord, I welcome all new visitors to these pages.

For our regular readers who don't know what a Carnival is - it is a collection of posts from blogs that share an interest or focus, this one is the fact that we are all Catholic (with a few exceptions).

There is a wide selection of posts for the Holy Week carnival this week - enjoy.

___________________________________________________________


Because it is Holy Week, let us start the carnival by visity Heart, Mind & Strength where Kevin reflects on the Palm Sunday readings and has some suggestions for how to finish Lent strong. On the same topic, Lindsay of Contrariwise gives us another point of view on Palm Sunday. Then it is off to visit the Domestic Vocation, where Christine goes back to confession after a few months of missing it. Shouldn't we all go back to confession? Come to think of it, I haven't been recently...

The carnival next visits Leticia, from Cause of Our Joy brings us the High Mass with Bishop Murphy in Uniondale, NY. The Bishop took time to visit the Latin Mass community and they got some great pictures. Of course, everyone is dressed nicer than at your parish and especially mine, which is full of college students.

Then there is a great post by Matthew, of Play the Dad? No, Be the Dad! He opens up his heart to talk about parenting, the loss of miscarriage and changing what he knows about parenting. As another father of five, thanks for the post!

Tausign, from Perfect Joy, brings us a wonderful meditation on the Way of the Cross. A great way to enter into the prayer of Holy Week. While Teresa writes about who she is passing on the same devotion to her son. Then Jean from Catholic Fire reviews two different books on the Way of the Cross. All three remind me to spend some time in prayer walking with Christ this week. Thanks.

Cathy meditates on sin, especially the public kind that causes scandal, and how there is no private sin, but rather, sin ripples out to touch everyone else. Then Fred, from Deep Furrows, gives us reason to hope in God who never loses hope in us.

Alexa of It Takes a Family, writes an epic post about health care. In it, she waxes about how we have made it an idol, rather than a part of life. I couldn't agree more. Do yourself a favor and take it in.

Seth, of CatholicLand!: Fatherhood writes about NFP and Wolves. Seriously. A different way of looking at things, but effective nonetheless. Then we get more on NFP from Melissa at A Third Way. She gives a two-parter on how NFP is good and true. Part I & II. You know it is going to be good when you can't fit it all in one post!

Don't forget that Satan is real and his power over the world is real. This is what Contra tells us at 50 Days After. Two other very real parts of life include both birth and death. Ebeth climbs off of the pillars to tell us about both colliding in her family. Life, birth, evil, Satan, death, salvation - all in two posts.

Next it is on to Sarah's blog, where we wake her up and find a nephew, conversion and a miracle. Good story Sarah!

Two posts about the Domestic Church then bring the carnival into the home. Elena from My Domestic Church writes about a pastoral letter about raising Godly Children. Good thought provoking post. Then Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom, Denise, reminds all of us with families about the importance of family meals. My domestic Church is pretty sick right now. :-(

David at the Apostolate of the Laity continues his reflection on the PBXVI's Spe Salvi. If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and pick up this great encyclical. David particularly focuses on the cross, which is very poignant this time of the year.

Gretchen is new to the Carnival this week. She posts from her very nice blog, Proto-Catholic about faith from her perspective as a convert. Thanks for joining us Gretchen!

Now we are off to prison with Deo Omnis Gloria, who has a guest post from a minister to prisoners. It is a great apologetic on the foundations on which the Catholic Church sits. Nicely put together through years of experience.

Heidi, from Mommy Monsters Inc. (one of my favorite blog names) asks us all to come spend a day at the Toledo Zoo with her, virtually. Once we do that, we can go to the Sistine Chapel with Jen, from Daughter of the King, and see Michaelangelo in a whole new light. I will never look at the drawing of creation in the same way.

Next it is off to the cold North (hey, I live in Texas) to visit Sean, A Catholic Canadian, as he explains new math and how to calculate more than 40 days in 40 days of Catholic media.

Then we visit New York, again, where Mary from Not Strictly Spiritual, gives us a great post on why Catholics leave the Church, culture, sexuality, scandal and more. Then Pat, the Paragraph Farmer, writes an open letter to a friend about the misinformation about the Church that John Hagee is spreading (Random tidbit #4521 - I went to High School with Hagee's son).

The last part of the carnival is one of the more interesting submissions is from a Muslim, not a Catholic, who writes about the Pope's call to dialogue with Muslims. Because this is a priority for our leader, it should be a priority for us, so Saifuddin gets his part in the carnival.

Last, but not least (but latest), Mark From Faithful Web gives us a nice laugh on filling out your March Madness brackets - Church style.

Thanks for visiting. Come back soon!

Notre Dame and the Bishop

As I previously noted, Notre Dame is going forward with plans to have the Vagina Monologues performed on their campus against the wishes of Bishop D'Arcy.

Here is a wonderful statement from the Bishop that lays out his problem with it being performed at a
Catholic University. Excerpts below:
As bishop of this historic diocese, entrusted with the spiritual welfare of all those who live within its borders, including the students at our beloved Notre Dame, I believe that, once again, I must publicly and respectfully disagree with Father Jenkins’ decision. I am convinced that permitting performances of “The Vagina Monologues” is not consistent with the identity of a Catholic university and not comparable to the long accepted academic tradition through which a wide variety of authors are read and discussed in classes at Notre Dame and in all institutions of higher learning.

In the first place, the difference between the works of authors such as Nietzsche, Gibbon, Luther and Joyce, and “The Vagina Monologues” is a difference, not of degree, but of kind. The former have written serious philosophical, theological and literary works, which have influenced Western thought. As such, their work has academic merit and is worthy of serious discussion and critique in a classroom setting. Father Jenkins believes that Eve Ensler’s play was written to shock and offend. How can one put such a play, which many consider pornographic, on the level of serious works such as the writings of Gibbon and Luther?

They can't be. Bishop D'Arcy's argument is well laid out..

Even if one could make a case that this play has academic merit, it could be read in class. When a book or play is read in class, the student expects it to be discussed and critiqued; indeed, this is an essential part of the classroom experience. This is not so when one attends the performance of a play. One generally goes to a play and leaves; staying afterwards to listen to a panel discussion about the play is not inherent in the activity of attending a play. No one who comes to the play is required to stay for the panel discussion, and Father Jenkins’ attempt to give the performances of this play an academic quality seems deficient.

In addition, unlike reading the play as a classroom assignment, the performances are themselves an endorsement of the international V-Day campaign, even if this is done without fundraising. Is this not the motivation of the departments that have asked to sponsor the play and the young women who will be acting in it? Did they not propose to have multiple performances of the play again this year because they believe it conveys an important message, and they want as many people to see it as possible? In short, people push to have this play performed year after year because they endorse the message it conveys, and they want to be part of the international campaign to promote this message. In allowing performances of the play on campus again this year, whether or not they are officially considered part of the V-Day campaign, Notre Dame continues to cooperate in advancing the campaign’s agenda, an agenda which, as I have repeatedly reflected in my several statements over the years, is directly opposed to the dignity of the human person and is antithetical to Catholic teaching.

Once again, I agree with the Bishop.
The play is little more than a propaganda piece for the sexual revolution and secular feminism. While claiming to deplore violence against women, the play at the same time violates the standards of decency and morality that safeguard a woman’s dignity and protect her, body and soul, from sexual predators. The human community has generally refrained from exposing and discussing the hidden parts of a woman’s body, preferring to consider them private and even sacred. Most importantly, the sexual sin, which the play depicts in several scenes, desecrates women just as much as, if not more deeply than, sexual violence does. The play depicts, exalts, and endorses female masturbation, which is a sin. It depicts, exalts, and endorses a sexual relationship between an adult woman and a child, a minor, which is a sin and also a crime. It depicts and exalts the most base form of sexual relationship between a man and a woman. These illicit sexual actions are portrayed as paths to healing, and the implication is that the historic, positive understanding of heterosexual marriage as the norm is what we must recover from.

Father Jenkins has informed me that after each evening performance there will be a panel discussion, which will include someone who will give an informed and sympathetic presentation of Catholic teaching. In so doing, he notes that Notre Dame “has taken stronger steps than many other Catholic institutions to put limits on the performance of this play.” While this may well be true, there are a growing number of Catholic institutions of higher learning that have permanently banned the play.

The overriding issue here is moral. The play is an affront to human dignity, as Catholic teaching understands it. If it is performed, it should be denounced. Otherwise, the university appears to endorse it as in some way good and the impression is given that Catholic teaching is one option competing among many. This method places faith in a defensive position and on the margin and is unacceptable at a Catholic university.
He states the Catholic position eloquently and then he puts the final piece of the puzzle together and the most telling point of objection about the purpose of a Catholic University (emphasis mine):
Some claim that a performance of the play followed by a panel will “engage the culture” and that out of such a discussion the “truth will emerge.” Sadly, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” is even cited in defense of this position. But what makes a Catholic university distinctive is the conviction that in the search for truth, we do not start from scratch; we start from the truth that has been revealed to us in the Word of God, the person of Jesus Christ, and the teaching of his church. The notion that truth will emerge from a discussion in which many points of view are represented both disrespects revealed truth and separates the search for truth from the certainty of faith
Good job, Bishop D'Arcy!

Atonement

A clever look at what some Christians believe about salvation.
But, it is an incomplete view of salvation that limits the act of Christ to substitutionary atonement and the penal view of grace and salvation. Still, clever nonetheless.

The Pope says "ENOUGH"

The Pope spoke with great passion about the situation in Iraq. I am sure it was brought about from the killing of the Archbishop.

Enough with the slaughters. Enough with the violence. Enough with the hatred in Iraq!

Abortion Articles

Tip O' The Hat to Mike on this one.

Two articles on abortion. First a follow-up on the story of Planned Parenthood accepting money from apparent racists. Here is the original story.

Second, a story out of London, where some are finally coming to grips with the fact that abortion may actually harm the women who get them. Finally.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Visiting Other Churches

Because I work at a parish, it is nice to be an anonymous Catholic once in a while. Today, while visiting family in San Antonio, we went to a parish that I have only been to a handful of times, St. Anthony. It is a nice parish in the Alamo Heights area, for those of you who know San Antonio. The liturgy was nicely done and the music was pretty good. But, I do have two observations.

1 - I can't really be too anonymous anywhere any more. I had a young man approach me after Mass and ask, "you are Marcel, aren't you"? Of course, I am. I found out he went to Texas Tech, but only for a short time before moving back to San Antonio. While there, he went to St. Elizabeth's once in a while, but enough to know who I was. I only thought I was going to Mass anonymously.

2 - We all know the "free us from all anxiety" prayer during Mass. Well, the presiding priest decided that we only need to have God "free us from all unnecassary anxiety." I wonder what necessary anxiety is, in light of Phil 4:4? There I go, with my stupid liturgy cop tendencies again. Sorry.

Now. Today is the feast of St. Joseph - which fathers, carpenters and a lot of Italians are happy about. But, it is also the moved celebration of St. Patrick - which Irish, want-to-be-Irish, and people who like green are happy about. Lastly, if you wait until toward the evening, it is the vigil of Palm Sunday. So, I propose we call today The feast of St. Joey Palmtrick. Stupid thought, isn't it?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Morning Info

*Check out my latest article on Catholic Exchange entitled "Immigration and Catholics". Comments welcome.

*Mary's Aggies will be hosting next week's Catholic Carnival. Look for a big carnival post and a lot of new visitors early next week.

*Have a great weekend, esp. Palm Sunday.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

2008 Blog Awards

We won't win an award this year, because we are too far behind. I think I will just pack up the blog and never post again. Goodbye, 2008 Catholic Blog Awards.

Really though, there are some great blogs out there and here is how I voted (if I didn't just vote for us in every category we were nominated in - which I almost did - I didn't vote for us in "best designed")

Best Apologetic Blog - Jimmy Akin - He does it for a living

Best Blog by Clergy/Religious/Seminarian - Cardinal Sean's Blog - Granted, there are better written blogs in this category, but he is a Cardinal that blogs.

Best Designed Catholic Blog - Creative Minority Report - It is so Pretty

Best Group Blog - Our own. I can't lie, I think it rocks.

Best Individual Catholic Blog - Probably American Papist - but this one is very close.

Best Insider News Catholic Blog - Whispers in the Loggia - this one is not close.

Best New Catholic Blog - I don't read enough of them to make an informed judgment.

Best Overall Catholic Blog - Tie between this blog you are reading and the following - Happy Catholic, Charlotte was Both, Catholic and Enjoying It, Whispers, and American Papist.

Best Political/Social Commentary Catholic Blog - Catholic and Enjoying It!

Best Written Catholic Blog - Charlotte was Both

Funniest Catholic Blog - tie between The Curt Jester and The Ironic Catholic

Most Informative & Insightful Catholic Blog - Whispers in the loggia

Most Spiritual Blog - ?

Smartest Catholic Blog - ?

Thursday Thoughts

*The Iraqi Archbishop who was kidnapped recently was killed. God rest his soul. Pray for those who would kill an innocent man.

*Brett Favre lives out his faith simply and yet impacts many.

*Want to open up a can of worms? Then do what this bishop did.

*Notre Dame once again says no to the bishop and yes to the Vagina Monologues.

*Some homosexual activists plan on throwing ashes on the Pope when he comes to the US. I don't think that is how I plan on greeting him.

Bad Reporting Once again

Time to play "spot the error in reporting Catholic doctrine" again. CNN has a silly article about 'online confessions' and how people feel so great about spilling their guts on the internet. But, then it just gets worse when they try and fail to discuss the Catholic Church:

The Georgetown University study, which came out in 2005, found a significant decline in Catholics who go to confession. Although the Roman Catholic Church officially opposes online confessions, the Archdiocese of Washington used radio advertisements last year to encourage sinners to return to the sacrament. And in Chicago, Illinois, five parishes hosted "24 Hours of Grace" with rotating priests.

This one is pretty easy. So, dear readers, who will find the error in this one?

Catholic Carnival #163

Check it out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

1 in 4 Teenage Girls Has an STD

I hope that others find this study disturbing. 25% of the female teenage population has a sexually transmitted disease. This is catastrophic and it is even worse in the African-American community where close to 50% have one.

As dismayed as I was when I read this, I got more upset when I read in my local paper (in an AP article) that most "experts" are blaming abstinence programs for the problem. Why? They argue that when a child is taught not to have sex that we are just setting them up for failure and are taking a "head in the sand" approach to the reality. But, is this the truth of the matter? No.

The most prevalent disease, HPV, can be contracted even if a condom is used. Even the Center for Disease Control say:
For those who choose to be sexually active, condoms may lower the risk of HPV, if used all the time and the right way.
Yet, they still blame abstinence programs for the problem. Why don't we get down to the root of the problem. When we teach kids how to use condoms and tell them "better if you didn't, but if you do, use a condom", THEN we are setting them up for failure.

As for schools teaching sex ed., I don't want my kids learning about sex in a public school, where politics play a bigger part than what is best for my child. This is why we homeschool. My children will learn the beauty of sexuality and why it is a gift from God intended for their spouse, if they have one. The schools basically tell them they are little animals that need to wear protective gloves (that might fail) but can help reduce risk. Of course, they don't talk about the emotional, spiritual or relational problems that sexually active teens have. They also don't tell them they are more likely to have a marriage fail or take part in other high-risk behaviors.

Try googling "abstinence programs" and you will find a 10-1 ratio of sites attacking abstinence programs as unscientific, inaccurate, and as teaching our kids to fail. I really don't understand the line of argumentation that condoms "fix" any problem.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Holy Week Insert

Our Sunday Visitor has a nice Holy Week poster for free (pdf format).
Tip O' The Hat to Carl at Insight Scoop.

Belmont Abbey College

Patrick Madrid emailed me today about a crisis at Belmont Abbey College - which is a small college in North Carolina. It has very brave leaders who are standing up for the Catholic identity of the school, which is under attack from some employees who want the school to offer abortion, sterilization and contraception coverage in the insurance plan. The president of the university wrote a letter, which I will quote below, to all employees about the issue. God Bless them in this fight.

Dear Faculty, Staff, Administration, Students and Friends of the College,

As most of you know, in early December it was discovered that the healthcare policy for Belmont Abbey College covered abortion, contraception and voluntary sterilization. As soon as we discovered this, we immediately removed these procedures and prescriptions from the healthcare plan provided by the College for our employees.

On January 18, Abbot Placid spoke to the College faculty, staff, and administration to explain the reasons for making this change.

Since that January 18th gathering, a number of questions have arisen from both individuals and groups. I thought it might be helpful to try to clear up any possible confusion by answering some of the questions that some of you have asked. If, after you have read the Q&As below, you still have questions, please know that my door is always open to you.

How did the changes to the medical benefits come about?

Late in 2007, our health insurance provider changed both the cost and the structure of its coverage for our employees. When that provider handed out the new paperwork, one of our faculty members noticed that the policy covered abortion, contraception and voluntary sterilization. It was subsequently discovered that this coverage had been in place for some time, but none of us had been aware of it - something we all regret and for which we apologize. When this discovery was brought to the attention of Abbot Placid, he and I immediately asked our health insurance provider to eliminate coverage for abortion, contraception and voluntary sterilization from the College’s group medical plan.

Why was coverage of abortion, contraception and voluntary sterilization removed?

As Abbot Placid made clear, it is the clear, consistent, incontrovertible, public, official and authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that abortion, contraception and voluntary sterilization are actions which are intrinsically wrong and should not be undertaken because of their very nature. As a Roman Catholic institution, Belmont Abbey College is not able to and will not offer nor subsidize medical services that contradict the clear teaching of the Catholic Church.

How did these coverages become part of our health plan in the first place?

Because of some turnover in a key position related to medical benefits we have not been able to determine how or when this coverage got into our policy. Again, we regret that this coverage was ever offered.

Were any faculty, staff or committees consulted on this change?

No. The teaching of the Catholic Church on this moral issue is clear. The responsibility of the College as a Catholic College sponsored by the monks of Belmont Abbey to follow Church teaching is equally clear. There was no other course of action possible if we were to operate in fidelity to our mission and to our identity as a Catholic College. Therefore, consultation was not an option. However, Abbot Placid and I have publicly and repeatedly expressed a willingness to discuss the matter at any time with anyone who would like to talk to us.

What complaints arose from the withdrawal of these medical coverages?

We received one email questioning the reason for the change, and we responded to that email. A group of eight faculty members filed formal complaints with various state and federal agencies demanding the reinstatement of these coverages, and the College was notified in due course by these agencies. The complaints of which the College has learned from the agencies involved include:

  • One person complained to the North Carolina Department of Insurance that we should be required by state law to provide abortion, voluntary sterilization, and contraceptive coverage.
  • Eight people filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the change in insurance benefits was an act of discrimination on the basis of their religion or sex.
  • On January 16, 2008, I received a letter from the National Women's Law Center in Washington, DC, threatening a lawsuit against the College on behalf of the same eight people who had filed the EEOC complaints. At this time, the College is facing no lawsuit.

What is the status of these formal complaints?

  • North Carolina Department of Insurance complaint: On January 25, 2008, the North Carolina Department of Insurance sent the complainant notification that Belmont Abbey College is a religious employer under state law. On February 4, 2008, the National Women’s Law Center sent a letter to the North Carolina Department of Insurance requesting that they reconsider their finding. Belmont Abbey’s counsel has contacted the North Carolina Department of Insurance asking whether they are going to reconsider the matter. If they are going to reconsider the matter, our counsel has requested that our side be heard.
  • EEOC complaint: We have retained legal counsel regarding the EEOC complaints and have received an extension to reply to the EEOC so that we can more efficiently respond to the eight complaints as a group. We hope to file that response shortly.

Will the College voluntarily reinstate these medical coverages?

No. As Abbot Placid made clear, as a Catholic College sponsored by the monks of Belmont Abbey, Belmont Abbey College will not offer nor subsidize these coverages. To do so would be to act contrary to the College’s stated mission and identity.

God Bless,

Dr. William K. Thierfelder
President

Belmont Abbey College
100 Belmont-MT. Holly Road
Belmont, NC, United States
, 28012
704.825.6726
Fax 704.825.6231

BillThierfelder@bac.edu

God Bless Belmont Abbey College.

TVs and Camping

I went camping last weekend. I noticed a few things that stood out to me:
1 - two camping sites over from us were a group of people that played music on a radio almost the entire time they were there.
2 - while taking a short hike with the kids, we noticed a couple that not only had music playing, but had set up a TV.
3 - I saw a lot of people talking on cell phones.

For me, camping is a way to relax and be outdoors without all of the noise that our modern culture has with it. At first, I was annoyed with all of the noise that was being pushed my way. But, then it turned into sorrow for those that can't seem to unplug themselves from the noise. Noise can be a tool that keeps us away from God. Noise can keep our minds away from reflection and prayer.

Let there be silence, oh Lord.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? - 1Kings 19: 11-13

Uh Oh

Planned Parenthood is in trouble again.
LOS ANGELES - Planned Parenthood affiliates in California overbilled the government by $180 million for birth control pills, a fired executive claimed in a lawsuit.

Details of the 2005 whistle-blower lawsuit by P. Victor Gonzalez were unsealed and made public last week.

Gonzalez was vice president of finance and administration of Planned Parenthood's Los Angeles affiliate. His suit, filed under the federal False Claims Act, contends he was fired in 2004 after raising concerns about "illegal accounting, billing and donations practices."

The case involves reimbursement to Planned Parenthood for contraceptives under state and federal public health programs.

The alleged overbillings began in the late 1990s. They continued until state law was changed in 2004 to allow Planned Parenthood to bill at a higher rate, said Gonzalez's lawyer, Jack Schuler.

"I can't comment because we have yet to actually see the suit," Ana Sandoval, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said Saturday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Governor Eliot Spitzer and Prostitution

The Governor of New York admitted to being involved in a prostitution ring, then he apologized. I won't comment on the politics of the matter, plenty are doing that. I want to point out an underlying social problem that won't make the papers. This kind of scandal is only going to get more and more common. Why? Because we have an epidemic of sexual addiction in our culture and aren't addressing it. Of course, the governor says it is a "private matter". The numbers tell us the story:
  • Adult Video News claims that the largest credit card company makes $35 million per month off of e-porn.
  • Porn earnings are estimated at $10-12 billion in the U.S. and $56 billion worldwide.
  • 90% of 8-16 year olds had viewed pornography online.
  • 51% of Christian clergy in one survey said porn is a temptation. 37% say they have a problem with it.
  • More than 25% of the adult male population of the USA admits to having an addiction to online pornography. More than 20% of Christian men admit to having a problem.

The problems of sex addiction and pornography are only now coming to the surface in our society. Spitzer's revelation is only the tip of the problem, wait until it reaches full maturation.

If you have a problem with sex addiction or pornography, then get help. Don't buy the lies. If you don't have a problem, then stand up and fight this part of the culture of death like these students to the right who went and protested Planned Parenthood passing out condoms at A&M on Valentine's day (romantic idea, isn't it?).

Nice.

If you like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and you have seen the original Star Trek, you will love this.

Tip O' The Hat to Mark Shea.

Bishop Aymond

I say it often and I will say it again - we have one of the best bishops in the nation as our Pastor. The Austin American Statesman did an article on Bishop Aymond and all of the struggles of being a good shepherd. Let me quote liberally below, with comments.
"I don't feel I have a responsibility or an obligation to make people do what the church says," he said. "In fact, I think that would be wrong. But I do have an obligation to say this is what the church's teaching is."
Exactly. Not to impose, but to propose.
Then a lay man responds to the way Bishop Aymond leads:

From his perspective in the pew, Jim Harrington often sees the bishop's positions as too rigid. He said Aymond should have been more open to discussion about the Curran event and should not have instructed the clergy not to attend.

"I don't think (Catholics) pay any attention, honestly," said Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project and a former Catholic seminarian. "(It's a) kind of soft estrangement. ... It's not like a pitched battle with bishops. They just ignore them."

Please don't speak for every Catholic. I listen. Thanks.

Then Bishop Aymond again.

"Sometimes people say, 'Just because (the church) is saying this, doesn't mean we have to do it,' " Aymond said. With a laugh, he added, "Well, OK, would you at least think about it?"

I guess a sense of humor about it would be necessary, wouldn't it?! He then says:

"We shed the light, and we help people form their consciences," Aymond said. "And then it's up to them."

But Aymond said he can't ignore a culture that celebrates sex without commitment, excessive violence, self-indulgence and dishonesty. On the rare occasions that he has time to watch prime-time television, Aymond said, he's discouraged by "the lack of values."

"It's not just sexual," he said. "That's part of it. ... It's the lack of honesty, the lack of integrity. ... What are we saying to our kids?"

Let me answer the Bishops' question - I think it tells our kids to that we expect them to be marginal or cultural Catholics - not saints. Turn the TVs off!

Lastly, he addresses politics and Catholic politicians who dissent from Church teachings:

"I wouldn't want someone to do the right thing for the wrong reason," he said. "The goal of the church is to get people to do what is good for their own good, for the good of society and for their relationship with God. But if they're doing it out of fear, though fear might be the beginning of wisdom, it's not going to get us to heaven."

I highly respect our Bishop. He is a good man, a good Catholic and a good Bishop. God Bless Bishop Aymond and all his brother Bishops.

Monday Morning Update

*Thou shall not pollute. Thou shall not clone. Thou shall not do research that kills babies.
Makes sense to me, but one of these things is not like the others. I hate it when lists of "sins" are put out without proper distinctions made. Such as this list of the new seven deadly sins. Some aren't even in the same category as others.

*PBXVI says that the Eucharist is the true fountain of youth and that "The only true medicine of immortality is the Eucharist, he said, and the certainty of being loved by God."

*I previously referenced the "art" at the University of Dallas that depicted Our Lady of Guadalupe as a stripper. It was stolen. Now the artist speaks out and has this to say:

"How do we know that an exotic dancer is sinful?" she said. "What if she has the best intentions and strives only to help those in need?

"Many single mothers are in this position and that is another reason why I chose to reference the Virgin Mary, because she was another woman who was in a tough position and probably received much criticism because of it."

How do we know that stripping is sinful? In and of itself it is degrading to the dignity of a human being to parade themselves in order to have others lust after you. Situational ethics and relativism don't work here - I learned this at the University of Dallas in grad school for theology. Unfortunately, the artist attends Murray State and situational ethics are probably much more common than natural law there.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Made My Day!

As most regular readers know, and definitely those who know me, I have a passion for evangelization. I talk to a lot of people about it, including my mom. A while back while discussing it, I told her that when someone comes to your door to evangelize you (e.g., Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.) it is a great opportunity to evangelize them, because they are there to talk about faith-issues. So, you know when I received this in my inbox today it made me smile:

You would have been proud of your old Mom today. I was visited by two Jehovah Witnesses and I "witnessed" to them about THE one true Church and Christ's Body and Blood.
Love,
Mom
I am proud of my mom, the evangelist!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Our Students

A video the leadership of Aggie Awakening did last year. Priceless.

My Latest Article

Here is my latest article on how to live out the Word of God for The Catholic Spirit - "Living as Grown-Up Children"(pdf).

I also had the honor of having an article (pdf) written about my speaking/evangelization apostolate in this month's Catholic Spirit.

Friday Fun - Colbert & John Hagee

John Hagee is a pastor in San Antonio who is on the fringe of Protestantism, yet wields a lot of influence in certain political circles. He gave his endorsement to McCain which got some Catholics upset, because of the anti-Catholicism that Hagee has forwarded. To tell you the truth, I think it is all blown out of proportion. Hagee isn't too bad, there are much worse out there. He just has horrible theology and is "caught up" in the end-times speculation (pun intended). That is why Colbert is a perfect answer.

Play a Game

Spot the error in reporting Catholic doctrine. Who is going to win this one?
ABC News on confession.

Friday Tidbits

*The Pope has invited the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, to participate in the next synod of Bishops. Nice. I love true ecumenism.

*The Times of London reports that the Pope wants to "reform" Luther and show that he was a good Catholic, not a heretic. But, this is simply not true. Another report says the Times is merely trying to get readers, as usual. Take the first report as sensationalism. The Pope has been interested in Luther for a long time and isn't trying to "reform" him, but trying to do the right thing by studying his writings and taking what is of value.

*Oregon is now requiring Catholic hospitals to provide abortifacient drugs to rape victims. Time to stand up an say "no".

*The Church has now ruled that the improper formula of baptisms are invalid. The Diocese of Brisbane is the first to report that they will have to re-baptize some.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Exhuming Saints?

Q - What do you think about the exhuming of Saints (example here)? I find it kind of disturbing. Shouldn't they be allowed to rest in peace rather than be paraded in a glass box in public? Did the Vatican approve this and if yes why so? Thank you!

A -
Thanks for the question. It is understandable that you are somewhat disturbed by this practice. It isn't something that our modern society understands very well, so some history, before my opinion, might help.

We are body and soul. Not souls trapped in bodies. This is very important, because it is a vital part of Catholic theology and anthropology. We understand our humanity as being incomplete without a body, which is why at the final judgment our souls and glorified bodies will be reunited for eternity.

In the early Church, there were several heresies that denied the sacredness of the body, including gnosticism. They believed that the body was a mere instrument and ultimately evil. Salvation would come from being pure spirit. There are still elements both within, and especially outside of, the Church that still lean toward this gnosticism.

During these early days of the Church, esp. in Rome, Christians were persecuted mightily by both the government and the Jewish community. They had to start meeting in the crypts of the dead, the catacombs, in secret. They did so because it was illegal for them to gather in public. They started to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy, Mass, within the catacombs - on the tombs of the martyrs. It soon became a common practice to start to hold on to an article of clothing or piece of a saint's body as a reminder of their holiness - which was bodily as well as spiritual, grace enters into us via the physical (think Sacramental theology).

But, this isn't just a Catholic thing. It comes from the Jews, as we see in the Old Testament:
And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place." - Genesis 50:25
In Ezekiel 37 we see the "dry bones" becoming enfleshed again, through God's grace. Then in the New Testament we see the accounts of the Evangelists in detailing the care with which the followers of Christ took with his body.

Later Polycarp, an early Christian wrote the following to the Smyrnaeans in A.D. 156:
"We took up his bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom."
So, now we have a modern-day Saint being exhumed for his body to be examined. Is it strange to our modern sensibilities, certainly. But, is there something wrong with it? No. Padre Pio's soul is certainly already "in peace" in heaven, his body is waiting to be joined with it. But, until that day comes there is nothing wrong with Catholics venerating it. In fact, it is completely Biblical, Historical and Christian.

The official reason is to:
“respond to certain historic responsibility to guarantee a prolonged preservation of saint’s bodies, using appropriate methods, in order to allow future generations to also have the chance to venerate and care for these relics.”
The Catechism ties the Sacramental economy to the veneration of Saints' relics:
Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions among the faithful. The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church's sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc. (CCC 1674)

Catholics and Muslims in Dialogue

The Pope asked for dialogue with the Muslim community in Regensburg, when all the controversy about the Pope exploded. In the fallout from the controversy, the heart of the message was lost and the purpose of the speech never was told to the general public. He called for a new era of respectful dialogue in order to build up peace and justice. It looks like it has finally started. May God bless the efforts of this dialogue.

Lean Into God

My dog is a leaner. When she likes you, she leans into you and soaks up all your lovin’. Sometimes you have to lean back into her 95-pound-cuteness in order to support her weight. Sometimes in her enthusiasm the lean becomes a bit more of a body slam. Some of my petite friends have to brace themselves or they’ll topple over. Their small frame simply can’t manage all that weight and love.

The other day as my dog was leaning into me, the question came: Do I really “lean into God”?

Sometimes I think we go to prayer needing some thing – some grace, some strength, some solution. We go to prayer with our hands out as if God will give us some portable power that we can take and move along on our way. We expect to then be able (on our own) to go out from him and accomplish whatever difficult task that begged his help to begin with.

But sometimes we need to “lean into God”, to stay close. We need to let him support the weight of our problem, decision, or struggle. We need not worry if he can support us. He already proved he can handle anything on the Cross. We need not worry he will topple over. He has a mighty frame that can withstand the force of any weight. And the beautiful thing is that he often leans back into us. "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." James 4:8

Today as we continue on this Lenten journey may we all lean into God! Rely on Him. Let Him support you. Draw near. And soak up all His lovin’.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Chastity on the Today Show

Dawn Eden, the author of Thrill of the Chaste, who now speaks around the country about how chastity and a Catholic understanding of sexuality changed her life, was on the Today Show. She also has a great article, which I recommend. Good job Dawn!

A Day In the Life of A Cardinal

The Chicago Tribune was given a rare glimpse into the life of Cardinal George of Chicago. The story is well done and the pictures tell another side of the story.

Never desire to be a Bishop. The decisions they must make carry the weight of eternity. Of course, those priests who don't want to be Bishop are usually better than those that have such aspirations.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Catholic Carnival #162

Check out the Catholic Carnival for this week.

Catholic Blog Awards

Voting is now open for the Catholic Blog Awards. Aggie Catholics (listed as "Mary's Aggies" - our other name) is nominated in several categories, including "Best Design", which I don't think we will or ought to win (I didn't even vote for us in that one). If you feel called to vote for us or if you nominated us, we are humbly thankful.

Another Good Blog

Check out Sister Lynn D'Souza's blog. She is an Aggie Catholic (and a friend) and the inventor of the low-gluten host that got approved by the Vatican for use. Because of this invention, Sr. Lynn has positively impacted thousands of lives. She came to visit A&M a few weeks ago as a spiritual director in our Busy Students' Retreat. She posts about her time at St. Mary's here.
Gig 'em and God Bless Sister Lynn.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Rosary for Unborn

EDIT - Thanks to a reader in the combox that pointed out the "revelations" and "promises" given by Mary to those who use this rosary. Sounds either like a scam or something else that is not quite right. So, I have taken down the link and pics.

Thanks.

Meat on Fridays During Lent

Q - Our priest told us that it is not a sin to eat meat on Fridays in Lent. Is fasting and abstinence just a discipline that is highly recommended, similar to the private practice of giving up something, which I know is not required?

A -
Thanks for the question. Is eating meat on Fridays during Lent a sin? Let me tell you that there are two dimensions to this question that we should deal with - the objective and the subjective. I will deal with only the objective part. Because the subjective is for the individual, their confessor and God to deal with, not me. So, what I will deal with is this - is it objectively wrong to eat meat on Fridays during Lent? (For why we abstain from meat - read this.)

Church law says we are to abstain from meat during Fridays of Lent. Previously we were bound to observe this abstinence during every Friday. But, when the new Code of Canon Law was promulgated, it gave the local Episcopal Conferences the option of altering the obligation under the law outside of Lent. The USCCB then decided to allow us to eat meat on Fridays and dispensed all Catholics in the USA from the obligation, but we are still asked to do some penitential act. But, continuing in the same document, the US Bishops say:

Every Catholic Christian understands that the fast and abstinence regulations admit of change, unlike the commandments and precepts of that unchanging divine moral law which the Church must today and always defend as immutable. This said, we emphasize that our people are henceforth free from the obligation traditionally binding under pain of sin in what pertains to Friday abstinence, except as noted above for Lent.

Notice the exception. We are still obligated to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. But, you might ask, why does the Church have the authority to obligate us to do such things? The simple answer is because Christ gave it to her. "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19 & 18:18). This binding and loosing is an ancient Rabbinical way of establishing the rule of conduct for the community - with authority from God.

So, it isn't that eating a steak is wrong, it is that when we do so (freely, with full knowledge and full consent) we can sin - because we are putting our own authority above the authority of God given to the leaders of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

An analogy might help. The state of Texas has the power to raise and lower the speed limit. If they decide to lower the speed limit on the highway that I use daily, I am obligated to follow that law. Not because I may or may not think the speed limit is correctly set, but rather because of the authority of the state. If I choose to ignore the law, knowing the consequences of the law, I am ignoring the authority of the state and can justly be penalized according to the law. In the same way, the Church has the authority to choose the rules of penance for the members of the Church.

Now, on a side note, don't use this post as ammunition against your pastor. If you choose to approach him about this, then please make sure that you do so out of humility and prayer - not to prove him wrong. I would suggest asking him something like this - "Fr., I don't quite understand what you mean by saying that eating meat on Fridays isn't a sin, I thought it was still an obligation to follow this Church law. Can you please explain it to me? Thanks."

I hope this helps.