Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Living the Catholic Faith - Messages From Our Bishops

"To the extent that religion becomes a purely private affair, it loses its very soul." 
- Pope Benedict XVI

"People who take the question of human truth, freedom and meaning seriously will never remain silent about it. They can’t. They’ll always act on what they believe, even at the cost of their reputations and lives. That’s the way it should be. Religious faith is always personal, but it’s never private. It always has social consequences, or it isn’t real. And this is why any definition of “tolerance” that tries to turn religious faith into a private idiosyncrasy, or a set of personal opinions that we can have at home but that we need to be quiet about in public, is doomed to fail." 
- Archbishop Chaput

"Faith is not a contract. Faith is surrender. If no other relationship in our experience is one of self-surrender, if it’s all contractual, people won’t know how to believe."
– Francis Cardinal George

"The greatest mistake is in not being aware that others are Christ. There are very many people who will not discover it until their last day."
- Archbishop Van Thuân

"We must open our eyes to admire God who hides and at the same time reveals himself in things and introduces us into the realms of mystery... we must be pure and simple like children, capable of admiring, being astonished, of marveling, and being enchanted by the divine gestures of love and closeness we witness."
- Pope John Paul II

"Ever since the days of Adam, man has been hiding from God and saying, 'God is hard to find.'"
- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Unembarrassed Joy

A quote from Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI before he became Pope) that made my day much more reflective.
"Something I constantly notice is that unembarrassed joy has become rarer. Joy today is increasingly saddled with moral and ideological burdens, so to speak. When someone rejoices, he is afraid of offending against solidarity with the many people who suffer. I don't have any right to rejoice, people think, in a world where there is so much misery, so much injustice.

I can understand that. There is a moral attitude at work here. But this attitude is nonetheless wrong. The loss of joy does not make the world better - and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus and courage to do good. Joy, then, does not break with solidarity. When it is the right kind of joy, when it is not egotistic, when it comes from the perception of the good, then it wants to communicate itself, and it gets passed on. In this connection, it always strikes me that in the poor neighborhoods of, say, South America, one sees many more laughing happy people than among us. Obviously, despite all their misery, they still have the perception of the good to which they cling and in which they can find encouragement and strength.

In this sense we have a new need for that primordial trust which ultimately only faith can give. That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good. That it is good to live and to be a human being. This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to making sure that other people, too, can rejoice and receive good news."
From Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium: An Interview With Peter Seewald

Witness = Hard / Scary / Non-Negotiable

What do you think of when you hear the word “evangelization”? Some images that may come to mind are door-to-door missionaries, street corner preachers, or those in foreign mission-lands. While these are certainly a part of proclaiming the good news, they do not make up the whole of it and are the more extraordinary forms of evangelization, not the normal day-to-day ways we are called to witness to others about Christ.

The first way we witness to others is through the witness of life, which is the initial act of evangelization, and is indispensable. As Pope Paul VI says, “Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness.” The witness of the Christian life is done by conforming our human will to the divine will of Jesus. In living out our faith daily, we point to the one that gives us the strength, joy, and love that draws people to seek the source of our joy and love. This cannot be done without growth in holiness, prayer, conversion and continually seeking grace in the sacraments. It is rarely seen in grand acts of holiness, but rather quiet and humble acts of love. A saying, commonly attributed to St. Francis (he didn't say it) says it well - “preach the Gospel always. When necessary, use words.” Yet, we must remember that this phrase does not give us an excuse to not talk about Jesus.

The kerygma, or preached Gospel, is also a necessary part of evangelization. In fact, evangelization is incomplete until the declaration of the saving message that Jesus commands us to proclaim to others is pronounced. This is, of course, the part of evangelization that is most intimidating to the majority of people who become frightened when called to vocally witness to others.

I am one of many modern Catholics who grew up in the Church, fell away, and now has come to love the faith after an initial conversion as an adult and later through an intense study Catholic teachings. This study of the faith helped me to understand what the Church taught, but like many Catholic evangelists, I made many mistakes when I answered the call to share my faith. The mistake I can most readily identify with is using my the truth as an offensive weapon in order to beat others into submission. This is the antithesis of true evangelization. Archbishop Fulton Sheen evangelized according to the fitting motto, “win the argument, lose a soul.” If we aim to win, we are not sharing our faith out of love, but pride.

I am blessed to be able to see numerous young adults fall in love with Jesus and the Catholic faith. Many of them take hold of their faith, like other Catholics, and then feel the need to share and defend it. Nevertheless, many continue to fall into the trap that I did. We mistake offensive volleys against others as a defense of the faith. Yet, most need to be loved into the Church, not argued into it. I am certainly not saying that there is not a great need for defending the faith or being able to “give a reason for your hope” (2 Pet 3:15), but we must not forget the second part of the passage that says to do it with “gentleness and reverence.”

St. Paul tells us that he was an “ambassador for Christ.” (2 Cor 5:20) An ambassador was a person given the full authority of the leader they represented. As an emissary for Christ, Paul now carries the saving message of the Lord with him and is empowered to give it to others. Yet, it is not only St. Paul and the other apostles who were given this charge, but all who are baptized into Christ. We have all been created to share in the ministry of Christ to all souls on earth. Do we share the gospel with others when we have the opportunity through both our deeds and words? Let us pray that Christ will give us both the opportunities to witness to his truth in our every day lives and the grace to do share the saving message of Jesus with love.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Adult Stem Cell Treatment

A new story about the benefits of adult stem cells:
ScienceDaily (Aug. 28, 2010) — By creating diseased liver cells from a small sample of human skin, scientists have now shown that stem cells can be used to model a diverse range of inherited disorders. The University of Cambridge researchers' findings, which will hopefully lead to new treatments for those suffering from liver diseases, were published August 25 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Because liver cells (hepatocytes) cannot be grown in the laboratory, researching liver disorders is extremely difficult. However, today's new research, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC), demonstrates how to create diseased liver-like cells from patients suffering from a variety of liver disorders.
Continue reading
Thus:
  • The number of conditions and diseases which can be treated or cured using adult stem cells is at 74.
  • The number of conditions and diseases which can be treated or cured using fetal stem cells is 0.
Yet, we are still killing babies in harvesting fetal stem cells.

Medical ethics...where have you gone?

For more on this issue:
**Vatican Helps Funds Stem Cell Research
**I was an embryo once too...
**Stem cells and Emotions
**Stem Cells For Dummies
**Stem Cells

"Mutant" Christians

An story from CNN about a Protestant author's new book on teenage faith in the USA has some very interesting conclusions. Here are a few snips:
Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

She says this "imposter'' faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.

"If this is the God they're seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust," Dean says. "Churches don't give them enough to be passionate about."
I have to agree with much of what she says. Christianity isn't just about entertaining people or stroking someone's ego. Yes, we need to find our own worth in Christ, but not to the detriment of also knowing we are nothing without Him and sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation.
The study included Christians of all stripes -- from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can't talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."
If this is the case, then what a sad testimony against what Christian adults are teaching our youth. This is not Christianity. This is modern culture's spin on Christianity and we have bought it hook, line, and sinker...
Corrie says she sees no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the Christianity some are taught doesn't inspire them "to change anything that's broken in the world."

Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on, she says.

"We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake," Corrie says.
Again, I agree. I think the problem is in formation, starting with adult formation. If parents, catechists, preachers, teachers, priests, etc. don't know the faith, live the faith, and proclaim the faith in a compelling way, then why would we expect our children to?

We need to challenge each other to be Christians. This means sacrifice, repentance, virtue, and all the other hard things. Why? Because it is worth it. Happiness isn't found in being selfish. It isn't in grasping for pleasure, money, fame, or power. It is in spilling out your life in service to others for God's glory.

So, will we have a Christian faith or "moralistic therapeutic deism"?
The choice is our own. May we choose wisely.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Life Without Limbs

Nick Vujicic is an amazing Christian man.

I have featured him on the blog before, but saw a post on OSV's blog with this video and wanted to post it again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fallon Has Talent

Skip a minute or so into the video.

St. Augustine Comic Book

Today is the feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. I am betting neither one of them imagined comic books being written about them...

I wonder who would win if St. Augustine and Wolverine battled? Hmmm.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

God's Work in Nature

Below is a fabulous short movie called Nature By Numbers.


The Church teaches that faith and science are both are important and serve one another, because they both search for truth. John Paul II had a wonderful understanding of science and it's importance and limitations.
Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.

For the truth of the matter is that the church and the scientific community will inevitably interact; their options do not include isolation. Christians will inevitably assimilate the prevailing ideas about the world, and today these are deeply shaped by science. The only question is whether they will do this critically or unreflectively, with depth and nuance or with a shallowness that debases the Gospel and leaves us ashamed before history. Scientists, like all human beings, will make decisions upon what ultimately gives meaning and value to their lives and to their work. This they will do well or poorly, with the reflective depth that theological wisdom can help them attain or with an unconsidered absolutizing of their results beyond their reasonable and proper limits. -John Paul II
Because of the need we have of understanding the implications of science and faith, I am happy to announce that St. Mary's Institute of Catholic Studies - Distinguished Speaker Series will feature Dr. Christopher T. Baglow on the evening of October 15, 2010. Dr. Baglow will speak to us about the interplay between Faith and Science.

Dr. Baglow is the author of Faith, Science, and Reason: Theology on the Cutting Edge. Christopher T. Baglow is from New Orleans, LA. He has a B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, an M.A. in Theology from the University of Dallas and a Ph.D. in Theology from Duquesne University. Her currently works at Notre Dame Seminary, where he now serves as Professor of Theology and Director of the Master of Arts Program in Theological Studies for lay students.

More details to come on this presentation.

Happy Birthday Mother Teresa

Friends...

Nice.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Heroes Come In All Sizes

Evangelization

“Just as the whole economy of salvation has its center in Christ, so too all missionary activity is directed to the proclamation of his mystery.” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 44)
In its simplest form evangelization is sharing your faith with another person either explicitly or implicitly. A simple definition of evangelization comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It says evangelization is, “The proclamation of Christ and his Gospel by word and the testimony of life, in fulfillment of Christ’s command.” (CCC, 905) While simple to understand on the surface, once we begin to unpack the definition we will find that there is more to it than what appears on the surface.

However, before we get into the different aspects of evangelization it is important to remember that in many ways we can make evangelization too complex. With this complexity comes inaction all too often. Jesus kept it very simple. He called his followers to heed his words and to follow his example. This example included evangelizing others and calling them to radical conversion which leads to following Jesus by word and deed.

This formula of evangelistic discipleship and helping others do the same is evangelization in its simplest form – WITNESS + PROCLAMATION = EVANGELIZATION. If we look deep enough we will find that the Church’s understanding of evangelization maintains both simple and complex dimensions. If we are to fully grasp, believe and implement the complexities of evangelization we must be firmly grounded in the fact that spreading the Good News is simple as well.

Several years ago I had an exchange with a very well-educated non-Catholic acquaintance. We had a long history of exchanging apologetic arguments back-and-forth without either of us giving much, if any, ground. During one of our discussions he asked me how I understood the Gospel and he challenged me to tell him what it was.

 After a deep breath and a shrug of my shoulders, I started to impart to him a theological treatise that would bore St. Thomas Aquinas. After I was done with my presentation of pride and wind I waited for his gratitude to come spilling out in order to stroke my ego one more time. That isn’t quite what happened.

He simply asked why I thought the gospel was so complex. He then asked how I would be able to proclaim the good news to “all the nations” with such a long-winded and confusing presentation on the need for Jesus, which all of us have. He also questioned how I would be able to bring a simple uneducated person who may live a very modest life to faith in Jesus if it took several college degrees to understand what I was saying.

At the time, his challenge didn’t do much to change my mind, because I was too proud to see God working through my “adversary.” Over time, though, I was found that he was correct to challenge me. I was presenting the need for Jesus in a much too complex manner. There is a great need to present to the gospel message in a simple fashion. While the depths of Christianity and the understanding of Christ and his Gospel can in fact be infinitely deep, we must not plumb those depths at the beginning of our evangelical efforts or we risk leaving many people behind who are not able to understand all of what we are saying. There can be a failure to understand that the gospel is first and foremost the message of God becoming man and he lived, died and rose from the dead in order to draw us to his Father. As St. Paul tells Timothy,
“This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Tim 1:15)
We must not fail to keep this simple message of faith at the front of our minds. The great commission is a call to all of us to heed the call to evangelize:
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

Mother Teresa Turns 100



This video has some amazing footage of Mother Teresa.
We are blessed in our modern world with technology, with which we can preserve more of what holy men and women, such as Mother Teresa, teach us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Blogging Bishop

Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas has a blog he updates pretty regularly. Here is a snip from his latest post.
As our children and young people head back to school and to college I want to wish them well and encourage them in their educational endeavors. They need only to read the daily newspaper or watch a television newscast to realize how fortunate they are to live in a country where there are so many educational opportunities.

Whether a first-grader or a freshman, what they learn in the classroom must stand on the foundation of what they have learned at home. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: “the task of imparting education belongs primarily to the family, but it requires the help of society as a whole.“

Continue Reading.

Fr. Barron on Inception

I actually don't agree with Fr. Barron's understanding of the movie. I think I lean more toward Carl Olson's take on the movie.

Here is what Carl had to say, which I agree with:
I think it is incorrect to say that the "entire purpose of the Inception team is to make money by helping their clients uncover or implant some practically useful bit of information" when the only reason Cobb takes the job and assembles the team is because he believes the client is able to reunite him with his children (the other team members, of course, have other motives). Cobb is haunted by his wife's death, which was largely his fault, and he is trying, in some way, to pursue redemption by being with his children and being a new man. There isn't, I don't think, an obvious and blatant "God theme" in the movie, yet Cobb's realization of his limits and failings points to a certain spiritual awakening and undermines the notion that it is all about "relentless materialism." Again, I believe it is completely the opposite; I find that "reading" as flawed as the idea the movie is promoting gnosticism.

The "deep exploration of the self" is shown in Cobb's coming to grips with the selfishness and jealousy that destroyed his marriage, with his obsessive need to control and manipulate. In the end, he has to confront his demons (his wife—or, rather, her memory, is portrayed with a somewhat demonic quality) and accept and admit his failings. This allows him, then, to let go completely of his demons when he leaves the token spinning at the very end. Continue reading.
I am still a Fr. Barron groupie, even if I disagree with him here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Court Rules Against Fetal Stem Cell Policy

Good news from the bench.
(Reuters) - A U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction on Monday stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, in a slap to the Obama administration's new guidelines on the sensitive issue.

The court ruled in favor of a suit filed in June by researchers who said human embryonic stem cell research involved the destruction of human embryos.

Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.
Continue Reading.
Tip o' the hat to Thomas.

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

The Mass

A few quotes on the Mass:

"The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer!" 
- Pope Paul VI

The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life."
- CCC 1324

“For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is accomplished," most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.” 
- Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2 - Vatican II

"When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar."
- Saint John Crysostom

"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy." 
- Saint Jean Vianney

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Morning Air

I will be on Morning Air with Sean Herriott on Relevant Radio tomorrow (Monday) at 7AM.
If you want to wake up that early and listen, you can catch me locally on KEDC 88.5 FM.

I will be talking about "How To Succeed In College".

Don't forget that we have our own station at St. Mary's - KABC 96.9 FM.

Also, I ask for your prayers. I was recently diagnosed with an ulcer on my vocal chords. I will have to use my voice a lot this coming week and afterward, because of appointments, teaching, etc.
Thanks.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why Planned Parenthood Hates Ultrasounds

There is a simple reason why Planned Parenthood hates the push to have pregnant women view ultrasounds before an abortion procedure...it is found here.
Evidence suggests that up to 90 percent of women considering abortion choose to have their baby after seeing an ultrasound image. Instead of the old 95 percent failure rate, there is now a 90 percent success rate. Women hear their baby’s heartbeat, they see their baby move and suck a thumb. Mother and unborn child bond in a way never before possible.

Largely because of ultrasound, I think, America has turned to a majority pro-life nation. Who can be for abortion when every family has an ultrasound image stuck to the refrigerator door, placed amid vacation photos and report cards? We have a comfortable, face-to-face relationship with prenatal life these days, and millions of families make the connection between the baby in the womb – often shown in 3D color – and little Johnny or Jane making a ruckus in the high chair.
Continue reading.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ask A Catholic A Question & Houston Chronicle Blog

I talked to the producer of Houston Belief, a website about faith in Houston, while giving a talk earlier this month. She now has a column up about Catholics, evangelization, and Ask A Catholic A Question.

'Ask a Catholic a Question'

Marcel LeJeune, a lay Catholic leader, urged hundreds of young Catholics to fulfill their role as evangelists when he spoke at a church in West U earlier this month.
It's a topic that can be particularly intimidating for those who are used to keeping religion talk out of polite conversation and who fear that discussing their Catholicism will just stir up negativity and criticism of the church.
LeJeune, who directs the Catholic campus ministry at Texas A&M, told the crowd:
You know that conversation comes up at work.
"We need to fire the pope! We need to impeach him!"
Do we have the gall to stand up and say "Well, that's not how the church works...?"
It's a universal call to be an evangelist. There's no way to get out of this.
But sitting down and sharing faith may not be as easy for them as praying the rosary. One by one, they stepped to the mic and asked questions: How do we approach these conversations with people of different faiths? What should we do if we are being evangelized to by Protestants? Should we really be doing this at work? And what if I'm not confident enough in my own faith to go out and say these things?
Pope Benedict's approval ratings have dropped to the lowest level in his papacy. The church gets widespread criticism for not ordaining women, its stance on issues like abortion and contraception and of course, the priest abuse scandal. These things can be hard to talk about with anyone, particularly the growing number who have taken a decisive stance against the Catholic Church.
Although LeJeune teaches that not everyone has to become a door-to-door Bible guy or street-corner preacher to share the Good News, at A&M they take somewhat of an open-air evangelism approach, setting up tables and inviting students to ask a Catholic a question. This way they get the chance to clarify misconceptions about the church or lament together about the things the church isn't doing right.
It's just that simple. Ask a Catholic a question. The group made T-shirts that say, "I'm Catholic, Ask me a question."
Well there's a good idea: Instead of getting defensive when others don't understand and criticize your religion, give them an opportunity to learn. Complaining or shouting back cuts short any chance you had to change their mind or share the Gospel message.
If you want to know more about Ask A Catholic A Question, you can go here.

New Mass Translations Coming Advent 2011

An announcement was issued today.
Cardinal George Announces Vatican Approval of New Roman Missal English-Language Translation, Implementation Set for First Sunday of Advent 2011

U.S. Adaptations to Mass Prayers Also Approved
Parish Education Efforts Urged To Precede Implementation
Resources Available Through USCCB

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has announced that the full text of the English-language translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, has been issued for the dioceses of the United States of America.

The text was approved by the Vatican, and the approval was accompanied by a June 23 letter from Cardinal Llovera Antonio Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Congregation also provided guidelines for publication.

In addition, on July 24, the Vatican gave approval for several adaptations, including additional prayers for the Penitential Act at Mass and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday. Also approved are texts of prayers for feasts specific to the United States such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and the observances of feasts for saints such as Damien of Molokai, Katharine Drexel, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. The Vatican also approved the Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life, which can be celebrated on January 22.

Cardinal George announced receipt of the documents in an August 20 letter to the U.S. Bishops and issued a decree of proclamation that states that “The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America.”

The date of implementation was chosen to allow publishers time to prepare texts and parishes and dioceses to educate parishioners.

“We can now move forward and continue with our important catechetical efforts as we prepare the text for publication,” Cardinal George said.

In the coming weeks, staff of the bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship will prepare the text for publication and collaborate with the staff of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which will assist Bishops’ Conferences in bringing the text to publication. In particular, ICEL has been preparing the chant settings of the texts of the Missal for use in the celebration of the Mass. Once all necessary elements have been incorporated into the text and the preliminary layout is complete, the final text will go to the publishers to produce the ritual text, catechetical resources and participation aids for use in the Liturgy.

Receipt of the text marks the start of proximate preparation for Roman Missal implementation. Before first use of the new text in Advent 2011, pastors are urged to use resources available to prepare parishioners. Some already have been in use; others are being released now. They include the Parish Guide for the Implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, and Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ, a multi-media DVD resource produced by ICEL in collaboration with English-language Conferences of Bishops. Both will be available from the USCCB. Information on resources can be found at www.usccb.org/romanmissal

Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, Chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, voiced gratitude for the approval.

“I am happy that after years of preparation, we now have a text that, when introduced late next year, will enable the ongoing renewal of the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in our parishes,” he said. Msgr. Anthony Sherman, Director of the Secretariat for Divine Worship of the USCCB noted, “A great effort to produce the new Roman Missal for the United States, along with the other necessary resources, has begun. Even as that work is underway a full–scale catechesis about the Liturgy and the new Roman Missal should be taking place in parishes, so that when the time comes, everyone will be ready.”

Random Stuff You Don't Really Need to Know About

But, you might find them entertaining.

**Some conceptual pylons for electric lines in Iceland look like giants wandering across the landscape.

**A very creative marketing campaign in England is trying to get people to pick a side between stripes and spots in order to get people playing. Read more here, but definitely watch the ad below.


**An infographic on fast-food burgers. Don't click on it if you plan on eating a burger soon.

**Now THAT is a bubble.

Colbert On CatholicTV

Very nicely done sir.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Pope's Baseball Cap & CatholicTV<a>
www.colbertnation.com

Tip o' the hat to Thomas.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cool

The talents people have, that I don't are too numerous to name.
Contact juggling is one of them.

Do You Feel Lucky?

We feel blessed to have so many of you following us, by subscribing to our blog.
The number of those of you following is about to hit 800. We currently have:
-230 Google Followers,
-165 Networked Blog Followers, and
-393 Google Reader subscribers.
We have 788 people subscribed or following the blog. THANKS!

This is in addition to 2,844 Facebook fans of St. Mary's that get our blog on their feed and 40 Twitter followers (hey, we just started Tweeting).

Remember, we are a peaceful people and don't want to force any of you to follow us.
It isn't as if we would send this guy to make you do it or anything...

Bound in Love

G.K. Chesterton wrote the following about vows:
The revolt against vows has been carried in our day even to the extent of a revolt against the typical vow of marriage. It is most amusing to listen to the opponents of marriage on this subject. They appear to imagine that the ideal of constancy was a yoke mysteriously imposed on mankind by the devil, instead of being, as it is, a yoke consistently imposed by all lovers on themselves. They have invented a phrase, a phrase that is a black and white contradiction in two words -- `free-love' -- as if a lover ever had been, or ever could be, free. It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word. Modern sages offer to the lover, with an ill-favoured grin, the largest liberties and the fullest irresponsibility; but they do not respect him as the old Church respected him; they do not write his oath upon the heavens, as the record of his highest moment. They give him every liberty except the liberty to sell his liberty, which is the only one that he wants.
15 years ago, today, I gave up my "freedom" in order to bind myself to my wife, until death do us part. It is in this binding that love has grown. A love that I never knew was possible. This love doesn't just rest in the emotions, although there are emotions attached to it. But, it rests in the will. I choose to love. I choose to choose my wife, Kristy.

As Chesterton says in another part of the same essay quoted above, "The man who makes a vow makes an appointment with himself at some distant time or place."

I will happily keep this appointment with myself.

Please say a prayer for my marriage and my family. While your at it pray for all marriages and families as well as the culture that attacks them so mightily.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Other Aggie Catholic Bloggers

We aren't the only Aggie Catholics who are blogging, so I thought I might highlight some others.
If I missed your blog, please put it in the comments of this post.

Matt Warner.
Matt is the man behind Flocknote, and several other sites. He also has two successful blogs. The first and biggest is FallibleBlogma and he also blogs for the National Catholic Register.

Taylor Marshall.
When Taylor was at A&M, he was not Catholic, in fact he was anti-Catholic at the time. But since graduating he went to seminary, became an Episcopal priest, became Catholic, and is now studying for his Ph.D., writing books, and more. Taylor blogs at Canterbury Tales by Taylor Marshall.

Sr. Lynn D'Souza.
Sr. Lynn is a in the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, MO. She is also the inventor of the low-gluten host, which got approval from the Vatican, to be used around the world for those suffering from celiac disease. She was featured on PBS for her invention. She blogs at Day By Day.

Zach Rathke.
Zach is teaching at a school for impoverished children in Kenya. He blogs about his experiences in the mission fields at Life Abundant.

Chris Smith.
Chris was one of our interns this past academic year. He is off to serve as a missionary for NET Ministries. He will be blogging about his experiences at NetAggie's Blog.

Carson Weber.
Carson is Associate Director for New Media Evangelization for the Diocese of Sacramento. He blogs at CarsonWeber.org.

Shawn Carney.
Shawn is the Campaign Director for 40 Days for Life (which was started by Aggie Catholics). He contributes to the 40 Days for Life blog alongside David Bereit who is the Director of 40 Days for Life and also a former parishioner of St. Mary's.

Tom Reitmeyer.
Tom is a seminarian for the Diocese of Austin. His brother, Fr. Todd, was a young blogging Aggie priest before he was killed in a tragic boating accident (you can view the archived blog of Fr. Todd here).
Tom blogs at Aggie Catholic '00.

Devin Rose.
Devin is a former Baptist who became Catholic while at A&M. He now loves to defend the faith. Devin blogs at St. Joseph's Vanguard and Our Lady's Train.


Any other Aggie Catholic bloggers that want to share their blogs?
FYI - I am steering away from personal blogs about family / babies / etc.

The Power of Words

"If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot's inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers. Does a spring gush forth from the same opening both pure and brackish water?" - James 3: 2-11
This is the reason why I have been conducting a 30-day challenge of not raising my voice at my kids and speaking out of kindness.

The Class of 2014 Mindset

A list that is always good to look at -
"Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall."

Some of my favorites this year:
The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014
Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.

14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.

46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.

57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.
Continue Reading.

Never Too Late to Come Back to The Church

What an inspiring story of a man who sued the Vatican over sexual abuse and has now returned to the active practice of his faith at 89. Never too late...
In the annals of people who returned to their childhood faith after a time of alienation, few have had a longer sojourn than James O'Bryan.

The Louisville native has reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church after being away from it for more than 80 years.

In the end, O'Bryan reconciled with the church because of the actions of a priest — the same reason he said he left in the first place.

O'Bryan, now 89 and living in northern California, was one of three plaintiffs who sued the Vatican in 2004, alleging that the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church had orchestrated a cover-up of sexual abuse through centuries of secret policies. He said he was sexually abused by a Louisville priest in 1928.

That lawsuit effectively ended on Monday when the plaintiffs asked the court to dismiss their case. They conceded they faced insurmountable legal obstacles, including the Vatican's status as a sovereign nation, which made it immune to most lawsuits, and the limited evidence on how bishops handled abuse cases decades ago.

But even as that lawsuit proceeded, O'Bryan was finding his way back to church.

In January, his wife of 52 years, Grace, was dying, he said. She was an Irish-American from Boston's deeply Catholic culture, but had herself been long estranged from the church. However, she asked for last rites. the Rev. Louis Nichols, a local priest, came and performed them, then did the funeral Mass.

“I saw how compassionate he was and how caring he was,” O'Bryan said. So O'Bryan called Nichols for a follow-up appointment, and “I've been going to church ever since.” Continue Reading.
Tip o' the hat to Deacon Greg.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to Succeed In College

Some advice on how new college students can succeed while in school.
Note: Success in God's eyes is about being faithful, not about achieving your own goals apart from Him. So, while this advice is quite practical, the goal is to do what God wants you to do.

How to Succeed In College
ACADEMICS:
  • Set your own goals for college. Don’t do it for the money you may get later or your parents.
    --As a young adult you have the opportunity to broaden your horizons. Take full advantage. Getting an education and growing as a person is a good thing.
  • Don’t stay up until 3am. Don’t cram.
    --Studies show that all-nighters and cramming don't work. 
  • Learn how to study well
    --Your primary vocation is to be a student, so be a good one.
  • Don’t procrastinate
    --You know it just makes things worse.
  • Use a calendar / planner
    --This helps you establish good habits.
  • Go to class and be on time
    --Just like Mom told you to. It is the right thing to do, esp. since you are paying tons of $ for it.
  • Nip problems in the bud.
    --Don't think that problems will take care of themselves. 
  • Get to know your profs
    --Not by Facebook or email. Get to know them at the beginning of the semester face-to-face. It is definitely worth all the time and effort and will usually make class more enjoyable.
  • Know there is help if you need it – doctors / counselors / advisors / etc.
    --Don't be too proud to ask others for help.
  • Set a limit on screen time - computer / texting / phone / video games / TV / etc.
    --You aren't at school just to have fun. So, limit those things that distract from being a good student.
  • Go to class and sit up front.
    --Less distractions up front and if you skip class you are throwing away a chance to learn in addition to gobs of money. If you are a Texan taking 15 hours at A&M and skip one Tues/Thur class you are losing about $25.
  • Remember what school is for.
    --School is for school. School isn't just about friends, good times, doing whatever you like. You should still have fun, but not at the cost of doing your best in school.
  • No regrets
    --You don't want to look back on your time in college and regret that you could have gotten better grades, or lived a better life.
SPIRITUAL:
  • Be the best you that you can be
    --Work on realizing your purpose in life, your vocation, and being the best you that you can.
  • Get involved at church
    --This doesn't have to mean 10 hours of things at church every week, but find something that will help you become a part of the community.
  • Establish a prayer routine
    --Now is the time to work on knowing God deeply and intimately.
  • Learn your faith – you will be challenged
    --You are learning chemistry, English, and math at an adult level - but don't forget to learn your faith at an adult level as well. Take a class at church, join a Bible study, or read some good Catholic books.
  • Go to church and sit up front.
    --Less to distract you from fully participating in Mass. Don't forget to sing.
  • Establish a regular time to go to Confession.
    --Once a month is a good plan.
SOCIAL:
  • Have fun
    --There is the "other education" when you go to college. Just don't do anything immoral while you are having fun.
  • Make adult decisions
    --If you want to be an adult, start acting like one. Just don't act like the "adults" in Hollywood either.
  • Find true friends
    --A true friend isn't a drinking buddy or someone you sleep with. A true friend wants what is best for you and is willing to sacrifice for it. If you don't have these kinds of friends, keep looking for them. Church is a good place to start.
  • Make and stick to a budget
    --It is very easy to waste a lot of money when you leave home.
  • Eat smart / eat breakfast / exercise
    --Take care of your health. There is only so much pizza, hamburgers, and coke you should have.
  • Plan on becoming homesick
    --It happens to the best of us. But, don't lean too much on your parents either. It is good to learn how to live on your own without them fixing your problems all the time.
  • Most should wait to date
    --If you aren't ready to get engaged, you shouldn't date.
One tip for parents - don't hover. Too many parents these days aren't letting their children separate from the family in a healthy way.

God bless you all!

Obedience and Conscience

How are we supposed to follow our consciences and be obedient to what the Catholic Church teaches?
Janet Smith has a wonderful article on this issue. A snip:
How can it be simultaneously true that Catholics must follow their consciences and that Catholics must follow Church teaching?

First, we must understand that the conscience is not equivalent to our thoughts or our opinions or our judgments. The Catechism (No. 1776) defines the conscience as an inner sanctuary in which we listen to God’s voice for guidance about our actions. So when someone is consulting his or her conscience, the question being asked is not “Do I think this action is good or bad?” but “Does God judge this action to be good or bad?” And God speaks to the consciences of Catholics through the Church.

If a Catholic is considering doing something that the Church teaches to be wrong, he can be certain that he is not listening to his conscience, but some other “voice” that has caught his attention.

Consider a question of conscience of this sort: “My wife has been in a persistent vegetative state for years. Would it be immoral for me to have relations with my lovely, lonely, unmarried secretary? We would get married if we could, but until my wife dies, I am not free to marry.”

Suppose this unfortunate, lonely husband said he thought his conscience was clear on this point — he was not really committing adultery because his wife was not available as a wife. Now, only God knows the extent of this man’s confusion and how honestly he has tried to work through the issues. But wouldn’t a Catholic priest have to say to this man, “I am sorry, but you are not properly consulting your conscience. God is clear on this point: Adultery is having sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse, and that is precisely what you would be doing.”

Such a man ignoring Church teaching would certainly be welcome to attend Catholic services, but would not be welcome to receive the Eucharist.
Continue Reading.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New "Morning After" Pill Does What Pro-Abortion Groups Say They Do Not Want

The pro-abortion logic includes the argument that abortions need to be legal in order for them to remain safe, because they are handled by trained medical personnel. Even our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has repeatedly echoed these sentiments (as has our President). Here is the argument from Planned Parenthood's website:
In countries where abortion is illegal, it is quite dangerous. Women who try to give themselves abortions secretly may bleed too much or get infections. People who provide abortions in such countries may not have the right training or equipment to do it safely.
Yet, now there is another abortion pill ("morning after" pill) on the market, which is administered without the care of medical professionals. Here is what the Washington Post article had to say:
Ella, which was approved in Europe last year and is available in at least 22 countries, was unanimously endorsed by an FDA advisory committee less than two months ago. Women will need a prescription but could keep a supply at home.
They can "keep a supply at home" for that "unplanned pregnancy" and the quickie abortion. This is disgusting in and of itself, but the contradiction should be striking to us all.

So, which is it? Should abortion remain legal so a woman will be able to get an abortion with the help of trained medical personnel or should abortion remain legal so a woman will not be able to get an abortion with the help of trained medical personnel?

Abortion illogic 101.

FYI - the pill is being marketed as "emergency contraception" and may work as contraception, but it is a back-up abortion drug. Even the FDA description points this out.
4 CONTRAINDICATIONS
ella is contraindicated for use in the case of known or suspected pregnancy. The risks to a fetus when ella is administered to a pregnant woman are unknown. If this drug is inadvertently used during pregnancy, the woman should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus.
Not only might it "harm" the "fetus" but it can cause abortions...
12.1 Mechanism of Action
When taken immediately before ovulation is to occur, ella postpones follicular rupture. The likely primary mechanism of action of ulipristal acetate for emergency contraception is therefore inhibition or delay of ovulation; however, alterations to the endometrium that may affect implantation may also contribute to efficacy.
Thanks to Keith for pointing this out to me.

Planned Parenthood Aborts African Americans

The statistics don't lie. One that struck me.
Since 1973, abortion has reduced the black population by over 25 percent.

http://www.ppabortsaa.org/

Fr. Barron on Anne Rice Leaving Christianity

What Do You Do?

Commonly I have asked of others "what do you do"? The answer usually comes as:
-"I am a student"
-"I work in sales"
-"I stay at home with the kids"

The question, "What do you do?" commonly tells us something about the kind of work another is responsible for and from this question I would like to reflect on what work means for each of us.

We must ask ourselves, "how do I view work (school, jobs, errands, chores)?"
"Is it something I do grudgingly or cheerfully?"
"Is it a time of service or just labor?"
As human beings, we are all responsible for taking care of God’s creation. We see this in the creation account. In Genesis 1:28 it says:
"God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Here we see the dominion over creation that God has given to us. But, not only are we stewards, but we are to "subdue" the earth and use it in our labor. From this it follows that there is an intimate connection between human work and how we image God. God has made the world for our sake and we were made, in part, to subdue the earth, then our act of doing so images God’s creative act in making and maintaining all of creation. In a sense, our work “unlocks” the world for us.
-Ps 8:5-6 says
“You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet”
We also see that after the fall of mankind, God continued to will that work be a part of our existence. Genesis 3:19 says
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

John Paul the Great elegantly writes about work in his encyclical Laboris Exercens One particularly moving passage says:
“By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucicified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity.” (JPII, LE, 27)
Christ endured the cross and we are to endure our cross of toil. By doing so, we participate in the redemptive work of Christ. Also, work helps us participate in the sacrifice of Jesus in the Eucharist, which is a continuation of the work done on the cross as it says in the liturgy of the Mass - “which earth has given and human hands have made”, “fruit of the vine and work of human hands”
From this idea about work we can say with Paul as he writes in Galatians 5:13
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”
Here St. Paul tells us that love is self-giving and thus working selflessly is loving. We become Christ-like in our service, thus being free from sin makes us free to serve others.
Lastly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says in 306-308 that our work unites us with God
306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures' co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God's greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.
307 To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of "subduing" the earth and having dominion over it. God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbours. Though often unconscious collaborators with God's will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings. They then fully become "God's fellow workers" and co-workers for his kingdom.
308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Far from diminishing the creature's dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God's power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for "without a Creator the creature vanishes.” Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God's grace.
With all of this in mind, may we each ask ourselves:
-Is our work a time of conversion?
-Do we become holy through our work?

Talking to Lord Newborough

A poem to get us thinking...

Talking to Lord Newborough

Lt. William Charles Wynn, 1873-1916, 4th Baron Newborough, whose grave overlooks the Vale of Ffestiniog in North Wales)


I’d perch beside your gravestone years ago,
a boy who thought you old at forty-three.
I knew you loved this quiet place, like me.
We’d gaze towards Maentwrog far below,
kindred spirits, and I’d talk to you.
Sometimes I asked what it was like to die—
were you afraid? You never did reply,
and silence rested lightly on us two.
These days the past is nearer, so I came
to our remembered refuge on the hill,
expecting change yet finding little there:
my village and the Moelwyns look the same,
Saint Michael’s Church commands the valley still—
but you, old friend, are younger than you were.
David Anthony

Friday, August 13, 2010

Catholics Come Home Have New Ads

This is great. I love the work of Catholics Come Home.

FoxNews and Sexual Values Conflict

I don't go to many traditional news pages, so when I read this commentary about FoxNews having a double standard on sexual values , I was shocked to see just how true it is. What a shame.
A snip:
Even a quick stop at FoxNews.com–with a series of sidebar ads from Republican campaigns and a link to Glenn Beck–gives most readers a sense that something highly conservative is afoot.

But FoxNews has, and continues to set a vicious double standard when it comes to real, ‘conservative’ values (or for that matter, any values at all) regarding the meaning and dignity of sexuality.

Scroll down half a page down and you’re liable to get an eye-full of half-clad bodies, the latest Maxim Hot 100 List, and about three different stories on Playboy centerfolds “Then & Now.” In short, the ratio of news to sex on Fox’s homepage generally comes in at about 3:1.

So what are the conservative kings up to, peddling all this flesh? (And certainly, “peddling” isn’t an overstatement, since nearly half the homepage is covered in it, and most of those stories include “photo galleries” for the curious viewer.)

Add to this imbalance–an imbalance not visibly present at CNN, NPR or the BBC–Fox’s consistently pointed commentary on things like Christina Aguilera’s latest video (a parade of “sex, skin and scandalous lyrics”), and you’ve got a nice little double standard, complete with talk of “obscenity” paired next to complementary, streaming footage.
Continue reading.

Great Quotes

A sampling of some great quotes from some notable Catholics:


**"No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another's happiness."
-Graham Greene

**"We will either accuse ourselves or excuse ourselves."
-St. John Vianney

**"Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral laws are written on the table of eternity."
-Lord Acton

**"When friendship disappears then there is a space left open to that awful loneliness of the outside world which is like the cold space between the planets. It is an air in which men perish utterly."
-Hilaire Belloc

**"The clearness of my conscience has made my heart hop for joy."
-St. Thomas More

**"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions."
-G.K. Chesterton

**"Each small task of everyday life is part of the harmony of the universe."
-St. Therese

**"It is so stupid of modern civilisation to have given up believing in the devil when he is the only explanation of it."
-Ronald Knox

**"Faith is what someone knows to be true, whether they believe it or not."
-Flannery O'Connor

**"Don't hold your parents up to contempt. After all, you are their son, and it is just possible that you may take after them."
-Evelyn Waugh

**"The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish."
-John Paul II

**"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others."
-Saint Augustine