Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fr. Barron - A Nation Under God

Did Jesus Get Frustrated?

Q - I was talking to a friend the other day and the question 'Did Jesus ever get frustrated?' came up. Now, my first reaction was to say yes, that he must have felt frustration at times as part of being human but now I'm not so sure. We both agree that Christ felt anger, but my friend puts frustration in a different category and, if I'm understanding her point, seems to see frustration as part of our fallen nature and that if we see Christ as feeling frustrated we are, more or less, down-grading him from the Divine being he is to fit in line of our perceptions on what it means to be human. Or that frustration stems from insecurity which, as he trusted fully in God, Jesus would not have felt.


A - Thanks for the question. It depends on how we define frustration. If frustration is an emotion which comes from some external opposition, then we could say that Jesus did get frustrated.

One principle that might help is to understand that emotions, in and of themselves, are not either morally good or bad. They are morally neutral. It is our reaction to them that is either good or bad.
The Catechism says:
1768 Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. the upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices.
The classic case of seeing Jesus respond to a situation emotionally (yet still morally justified) is in the Temple when He overturns the money changers tables:
"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And he said to them, "It is written: 'My house shall be a house of prayer,' 12 but you are making it a den of thieves.""
Matt 21: 12-13
I would expect that Jesus was frustrated, angry, and upset by his Father's temple becoming a place of lies, theft, and dishonesty. This is a righteous anger and no sin is committed. In fact, to allow injustice to flourish without fighting against it is the sin here - not the feelings of frustration or anger.

Sometimes we have an understanding of Jesus as too sugary-sweet. As if He skips around with flowers, singing that he would like to buy the world a Coke and world peace. This isn't the case. Christ fought for His justice not just for mercy.

Was Jesus kind? Absolutely. Was Jesus nice? Not all the time - because "nice people" don't get crucified.
"Be angry, and sin not." -Eph 4:26 
I hope this helps.

Does Christ Advocate Killing Non-Christians?

Q - I used to feel that Muslims killing people of other religion saying that they are 'Infidels' was wrong. But, recently I found that Jesus told us to do that in Luke 19:27. Let me quote it here,
"Luke 19:27 But bring those enemies of mine who didn't want me to reign over them here, and kill them before me."
As faithful christians, shouldn't we go and kill all those who do not accept christ as their savior ? Of course I am not planning a mass massacre. But, I found the quote quite hilarious. I get the feeling that the scribes who wrote the Gospel of Luke fabricated this sentence for effect. And we Christians never paid much attention either. Or, maybe we did.


A - Thanks for the question. To get a good feel for the passage you quote, I would like to place it in context of the story around it. So, here is a bit more:
"He came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house." And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner." But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

While they were listening to him speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the kingdom of God would appear there immediately. So he said, "A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, 'Engage in trade with these until I return.' His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, 'We do not want this man to be our king.' But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, 'Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.' He replied, 'Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.' Then the second came and reported, 'Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.' And to this servant too he said, 'You, take charge of five cities.' Then the other servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding person; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.' He said to him, 'With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.' And to those standing by he said, 'Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.' But they said to him, 'Sir, he has ten gold coins.' 'I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.'" After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem."
-Luke 19: 1-28
Notice a few things. First, we see that Zacchaeus has a conversion to Christ and puts the money he has made toward justice and service of God. He has a right understanding of the gifts given to him by God. This leads into the next section.

Here we see Christ teaching through a parable. A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral lesson or teaching. They are not perfect reflections of every situation. But, we can take a lot out of this one here.
The story gives us several representative persons and ideas:

  • The King is Jesus.
  • The Servants are those that follow him - some remain faithful and others do not.
  • The money represents the gifts of God (our talents and possessions).
  • The killing of the servants represents a spiritual death, not a physical one.

So, Jesus is certainly not advocating the killing of our enemies, rather he is telling us that those that reject Him are endanger of losing eternal life in Heaven. This is the teaching of the parable.

It also has a second dimension. As St. Luke says, "they thought that the kingdom of God would appear there immediately" - thus, the apostles had a false understanding of the Kingdom of God. It is not a political or earthly kingdom, but a spiritual one.

Finally, God expects us to use the gifts He gives us for His purposes and glory. Notice though that the King lavishes gifts upon the faithful servants who did as he commanded, "Engage in trade with these until I return". The lazy servant wasted the gifts of God, disobeyed the commandment, and was punished accordingly.

This should serve as a reminder to us all. Our salvation is not complete until the end of our lives and we are to be judged on our faithfulness to God by how we lived out His commandments.

There is certainly no fabrication of the sentence and the "scribes" as you call them are actually St. Luke faithfully recording the words of Christ.

I hope this helps.

The Holy Spirit, Pentecost, and Evangelization

This is a video of a presentation I made at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock last month.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Atheist Tells Us How To Evangelize

This video of Penn Gillette, an atheist and a comedian/entertainer/magician, who records some thoughts after a show he does in Vegas, several years ago.

He encounters a Christian man who comes to evangelize him (Penn calls is "proselytizing", but it is really evangelizing). The man left an impression on Penn that lasts.

In turn, this video has made a profound impact on the way I evangelize. This is the money quote:
"If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and that people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward - and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize ‘just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself,’ - how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?"

"How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them that?"
I mention this when I talk about evangelization.

Watch Penn for yourself:

Video of Life On The Rock

Here is the video of us on Life on the Rock (EWTN TV) from last week.

Join The Dark Side - Get a Cookie

We really appreciate all of our readers. But, you must know that some still consider us part of the dark side. Regardless, if you are not already subscribed, there are several ways to join us.
Total we have 1,320 people following the blog - without adding Facebook and Twitter!

If you aren't subscribed, we encourage you to do so. It is much easier than surfing to it. I esp. like using a reader which compiles all the blogs you want to read.

Come - join the Dark Side - it comes with cookies.

What Should Benedict Tweet?

In honor of Pope Benedict's first tweet, I am holding a Papal Tweeting Contest. The winner gets the prize of winning the contest.

The rules are simple. The person who gives us the best Papal tweet wins. Here is video of Benedict tweeting:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are You a Devout Catholic in College?

If you are a devout Catholic in college (or recently graduated), I highly recommend you read this post from Elizabeth Foss. It is insightful.
As I've watched college students graduate recently, I've noticed a distressing trend. Campus ministries are becoming better, teaching orthodoxy without hesitation. Genuinely Catholic colleges are brimming over with zealous young people.

And yet.

There is a harshness, a sort of snobbery happening. I watch in not a little horror and listen to what they are saying, as they measure other people by their overt acts of piety, while they size people up and discard them like the stuff of yesterday's recycling bin because they don't fit the new collegiate image of perfect holiness.

And I can just imagine that several years hence, they will go together with their young children to a playdate. They will meet another young mom at the park. They will inquire as to how many children she has. And when they discover that she has two, four years apart, they will say something sanctimonious about how they are open to God's plan for having children and has she ever heard of NFP? She will sit and wonder briefly whether she should tell them about the two years of cancer between the first birth and the second, about how desperately she prayed for this second child, about what a miracle he is. That young mom, with the two children widely spaced, will have just learned how some people of faith can judge one another. Litmus tests. Checklists. As she raises a family in the real world, she will see that attitude given voice over and over and over again, while Jesus weeps for his Church, broken and divided.

What's the opposite of gentleness? Harshness. Hard lines. Brittle rules.

So there you are, you all grown up and graduated and out in the real world! You've come so far. You've left behind the safety of campus life, the happy campus ministry, the structure of academia. You've gone and gotten yourself a real job in the real world. With a real cubicle and a good excuse to shop at that very fine career wear store. Good for you!

You have a zeal for the faith that can be spotted a mile away. You wear it proudly splashed across your chest on more than a dozen t-shirts collected over the years of vibrant Catholic education. And you've come to embrace all those devotions of our faith as you've learned of them in your coming-of-age. You are on fire for your faith and you are eager to go out there into the real world and tell everyone just how Catholic you are.

May I whisper a word or two to you?
CONTINUE READING.

Two Reasons Same-Sex Marriage Is Gaining Ground

Catholics have not done a good (or even adequate) job of addressing the attacks on marriage. These attacks continue to grow stronger and without an understanding of how to defend marriage and the reasons behind the break-down of marriage, we will continue to see our culture slide into the anti-marriage mentality. Before I get into the reasons why same-sex marriage is gaining ground we need to explore some of the fundamental reasons why same-sex "marriages" are not good for those in them or society.

WHAT MARRIAGE IS.
Marriage is the basic cultural building block of society. One man, one woman, and their children unite as a family - every bit of evidence shows that families thrive in monogamous and stable homes with two biological parents of opposite sexes who remain married. This means that there is less poverty, crime, strife, etc. in homes where marriages do well. This is because the mother and father of children cannot be replaced. Two fathers or two mothers cannot provide what one mother and one father can. The role of the father can't be replaced by a woman and the role of the mother can't be replaced by a man. Studies back up this claim. Thus, same-sex couples can never provide all that children need to thrive. When families suffer the rest of our culture suffers.

Furthermore, same-sex relationships are not the same as male-female ones. While a same-sex couple might have strong affectionate feelings for one another, nature shows us they cannot bond as a married couple can. They cannot procreate and their bodies are not made to compliment one another. Think of this - a male or female by themselves is incapable of creating human life. They need the other. Thus, our bodies are incomplete without the opposite sex.

NOT ABOUT LOVE.
True love is to choose what is best for the other regardless of the cost to myself. This means same-sex relationships can never have loving sexual relationships. This is because the true act of sex is about giving yourself away, but in same-sex relationships you can't do this because the body isn't made to be given to someone of the same sex. A married couple can say, with their bodies, I want to create life and bond with you. I want to be one with you. This is impossible with same-sex couples, because while the body might still be saying this, the act itself is ordered toward selfish pleasure - not creating life or bonding the couple as one flesh.

NOT ABOUT EQUALITY.
Many people say that same-sex couples "deserve" the "right" to marry and that those that oppose them are merely bigots who want stamp out the rights of others. This isn't the case. The Catholic Church consistently teaches the respect of others, regardless of sexual orientation. It also teaches us to love and serve all. But, we must also work for truth and the common good. This means while we fight against same-sex marriage, we do not fight against individuals.

That being said, marriage laws are by definition discriminatory. They discriminate FOR families (not against non-married persons) in order to build up what is good for society. Where do children thrive? In the traditional family. If we tear that down, then society will suffer. Thus, the government needs to help support this building up of what is good for society.

Thus, marriage is about more than two people who have good feelings for one another. It is about the good of society - which is why the government got involved in it in the first place.

Some may argue that a same-sex couple should be able to do things such as share property rights, visit in the hospital, etc. But, all of these legal hurdles can already be overcome with current laws and a few documents.

So, what they are really looking for is social acceptance of their behavior. This is why the Catholic Church is enemy #1 for advocates of same-sex marriage. They cast us as homophobic, archaic, and mean-spirited. Which is not the truth.

Catholics need to fight such lies. But, to do so we need to know where it all comes from.
----
My thesis is that there are two main cultural culprits that have gotten us to where we are today:
  1. Contraception
  2. Pornography
REASON #1 - CONTRACEPTION - THE ROOT OF THE ISSUE:
Contraception has caused a number of cultural issues, not the least of is the fundamental re-orienting of the purpose of sex for the majority of people. What is the purpose of sex to modern man? Pleasure. This contraceptive mentality has changed us as a people. Sex is for pleasure however we can get it and is what we wish it to be. Sex is not for making babies or for bringing two spouses together. It is purely a selfish act of fulfilling a 'need', not a giving of self to another.

Contraception makes us turn inward, rather than outward - it perpetuates this selfishness on our part. It also sees marriage as an optional social construct (an attitude which harms women and children most of all)

This mentality is tearing apart our culture. I have seen it time and time again. It happens when sex between two people becomes about me rather than you. Thus the fruits of contraception include:
  • Divorce rate doubled between 1965-1975 from 25% to 50%
  • One demographer has shown that access to the pill paralleled the increase to the divorce rate
  • 41% of births are to unwed mothers in 2008 (72% of black babies)
  • 41% of pregnancies end in abortion in New York City
  • 50% of marriages end in divorce.
Now pick one of these that is good for our culture.

When sex isn't about babies or bonding, then it becomes selfish. Once this happens, the family breaks down. Once the family breaks down, society breaks down.

REASON #2 - PORNOGRAPHY - THE DEATH OF MARRIAGE:
If contraception weakened marriage, pornography is killing it. More and more marriages are being ravaged by pornography and the trend will not slow down anytime soon. With 80% of young men and 33% of young women regularly using porn, more people will be unable to really love another person. Why? Take a look at this:
  • Shown to devalue the other person and sex within marriage.
  • Porn creates fantasies that real persons can't live up to.
  • Porn sets up sexual habits or addictions that create "boredom" with only one other person.
  • Porn creates distrust within marriage and is cheating on your spouse.
  • Sexual satisfaction is decreased significantly.
  • Porn strips sex of love and makes it about using others and objectifying them.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. It gets much worse when you really crack open the stats.

Suffice it to say, porn kills marriages. Thus, it is destroying our culture. But, at the root of porn is the contraceptive mentality that sex is about ME.

HOW CONTRACEPTION AND PORN LEAD TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE:
How does it all fit together? Well, it is quite simple.
  1. Contraception strips sex of it's intended purpose - babies and bonding.
  2. Pornography re-defines sex into pleasure alone.
  3. Thus, once someone has bought into contraception and pornography, they won't be able to argue that same-sex relationships are wrong, because there is nothing left to argue about. Who are they to tell someone what they are doing is wrong? Who are they to say someone shouldn't have pleasure when having sex?
We have given away too much. The stakes are too high. So, what do we do?

THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that there is THE Good News - the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Christ CAN restores hearts.
Christ CAN forgive sin.
Christ CAN change our culture.

But, we have to do our part. This is the action plan.
  • We have to pray for our culture and for all people.
  • We can't see anyone as the "enemy".
  • We have to educate ourselves.
  • We have to speak up and fight back.
  • We have to vote our morals and faith.
  • We have to evangelize others so God can change their hearts.
This battle for our culture is not lost yet.

Further reading:
**What is Wrong With Porn?
**Contraception - What the Church Teaches.
**"Same Sex Marriage: Why Not?"
**The Debate about "Same-Sex Marriage"
**Special Report on Gay Marriage

Are You A Trader?

Not a "traitor", but a "trader".
Great call to go out.

FYI - This isn't a Catholic group, but what a great message.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Come and Kneel Before Him Now...

A Eucharistic flash mob.
How can you share your faith today?

What Do Catholics Believe About Salvation

Aggie Catholic Priest Leads International Congress on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Rome

Fr. Florian Racine was in grad school here while I was an undergraduate. He might be one of the few people I have ever met who said my name more correctly than I do myself. He got a master’s degree in ocean engineering from Texas A&M University in 1994. Fr. Racine worked two years in Houston as an engineer at  before being ordained for the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon in 2002.

Several years after his ordination he established the Missionnaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, a clerical association of diocesan rite, which encourages Eucharistic Adoration around the world.

This past week the group hosted an International Congress on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Rome entitled - Adoratio 2011: From Adoration to Evangelization.



Aggie Catholics: Forming Apostles For The Church and the World

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Will You Give Up Until Abortion Ends?

The "Until Abortion Ends" movement is based on a simple question - "Until abortion ends, what are you willing to give up?"

More info here:
Jason Jones, the co-founder of I Am Whole Life, launched a new project called UntilAbortionEnds.com. The purpose of the site is to encourage pro-life activists to give up a favorite food or drink not just for Lent, but until abortion ends.

“Coffee to me is life. Every morning the smell of Kona coffee and cinnamon is what I would wake up to. If I had a rough day, I’d run to bookstore and have a cup of coffee and things would be okay,” said Jones. “But I’ve given up coffee until abortion ends.”

Jones was giving a speech in Vancouver when he heard about someone who gave up chocolate until abortion ends. This man made that courageous step 30 years ago, and it was time more people to step forward, Jones said.

“Together, with prayer and penance, we can transform this culture of death into a culture of life,” said Jones.
Continue reading.
The answers are the hard part. I will have to give some thought to this one, because I don't want it to be something done without thought or prayer.

I encourage you to think and pray about this as well. If you decide to do something let us know in the comments.

JAW MEET GROUND

Wow. This is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Tip o' the hat to Mark.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fr. Barron on Why the Ascension of the Lord Matters

Good stuff, as always, from Fr. Barron:

Trip to EWTN

John Thorkelson (one of our students) and I had a great time on our trip to EWTN, to appear on the show - Life on the Rock. I thought I might write up a quick synopsis of how the trip went.

Thursday morning I got up much earlier than I normally do, remember, I work with college students. We caught a flight out of College Station to Houston and then another flight into Birmingham. I actually had a nice nap on the second flight, which is very rare for me on an airplane. An EWTN driver picked us up at the airport and took us to one of the guest houses. We then went to the EWTN cafeteria, which has great food cooked by a wonderful cook who knows great Southern cooking (while in Alabama I got to have some of my favorites - pork chops, grits, meatloaf, etc - yum).

Now, before I left, I tried contacting Fr. Mitch Pacwa (a former professor and a friend of mine) to see if he was in town. But Fr. Mitch is terrible with email, so I didn't expect a response. Lucky me, we ran into Fr. Mitch in the cafeteria. We got to eat lunch and then he invited us back to his house, which is next to our guest house, and we had some fun talking about hunting, theology, and cats. I like the first two a lot more than cats. The pic below is of Fr. Mitch teaching the son of one of his friends how to shoot his compound bow.

Around 3pm we left Fr. Mitch's house and I showed John around the grounds. We prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy in the chapel and then went back to our house to get ready. We then went to the studio to prep for the show. The studio isn't very big, so they stay very busy shooting shows.

While waiting for Fr. Mark and Doug Barry, the hosts of Life on the Rock, we got makeup put on. As you can imagine, I am not much of a makeup guy. John had a lot less shine to get rid of so he went first and was a good sport when I wanted take a pic.

Random fact - the makeup kit was entitled "St. Clare's Makeup Kit", I still haven't figured out why.
We then prepped for the show with Fr. Mark and Doug, shot the show, and then went back to Mother Angelica's old office for dinner. Jason and Crystalina Evert came in while we were eating, because they shot another show that evening.

We then went back to our guest house. Some other friends of Fr. Mitch's were also in town so Fr. Mitch came over and the five of us watched the show and visited.

This morning, we had breakfast and went to the airport, along with Doug, Jason, and Crystalina. Jason and Crystalina had the same flight to Houston, so we got to visit even more until they left to catch a flight back to California. This was Crystalina's first time, in many years, to not have a baby with her on a trip. So, she was in a good mood after a nice night of sleep.

To cap it all off, we were able to catch an earlier flight back to College Station. So, it ended up being a great trip from start to finish. Thanks for everyone who watched and for all your prayers. Please continue to pray for St. Mary's and other campus ministries, as well as the students we serve and the benefactors who make it all possible.

Peace,
Marcel

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life on The Rock

I am currently on a plane to Birmingham to visit EWTN's studio where I will be on Life on the Rock - along with John Thorkelson - one of our students. I am not writing this from the plane, but did so earlier and set it to post this morning.

Please pray for our safe travel. Also, please tune in tonight if you can. The show will air on EWTN at 9pm (CST).

If I have a chance to do some live-blogging, I will. But, otherwise things might be slow around here.

Crisis Magazine on St. Mary's Catholic Center at Texas A&M

Crisis Magazine mentioned us in an article about how to choose the right college. Here is a snip.
Texas A&M. This sprawling, secular, state university is known for its agricultural, business, and engineering programs, but its liberal arts offerings aren’t bad — and they’re largely consonant with the sane social conservatism of A&M’s students, a quarter of whom are the first in their family to go to college. As one of them told our reporter: “This is not a crowd that worships academia like the East and West coasts. These are people that place relationships with God, country, and family out in front.” The political science, history, and English departments are much more solid and traditional than those at comparable schools — even in Texas — with required classes in fundamentals of each discipline and fewer trendy, toxic electives.

Big things on campus include a wide range of top-notch sports teams, beer-drinking in honky-tonks like the Chicken Oil Company, and Christian activism of every sort. St. Mary’s Catholic Center on campus seems vibrant and orthodox, featuring traditional devotions, pro-life activities, and significant intellectual support; it’s refreshing to be able to say that about such a campus ministry. There has been an explosion of Catholic devotion on campus, resulting in a wave of priestly and religious vocations from A&M, meriting national media attention. A 2011 A&M football game against rival UT-Austin featured dozens of alumni nuns and priests in the stands on the A&M side, leading TV commentators to remark that UT didn’t stand a chance. (It didn’t.)
Continue reading.
A few details aren't quite accurate, but it is pretty good publicity.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fr. Corapi - Come Back To the Priesthood

A passionate call to Fr. Corapi to come back to his vocation of the priesthood.
This will be the last post on the Corapi situation, unless something else major happens.


FYI - Comments will be strictly moderated. Be kind.
Tip o' the hat to Deacon Greg.

An Interview With Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary

Jennifer Fulwiler is one of the most popular Catholic bloggers today and her personal story is one of great conversion, hence the name of her blog - Conversion Diary.  She blogs for the National Catholic Register and her conversion is currently being written for a new book, which is due out soon. She is another one of our great Aggie Catholics.

She also happens to be a contributor, along with myself and a number of notable Catholics, in a new book - The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet. It will be released at the end of the summer. Jennifer agreed to a short interview and I ask that you keep her in your prayers, because she is due to give birth to another baby very soon.

Here is my interview with Jennifer:
MARCEL - Jennifer, you attended classes at A&M, but were not Catholic at the time. Can you tell our readers a little about your story?

JENNIFER - I spent my freshman and sophomore years at A&M (class of '99). It never occurred to me that I wouldn't graduate as an Aggie; I come from an Aggie family and always thought it was the best school in the world. But at the time I was an atheist, and was really struggling with a lot of the implications of my own worldview, and found that living in such a heavily Christian environment exacerbated my problems. I transferred to the University of Texas for my junior and senior years, but always felt a certain sadness when I thought of not graduating from A&M.

MARCEL What do you have to say to our non-Catholic readers (esp. atheists and agnostics) about the Catholic faith?
JENNIFER - I encourage them to take just ten seconds to say a sincere prayer and ask God if he wants them to find out more about the Catholic faith. Then listen for an answer -- which may or may not come immediately. Even if you don't believe in God or aren't sold on Catholicism, it couldn't hurt, right?
MARCEL If you had us read one post from your blog, which would it be?
JENNIFER - I would have them read this one about a prank call gone awry, since it took place in my dorm at A&M (Haas Hall):
MARCEL Can you tell us a bit about some of your writing? I know you are working on a book. When can our readers buy a copy?
JENNIFER - In addition to my personal blog, I'm blogging at the National Catholic Register  and am working on a book about my conversion. The book has been one huge exercise in trusting in God's plan, since it's moving much more slowly than I'd like. I started it in 2008, scrapped a first draft, finally finished a totally new second draft, and my literary agent came back with epic revisions that will take months to complete. Unfortunately it won't be available for purchase any time soon. But the good news is that I think that whenever it is done, it will be very good, and will appeal to a wide audience -- not just Catholics.
MARCEL What plans do you have for the future?
JENNIFER - To be honest, I don't have any. One of the biggest changes since my conversion is that I really do just take life one week or month at a time. I focus on discerning what God wants me to be doing *right now* and don't worry too much about where I'll be and what I'll have accomplished a year from now. Interestingly, my life is so much more fun and exciting -- and I get a lot more done -- ever since I started living that way.
MARCEL What advice would you give to the average college student of today?
JENNIFER - I can't emphasize this enough: The path to fulfillment is to discern your vocation and then throw yourself into it. There's so much pressure these days to think that things like career, travel, accomplishments, etc. will make your life awesome. As I know from personal experience, they won't. Sure, having a cool job or traveling to interesting places is nice, but it won't bring you deep, lasting happiness. It won't even bring you that much excitement. If you want to live life to the fullest, try radical obedience to God.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Catholic Answers Live Podcast

You can now download last Friday's interview I had on Catholic Answers Live radio program:
Listen in MP3 format here.
Listen in REAL format here.
You can also download it here.

Thanks to Patrick Coffin and the crew at Catholic Answers for having me on.
Also, I will be on Life on The Rock on EWTN TV this Thursday at 9pm. Tune in if you can.

The Boys Are At War

Below is a manifesto from my son Dominic (9), and two of his friends. Combined, the three boys have 9 sisters and only one of them has a little brother. So, they really have bonded as brothers-in-Christ. Maybe after reading this I should say they have bonded as brothers-at-war-with-girls.
The boys have been gathering a army to fight agenst the girls.
We bilt this army and this army only shall stand agenst the forces of evel.
We will fight too the end of this war.
The leaders are gathering clues.
Clues that will put an end to this war.
We shall stand.
We will stand to the end of this war.
We will stand till they have fallen.
We will stand in our darkest hour.
They cant stop us now.
We are strong.

signed by
Jonathan Gulde, Dominic LeJeune and Blaise Rother (in each boy's handwriting)

(misspellings have been retained to prove authenticity)
Thanks to Lauren (Jonathan's mother) for finding this and bringing it to my attention. My reaction was mixed - I don't know whether to laugh, congratulate Dominic, or send my four daughters into hiding.

The Vatican Enters Agreement To Advance Stem Cell Research

I love this partnership.

The United Nations - In Need of Deep Reform

Some of the recent activity out of the United Nations included:
How any of these achieves the goals of the UN as set out in the UN Charter is beyond me.
The Preamble reads:
PREAMBLE

WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
AND FOR THESE ENDS
  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
  • to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
  • to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
  • to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS
Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.
Pray for our leaders, our government, and the United Nations.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Cult of Personality

A cult of personality is a very dangerous thing
It leads us to seek truth from men and not God and it isn't good for the person who is at the center of the cult either:
"We are given to the cult of personality; when things go badly we look to some messiah to save us. If by chance we think we have found one, it will not be long before we destroy him."
-Constantine Karamanlis
Fame can cause some to believe that the person who is famous has some special power. Yet, God is the one who gives and takes away all gifts.

Even in Catholic circles fame has it's drawbacks. When famous Catholics act badly, scandal erupts. This, of course, has many examples today. But, what we must all remember is the following:

  • We all sin.
  • We all need forgiveness and prayer.
  • We stand in need of grace and our talents and gifts are not our own - but God's.
  • The only two sinless persons are Jesus and Mary.
  • No person is converted by another person's power - but by the Holy Spirit. So, regardless of how amazing a person's talents are, they are not, in and of themselves, the reason another might grow closer to Christ.

As GK Chesterton said:
"The present condition of fame is merely fashion."

I Will Not Defend Fr. Corapi. I Will Defend Bishop Mulvey.

Here is a very quick summation about the Fr. Corapi affair:

-Fr. Corapi was suspended by order of Bishop Mulvey, of Corpus Christi, because of allegations by a former employee of his apostolate. We do not know if the allegations are true.
-Fr. Corapi has been suspended all of 4 months when he announced he is leaving the priesthood and his order so that he can continue his ministry. In doing so, he threw the following under the bus:
  1. The Catholic Church's investigative process.
  2. His accuser.
  3. Bishop Mulvey.
As to #1 - I am not a fan of certain parts of the process, and because it isn't a perfect process, I believe some criticisms are very valid. That does NOT mean that Corapi is being unjustly treated - we just don't know enough to make support the claims one way or the other.

As to #2 - we don't know enough, so no comment.

As to #3 - I know Bishop Mulvey and can say this. He does not deserve the treatment he is getting from Corapi. You see, Bishop Mulvey is the kind of man who will not come out with both guns blazing in order to defend himself. In other words, he isn't like me. He is a humble servant of God and a very good priest and Bishop.

He didn't go looking for a fight with Corapi, but was dragged into it because of an accusation that was brought to his attention. What was he to do? He had to launch an investigation and the most prudent thing was to pull Corapi from active ministry until the investigation could go forward.

We still don't know if the accusations against Corapi are true or not and we may never know. But, here is what we do know:
  1. The legal processes, both in the courts and the Church, are flawed.
  2. Fr. Corapi needs our prayers.
  3. Bishop Mulvey needs our prayers.
  4. The accuser needs our prayers.
  5. The Church needs our prayers.
  6. Fr. Corapi was asked to stop living by himself, on a ranch in Montana, and join his congregation.
  7. Fr. Corapi was a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi and took a vow of obedience to his superiors. This vow has been broken.
  8. This scandal is dealt with by Canon Law, not the Dallas Charter for the protection of children.
  9. Because Corapi is walking away from the priesthood, the Church's investigation is over. The legal courts will now deal with it alone.
  10. God is a Provident Father and can bring good out of any situation.

If Corapi "quit" because of an unjust situation, then he probably still made the wrong decision. It seems the decision to re-brand himself outside of the priesthood must have been made a while ago. Which means he only gave the process a few short months, at best. What would we think of St. Padre Pio if he quit in the face of injustice? What about Jesus quitting his vocation in the face of injustice?

At best, we have a wounded man who feels pushed out of the priesthood, because he sees no other way to continue to do what he feels called to do. This has created a huge scandal with many unanswered questions. It has also sullied the names of many others, including Bishop Mulvey, which I believe is an injustice.

At worst, Corapi is guilty of what he is accused and is now throwing others who oppose him under the bus in order to keep his reputation and increase his bank account.

Either way it is a terrible scandal, which is magnified because of Corapi's decision.

We may never know the details, but God does.

So, what do we do now? We pray. We believe. We have hope. We love.
Even in the face of scandal.

I will turn comments on for this post, but no attacks on anyone will be tolerated.
Peace.

UPDATE #1:
Corapi Issues a Second Statement...this one is quite sad. Here is a summation of it:
  • He says he had "no choice" because he would never be reinstated to public ministry.
  • He goes on to say it doesn't matter if he can't celebrate the Sacraments. He goes on to say he never did much Sacramental ministry anyway.
  • He continues to vehemently defend himself and says the accusations are false. He says the leadership of the Church is killing and attacking him.
  • So, why did he resign? Because his lawyers concluded "it would be next to impossible to receive a fair and just outcome." Then he defends his civil lawsuit and continues to defame the accuser as an alcoholic and "emotional erratic behavior", who is trying to extort money from him.
  • He even tells someone who accuses him of using cocaine (which is a pitiful accusation) to "put up or shut up".) He even says he will pay him $100,000 in one day if it is proven correct. I guess he has some serious cash.
  • He says "I didn't start this" and that "a very very sick woman" did. Then, the authorities through him under the bus like "yesterday's garbage" and yet he is "not bitter about it". 
Ug. This really doesn't help, but makes the whole thing uglier.

Listen to the statement here.

**I stand by this statement:
At best, we have a wounded man who feels pushed out of the priesthood, because he sees no other way to continue to do what he feels called to do. This has created a huge scandal with many unanswered questions. It has also sullied the names of many others, including Bishop Mulvey, which I believe is an injustice.

At worst, Corapi is guilty of what he is accused and is now throwing others who oppose him under the bus in order to keep his reputation and increase his bank account.
UPDATE #2:
SOLT, Corapi's community, has released a statement:
Official SOLT Statement Regarding Fr John Corapi
As the Regional Priest Servant of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), I issue the following statement on behalf of the Society.

On 16 March 2011, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the SOLT received a complaint against Fr. John Corapi, SOLT. As is normal procedure and due to the gravity of the accusation alleging conduct not in concert with the priestly state or his promises as a member of an society of apostolic of diocesan right, Fr. Corapi was suspended from active ministry (put on administrative leave) until such a time that the complaint could be fully investigated and due process given to Fr. Corapi. In the midst of the investigation, the SOLT received a letter from Fr. Corapi, dated June 3, 2011, indicating that, because of the physical, emotional and spiritual distress he has endured over the past few years, he could no longer continue to function as a priest or a member of the SOLT. Although the investigation was in progress, the SOLT had not arrived at any conclusion as to the credibility of the allegations under investigation.

At the onset, the Bishop of Corpus Christi advised the SOLT to not only proceed with the policies outlined in their own constitution, but also with the proper canonical procedures to determine the credibility of the allegations against Fr. Corapi. We reiterate that Fr. Corapi had not been determined guilty of any canonical or civil crimes. If the allegations had been found to be credible, the proper canonical due process would have been offered to Fr. Corapi, including his right to defense, to know his accuser and the complaint lodged, and a fair canonical trial with the right of recourse to the Holy See. On June 17, 2011, Fr. John Corapi issued a public statement indicating that he has chosen to cease functioning as a priest and a member of the SOLT.

The SOLT is deeply saddened that Fr. Corapi is suffering distress. The SOLT is further saddened by Fr. Corapi’s response to these allegations. The SOLT will do all within its power to assist Fr. Corapi if he desires to seek a dispensation from his rights and obligations as a priest and as a professed member of the SOLT. We request your prayers and the intercession of the Blessed Mother for the healing of Fr. Corapi and for any who have been negatively affected by Fr. Corapi’s decision to end his ministry as a priest and a member of the SOLT.

Fr Gerrard Sheehan, SOLT
Regional Priest Servant

Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Interview With Aggie Catholic, Matt Warner, Founder of flockNote.com and Blogger

Matt is one cool cat. He is a Catholic blogger, speaker and founder of flockNote.com, TweetCatholic.com and QuoteCatholic.com. He was named one of the Top Ten Most Fascinating Catholics of 2009 and also blogs at Fallible Blogma and for the National Catholic Register.

He also happens to be a contributor, along with myself and a number of notable Catholics, in a new book - The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet. It will be released at the end of the summer.

Here is my interview with Matt:
MARCEL - Matt, how did you get involved in the different initiatives you have undertaken in the past few years, including flockNote, Catholic blogging, etc.?

MATT WARNER - It was kind of a gradual process that all started with just kind of putting myself out there and trying a few things. I've always been fairly entrepreneurially minded, I just needed to find the thing I was really passionate about. My Electrical Engineering degree from Texas A&M had me working for a big engineering company after graduation where I expanded my skills to include a lot of software programming and some user-interface design. While working, I got my MBA in entrepreneurship. That was right around the same time I was also becoming very actively passionate about my Catholic faith. So it all just kind of came together.

I was volunteering a lot at my parish and was seeing some genuine deficiencies in how the Church communicates...on both a large scale and the parish level. So, I figured I'd see if I could help. It started with a kind of basic group networking/communication website for Catholics (keep in mind this was before Facebook, etc. had exploded), TweetCatholic.com, QuoteCatholic.com and other projects and then I eventually came up with something very different and that really worked - flockNote.com. And it's continuing to grow every day. God is really doing some big things.

And blogging was always just an outlet for the steam I didn't work off elsewhere. It's been really healthy for my own personal, spiritual development. I love it.

MARCEL - What is it that drives you to work in this area of Catholic evangelization?

MATT WARNER - I love my Church. And I want to help. That's really it. I think each of us have some unique talents that God has given us specifically to build up His Church. I don't want to make the mistake of wasting them or burying them somewhere.

MARCEL - Tell us about your experiences at St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M. How did St. Mary’s help prepare you to go out into the “real world”?

MATT WARNER - My experience at St. Mary's is partially one of regret. I regret not getting involved more than I did. I was very busy with full loads of tough classes (and the REC Center) back then - which is a really bad excuse. I did make it to Mass every Sunday. But I hadn't matured enough yet to appreciate everything else that St. Mary's offered.

But most of all, and most importantly, St. Mary's kept me grounded in my faith. It was constantly calling me back every Sunday no matter how late I had been up the night before and no matter what everyone else was doing. It was a sanctuary of peace amidst the volatility of college life. I remember feeling so many moments at Mass there of love and contentment. A genuine peace that even immature, searching, insecure, mixed-up college students can latch on to no matter what other confusion or uncertainty they are experiencing in their life. The Mass just rings true. And I'm so thankful that my parents instilled that in me and that St. Mary's was there to sustain me during an important time of my life. The certainty in that foundation is ultimately what drove me deeper and deeper into the treasures of the Church as I matured and "grew up."

MARCEL - What does the future hold for you?

MATT WARNER - It seems like just yesterday I was making the not so short - but not so unusual - walk from Aston Hall all the way down to St. Mary's, dressed up in the heat of the day to catch the late morning Mass. Now I I'm a decade older, on a second career, with a little less hair (and a lot less muscle), I've been blessed with a beautiful wife and two kids and somehow the Ags still haven't won a national football championship. In the blink of an eye, life just happens.

I used to spend a lot of time planning and working toward the future and not enough time being present in the present. So, in the future, I plan on spending more time in the present.

MARCEL - You still support St. Mary’s Catholic Center. Why?

MATT WARNER - I still support St. Mary's because it's the best campus ministry program in the country. And the Aggies there need it more than ever. More of the world needs to hear about and learn from what is going on there. Aggieland is a special place. St. Mary's is one of the big reasons why.
Gig'em!
Thanks to Matt for granting the interview. Please keep him, and all of our Aggie Catholics, in your prayers.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Woman Gets Probation and Loses Custody of Children - For Spanking

As a parent, this is frightening. I really don't understand the judge's reasoning here or how it could be considered a felony. When did spanking a child become outlawed? The erosion of parental rights continues in our country.
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CBS) -- A judge in Corpus Christi, Texas some harsh words for a mother charged with spanking her own child, before sentencing her to probation.

"You don't spank children today," said Judge Jose Longoria. "In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don't spank children."

Rosalina Gonzales had pleaded guilty to a felony charge of injury to a child for what prosecutors had described as a "pretty simple, straightforward spanking case." They noted she didn't use a belt or leave any bruises, just some red marks.

As part of the plea deal, Gonzales will serve five years probation, during which tiume she'll have to take parenting classes, follow CPS guidelines, and make a $50 payment to the Children's Advocacy Center.

She was arrested back in December after the child's paternal grandmother noticed red marks on the child's rear end. The grandmother took the girl, who was two years-old at the time, to the hospital to be checked out.

Gonzales doesn't have custody of the child or her other two children. She is trying to get them back, but until CPS feels she is ready the kids are living with their paternal grandmother.
Before I get a lot of comments about how spanking doesn't work or how there are better forms of discipline (I generally agree), I believe this should be left up to the parents, unless real abuse is taking place.

Fr. Corapi Releases Statement

Fr. Corapi will not be ministering as a priest any longer.
No commentary on this.
Comments will be turned off for this post.

Join Me on Catholic Answers Live Tonight!

Tonight I will be on Catholic Answers Live, which is the most popular radio program in the country. I will be talking about "Evangelizing the College Campus" from 6-7pm (CST). We will be taking calls, so if you have a question you want me to address, then give us a call.

More about the program:
"Catholic Answers LIVE" is a daily, call-in radio program that airs live Monday through Friday from 6 P.M. to 8 P.M. Eastern Time (3 P.M. to 5 P.M. Pacific), on over 100 AM and FM stations across America, on Sirius satellite radio, as well as around the world on EWTN Global Catholic Radio (shortwave) and on the Internet. According to listener surveys, it has become a runaway favorite program on the stations that carry it.
If you are local you can listen on KEDC 88.5 FM.

Stay Classy...

This post only includes items that end on a positive note:
Now for a random quote from GK Chesterton, because he is brilliant:
"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teaching Kindergartners a "Gender Diversity" Curriculum

This elementary school curriculum in Oakland could become law in California.



A few things the group, Gender Spectrum advocates for schools to do (links provided to their site):


More available here.


Here is what I have posted about these ideas previously:
The problem with all of these ideas is that they make a false separation between the body and the "true self". If you aren't your body, then what are you? If the real you isn't your body, what happens to the real you when it doesn't have a body to hold it any longer? What is the body, if it isn't a part of you?

Tell me your thoughts.

Around The Catholic Web

Items which might interest you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

National TV and Radio Programs to Feature Aggie Catholics

Fr. David Konderla and myself (Marcel LeJeune) will have four different appearances on Radio / TV in the next two weeks. I hope you can join us for as many as possible. Here is the schedule (all times are CST).

  1. Fr. David will be on Catholicism Live!, Wednesday, June 15th from 8-9pm, to discuss "Surviving College as a Catholic". Click here to find out local listings (San Antonio area) or to listen online. Hosting the show is Aggie Catholic, Arland Nichols '03! This is both a local radio and TV show.
  2. I will be on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo (EWTN and Ave Maria Radio) on Thursday, June 16th from 8:15-8:45am. The Show will be on "Evangelizing College Students". You can listen locally on RED-C Radio, on another radio station that carries Ave Maria or EWTN, or online here.
  3. I will be on Catholic Answers Live (EWTN and Sirius Satellite Radio) on Friday, June 17 from 6-7pm. The topic is "Evangelizing the College Campus". Catholic Answers is the most listened-to Catholic radio program in the country. You can listen locally on RED-C Radio, on another radio station that carries EWTN, shortwave radio, Sirius Satellite radio or online here.
  4. I will be on Life on The Rock, with John Thorkelson (one of our students), on EWTN TV and radio on Thursday, June 23 at 9-10pm. We will be talking about St. Mary's and campus ministry. You can listen locally on RED-C Radio, or you can watch / listen here or on any EWTN station.
I hope you can join us for as many of these programs as possible. Please pray for St. Mary's and for other campus ministries!

Forgiveness Changes The World

Imagine watching your family murdered in front of you, while you are tied up and forced to watch. How hard would it be to forgive them?
This woman not only forgave them, she now teaches others to do the same - all for the name of Jesus.
On Oct. 24, 1993, Barankitse was working for the Catholic bishop of Ruyigi, in eastern Burundi, Africa, when ethnic Tutsis stormed the bishops residence, killing 72 Hutus. Amid the chaos and confusion, Barankitse managed to save 25 children and, driven by hope, thoughts of peace and a calling straight from God, set out to provide a safe haven for the youngest survivors of unspeakable violence.

What began in 1993 as a home for the 25 orphaned children who survived the attack, Maison Shalom—or "House of Peace"—has grown into a multi-functional service agency helping heal and support 30,000 young people and families.
She is a living hero of the faith.

Find out more at her website.
Did I mention she has won international acclaim for her work? Including the Opus Prize?
The Opus Prize is given annually to recognize unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, solving today’s most persistent social problems. This $1 million faith-based humanitarian award is one of the world’s largest faith-based, humanitarian awards for social innovation.

Opus Prize winners combine an entrepreneurial spirit with an abiding faith to combat seemingly intractable global issues like poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, and injustice. Opus Prize winners demonstrate that change is possible, empowering and inspiring all of us.
A longer video is below:


Pray for forgiveness.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Commercialization of Exorcism?

There is a unique fascination with exorcism and exorcists. So, with that in mind, tell me what you think of the following commercial. I won't give away the surprise, but I will ask this question - is it:

1 - Offensive.
2 - Witty / good advertising.
3 - Not sure.

Please explain your answer. Thanks.

Infant Baptism

Q - I was wondering if you could tell me if there is reference in Scripture to baptizing babies. Do we baptize babies because of tradition or are we following Scripture?

A - Thanks for the question. There is no contradiction between Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, thus the teaching came from both. First we start with Scripture. In several places in the New Testament it speaks of baptizing families. One may assume that infants were a part of these families.
"After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home," and she prevailed on us." - Acts 16:15
"He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once." - Acts 16:33

"I did baptize also the household of Stephanas" - 1 Cor 1:16
But, alone, this does not "prove" infant baptism. We also see that all are called to be baptized and there is no age restrictions. On the day of Pentecost we see the following after Peter preaches:
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, "What are we to do, my brothers?" Peter (said) to them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call." - Acts 2: 37-39
Notice that Christians are called to baptism and that the promise of the Holy Spirit given in baptism is for "you and to your children".

We can also see a fulfillment of the Jewish practice of circumcision from the old covenant in the new covenant practice of baptism. Paul makes this comparison explicit:
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. - Col 2: 11-12
So, we can see there is ample implicit Biblical evidence of infant baptism. Those that reject infant baptism are doing so on an argument from silence, that is they assume it is not valid, because it is not explicitly ordered in the Bible. Well, we also see that the early Christians practiced it and that they understood it to be perfectly consonant with Scripture. Thus, early Christians wrote:
"And when a child has been born to one of them[ie Christians], they give thanks to God[ie baptism]; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who as passed through the world without sins." - Aristides,Apology,15(A.D. 140)
"And they shall baptise the little children first. And if they can answer for themselves, let them answer. But if they cannot, let their parents answer or someone from their family." - Hippolytus of Rome, Apostolic Tradition,21 (c. A.D. 215)

"‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]" - Iranaeus, Fragment (A.D. 190).
There are many more references here. I hope this helps.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vatican Updates Website

I like it better than the previous design, but it still isn't a great design.
Check it out here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Top 10 Reasons Women Should Dress Modestly

Top 10 Reasons Women Should Dress Modestly

10 - Modesty reflects an understanding of who a woman truly is.
Modesty starts inside a person's heart and mind. Who am I? Why do I exist? If a woman answers she is a beautiful daughter of God, then modesty will naturally follow.

9 - Modesty isn't about dressing in unattractive clothes as some think it is. 
There are too many options in clothing to not give modesty a try. Yes, it might not be the first thing on the rack you go shopping for, but it is worth finding clothing that brings out a woman's beauty without revealing too much.

8 - Modesty attracts the kind of guys you ought to want to attract.
If a woman is afraid that she must turn a man's eye by dressing immodestly, then she should ask herself just what kind of guy does she want to attract?

7 - Mary dressed modestly.
Truly there is no more beautiful woman who ever lived than Mary. Why wouldn't any woman want to be more like her?

6 - It helps protect women.
A woman can still dress to be beautiful, but the mystery of a woman's body is protected from being used. Modesty provides a needed defense against usage.

5 - It sets a good example for others.
Young girls and teens need good examples of beautiful women who are modest. The attacks of immodest are Legion and we need a good counter-example.

4 - Women are worthy of respect.
Respect can be easily lost when a woman tries to promote herself by being immodest.

3 - It helps your brothers to avoid lust.
Women would be shocked if they were to enter the head of the average modern young man in a crowded room of immodest women. This isn't to blame an immodestly dressed woman for a man's sin of lust. But, men today need all the help they can get to fight lust and sin. Won't you help them?

2 - It shows true beauty.
A woman't true beauty comes from her dignity of being made in God's image. If any woman wants to truly reflect God's beauty, it starts with modesty.

1 - It is a virtue.
Modesty is a virtue that helps control behavior so we do not excite the sexuality of another. It is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. All of us could use more virtue in our lives.

Two Videos from Fr. Barron

#1 - Fr. Barron on Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament:


#2 - Fr. Barron on Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris":

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Chimera

Chimera - An animal made up of parts of various animals or an animal-human hybrid.

We have another example of one, which scares me. The question "should we" is not asked often enough in science today.
BEIJING - Chinese scientists have genetically modified dairy cows to produce human breast milk, and hope to be selling it in supermarkets within three years.

The milk produced by the transgenic cows is identical to the human variety, with the same immune-boosting and antibacterial qualities as breast milk, scientists at China's Agricultural University in Beijing said.

The transgenic herd of 300 was bred by inserting human genes into cloned cow embryos which were then implanted into surrogate cows. The technology used was similar to that used to produce Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned by scientists, in Scotland.

The milk is still undergoing safety tests, but with government permission it will be sold to consumers as a more nutritious dairy drink than cow's milk.
Continue reading.
Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg.

UK's Initiative Aimed at Preventing the Sexualization of Children Through Advertising

I fully support this plan:

Why is this important, look at some stats:
KEY FINDINGS ON THE EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY

THE FAMILY AND PORNOGRAPHY

  • Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
  • Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.
  • Among couples affected by one spouse's addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
  • Both spouses perceive pornography viewing as tantamount to infidelity.
  • Pornography viewing leads to a loss of interest in good family relations.

THE INDIVIDUAL AND PORNOGRAPHY

  • Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
  • Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornorgraphy they use, become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
  • Men who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression, and sexual promiscuity.
  • Prolonged consumption of pornography by men produces stronger notions of women as commodities or as "sex objects."
  • Pornography engenders greater sexual permissiveness, which in turn leads to a greater risk of out-of-wedlock births and STDs. These, in turn, lead to still more weaknesses and debilities.
  • Child-sex offenders are more likely to view pornography regularly or to be involved in its distribution.

OTHER EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY

  • Many adolescents who view pornography initially feel shame, diminished self-confidence, and sexual uncertainty, but these feelings quickly shift to unadulterated enjoyment with regular viewing.
  • The presence of sexually oriented businesses significantly harms the surrounding community, leading to increases in crime and decreases in property values.
  • The main defenses against pornography are close family life, a good marriage and good relations between parents and children, coupled with deliberate parental monitoring of Internet use. Traditionally, government has kept a tight lid on sexual traffic and businesses, but in matters of pornography that has waned almost completely, except where child pornography is concerned. Given the massive, deleterious individual, marital, family, and social effects of pornography, it is time for citizens, communities, and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach.

When Life Gets You Down

Remember Sung-bong Choi!
Despite his struggles in life he is chasing his dream. I admire him greatly for that.


Tip o' the hat to Deacon Greg.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Young Adult? Catholic? Live in Diocese of Austin?

If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, then you might be interested in this message from some young adult Catholic in the Austin Diocese who are looking for like-minded people to help them with a New Media project benefiting the Church. I met some of the people who are organizing this effort after a talk I gave in Round Rock, TX a few weeks ago:
Thanks again for the wonderful talk you gave on evangelization the other day at St. Williams, it was extremely energizing. In that vein we here at Austin Catholic New Media would love to give the students at St. Mary's an additional venue to evangelize. One of the missions of ACNM is to create a "home base" for the people of the Austin Diocese, where they can get local Catholic content that is produced within our own Diocese. We are looking for additional voices to add to our stable of bloggers and podcasters. Would it be possible for you to reach out to the students at St. Mary's and see if there would be any interested in participating as contributors to ACNM? We are interested in either blog contributors, new podcasters, You Tube vlogs, or any other way the young adults at A&M might feel called to share. Lastly I would ask that you pray for us and our mission, we are all very passionate about spreading God word in the digital continent, but won't be able to do it without spiritual support.
Please pray for them. Also, if you are interested in helping them in any way or contributing to their project, then you can contact them here.

Sexual Healing

Something we should all listen to. From the description:
A poem I originally wrote for open mic at Pacific University. The poem highlights our culture's blind obedience to sexual norms, when it only seems to reap destruction. Pleasure is more at our fingertips in America than ever before, and yet depression steadily rises every year. It only shows that sex as recreation, or just for fun, is unable to satisfy us the way we were meant to be satisfied. Sex is good, in it's proper context. This poem mainly focuses though on anyone who has been deeply affected, hurt, and damaged by sexual sin. Forgiveness and mercy are given freely by Jesus. He cleans, restores, and heals us beyond measure and asks nothing in return. He saw all our sin and filth before he went to the cross and it was still his joy to go get us.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."-Matthew 11:28
Beautiful.