Monday, May 31, 2010

Comments

We love having your comments, as this video tells us clearly.


But, there are a few rules, as I would like to remind everyone.

Top 50 "Catholic-Themed" Movies

Because the Top 20 "Catholic" Novels post generated a large response, I will now post the Top 50 movies with a Catholic world-view. Once again, I have this disclaimer.

The criteria I used to make this list are not that the movie is explicitly "Catholic", but rather in these movies I find a Catholic world-view and/or theme amongst great artistry of movie-making. I have also emphasized newer films. Not because they are necessarily better films, but rather because I think good modern film-making needs to be given its due. Lastly, I have moved away from many of the explicitly "Catholic" films, though I still have several.

The list is not in order.
  • The Passion of the Christ - I can't watch it without diving into the beauty of the Incarnation even deeper. I try to watch this piece of artwork at least once a year.
  • The Mission - A Jesuit missionary goes to South America and finds God amidst suffering. A haunting and wonderful film. A must-see. The soundtrack is also one of the best ever.
  • It's A Wonderful Life - The true spirit of Christmas.
  • The Sound of Music - "Edelweiss. Edelweiss. Every morning you greet me."
  • The Human Experience - Still not released widely. If you get a chance, see it.
  • A Man For All Seasons - One word - courage.
  • Braveheart - Freedom + fighting for love.
  • Schindler's List - Not easy to watch, but the horror of evil should not be easy to stomach.
  • The Bell's of St. Mary's - A fun movie. Some characters don't have enough depth, but the story stands the test of time.
  • Babette’s Feast - a very slow movie, but the Catholic imagery is impossible to miss.
  • The Pianist - There was beauty even amidst the holocaust.
  • The Rookie - A good family movie.
  • The Truman Show - Searching for truth and the real world.
  • Babe - Who knew pigs could act?
  • The Exorcist - Not a family movie.
  • Dead Man Walking - Behind crime.
  • The Wizard of Oz - Uncommon heroes.
  • Jesus of Nazareth - Long, but a classic.
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy - Great adaptations of the books.
  • Romero - Searching for justice, to the point of death.
  • Blind Side - One of the best movies of the last few years.
  • Cinderella Man - Great acting and a great story of faith and family.
  • The Incredibles - One of the best animated movies of all-time.
  • Chariots of Fire - "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast."
  • I Am Legend - A Christ-like figure in a zombie flick.
  • Ben Hur - Long, but worth it.
  • Return To Me - Anybody like romantic comedies?
  • The Ten Commandments - This is THE image of Moses for most of us.
  • Groundhog Day - Who are you? What ought you to do?
  • Citizen Kane - A masterpiece. Pride, wealth and power.
  • Juno - Jaded and crass? Yes. But, we all need love.
  • Hotel Rwanda - Another kind of holocaust.
  • Gandhi - Ben Kingsley is masterful in the lead role.
  • The Apostle - Faith and sin wrapped up into one.
  • UP - True friendship.
  • Life is Beautiful - Protecting innocence from evil.
  • The Shawshank Redemption - Not as good as what some make it out to be (flawed in parts), it does have great themes in it.
  • Cheaper By The Dozen - Big Family fun.
  • Wall-E - Storytelling without much speaking + a great tale of the desire to be loved and to love.
  • Slumdog Millionaire - The human spirit is strong.
  • The Song of Bernadette - Won 4 Academy Awards.
  • Therese (1986) - not the new version, which was not good. 
  • Iron Man - A great hero movie, with redemption to boot.
  • On The Waterfront - One of the best depictions of a priest ever put to film.
  • Spartacus - A classic.
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose - Based on a real story.
  • The Dark Knight - I know there will be a number of people who disagree with this one, but I believe this is one of the most Christian modern movies. Light amidst the darkness.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Another classic movie from a classic book.
  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - Not a perfect adaptation of the book, but a very nice one.
  • E.T. - Children of a broken home and an alien.
Of course, this list reflects my own tastes. So, please add any additions or comments about the list in the combox.

You might also be interested in reading the list of movies recommended by the Vatican from 1995 and Decent Films' movie reviews.

Pope Paul VI tells us:
The production and showing of films that have value as decent entertainment, humane culture or art, especially when they are designed for young people, ought to be encouraged and assured by every effective means. This can be done particularly by supporting and joining in projects and enterprises for the production and distribution of decent films, by encouraging worthwhile films through critical approval and awards, by patronizing or jointly sponsoring theaters operated by Catholic and responsible managers. - Inter Mirifica, 14

How Bad Is The Spill?

There is still no way to tell how bad the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will ultimately end up being. But, at this point we know the ecosystem is being ruined and the people on the gulf are having their lifestyles destroyed.

Please pray that the oil spill is stopped.
What a nightmare.
This video is from last week and it has just gotten worse.

Fr. Barron on Being a Priest Today

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Is Today's College Student Less Empathetic?

One study says so:
A total of 72 studies conducted between 1979 and 2009 were included in the current review.

The analysis indicated that relative to their late-1970s' counterparts, today's college students are less likely to make an effort to understand their friends' perspectives or to feel tenderness or concern for the less fortunate.

"Many people see the current group of college students -- sometimes called 'Generation Me' -- as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history," observed Konrath, who is also affiliated with the psychiatry department at the University of Rochester.
This is not my experience though. I think there are generational differences, but I also think that the bigger differences are the amazing changes in our society, which affect every generation, but youth at a faster rate. Therefore, I would say that all of our Western culture is less empathetic and not lay it just on the shoulders of youth and young adults.

We could all be more empathetic. But, in the final analysis being empathetic doesn't get you anywhere. It is when empathy leads to acting with charity, mercy, tenderness, and humility that it gets us somewhere - heaven.

Pilgrimage Blog

I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of our permanent parishioners, Jeff, is on a pilgrimage in Spain currently. He is blogging about his journey and has his blog is a good read. A few snips below.
From Day 2:
At dinner time, all of us came together to eat and discuss our trips to Compostela and why they we are doing the pilgrimage. Before the meal, we introduced ourselves and told where we are from. In my case, it was always “La Republica De Tejas.”

Most of the pilgrams are from Europe: Germany, Holland, Spain and France. Denny and I are the only ones from the USA and the only ones who speak much English. It was interesting to hear all the other languages … As a result, Denny and I can now say “good morning” in 7 different languages. On the last evening of our stay, I was talking to the owner and he said that he has walked the camino many times. He has owned L’Esprit du Chemin for over 9 years and has only seen a few Americans on the camino. He said he always wondered why, but we didn’t have a clue.
From Day 6:
We have done approximately 100 miles of the 500-mile camino …

The big problem is, the path is straight up and then straight down, with rocks ranging in size from 1″ to 10″ in diameter, which absolutely kill your feet. My knees are shot! The dinner in Uterga was excellent, however.

View Larger Map

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Pope on Immigration

Pope Benedict addressed the issue that is so hotly debated right now in our country. We should give his words a careful reading and let them sink in.
(28 May 10 - RV) - On Friday Pope Benedict XVI said that the future of the global community depends on the willingness of States and communities to take on their shared responsibilities when dealing with the phenomenon of migration.

Speaking to participants at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, on the theme "The Pastoral Care of Human Mobility today in the context of co-responsibility with States and International Organizations”, the Pope called for a system of norms to “to cover the rights and obligations of the foreigner, as well as those of host communities, taking into account, firstly, the dignity of every human person created by God in His image and likeness”.

He went on to say that “the acquisition of rights goes hand in hand with the acceptance of duties", adding that “everyone, in fact, has rights and duties which are not arbitrary, because they spring from human nature itself." These rights and responsibilities are he said “universal, inviolable and inalienable”.

Pope Benedict pointed out that the future of our societies rests on relations between peoples, seen as a “dialogue between cultures that respects the identity of legitimate differences”. In this light "diverse organizations of an international nature, in cooperation with each other and with States, can provide their particular contribution to reconciling, in various ways, the recognition of the rights of the person and the principle of national sovereignty, with specific reference to the demands of security, public order and border control".

The Pope said "the forced entry or removal of foreigners, the use of resources of nature, culture and art, science and technology, which should be accessible to all” call into question the responsibility of States and International organizations.

Pope Benedict said that unfortunately, we are witnessing “the resurgence of particularistic demands in some areas of the world”. But at the same time he said "it is also true that there is a reluctance to assume responsibilities that should be shared. Furthermore, there desire is still alive in many to break down walls and establish broad agreement, even through legislation and administrative practices that promote integration, mutual exchange and shared enrichment. Indeed, prospects for peaceful coexistence can be offered through concerted and prudent guidelines for reception and integration, allowing opportunities for legal entry, favouring the just right to family reunification, asylum and refuge, compensating necessary restrictive measures and combating scourge of human trafficking".

Concluding the Pope point to respect for fundamental as a starting point , "for shared responsibility of national and international institutions. Moreover it is closely related to openness to life, which is at the heart of true development”.
I believe the Pope understands that there are competing principles in this messy situation, as I have pointed out previously.

Archbishop Chaput sees this as well, and talks about them in a recent column, which I highly recommend. Here is a snip.
First, illegal immigration is wrong and dangerous for everyone involved. There’s nothing “good” about people risking their lives for the mere purpose of entering the United States. There’s nothing “good” about our nation not knowing who crosses our borders and why they’re here, especially in an age of terrorism, drugs and organized violent crime. There’s nothing “good” about people living in the shadows; or families being separated; or decent people being deported and having to start their lives all over again, sometimes in a country that they no longer—or never did—know....

Third, no credible immigration reform will occur if the effort becomes an exercise in partisan maneuvering. Both of our major political parties got our country into our current immigration mess. Both parties bear responsibility for fixing it. Neither will solve it alone. Unfortunately, the recent national health-care debate compromised public confidence in some of our key federal lawmakers. Having pushed through a deeply flawed national health-care bill in the face of serious concerns and widespread public displeasure, Congress now faces an equally hard task with an equally volatile issue. This will require a transparency, patience, spirit of compromise and bipartisanship rarely seen in Washington in the best of seasons, and too often completely missing in the recent health-care debate.

To put it another way: If the immigration debate divides along the lines of party advantage and slogans, or becomes entangled with very different and unnecessary issues like same-sex relationships—then real people will suffer. And nothing enduring will result.
Tip o' the hat to CVA for the Chaput column.

Archbishop Gomez Welcomed to L.A.

Pray for Archbishop Gomez. He has a big cross squarely on his shoulders.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Planned Parenthood Clinic Called "Sacred and Holy Ground"

From the largest abortion clinic in the USA, which is in Houston, we get this story.


Near the 1:33 mark, you hear the people dedicating the building saying a prayer. During this prayer, they call the clinic "sacred and holy ground".

Then there are the diversionary tactics of calling their "services" more than just abortion. This is rhetoric designed to drive the conversation away from the intentional ending of human life.
So, I will cut to the chase - to call evil a holy thing is blasphemy.

They say that women can be "safe" in their "clinic". But, this is a lie as well. No woman who gets an abortion is safe from the pain she will suffer, not to mention how unsafe it is for the women's children.

Of course those who are protesting outside are portrayed as religious nuts who are keeping the people inside "under constant surveillance".

Lord help us end abortion and please enlighten those that participate in them.

The Church and the World Cup

What a great website and a great program, in preparation for the World Cup going to South Africa.
Dear Soccer Fans, We are very pleased to welcome you to our website dedicated to the presence of the Catholic Church in South Africa, on the occasion of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The World Cup has offered a unique opportunity, one we don't want to miss!

For the first time in history of football, a World Cup is organized in Africa. This is an opportunity to highlight the important role that sport plays in our African cultures. Sport requires patience, perseverance, respect ... all values which our societies, and particularly Africa, much need! All values that the Church does not cease to advocate: Charity, dialogue with other religions and cultures, love of neighbour ...

Let us seize this opportunity to offer the world an example of a living church and sports. Let us not be afraid to move forward, has often recalled John Paul II. Let us not be afraid to go full tilt, with faith and courage as athletes!

You will find here regularly updated information regarding the parishes nearby the stadiums where matches will be played, various events offered by the Church, the most important spiritual sites not to miss, as well as reflections on human trafficking, HIV & AIDS, Sport and the Church, etc.

Remember that the only true victory is one that enshrines the dignity of the person!

Enjoy your visit on www.churchontheball.com and... that the best team win!
Also, a great video.

Tip o' the hat to Patrick.

Bishop Olmsted + Excommunication of a Nun + The Facts

Jimmy Akin is all over this story, so I don't have to be.
I thought I would take the opportunity to offer a few thoughts on some of the issues raised in the combox of my previous post regarding the situation in the Diocese of Phoenix.

A sizeable number of commenters strongly deplored Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s actions regarding Sr. Margaret McBride.

So far as I can tell based on the known facts, Bishop Olmsted had done three, possibly four, things regarding Sr. McBride:

1) He has contacted Sr. McBride to get her side of the story regarding the abortion she approved.

2) He has informed her that, based on the facts as he understands them, she has triggered the provision of canon law that provides a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication connected with abortion.

3) After the excommunication was reported in the press, Bishop Olmsted allowed his communications director to confirm the excommunication.

4) Bishop Olmsted *may* (or may not, we don’t know since nobody official is discussing this) have had a role in the reassignment of Sr. McBride to other duties at St. Joseph’s (the Catholic hospital where she works and where the abortion occurred).

I don’t see how anybody can object to Action #1. If a Catholic bishop is informed that an abortion has taken place at a Catholic hospital in his diocese, he is supposed to investigate it and find out what happened. Contacting people for their side of the story is always a good thing, so I don’t see grounds for outrage on this one.

Action #2 is something I think people may misunderstand. I’ve seen reports elsewhere on the Net where people are saying things like “the Bishop automatically excommunicated her when he found out.” This is not what happened. It’s a misunderstanding. He didn’t “automatically excommunicate” her. According to the Bishop, she “automatically excommunicated” herself. He informed her of this fact.

Canon law provides an automatic excommunication for a small number of offenses (e.g., abortion, throwing away the consecrated species of the Eucharist, assaulting the pope). When a person commits one of these actions (all things being equal) the person automatically incurs the censure of excommunication by the commission of the act itself.

If Sr. McBride incurred this penalty, it was by her own action, not the bishop’s.

Based on his reading of the facts, Bishop Olmsted concluded that she had incurred the penalty and made her aware of this.

That is not an act of cruelty.

It is a spiritual work of mercy because it gives her occasion to pause, reflect, and take the steps necessary to be reconciled with the Church (which is the purpose of excommunication to begin with; it is medicinal in nature, intended to facilitate repentance and reconciliation).

One could argue that perhaps Bishop Olmsted was wrong in his assessment of the facts and that Sr. McBride did not excommunicate herself. I’m not a canon lawyer, but depending on the facts of the case I can imagine a number of different potential lines of defense in Sr. McBride’s favor (i.e., that she did not excommunicate herself).

So can others. Continue reading.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 20 "Catholic" Novels

Below I give you my top 20 Catholic novels. This does not mean the author is Catholic or that it is an explictly Catholic theme. The criteria I used to make this list comes from a novel where I find a Catholic world-view amongst great literature. There are some harsh stories and themes in some of the books. But, life can certainly be harsh.

The list is not in order, except for the first book, which is by far my favorite novel of all-time.
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky - I have never read another novel as good as this one. Top of my list.
  • The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene - Set in Mexico during the government persecution of the Catholic Church. A priest who finds meaning in losing himself in fear.
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather - Nobody paints a picture in your mind's eye like Cather.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Written decades ago, it describes a frightening future, that in many ways we are living out as foretold by Huxley.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe - Classic novel which helped turn hearts against slavery.
  • 1984 by George Orwell - Another great futuristic tale.
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller - et another.
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe - A great story of how faith can sustain us.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo - Classic French literature.
  • The Moviegoer by Walker Percy - A desperate story of needing to find meaning.
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh - Finding the meaning of life isn't always easy, fun, or quick.
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante - A classic tale of a journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven.
  • Father Elijah by Michael D. O'Brien - A fast-paced tale of good vs. evil. If you like explicitly Catholic fiction, this is a good book for you.
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Great fantasy world created by Tolkien that has become popular from the movies, but as is the case most of the time, the books are even better.
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes - Fun and moving tale of adventure.
  • The Lord of the Flies by William Golding - a tale of the dark side of human nature.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - A family finds dignity amidst their poverty.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas - Redemption, hope, justice and forgiveness wrapped in an adventurous tale.
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo - Finding redemption and meaning amidst injustice and trial.
  • Frankensteinby Mary Shelley - Probably not the story you think you know.
  • BONUS (for #21) - The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis.
Of course, this list reflects my own tastes. So, please add any additions or comments about the lists in the combox.

Catholic Married Sexuality

WARNING - A frank discussion on sexual matters.

Q - I enjoy your blog and clear explanations of Catholic beliefs. I have a question someone (a Catholic) asked me, but I am at a loss for an answer. I'm hoping you can help me present the Catholic view.

It involves a practice in the context of the marital act where people cause pain during intimate relations; specifically, WHY would that be wrong between two married people. A friend asks, "As long as both people enjoy it, why would it be wrong?" and another asks, "Why is enjoying pain wrong?"
I tried (clumsily) to answer that inflicting pain for the sole purpose of pleasing oneself (as opposed to say, the pain from a therapeutic surgery, for example) is wrong, even if the other person says it's ok. I know that these practices are twisting the marital relationship, but can't really lay my hands on a specific Scripture or paragraph in the CCC that addresses this.

I want to counter the notion that "anything between married, consenting adults is ok". I have seen "The marriage bed is undefiled" used as a proof text showing this practice is okay, but I'm pretty sure that is not the Catholic view.

Thanks for your time!


A - Thanks for the question. I know these issues are tough for many Catholics to find answers to, because many are too afraid to talk about them in public. But, because many have questions and yet we don't want to scandalize, I will try to answer them with as much modesty as I can while remaining as honest as I can.

First, let me address the scriptural reference. You quoted:
Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers. - Heb 13:4
This is not saying that "anything goes" in the marriage bed or that the marriage bed is made undefiled by marriage, rather it is a call for the marriage bed to remain undefiled. In other words, the author of the book of Hebrews is exhorting Christians who are married to practice marital chastity. The contrast is between the chaste and those non-chaste (immoral and adulterers).

Before I go further, here is the definition I use for chastity, taken from the Catechism:
2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.
The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.
An easy way to understand chastity is the right-ordering of our sexuality in whatever state of life we currently live in. So, married couples are called to have marital sexual relations, but in a chaste way, that integrates the self-gift portion of their sexuality. That is, the two are called to give and receive each other completely in their sexual relationship.
When chastity and integrity is taken out of the relationship because of violence, kinky behaviors, etc. then the relationship is no longer about gift, but about selfishness and thus their is no longer the bonding that exists through giving and receiving giftedness of the other.
What happens is these types of sexual relationships are lustful - yes lust can exist within a marriage also. Lust is the sin of grasping, taking, or using another person sexually. It is a selfish act of seeking pleasure, not love.

Love = "choosing what is best for another regardless of the cost to myself". When the sexual act is made into a wrestling match or a violent act, it is no longer about love. It becomes an objectification and use of the other which means it is lustful and sinful.

We must remember that sex should never just be a physical act. It should be an act of the whole of both persons. It is emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, and is the most intimate thing a couple can do. Making this human act (an act of the entire person) into a mere physical act is to make it something less than human.

Sex is made to foster mutual married love. By definition, these kind of perverted sexual acts cannot be called human, married, chaste, or most importantly loving.

For more on this integrated understanding of our sexuality, I recommend a careful reading of JPII's Theology of the Body.

Matt Maher in Space

This is cool. The Astronauts woke up to Matt Maher's song Alive Again and it isn't the first time his music has been in space.

Alive Again is currently orbiting aboard space shuttle Atlantis, servicing its final scheduled journey after almost a quarter-century of missions. Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center on May 14, 2010, and will spend 12 days in orbit and 7 days docked to the International Space Station where astronauts will deliver a Russian research module, along with other equipment and replacement parts.

Maher’s music has become a staple carry-on item for NASA astronaut, Mike Good, who has officially selected Maher’s song “Alive Again” as one of his “wake-up songs” -- not only reviving Good from an outer space slumber but the rest of the STS-132 and International Space Station crew as well.

Astronaut Good relayed a message of inspiration after a recent wake up call from NASA headquarters, “Good morning Houston! It’s great to wake up here in space again. We’re looking forward to another beautiful day docked at the International Space Station. I thank God for this opportunity to view the glory of His creation from this perspective -- and thanks to Matt Maher for that song, ‘Alive Again.’”

This marks the third year in a row that Maher’s music has visited the cosmos. In June 2008 and 2009 Matt’s previous album Empty & Beautiful (4/8/08) found its way onto shuttle Discovery for NASA Mission STS-124 with astronaut Ron Garan and aboard Atlantis STS-125 with Mike Good.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Mission Specialist, Mike Good when I was in Houston last year thanks to a friend of mine; seeing the NASA facility and hearing about the work that everyone there does was amazing, especially since, as a child, I always aspired to be an astronaut!” says Maher. “Music intersects with people's lives and inspires something unique from every person, so really, it's such an honor that he would choose one of my songs to start his day. Having my song played in space is one thing, but in context with what he says reminds me of what a great Man of God Mike is. It is such an honor to have my music start anyone's day.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You Have Been Exorcised

Did you know that you have (most likely) received an exorcism? It is true. In baptism there is a minor rite of exorcism that most of us have received.

There are two different kinds of exorcism, which is defined as driving out or warding off demons and their influence.
  1. Major Exorcism - these are the kind of exorcisms that make good books. There is demonic possession or oppression of a person, place, or object. Only an authorized and trained priest or Bishop can perform a major exorcism. As Canon Law states -

    Can. 1172 §1. No one can perform exorcisms legitimately upon the possessed unless he has obtained special and express permission from the local ordinary.
    §2. The local ordinary is to give this permission only to a presbyter who has piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life.
  2. Minor Exorcism - these are, most commonly, performed in baptisms. Any priest or deacon can perform these kind of exorcisms.
Here are some examples of the prayers of exorcism from the Rite of Baptism:
A snip from The Rite of Baptism of Children:
We now pray for these children who will have to face the world with its temptations, and fight the devil in all his cunning. Your Son died and rose again to save us. By his victory over sin and death, cleanse these children from the stain of original sin. Strengthen them with the grace of Christ, and watch over them at every step in life's journey.
A snip from the Scrutinies in the Rite of RCIA for the elect (adults to be baptized):
Father of life and God not of the dead but of the living, you sent your Son to proclaim life, to snatch us from the realm of death, and to lead us to the resurrection.
Free these elect from the death-dealing power of the spirit of evil, so that they may bear witness to their new life in the risen Christ, for he lives and reigns for ever and ever.
There is no presumption that a person is possessed or oppressed by a demon when a minor exorcism is given. Rather, it is a preparatory prayer that we may be freed from the bonds of original sin, and thus the clutches of the devil's power. This helps us to live out the grace given in Baptism.

No you know, if you didn't before.

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Did I mention - WOW.

We already had big news that the Pope is forming a new Pontifical Council in the Vatican that is tasked with overseeing the New Evangelization of western culture - esp. Western Europe.

Now, there is a partner with the Pope in advancing this evangelization and it couldn't be a bigger partner.
ROME, May 24, 2010 – Benedict XVI will soon create a new "pontifical council" expressly dedicated to the "new evangelization." Not for mission countries where the congregation "de propaganda fide" is already at work. But for the countries of ancient Christian tradition that are today in danger of losing the faith.

Pope Joseph Ratzinger wants to link his pontificate to this initiative. And this was the main topic that he discussed one morning in the spring of 2009, at Castel Gandolfo, with four prominent cardinals he had called for consultation: Camillo Ruini, Angelo Bagnasco, Christoph Schönborn, and Angelo Scola, the last being the most resolute in promoting the institution of the new office.

Meanwhile, one great ally has already united with the pope from outside of the Catholic Church, in this enterprise of a new evangelization.

This great ally is the Russian Orthodox Church.

On the afternoon of Thursday, May 20, immediately before the concert given for Benedict XVI by the patriarchate of Moscow began in the audience hall, the president of the department of external relations for the patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (in the photo), said exactly this to the pope: that the Catholic Church will not be alone in the new evangelization of dechristianized Europe, because it will have at its side the Russian Orthodox Church, "no longer a competitor, but an ally."

The positive relationship that has been established between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of Rome is one of the most stunning achievements of Benedict XVI's pontificate. It is also stunning for its rapidity. In fact, it's enough to look back just one decade to note the chill that dominated between the two Churches.

To a question from www.chiesa on the factors that led to this extraordinary change, Metropolitan Hilarion responded by indicating three of these.

The first factor, he said, is the person of the new pope. A pope who receives "the positive regard of the whole of the Russian Orthodox world," even though this is pervaded by age-old anti-Roman sentiments.

The second factor is the common view of the challenge posed to both Churches by the dechristianization of countries that in the past were the heart of Christendom.

And the third reason is their mutual embrace of the grand Christian tradition, as the great highway of the new evangelization.
Please pray fervently that this happens.

Social Costs of Pornography

I found another article on the new study The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations. This article is from Dr. William May, who writes about his reactions to the study.
Findings
In summary, the 8 key findings are as follows:
1. Pornography is available and consumed widely in our society in large part because of the internet.
2. Pornography today differs qualitatively from pornography in the past: it is found everywhere and is increasingly hardcore.
Consumption of internet pornography can harm
3. women.
4. children.
5. persons not immediately connected to its consumers.
6. its consumers.
7. Pornography consumption is philosophically and morally problematic.
8. Although not everyone is harmed by pornography, this does not mean that it ought not be regulated.
Here is a video detailing how Porn became the Norm.

NOTE: Adult content. Not in the pictures, but in the honest discussion of what being an "adult" really means. So, some of the language she quotes from is quite disturbing.

Disney World for Hunters and Shooters

Müller Schiess Zentrum facility in Ulm, Germany looks like a playground for people who hunt and shoot. Only in Germany.

Translation of part of the website:
Thousands of years ago made to survive, shooting became a demanding precision sport. A sophisticated mixture of stength, concentration and body control. To exercise this sport reasonable and with delight in match, this is what the largest shooting facility was made for. Welcome to the Müller Schiess Zentrum Ulm. Unique in Europe, the 3.000 square meters large and 22 meters high clay pigeon hall enables concentrated training in every season. Air-conditioned, perfectly illuminated and without disturbing environmental influences. There are "rabbits", *No Idea* or the classic clay pigeon and furthermore the olympic disciplines "Skeet", "Trap" and "Double Trap" *or something like this* possible. 3 distances, 3 challenges. The 25, 100 and 300 meter long, subterranean firing ranges and cinemas are computer-controlled, heated and complete air-conditioned. Ideal conditions for gamekeeper, sport rifleman, policeman and security services. In a large range of more than 150 3d-hunting-simulations, real movies and sport scenarios are shooting situations realistic rendered. All firing ranges and cinemas are equipped with fixed cameras to control hits. Only in Müller Schiess Zentrum, you can experience our unique 3d-simulation and do a nearly real hunting. Analyse your hits in a 3d model of your shot animal. For evaluation, the corpse is shown transparent inclusive all bones, organs and the bullet channel. A complete new experience of battue training!
Smooth dimmable night simulations enable testing of gunsights.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vatican Helps Fund Stem Cell Research

This is great news.
New York City, N.Y., May 25, 2010 / 10:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican issued a communique on Tuesday announcing a joint initiative with an international bio-pharmaceutical company to raise awareness and expand research of adult stem cell therapy.

Neostem Inc. and the Pontifical Council for Culture will combine the efforts of their respective foundations, the Stem for Life Foundation and STOQ (Science Theology and the Ontological Quest) Foundation, to advance research and explore the use of adult stem cells in regenerative medicine.

Fr. Tomasz Trafny from the Council for Culture remarked in a May 19 press release, "Considering the potential implication of scientific investigation, medical applicability and the cultural impact of research on adult stem cells, we view the collaboration with NeoStem as a critical effort."

"Through educational initiatives with NeoStem and sponsorship of scientific research programs involving cutting edge adult stem cell science which does not hurt human life, we come one step closer to a breakthrough that can relieve needless human suffering,” he said.

The pontifical council is particularly excited about the company's VSEL technology, which utilizes adult stem cells that behave like embryonic stem cells in their ability to regenerate and repair. Fr. Trafny said the technology could receive a significant financial investment from the Church.
The Church has always supported moral scientific research. But, killing in order to help others is not moral.

For more on this issue, see the following:
**I was an embryo once too...
**Stem cells and Emotions
**Stem Cells For Dummies
**Stem Cells

World Youth Day 2011 Needs Volunteers

What a great way to spend a good chunk of summer 2011 - volunteer to help with World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.


Don't forget to be a fan of World Youth Day's Facebook page.

Can Killing An Abortion Doctor Be Justified?

Q - One of my friend brought up the question of whether or not it would be justified to kill an abortionist if you knew that the abortionist was going to cause imminent and fatal harm to an unborn child, and not just one child but rather many children. As I thought about this statement it kind of scared me because I could see his logic and the parallel to shooting someone who was about to cause your child harm. But I can’t rectify my conscience with that logic. Can you give me some advice?

A -
Thanks for the question. I hope I can help you get some clarity on this issue. The short answer is that there is no moral justification in killing an abortionist. Another way to put it is that you can't murder a murderer.

St. Thomas, quoting St. Augustine, says
a man who, without exercising public authority, kills an evildoer, shall be judged guilty of murder, and all the more, since he has dared to usurp a power which God has not given him (Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 3).
Our Catholic tradition does allow for someone to defend themselves, as I have explained in other posts. But, killing an abortionist does not fit this criteria. If you were in the doctor's office and he was about to perform an abortion, you could use reasonable force to try and stop him, but not lethal force. Intent matters, as is explained below, as is the kind of force used.

The best article I have read in regards to this issue is from Dr. Charles Rice, who is a moral theologian and teaches at the Notre Dame Law school. He writes this:
The only situations in which anyone ever has the right intentionally to kill anyone are the just war, capital punishment, and a justified rebellion (or what the Catechism calls "armed resistance to oppression by political authority"þN. 2243, emphasis in Catechism). The just war and capital punishment are decreed by the state, which derives its authority from God. Armed rebellion involves an assumption by private persons of that authority of the state. The death penalty is inflicted on a person judged guilty of a capital crime and a just war or justified rebellion is subject to the mandate of noncombatant immunity, which forbids the direct and intentional killing of innocent noncombatants. See the Catechism, NN. 2312-2314. Whether in a just war or any other circumstance, no one ever has the moral right intentionally and directly to kill an innocent human being.

In self-defense or defense of others, against an aggressor, the intent must be to defend, rather than to kill. Consider two situations. In the first, Able, an abortionist's assistant in the killing room, suddenly has a change of heart moments before the abortion begins. He has a right and even a duty to use force to defend the child, not to kill the abortionist. In the second situation, Baker, an opponent of abortion, shoots the abortionist in the parking lot as he is approaching the building to do abortions a few minutes later.

One difference between the two cases is imminence. Able engages himself in the immediate defense of the child; he has no intent but to defend that child; he has no separate intent to harm or kill the abortionist. Recall that, in justified self-defense or defense of others, the intent cannot be to kill the aggressor, but rather to stop the attack. Baker, by contrast, is not in the heat of a physical struggle to save the child. He thinks, "I can get no closer than this. If I do not stop him he will go in there and murder babies. So I will shoot him in the head." His purpose or motive is to save children. But his intent in the act he performs that moment is to blow the baby killer's head off in order to achieve that purpose of saving children. Apart from the just war, capital punishment, or the justified rebellion, which derive from the authority of God, no one may ever intentionally kill anyone. Baker is intentionally doing an intrinsically evil thing to achieve a good end. He assumes the authority of God, to decide when that person will face the final judgment of God. His act cannot be justified. St. Thomas, quoting St. Augustine, said that "`a man who, without exercising public authority, kills an evildoer, shall be judged guilty of murder, and all the more, since he has dared to usurp a power which God has not given him"' (Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 3).

Some may argue that killing the baby killer in the parking lot is defense of the child because that is as close as Baker could get. But if Baker may kill the abortionist when he is not actually performing an abortion, why does he have to limit himself to the parking lot? Why can he not conclude that the only practicable way he can get a clear shot at him is to shoot him on the golf course? Or at the video store? St. Thomas speaks of the justified defender as one who "repels force." See the Catechism, N. 2264. Unless we are to declare open season on abortionists, so as to justify their intentional execution by anybody so inclined wherever practicable, the right to defend the child must be restricted to the immediate performance of the abortion. Even then it is practically inconceivable that lethal force would have to be used.

The first of the above two examples is academic, because opponents of abortion, prac- tically, do not find themselves in abortuary killing rooms. The issue is simply whether it is justifiable to kill abortionists, wherever and whenever an opportunity to do so presents itself.

The intentional killing of an abortionist could be justified only if it were incidental to a justified rebellion, which would itself be a just war, in which the abortionist was rightly regarded as a combatant and therefore a legitimate target. However, "Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate unless all the following conditions are met: 1) there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights; 2) all other means of redress have been exhausted; 3) such resistance will not provoke worse disorders; 4) there is well-founded hope of success; and 5) it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution" (Catechism, N. 2243; emphasis in Catechism). These criteria do not justify the intentional killings of abortionists. Michael Griffin was not resisting an immediate, unjustified attack by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. By no stretch of the imagination can one reasonably conclude that we are in an insurrectionary situation in the United States today such as to justify his intentional killing of a person who was not then attacking anyone. A justified rebellion involves the assumption by private persons of the prerogative of the state to wage a just war. In a rebellion the war is waged against the state itself. In Roe v. Wade, and later cases, the Supreme Court, with the cooperation of Congress and the Executive Branch, has precipitated an unraveling of the American civic fabric. It cannot, however, be legitimately concluded that the situation has disintegrated so far beyond other means of correction that armed rebellion is justified in whole or in part.
I hope this explanation helps. For even more, read the entire article.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fr. Barron Comments on Jesus

2 great videos:

1 - Fr. Barron comments on the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus:


2 - Fr. Barron comments on how Jesus is the Messiah:

Cool News From One of My Former Profs

This morning it was announced that His Holiness Benedict XVI has appointed me a Referendarius (Referendary) of the Apostolic Signatura. As one of some dozen international consultants to the Church's highest administrative tribunal, it will be my privilege and responsibility to advise*, on an as-needed basis, the officials of that dicastery regarding matters impacting the administration of law and justice within the Church.
Rocco has this insight into the appointment:
In a move recognizing a canonist held as one of the nation's "premier" specialists in church law, the pontiff named Dr Edward Peters -- the discipline's lead hand at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary -- as a referendare of the Apostolic Signatura, a consultant to the church's highest court. (One now, of course, led by its first-ever American prefect.)

A blogger and father of six beyond the classroom, the honor for a layman is unique -- Peters becomes the lone non-cleric among the dozen or so consultors. What's more, the four priests likewise added to the group this morning are all based in Rome or Milan.
Congratulations Dr. Peters!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why Catholics Need Good Movies

Steven D. Greydanus does good work reviewing movies. I haven't agreed with 100% of his reviews, but his style is very close to my tastes. He has a good take on why Catholics need good movies and should support them.
I would like to think that the time and energy I’ve devoted over the last ten years to Catholic film criticism—work I’ve always seen as an apostolate to families and individual moviegoers, especially Catholics but also non-Catholics and non-Christians—has contributed in a small way to the kingdom of God. I’m still a little taken aback at how some Catholics seem to feel in effect that the whole endeavor is basically pointless, since movies are such a complete wasteland that there is little or no value in trying to discern good from bad and it would be better simply to wash our hands of the whole business.

Here’s a comment from a combox awhile back on a post mentioning, among other films, Pixar’s Up, WALL-E and Ratatouille:
None of it is worth my or my children’s time. It has been a long, long time since I have found an acceptable movie for my children’s viewing, one that doesn’t make me wince and wish my kids hadn’t seen that … Actually, I’m glad for the demise of family TV and movie entertainment because it has led us to allow very little TV and movie watching in our home. We never go to the movie theater.
Suffice to say, reports of “the demise of family TV and movie entertainment” are greatly exaggerated. But if it were true, would it be a matter of celebration?

The Vatican II decree Inter Mirifica states that “young people” especially need “entertainment that offer them decent amusement and cultural uplift.” While “entertainment” doesn’t necessarily mean movies, the decree specifically says that “films that have value as decent entertainment, humane culture or art, especially when they are designed for young people, ought to be encouraged and assured by every effective means”—including “critical approval and awards.”

Does that sound like encouragement to celebrate the demise of family movies? Some, though, wonder whether it’s possible to find decent entertainment in movies today.

Abortion Myths

Zenit has an interview on Persistent Myths About Abortion with Doctor Rosario Laris, a surgeon and teacher of public health and bioethics:
A snip:
ZENIT: They say that many women die in Mexico due to the clandestine nature of abortion.

Laris: It is thought that in Mexico there is a very high number of women who die because of abortion.

The reality is different. Data of the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics or of the Health Secretariat says that, in the whole country, the cases of death resulting from problems related to abortion are very low.

The mortality of pregnant women is due primarily to problems of hypertension, not of illegal abortions.

ZENIT: And what is your opinion about the theory that legalization decreases the cases of abortion?

Laris: That by legalizing it, it is not promoted? That is a lie.

We see the cases of the United Kingdom and Spain. In Spain, abortion was legalized 20 years ago and it has increased by 200%; today one out of six pregnancies in Spain ends in abortion.

Another case to highlight is Poland. For decades abortion was permitted there and the number was very high. When it was outlawed, [the number of abortions] decreased to at least one out of 100 of the total number of pregnancies.

That's why we must be clear: to legalize abortion is to promote it. Continue Reading.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aggie Ordinations

Please pray for the following men who will be ordained soon.

**Seven Transitional Deacons of the Diocese of Austin will be ordained to the priesthood May 29 at 10:30 a.m. at St. William Parish in Round Rock. Several have ties to St. Mary's.
-Deacon Charlie Garza - Aggie class of 2002.
-Deacon  Matthew Kinney - Spent the past year assigned here.
-Deacon  Wade Russell - Spent his pastoral year assigned here. He will be ordained in a wheelchair, due to his accident.

Others to be ordained for the Diocese of Austin:
-Deacon  Adrian Chishimba
-Deacon  Mark Hamlet
-Deacon  John Kim
-Deacon  Steve Sauser

*Another Aggie to be ordained this year is Derrick Weingartner, SJ on June 5 by Bishop Thomas J. Rodi, Archbishop of Mobile, at St. Joseph Chapel at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. He will be ordained for the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus.

Please pray for these men and all who are to be ordained soon.

GO EVANGELIZE!

We need to listen closely to what the Pope said in Portugal.
Here is one snip from a Meeting with Bishops.
In truth, the times in which we live demand a new missionary vigour on the part of Christians, who are called to form a mature laity, identified with the Church and sensitive to the complex transformations taking place in our world. Authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ are needed, above all in those human situations where the silence of the faith is most widely and deeply felt: among politicians, intellectuals, communications professionals who profess and who promote a monocultural ideal, with disdain for the religious and contemplative dimension of life. In such circles are found some believers who are ashamed of their beliefs and who even give a helping hand to this type of secularism, which builds barriers before Christian inspiration. And yet, dear brothers, may all those who defend the faith in these situations, with courage, with a vigorous Catholic outlook and in fidelity to the magisterium, continue to receive your help and your insightful encouragement in order to live out, as faithful lay men and women, their Christian freedom.

You maintain a strong prophetic dimension, without allowing yourselves to be silenced, in the present social context, for “the word of God is not fettered” (2 Tim 2:9). People cry out for the Good News of Jesus Christ, which gives meaning to their lives and protects their dignity. In your role as first evangelizers, it will be useful for you to know and to understand the diverse social and cultural factors, to evaluate their spiritual deficiencies and to utilize effectively your pastoral resources; what is decisive, however, is the ability to inculcate in all those engaged in the work of evangelization a true desire for holiness, in the awareness that the results derive above all from our union with Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, when, in the view of many people, the Catholic faith is no longer the common patrimony of society and, often, seen as seed threatened and obscured by the “gods” and masters of this world, only with great difficulty can the faith touch the hearts of people by means simple speeches or moral appeals, and even less by a general appeal to Christian values. The courageous and integral appeal to principles is essential and indispensable; yet simply proclaiming the message does not penetrate to the depths of people’s hearts, it does not touch their freedom, it does not change their lives. What attracts is, above all, the encounter with believing persons who, through their faith, draw others to the grace of Christ by bearing witness to him.
Here is one from a homily:
We impose nothing, yet we propose ceaselessly, as Peter recommends in one of his Letters: “In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15). And everyone, in the end, asks this of us, even those who seem not to. From personal and communal experience, we know well that it is Jesus whom everyone awaits. In fact, the most profound expectations of the world and the great certainties of the Gospel meet in the ineluctable mission which is ours, for “without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is. In the face of the enormous problems surrounding the development of peoples, which almost make us yield to discouragement, we find solace in the sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ, who teaches us: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (Jn 15:5) and who encourages us: ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28:20)” (Caritas in Veritate, 78).

Yet even though this certainty consoles and calms us, it does not exempt us from going forth to others. We must overcome the temptation to restrict ourselves to what we already have, or think we have, safely in our possession: it would be sure death in terms of the Church’s presence in the world; the Church, for that matter, can only be missionary, in the outward movement of the Spirit. From its origins, the Christian people has clearly recognized the importance of communicating the Good News of Jesus to those who did not yet know him. In recent years the anthropological, cultural, social and religious framework of humanity has changed; today the Church is called to face new challenges and is ready to dialogue with different cultures and religions, in the search for ways of building, along with all people of good will, the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The field of the mission ad gentes appears much broader today, and no longer to be defined on the basis of geographic considerations alone; in effect, not only non-Christian peoples and those who are far distant await us, but so do social and cultural milieux, and above all human hearts, which are the real goal of the missionary activity of the People of God.

This is the mandate whose faithful fulfilment “must follow the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and of self-sacrifice even unto death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection” (Ad Gentes, 5). Yes! We are called to serve the humanity of our own time, trusting in Jesus alone, letting ourselves be enlightened by his word: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16). How much time we have lost, how must work has been set back, on account of our lack of attention to this point! Everything is to be defined starting with Christ, as far as the origins and effectiveness of mission is concerned: we receive mission always from Christ, who has made known to us what he has heard from his Father, and we are appointed to mission through the Spirit, in the Church. Like the Church herself, which is the work of Christ and his Spirit, it is a question of renewing the face of the earth starting from God, God always and alone.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What I Need From the Church - In 100 Words or Less

I have a friend that went to Grad School with me who is now in formation to become a deacon.

He emailed me the following question for a project he is working on -
"What do you currently need from the Church in helping you live a Christian life in today's society?"

Here is what I wrote. I had to keep it to 100 words or less - it took me 99.
I need the Pope to be a good shepherd, for Christ's flock. I need the Bishops to be courageous witnesses to the faith who can make tough decisions. I need a laity that is well-formed salt of the earth. I need the Church to do a better job forming adults and then children - in that order, rather than the opposite. I need parishes that are evangelistic and unafraid of spreading Christ's message to "all nations". But, ultimately I need the Church to be a school for making saints. This would solve every other issue. Holiness is the key.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good - Eric Sammons tells us "You Might Have a Big Family If..." My favorite one:
4) The army asks for your advice about logistics regarding food distribution.

The Bad - the immigration debate. It has gotten ugly. Deal Hudson has a good suggestion for how to help the Bishops lead in this debate.
If the bishops are to succeed at converting unconvinced Catholics, as Speaker Pelosi has demanded, they will need to turn down the temperature of their rhetoric. In 2005, the immigration issue caused a cultural and political explosion, and we don't need another replay of those passions -- on either side.
The Ugly - Abortion by Remote Control. Ugly may not be a strong enough word.

Katie Couric and Margaret Sanger

Deacon Greg has provided me with a "WOW" moment.
True story. A few years ago, when Katie first came to CBS News, I worked as the editor of her blog "Couric & Co." One afternoon, I had a meeting with her in her office overlooking the CBS newsroom. Her suite of offices is gorgeous: white-on-white, with a marble desk and gorgeous black-and-white prints on the walls. (Think "The Devil Wears Prada," and you'll get the picture. Staffers used to refer to it as "The White Palace" or, more derisively, "White Castle.") On the back wall is a lovely, dramatic picture of Jackie Kennedy and her children. Other iconic women on the walls included Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Audrey Hepburn. When Katie arrived for our meeting, I was admiring the pictures, but noticed one woman who was unfamiliar to me. "Who's that?," I asked.

"Margaret Sanger," she replied.

And I think that tells you everything you need to know.
WOW.
Want to know more about what she believes? Watch below.

Monday, May 17, 2010

De-Motivation

As Patrick Madrid states, "this guy is the least motivating motivational speaker I have ever run across".

Patrick is correct, and the guy in the vidoe has it all wrong. The idea he has, "you can do anything that you think that you can do", is all too common. It is the believe in yourself mentality. I will explain below the problem with such a false philosophy after this man breaks the board.


So, what is wrong with the idea that you can do anything you want or that you set your mind to? It is a lie. I cannot be a nun. A man in a wheelchair cannot win gold in the 100 meter sprints in the Olympics.

I am not saying that having big dreams is a bad idea, but we are not created to do "anything we set our minds to". Rather, we are created to be the persons God calls us to be. This is very different. I cannot be a nun, but I am called to be a husband and father. The man in the wheelchair cannot run a race in the Olympics, but he can use his talents to glorify God in a different way.

This is the error - our dignity is in our being, not our action.
Your value isn't in achieving, but in being the best "you" possible. This is only fulfilled in living out holiness in whatever way God calls you to.

Breaking boards proves nothing.

Vatican Defends Claims It Hid Evidence in Sex Abuse

This is important to know about.
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican on Monday will make its most detailed defense yet against claims that it is liable for U.S. bishops who allowed priests to molest children, saying bishops are not its employees and that a 1962 Vatican document did not require them to keep quiet, The Associated Press has learned.

The Vatican will make the arguments in a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds filed in Louisville, Ky., but it could affect other efforts to sue the Holy See.

The Vatican's U.S. attorney, Jeffrey Lena, said it will include a response to claims that the 1962 document "Crimen Sollicitationis" — Latin for "crimes of solicitation" — barred bishops from reporting abuse to police.

Lena said Sunday there is no evidence the document was even known to the archdiocese in question — much less used — and that regardless it didn't mandate that bishops not report abusive priests.

Lena said the confidentiality imposed by Crimen did not trump civil law and was applied only in formal canonical processes, which bishops had the discretion to suspend if there was a conflict with reporting laws.

"It is important that people — particularly people who have suffered abuse — know that, contrary to what some plaintiffs' lawyers have consistently told the media, the canon law did not bar reporting of these crimes to the civil authorities," Lena told the AP. Continue Reading.

Fun

Thanks to Keith for this one. I certainly didn't figure it out.

Attempt to Kill Pope Thwarted

**An assassination plot to kill the Pope was stopped.
Rome, 13 May (AKI) - Two Moroccan terrorist suspects deported from Italy last month were allegedly plotting to kill Pope Benedict XVI, Italian weekly Panorama claims in its latest issue to be released on Friday. Mohammed Hlal and Errahmouni Ahmed were students at the University of Perugia until their repatriation to Morocco on 29 April.

"Hlal wanted to kill the Vatican's head of state (the pope), saying he was ready to assassinate him and gain his place in paradise," Italy's interior minister Roberto Maroni wrote in the expulsion order authorising Hlal and Ahmed's deportations, cited by Panorama.

Anti-terror police in Perugia intercepted Hlal discussing his plans to carry out attacks and readiness to obtain explosives for the attacks during a series of tapped telephone conversations, according to Panorama.

Moroccan authorities on 6 May released Hlal and Ahmed, who had been receiving legal assistance from a local human rights association. Continue reading.
Please pray for our Holy Father.
Tip o' the hat to Thomas.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sneezing, Yawning, and the Devil

"Achoo" - "God Bless you"

Ever wonder why we pray for God's blessing after someone sneezes? It comes from an ancient belief that a person's breath was the same as their soul. When God made Adam, He breathed life into him. Thus, a myth grew up around this belief that a sneeze was thought to rapidly send the life of a person out of them.

When this life leaves, a vacuum is left which could be filled by evil spirits.

Then, during the reign of Pope St. Gregory the Great, there was a plague in the area. Thus, Gregory instituted the phrase "God bless you" as a way to ask for divine protection if one were to become sick or die.

Then there is Yawning. Why do you cover your mouth when you yawn?

Some modern moms say it is because it is rude to yawn in front of others. While our culture may reflect this as the modern reason, it has a much more ancient origin.

Some French and English taught that yawning was another opportunity for the devil to enter, thus you covered your mouth to bar his entrance. In Ireland, they would make the sign of the cross over their mouths while yawning. Still today, some Muslims believe this can happen when one yawns.

Now you know that some of our common practices come from myths and legends.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Summer Rule Of Life For College Students

The primary authors are the Apostles of the Interior Life. I did a little bit of editing.

A RULE OF LIFE FOR SUMMER

Summer can be a very good time for relaxation and rest, compared to the hectic life of the year, but it can also be a very fruitful time for spiritual growth.
“In this oasis of quiet, before the wonderful spectacle of nature,” the John Paul II says, “one easily experiences how profitable silence is, a good that today is ever rarer. The many opportunities of relation and information that modern society offers sometimes run the risk of robbing time for recollection, to the point of rendering persons incapable of reflecting and praying. In reality, only in silence does man succeed in hearing in the depth of his conscience the voice of God, which really makes him free. And vacations can help us rediscover and cultivate this indispensable interior dimension of human life” (Angelus, July 11, 2004).
It is important to enter summer with a “plan” for your spiritual life. Otherwise it is so easy to drift away even from the prayer commitment that you had during the year.
  • First of all be faithful to your daily prayer. Establish how much time you want to devote to it, how (rosary, meditation on the Word of God, adoration…) and where (home, the chapel, your parish…). It is better to start with a little commitment (for example 20 minutes every day), and then in case increase it, than to start big and then give up because you can’t keep up with it.
  • Continue to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with frequency. Get information about the days and times for Confessions in your parish.
  • If it is possible, you ought to go to Mass during the week as much as you can, according with your academic/work commitments.
  • Summer is usually a period when you have some more free time on your hands. It is ideal to read some good spiritual books that can inspire you and nourish your faith. You will find a great treasure in the lives of Saints, their writings, and in books about specific topics in which you are interested (e.g., spiritual discernment, virtues, faith and reason, Church history, apologetics, morality, etc.). You can ask your spiritual director or a campus minister for some good titles. Marcel has some recommendations here. Also, you can search St. Mary's library database for titles available from St. Mary's library.
  • Try to be in touch with some good friends, with whom you share the same values. You can either pray together sometimes, or take a commitment at the parish together (e.g., helping with teens, Bible study, working in a soup kitchen, etc.), and certainly keep each other accountable for your spiritual life. If you can’t be physically in the same place, at least you can call each other regularly.
  • If you have a spiritual director, or spiritual mentor, keep in touch with him/her, calling or emailing him/her if you are in need of help and suggestions during the summer.
  • If you are going to spend summer at home, you might find difficulties because you don’t have the St. Mary’s community around. Families are not always supportive of faith, some parishes seem to be less alive than the Catholic Center, and you don’t get to see so many young people around. Remember that God is at work also in your parish, in your family and in your home town. Try to see the positive aspects there, and to think of that as an opportunity to give something of what you have received here at St. Mary’s during the year. With your family, try to be strong about your decisions, but also understanding of where they are at and not judgmental. You can be a witness to them, with your peace and gentleness.
Have a great summer!

Listen To This Man

Archbishop Chaput has one of the best minds in the Catholic Church today. Here is a snip one example:
The reason I want to talk about this (the media and the Catholic Church) is simple. Public understanding of the Catholic role in our political process depends in large part on how the mainstream media frame church-related issues. I don’t know if any of you had the chance to cover Mother Teresa when she visited this country over the years. She once joked that she’d rather bath a leper than meet the press. Mother was not known for the ambiguity of her feelings. A lot of people in the church, especially those who practice their faith in an active and regular manner, would agree with what she meant because they feel the same way.

Now it turns out that I don’t feel the same way. In my experience, dealing with the press has usually been rather enjoyable – not always, but usually. I’ve worked with some very good journalists – some in this room – and I don’t think that we should ever fear the truth. I tend to like challenging questions – not everybody does – and I think many people in the church are afraid of the press because of the challenging nature of many of your questions.

But I also know reporters and editors who were and are uniquely frustrating, not because they write bad things about the church and not because they lack skill or intelligence. It’s because too often they really don’t know their subject or they dislike the influence of religion or they have unresolved authority issues or they resent Catholic teachings on sex or they’d rather be covering the White House but this is the only beat they got, you know?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Please Pray For This Family

This story hit home for me as a father of four girls and a boy. Please pray for this family.
RAGLEY, LA (KPLC) – Four little girls-- sisters-- are all dead after fire sweeps through a home in rural Beauregard Parish. It happened late last night. The coroner's preliminary findings indicate they all died from inhaling lethal levels of carbon monoxide.

It's at 920 Felice Cutoff Road in Ragley where Amy and Michael LeBleu lived with their five children. But a fire which erupted sometime around 10:30 at night has claimed the lives of four of those children. Dead are twin girls 11 year old Kamryn and Keiley LeBleu; eight year old Kassandra LeBleu and one year old Adrianna LeBleu. Their mother managed to escape with her three year old son Michael and tried unsuccessfully to rescue the others.

It's a loss that has devastated the community-- those who knew the family and those who did not like neighbor Pat Keller lives just down the road. "When I first arrived the firemen were setting up. They hadn't put water on the fire yet. There was a tremendous amount of black smoke and it was just coming over the peak of the roof."

The loss of four young lives has devastated the community that now concerns itself with helping the survivors. Says Keller, "I just hope that these people that have been involved in this tragedy can find peace"....At last word, the mother of the children was still hospitalized for burns and smoke inhalation. The three year old son who survived is with family members.

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Text The Pope

Seriously. You can now text the Pope.
ROME — Roman Catholics can send now text messages of support to Pope Benedict XVI....

The mobile phone service was launched by Rai television's Sunday weekly religious programme, ahead of a gathering organised by lay groups in Saint Peter's Square on May 16 to show their backing for the pontiff.

All messages sent to the special number -- +39 335 18 63 091 -- will be passed along to the pope by the end of May, the broadcaster said. They will be shown from Sunday during the television show "In His Image".

"It's a truly unique event, because with this number everyone can show their solidarity without being physically present in Saint Peter's Square," said Rosario Carello, the chief of the programme on the Rai Uno channel.
Looks like he is getting an important text right now on his IPhone.