Monday, November 30, 2009

Travis County Residents - Urgent Action Needed

From the Austin Diocese - about pro-life activism needed in Travis County.
JOIN OUR DIOCESAN-WIDE EFFORT
HELP STOP TAX-FUNDED ABORTIONS BY THE
TRAVIS COUNTY HEALTHCARE DISTRICT!

The Travis County Health Care District (TCHD), primarily funded by property
taxes, has budgeted $450,000 for elective abortions for Travis County residents
meeting poverty guidelines. Although the funding has been approved, an
additional vote will be taken by the TCHD Board of Managers to approve
contracts allotting the funds to specific abortion providers.

A meeting has been set for Thursday, Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m., in the
Commissioners Courtroom at 314 W 11th St., for the TCHD Board of Managers
to discuss the contracts and take appropriate action on them.

Your help is urgently needed with our Diocesan-wide effort, which includes:
1. Taking immediate action regarding this Advocacy Alert.
Non-Travis County residents are urged to pass this alert to Travis
County residents -- to friends, relatives and co-workers.
Travis County residents are urged to contact TCHD to stop the use of
county taxes being spent on abortions.

Sample Message
Poor women need help providing for their children, not eliminating them
through abortion. Women deserve better than abortion from TCHD, and
county taxpayers deserve better use of their funds.

Contact Information for the TCHD Board of Managers:
Phone: 512-978-8000
E-mail: info@traviscountyhd.org
Mail: Board of Managers, Travis County Healthcare District
1111 East Cesar Chavez Street, Suite B; Austin, Texas 78702

2. Participating in a Petition Drive at your parish the weekend of Dec. 5/6.
Petitions can also be downloaded at: www.myprolife.org so that
signatures can be collected at group meetings before Dec. 8.
These petitions are to be signed by Travis County residents only, but
all are urged to pray for the success of this effort.

For more information go to www.myprolife.org
                   or call (512) 949-2486

Guess the Source

Can you guess the source of this quote? No cheating (i.e. Googling it).
The Implications of Faith in One God

Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life. It means coming to know God's greatness and majesty: "Behold, God is great, and we know him not." Therefore, we must "serve God first".

It means living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: "What have you that you did not receive?" "What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?"

It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.

It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.
It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A prayer of St. Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes / God never changes
Patience / Obtains all
Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.

Weekend Roundup

From the weekend:


**Don't forget to check out the Manhattan Declaration.  You can also sign it if you feel so inclined.

**Ignatius Press is having a sale.

**Pray for the Catholics in Vietnam and other countries were the faithful are persecuted.

**Anti-Catholicism is still acceptable in our culture.  Carl Olson does a good job in pointing out the hypocrisy of it all.

**Same-sex marriages.  Not a good idea.

**A good analysis of why many Catholics aren't in the pews.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent 2009

Advent is the forgotten liturgical season. With all the business of Thanksgiving and then the build-up of Christmas, we have forgotten, as a culture, how to celebrate Advent.  Yes, we realize it when we go to church and see the purple (and then pink) candles lit on the Advent wreath.  Some of us might even have an Advent wreath at home.  But, we miss out on what the season truly can bring to us if we don't slow down.

I have prepared a long list of resources at the end of this post, but first a reflection I wrote a few years ago.

The Spirit of Advent - A Reflection on The Advent Season


The Advent season brings with it a number of joys, expectations and opportunities to celebrate. It also brings with is crass consumerism, exploitation of the true meaning of Christmas and an opportunity for self-indulgence. We should be careful, this holiday season, to truly celebrate the most monumental moment in human history – the Incarnation of Christ.

Advent is a season of preparation for the birth of the Lord. Just as the Israelites awaited the birth of the Messiah for generations upon generations, so we await the coming of our king – Jesus. Many Israelites waited to see the day of salvation when the Anointed One would be crowned king and save the nation from captivity, a wordly salvation. But, the day never arrived during their earthly life, because Christ brought a spiritual kingdom. We, on the other hand, have been blessed to live in this Kingdom of God – the age of the Church. So, our anticipation of salvation must be re-lived every year as a commemoration of Christ becoming man. But, we too can be caught up in believing that our salvation is of an earthly form.

Think of a mall or large store in the weeks of Advent, decorated with Christmas decorations since Halloween, crowded with many people searching for presents for friends and family. They may be shopping for items for the office “holiday party” or for something to decorate their homes with. Unfortunately, this really has nothing to do with Advent, as the church understands it. Our culture has inculcated in us a desire to give and receive objects, to celebrate with eggnog and by putting up Santa in our yards. While these things are not bad in and of themselves, they certainly can serve as a distraction for us.

I recently heard that “this season is about loved ones and celebrations”. While spending time with friends and family is a good thing, for Catholics the season of Advent is not all about celebrating. More than celebrations, Advent is an opportunity to make the spiritual preparation for God-becoming-man a sacred opportunity to grow in faith, hope, and love. We need to stop, which is difficult enough in our busyness, and reflect on the fact that the supreme being, the omnipotent One, the Alpha and Omega, the Lion of Judah, the Morningstar, the Messiah, King, and our Lord and Savior – GOD – humbled Himself to take on our fallen nature in order that we might be raised up with him to the heavenly heights of the divine.

Instead we settle for mistletoe, stockings, and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

I would like to propose some practical ways in which we might turn this season into one of hopeful preparation and penance. But first, we must remember that while the Advent season is a penitential one, it isn’t quite as somber as Lent, because of the Joy that accompanies the expectation of Christ’s birth.

Suggestion #1 – Pray throughout the season. Simple and common sense for a Christian, it is also the most important part of making the season truly sacred. Without this prayerful connection to God, we cannot expect the season to be a spiritual success. Advent traditional prayer activities include the Advent wreath, Jesse Tree, and Posadas. You can also use an Advent devotional to help as a daily prayer guide. Of course the Eucharist and the Mass should be the center of any prayer life.

Suggestion #2 – Give your self as a gift to the less fortunate. There are ample opportunities to serve those less fortunate than ourselves. Spend an afternoon at a shelter or food bank. Help build a Habitat for Humanity house. Buy a gift for a needy child or family using the giving tree. Help St. Vincent de Paul distribute food and gifts to families in need. Visit the elderly or sick in a nursing home or hospital. These are the kind of gifts that require true sacrifice, but also have an eternal reward.

Suggestion #3 – Try to spread the real meaning of the season. This suggestion might be the most difficult for some. This means we don’t go overboard with Christmas until Advent is over. You might try some simple suggestions to help anticipate Christmas.
  • If you have a manger scene at home, don’t put Jesus into it until the morning of Christmas. We have started a tradition of having the three wise men wander throughout our house until Epiphany. The children look forward to "finding" where the three statues.
  • Progressively decorate. Remember that our Christmas lights and decorations are a symbol of the “light of the world” – Jesus – coming into the darkness. He isn’t here until Christmas, so try to postpone the lights until then.
  • Allow yourself to slow down. Try not to rush through Advent in order to “get to the good stuff” of Christmas.
  • Donate money to your local charity in the name of a loved one. Give this as a gift instead of another item from the store.
Whatever you do to make Advent a special time of preparation, remember that nothing is as important as nurturing the relationship you have with Jesus. Simeon and Anna waited their entire lives for the Messiah to come, and when they finally met the babe in the Temple, they were filled with the greatest joy imaginable. Let us await Christ in Advent in order that our hearts may also be able to overflow with gratitude and then truly say, as Simeon did -
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people.
A light to reveal you to the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel. – Luke 2: 29-32
Advent Clearinghouse of links 
(please post additional links in the comments section - I will add later)

**US Bishops - Advent Page. Great site, has Advent prayers, calendar, resources, and more.
**Family Reflections from USCCB.
**Catholic.org - Advent page.
**EWTN.com - advent page.
**CatholicEducation.org - Advent traditions page.
**Catholic Information Network - Advent Reflections.
**Our Sunday Visitor - Advent resources.
**Catholic Exchange - articles on Advent.
**Catholic Encyclopedia - article on Advent.
**Creighton University - Advent prayer page.
**Passionist - Advent page.
**Churchyear.net - Advent Page.
**American Catholic - FAQ about Advent.
**Domestic Church - how to make an Advent wreath.
**CatholicMom - Advent Resources.
**Beliefnet - Interactive Advent Calendar.
**Intro to Advent Video.
**Video of Advent Homilies.
**Get an Advent Wreath for your website from Curt Jester.
**Reflection on The End of Advent.
**Top 10 Things to Know About Advent.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

History of The Beatles

I never knew...


Tip O' the hat to Mark.

God and Beauty

The Church has consistently taught that humans seek out the true, the good, and the beautiful.  Artists, musicians, composers, actors, etc. have a special place in helping us discover all of three, especially beauty, in the created order.  Benedict XVI says this, "if we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence."
As a musician himself (pianist) the Pope understands the importance of such truths personally. We should listen closely when he speaks about it:


“Beauty is the glow of the true and the good that flows out of every ordered state of being.” - Joseph Pieper.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Prayer Request

Please pray for Catherine Simmons, daughter of Josh and Elizabeth Simmons (St. Mary's parishioners), who died this afternoon.  Please pray for her family as well. She was born Nov 15. God bless them.  They urgently need your prayers.  Please lift them up.
St. Catherine pray for us.

Bishop Tobin "Interviewed" by Chris Matthews

I have commented several times on the war of words between Bishop Tobin and Representative Patrick Kennedy (see examples here and here).  The issue has started to get a lot of press and Bishop Tobin agreed to go on Hardball with Chris Matthews last night (video below).

Chris Matthews should be ashamed of himself.  As Deacon Keith Fournier says "Matthews showed how inept he is as an interviewer, how misinformed he is as a Catholic, how rude he is as a person and how threatened he is by the Moral truth."  I wouldn't go so far as to ask for him to be fired, but he should apologize.  More important, he should repent.

He presumes to lecture the bishop and tries to box him in to a little box.  He insults him, interrupts him, and acts shamefully.  He is a Catholic and doesn't like Bishop Tobin challenging his own politics by challenging Kennedy.

Bishop Tobin did get in the last word when he said, "I will reflect on that if you reflect on the teachings of the Church."  Pray for Matthews.  Pray for Kennedy.

Potpourri

A post full of randomness:


**Crying babies in church a good thing? Yup.

**How cohabitation is a sin against social justice.

**10 reasons modernist Christianity will die.

**How to evangelize your family this Thanksgiving.

**Global-warming scientists hid evidence that was contrary to their hypothesis. Bad decision.

**A teen decided to skip school. Nothing new here. But, what he did with his free time was unique. At least he was being productive.

**Last (and certainly least) is a zoo that is selling - "$15 pendant necklaces contain dried, sterilized reindeer droppings — sprayed with glitter — on a beaded chain".  Um...

Monday, November 23, 2009

The UN Can't Help It...

The United Nations can't help themselves.  Years ago they sold an international peacekeeping identity for a radical political agenda. At the front of the agenda is abortion.  Another item on their current agenda is global climate change.  So, how do you wed these two together into a compelling story?
1 - Make climate change the cause of a great evil.
2 - Make the solution to the great evil abortion.

The result = climate change leads to prostitution, which would go away if abortion-on-demand was furthered, because it would reduce the number of people that stress the climate.

I wish it were just fiction.  From the article:
The effects of climate change have driven women in communities in coastal areas in poor countries like the Philippines into dangerous work, and sometimes even the flesh trade, a United Nations official said.

Suneeta Mukherjee, country representative of the United Nations Food Population Fund (UNFPA), said women in the Philippines are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the country.

“Climate change could reduce income from farming and fishing, possibly driving some women into sex work and thereby increase HIV infection," Mukherjee said during the Wednesday launch of the UNFPA annual State of World Population Report in Pasay City.
Amazing isn't it? Well, here is the UN's solution...
The UNFPA suggested five measures to mitigate climate change and overpopulation:
Bring a better understanding of population dynamics, gender and reproductive health to climate change and environmental discussions at all levels;

Fully fund family planning services and contraceptive supplies within the framework of reproductive health and rights, and assure that low income is no barrier to access;

Prioritize research and date collection to improve the understanding of gender and population dynamics in climate change mitigation and adaptation;

Improve sex-disaggregation of date related to migration flows that are influenced by environmental factors and prepare now for increases in population movements resulting from climate change; and

Integrate gender considerations into global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Not the first or last time we will see such agendas from the UN tied together methinks.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good - 22,000 youth in procession with the Blessed Sacrament.  The pictures tell the story.

The Bad - A man who was thought to be unconscious and in a coma for 23 years is now found to be fully conscious and paralyzed.  Lord have mercy on him! I can't imagine what kind of inner torture he must have undergone.

The Ugly - Patrick Kennedy just doesn't get it. He keeps blaming Bishop Tobin for his own mistakes and when Bishop Tobin rises up to defend the Church, Kennedy plays the victim.  Pray for Kennedy's conversion.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fun Stuff

One of the greatest ends to a football game ever.  From a high school game in California.

Radio Show

I will be on the SonRise Morning Show with Brian Patrick on EWTN Radio on Monday morning, but I believe I will only be live in Cincinnati. The show will most likely air on EWTN another morning later in the week nationally.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shroud of Turin - Fake or Real?

I don't have much of an opinion about the Shroud of Turin, and for that matter, the Catholic Church doesn't definitively say whether it is genuine or not.  But, there is some interesting research that just came out about it.

Barbara Frale, a researcher at the Vatican archives, says in a new book that she used computer-enhanced images of the shroud to decipher faintly written words in Greek, Latin and Aramaic scattered across the cloth.

She asserts that the words include the name "(J)esu(s) Nazarene" — or Jesus of Nazareth — in Greek. That, she said, proves the text could not be of medieval origin because no Christian at the time, even a forger, would have mentioned Jesus without referring to his divinity. Failing to do so would risk being branded a heretic.

"Even someone intent on forging a relic would have had all the reasons to place the signs of divinity on this object," Frale said Friday. "Had we found 'Christ' or the 'Son of God' we could have considered it a hoax, or a devotional inscription."

The shroud bears the figure of a crucified man, complete with blood seeping from his hands and feet, and believers say Christ's image was recorded on the linen's fibers at the time of his resurrection.

The fragile artifact, owned by the Vatican, is kept locked in a protective chamber in a Turin cathedral and is rarely shown. Measuring 13 feet (four meters) long and three feet (one meter) wide, the shroud has suffered severe damage through the centuries, including from fire.

The Catholic Church makes no claims about the cloth's authenticity, but says it is a powerful symbol of Christ's suffering.
Of course this doesn't stop those with an agenda from trying to debunk it, as I have written about before.

John Paul II Lectures


What a treat!  One of my favorite professors from grad school, Douglas Bushman, is doing a series of lectures for the Diocese of Fort Worth on John Paul II.  It is a great way to get an intro to JPII from a scholar who knows him well.  Bushman is one of the best theologians that few people have ever heard of.  He best gift is making theology understandable and applicable.  I highly recommend you give him a listen.

The three sessions already completed are entitled:
*Session I: Pope John Paul II on Vatican II and the New Evangelization
*Session II: Pope John Paul II on the Meaning of Life in Christ
*Session III: Pope John Paul II on Man in the Image and Likeness of God
You can listen to all of them here.

Upcoming lectures will include these topics:
*(12/15/09) Session IV: Pope John Paul II on God the Father, Rich in Mercy
*(1/19/10) Session V: Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit and the Renewal of the Inner Man
*(2/16/10) Session VI: Pope John Paul II on the Vocation to Love and Suffering
*(3/16/10) Session VII: Pope John Paul II on the Vocation to Work
*(4/20/10) Session VIII: Pope John Paul II on the Faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Screwtape Letters Come Alive

One of the greatest works of CS Lewis is his book of fictional letters from one demon to another - The Screwtape Letters.  It is now brought to life, and it sounds amazing.  This is one will soon be in St. Mary's library.
Check out the actor who played Gollum voicing the lead character.


Tip O' the hat to CMR.

The Manhattan Declaration

A new document will be issued at noon today in an unprecedented show of solidarity between Christian leaders about moral issues our country is currently facing.  The full statement, entitled the Manhattan Declaration, will be officially released the press conference at noon.  Stay tuned for more.  Here is the first news on it.

Today a group of prominent Christian clergy, ministry leaders and scholars will release the Manhattan Declaration, which addresses the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty.  The 4,700-word declaration issues a clarion call to Christians to adhere to their convictions and informs civil authorities that the signers will not - under any circumstance - abandon their Christian consciences.  Drafted by Dr. Robert GeorgeDr. Timothy George and Chuck Colson and signed by more than 125 Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical Christian leaders, the Manhattan Declaration will be made public at a noon ET press conference held in the Lisagor Room at the National Press Club.

Among the signers of the Manhattan Declaration scheduled to appear at the press conference are:
  • Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
  • Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Diocese of Washington, D.C.
  • Harry Jackson Jr., Bishop, Hope Christian Church
  • Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Diocese of Philadelphia
  • Timothy George, Professor, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University
  • Chuck Colson, Founder, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
  • Ron Sider, Professor, Palmer Theological Seminary and Director of the Seminary’s Sider Center on Ministry & Public Policy
  • George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center and Founding President of the James Madison Foundation
  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
  • Jim Daly, President and CEO, Focus on the Family

Excerpts from the declaration include:
  • "We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right - and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation - to speak and act in defense of these truths.  We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence."
  • "We recognize the duty to comply with laws whether we happen to like them or not, unless the laws are gravely unjust or require those subject to them to do something unjust or otherwise immoral."
  • ". . . We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriage or the equivalent or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family."
UPDATE: here is the full statement.  Sign the declaration here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fulton Sheen Quote

If you have never read anything from Archbishop Fulton Sheen, you should.  Here is a sample:
Sin was the act by which man refused to see created things for what they were -- stepping stones to God, a means to an end -- and began instead to clutch at them as ends in themselves. That is what sin is, still. As a man loves his sense of humor when he cannnot see the point of a pun, so he loses his humor in its entirety when he ceases to see the point of the universe, which is that all things are revelations, symbols, reminders of God who made them. To take things as ends in themselves is to overrate them, treating them with a solemnity which is not warranted.
I would have said - "we worship creation and not the creator." What a word-smith Archbishop sheen was.

Busy...

"I am busy."  The mantra of modern man.  I know I have said it too many times.
Are you busy? Maybe a better question would be “why are you busy”?

I think in our modern day, being “busy” has become a badge of honor. A badge that many are more than happy to wear because it allows them to say “no” to entering into a deeper relationship with God or others.

An example might be a conversation that goes this way:
-How are you?
-Busy.
-Everything okay?
-Just too much to do.

At this point the inquirer feels that they too are taking time from the other person and the desire to continue in the conversation quickly dissolves.

Yes, in modern society we have a lot of things that pull us in different directions. But, the human in front of us is more important than most of those tasks keeping us busy. We quickly forget that the human in front of us is how we encounter God in daily life:
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40)
Really though, how does this work in our daily lives? It is the same way it has been done since the beginning of time - prioritize God and others in our lives.

When we start to say we are too busy for others, it hurts us even more than the other person. We need the “other” in our lives in order to have our lives rightly ordered. Even more so, we need God.

If you are a student, I have a message for you - life doesn’t slow down after school. Most of you will be married and St. Paul says this about marriage.
“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife” (1 Cor. 7:32-33)
Once you are married and have children, it becomes even more difficult to manage time and be present to God and others.

Bearing all of this in mind, let us remember that:
-Work can’t be first (no, I am not saying to quit)
-School can’t be first (no, I am not saying to skip class or not to study hard)
-Family and boyfriend/girlfriend can’t be first (no, I am not saying to end a relationship)
-EVEN CHURCH can’t be first. (no, I am definitely not saying to skip Mass, but you can be too busy with other "churchy" activities.)
-God must be first

Once He is, we are able to see the vast dignity and importance of the “other” and we time stops when they are in front of us.

In order to properly order our lives and therefore make God and the “other” a priority, we must each ask these questions:
1 - What do I need to do in order to have a better relationship with God?
2 - What time do I need to devote to God?
3 – What are some concrete ways I can prioritize God and others.
4 - How can I not be too “busy” for the most important things in life?

A few suggestions:
*Schedule prayer if necessary.
*Be prudent in how you spend your time.
*Make relationships a priority.
*But, at the same time, don’t neglect your obligations.

Pray for me and I will pray for you that we can all find God and others today as we use our time wisely.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Portraits

Apparently a certain student, who will remain unnamed, has a bit too much time on their hands.  This is the result.


It is quite a flattering rendition, even if my head is a bit too round and my body a bit too small.
I find it a nice match for other portraits, such as the holy card Marcel (done by another student last year):


Lastly, we have the sketched Marcel (done a few years ago by a young girl at a talk I gave):

Must be the forehead - easier to draw than hair...

Fr. Barron on The Movie "2012"

NOTE - Spoiler warning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Get Ready...

The US Bishops just approved the new translation for the Roman Missal, despite furious opposition led by Bishop Trautman.  What does this mean?  It means that after the Vatican puts the stamp of approval on it, we will see new Mass parts in a few years rolled out.  Here are some of the changes coming soon.

Currently:
Celebrant - "The Lord be with you"
Congregation - "And also with you"
Change:
Celebrant - "The Lord be with you"
Congregation - "And with your spirit"

Currently:
"This is the Lamb of God"
Change:
"Behold the Lamb of God"

Aggie Bonfire Collapse Anniversary

We are now at the 10th anniversary of the Bonfire Collapse (Nov 18 - 2:42 AM).
Please keep all who were part of this tragedy in your prayers.
12 lives were lost and 27 were injured.

We Aggies are a proud lot, but we don't forget our own.  There are two ceremonies that are planned on campus.  The first in Reed Arena tonight at 8pm.  The second will be a candlelight vigil at the bonfire memorial at 2:42 am.

God have mercy on Texas A&M.

Some Songs Are Way Too Long


I love Tim Hawkins.

Co-Ed Dorms a Bad Idea?

A recent study says so. But, did we need a study to tell us this?
A new study finds university students in coed housing are 2.5 times more likely to binge drink every week. And no surprise, they're also likely to have more sexual partners, the study found. Also, pornography use was higher among students in coed dorms.
Can someone live in a co-ed dorm and not have sex or get drunk? Of course. But, it is just increasing the temptations and the occasion of sin.  Maybe we need a study on studies that point out common sense.

On the other hand, it isn't nearly as bad as co-ed rooms.

Have some Ramen noodles.

Vatican To Rule on Medjugorje

Interesting development on the purported apparitions of Mary at Medjugorje.
Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo recently said that the Vatican will officially comment on the supposed apparitions of the Virgin in Medjugorje.
Watch the video for the full story and details on the process of the investigation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Events at St. Mary's

Some Dates you want to mark on your calendar.

1 - John Martignoni, the host of a popular Bible apologetics call-in show on EWTN radio, will be here this Wed in the church at 7:30pm.  The event is free.  RSVP is not required, but appreciated.
John is also the Founder and President of the Bible Christian Society.  John's talk is entitled "Apologetics for the Scripturally-Challenged."

2 - Dr. Ted Sri (an author, theologian, and popular speaker) will be here on Feb 2.  Dr. Sri currently serves as a Provost and Professor of Scripture and Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver.  Dr. Sri will be speaking on "The New Sexual Revolution: Men, Women and the Mystery of Love in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility."

3 - Fr. Mitch Pacwa, the host of EWTN LIVE (and other EWTN programs), will be speaking at St. Mary's on Friday, Apr 23.  Fr. Mitch is an expert Biblical scholars and is fluent in 12 languages.  Time TBD.

Don't miss any of these opportunities to learn more about the Catholic Church.  In the past few years St. Mary's Institute of Catholic Studies - Distinguished Speakers Series - has hosted a number of speakers, including:
-Cardinal DiNardo
-George Weigel
-Christopher West (twice)
-Archbishop Gregory Aymond
-Others

The Vatican Believes in Aliens???


The Vatican held a 5 day conference last week on the possibility of extraterrestrial life.  It has been making the rounds on the media outlets, with most of them sensationalizing the story and not understanding the point of it all. The conference was a scientific one (not a theological one), which discussed the possibility.  In other words, the Vatican is not saying there is life on other planets, but that we should be prepared if there is. If there is, how then should the Church be prepared to deal with it theologically and the implications therein.  Here is the level-headed Fr. Jonathan Morris on what is going on.

Is Lying Always Wrong?

Q - I have a question about lying. We all know lying is a sin, I think even an intrinsically evil one. CCC 2485. What about the police sting operations? Specifically the ones used to catch child predators. Often times a police agent will pose as a child in order to entice the criminal. Sinful?

A -
Thanks for the question! Let us look at the paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that you cited.
2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray.
We can see that a lie is when we consciously withhold the truth from someone.  It can be a grave sin, depending on the situation.  But, what about these situations where someone is lied to in order to bring justice?  The Catechism says this:
2489 Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet LANGUAGE. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.
Notice the last line - we are not bound to give someone the truth, if they do not have a right to know it.  So, building on these two paragraphs we can define a lie as = deliberately withholding the truth from someone who has a right to it.

One example I might give to illustrate this definition is the following:
-During World War II a Christian family helps their Jewish neighbors by hiding them in their house.  Nazi soldiers come knocking on the door and ask if there are Jews inside.  The Christians say there are not Jews inside.  Did they lie?  Not by the definition above, because the Nazis have no right to the truth.

In the same way, if someone is trolling the internet looking for minors to prey upon, they have no right to know if they are talking to a police officer or not.  Therefore the officer is not lying and no sin is committed.

Other situations that may keep us from giving out information (when we might say nothing at all) include protecting another person's privacy, company secrets, government intelligence, personal reputation, etc.

I hope this helps.

USCCB Sends Out Urgent Email About Health Care Reform

From the email from the USCCB:
In an October 28 memorandum, diocesan and parish leaders were asked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to distribute a nationwide bulletin insert on health care reform.

Thank you for your great work. Our efforts made a difference.

On November 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed significant health care reform that reaffirmed longstanding and widely supported policy that no federal funds will be used to pay for elective abortions (the Stupak Amendment).

It is critical that the Senate adopt the House-approved Stupak Amendment language that restricts federal funding for elective abortions, and for plans which include elective abortions. This language, approved by the House by a large majority, ensures that Americans are not forced to pay for the destruction of unborn children as a part of needed health care reform.

The Senate must address other essential moral priorities: protecting conscience rights, making health care more affordable and accessible for those without coverage, and ensuring that immigrants do not lose or will not be denied needed health care coverage.

Given upcoming Senate action, the U.S. bishops have asked that the UPDATED Nationwide Bulletin Insert on health care reform be printed or hand-stuffed in every parish bulletin and/or distributed in pews or at church entrances as soon as possible.  The insert is also available in Spanish.

Please encourage parishioners to pray for this effort as well. More information can be found at www.usccb.org/healthcare.




AnnouncementAnnouncement--Weekend Bulletin Insert is Distributed



To be announced at all Masses on the weekend when the Bulletin Insert is distributed.

Congress continues to debate health care reform legislation. While the U.S. House passed a health care bill that prevents the federal government from funding elective abortions, the U.S. bishops remain deeply concerned about Senate action, especially as it will affect abortion funding, conscience rights, affordability for the poor and vulnerable, and accessibility for immigrants.

In your pews/bulletins today, you'll find a newly updated flier/bulletin insert from the U.S. Bishops Conference asking you to please contact your Senators immediately and urge them to address these moral issues. The flier/bulletin insert includes a web address that allows you to send an email message to Congress with a click of a button. The bishops have asked for our swift action and our prayers. 

Thank you for your help. We can help make sure that health care reform will be about saving lives, not destroying them.

En Español




Announcement--Weekend After Bulletin Insert Is Distributed


To be announced at all Masses on the weekend following the Bulletin Insert distribution.

Congress continues to debate health care reform legislation. While the U.S. House passed a health care bill that prevents the federal government from funding elective abortions, the U.S. bishops remain deeply concerned about Senate action, especially as it will affect abortion funding, conscience rights, affordability for the poor and vulnerable, and accessibility for immigrants.

Last weekend you received a special flier/bulletin insert from the U.S. Bishops Conference asking you to please contact your Senators immediately and urge them to address these moral issues. The flier/bulletin insert included a web address that allows you to send an email message to Congress with a click of a button. Additional fliers/bulletin inserts can be found at_________(back of church, etc.).  

The bishops have asked for our swift action and our prayers. Thank you for your help. We can help make sure that health care reform will be about saving lives, not destroying them.

En Español




Prayer Suggested Prayer of the Faithful

That Congress will act to ensure that needed health care reform will truly protect the life, dignity and health care of all and that we will raise our voices to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable and to preserve our freedom of conscience. We pray to the Lord.



The Bulletin Insert contains the following:
ACTION: Contact Senate and House Members through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters.
 To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to www.usccb.org/action.
 Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices. Full contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov & www.senate.gov.
MESSAGE—SENATE:
“Please adopt the House-approved Stupak Amendment that upholds longstanding policies against abortion funding, and please protect conscience rights in health care reform. Health care must be made more affordable and accessible to those in need, and immigrants must not lose or be denied health care coverage.”
MESSAGE—HOUSE:
“I am pleased that the House-passed health care reform bill maintains the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion. Please work to ensure that this essential provision is included in any final bill sent to the President.”
WHEN: The Senate schedule is uncertain. Act today! Thank you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Is the Movie "2012" Anti-Catholic?

Matthew at Creative Minority Report details some interesting points about the trailer for this movie. Read them after you watch the trailer.

At the 20 second mark we've got the arms of the Jesus the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janiero falling off and then the whole thing falling over completely.

34 seconds in you see like fifty thousand people with candles standing in St. Peter's Square looking up at the Pope who's looking down at them.

36 seconds in you've got a crowd of people all making the sign of the cross.

Then you get about 12 or so seconds of regular old fireballs from the sky type mayhem.

50 seconds there's an image of St. Peter's Basilica toppling.

52 seconds cut to Cardinals inside praying only to look up at the art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to see it breaking apart and presumably crushing them.

54 seconds Those people who were praying with candles outside are now screaming and running. Why? Because the dome of St. Peter's is crashing down on top of them and then rolling over them crushing a few thousand people as it rolls essentially on top of the camera blacking everything out.
Well, it could be that the director just wanted to use the iconic nature of the Catholic Church to emphasis something.  But, then you get this info:
I don't like to jump to conclusions so I Googled Roland Emmerich, the director, who, according to numerous sources is openly gay and an activist liberal. But hey, it's Hollywood, who isn't?

I wondered if this guy has some sort of distaste for things Catholic. And darn it but what do I find? I warn you this is kinda weird.

In a closet in his house, Mr. Emmerich has a statue of Pope John Paul II laughing while reading his own obituary. That's right. Pope John Paul II. In a closet. Laughing while reading his own obituary.
That is in addition to the crucified Jesus wearing a Wham t-shirt.
I know one movie to skip...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Religion In the USA

The Pew Research Center has released the latest data on religion in America.  I find much of this very intriguing.

Some stats that jumped out at me and what they might mean.
  • Catholics divorce at a lower rate, but live with an unmarried partner at a higher rate than other Christians.
  • 72% of Catholics have a certain belief in God.  1% do not believe in God.  How someone can still be Catholic and not believe in God is beyond me.
  • Only 56% of Catholics say that religion is important in their lives.  Compare to Evangelical Protestants at 79%.
  • Less than half of Catholics (42%) go to Church one or more times a week.
  • 20% of Catholics pray once a month or less.
  • 48% of Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
  • 58% of Catholics believe homosexuality is "a way of life that should be accepted by society".
Cultural Catholicism is alive and strong.  Unfortunately.  This means that we are not raising Catholics who know and live out the faith.  They identify themselves as Catholics, but may not go to church, pray, or believe in the Church's teachings.

There are several reactions faithful Catholics might have to such statistics.  One is to toss the cultural Catholics under the bus.  I have heard a number of Catholics say that such people aren't really Catholic.  In one sense this might be true, because they aren't living out the faith.  But, in another sense it isn't, because we don't disown family because they act a certain way.  It just shouldn't be done, even if they are off the reservation.

I think the best reaction to such statistics is to double our efforts.  We need to do several things.
  • We need to really work hard at re-evangelizing Catholics and then forming them.  Our parishes need to start to become welcoming communities that form adults with life-giving catechesis.  It starts first with evangelizing the adults by engaging them in the basics of the message of the Gospel.  Then we need to take them deeper.  Too many parishes have catechesis upside-down.  It isn't primarily for kids, it is primarily for adults - every document from the Church on catechesis teaches this.  We need to engage them in Bible studies, classes on doctrine, presentations on the faith, etc.
  • We need to really get out of our own comfort zones.  Before we start to throw blame around, look in the mirror.  How many opportunities to evangelize someone have we let slip by?  How many of our own family or friends who are fallen-away Catholics need to be evangelized?  How many cafeteria Catholics do we let slide by without really engaging them in dialogue, inviting to a church event, buying them a book, etc?
  • We also need to support our bishops and clergy when they do something courageous.  Look at the number of Bishops in the past few years that have stood up for life issues or against the cultural tide that is sweeping against the Church.  We need to support them and thank them when they do such things.
  • We need to pray.  A lot more.
  • We need to do a much better job of forming Catholics when they come into our doors.  Better homilies.  Better Sacramental formation (with an emphasis on evangelization and not just hoop-jumping).  Better outreach.
  • We need to live more integrated lives.  Root out the places where we are not living out the faith.
  • Campus ministry is one of the most important and forgotten ministries in the Church.  This is where the future leaders of our Catholic Church are lost or made.  With more than 80% of students who stop going to church by the time they graduate college, we are failing miserably here on a national scale.  We need a major initiative to drive these numbers into retreat.
This is just the start.  We need Catholic leaders of people who aren't afraid to stand up for what is good, true, and beautiful.

God make it so.

Newman on Truth

A few of my favorite John Henry Cardinal Newman quotes
"We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe."

"Let us take things as we find them: let us not attempt to distort them into what they are not... We cannot make facts. All our wishing cannot change them. We must use them."

"It is often said that second thoughts are best. So they are in matters of judgment but not in matters of conscience."

"To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often."

Hunger Strike vs Fasting

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is calling for a hunger strike.  I think a fast for those who are hungry would do a lot more good, both objectively and subjectively.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pics From The Longing

Oct 23rd we had over 2,000 students in our big auditorium on A&M's campus hear Christopher West talk about the Theology of the Body and listen to Mike Mangione and His Band.  It was a great time.  Here are some pics of the event.

Christopher West talks to about 2,200 people.


Texas A&M is home to over 12,500 Catholic students


Mike Mangione and His Band


Rudder Auditorium at Texas A&M University


A regular scene at St. Mary's events - tons of religious