Friday, March 31, 2006

One Year Ago Today, Terri Schaivo Died

I have seen various tributes all over but will direct you to the first one I saw today (and still my favorite thus far), at Jay's place.

My thoughts about Terri, euthanasia, and the culture of death from around that time can be found here.

Proceed Patiently With Confidence in God

Well, as of this posting, 41 people have donated (and someone asked me via my personal e-mail for my postal address to send a check). The net amount takes care of rent for March and April as well as the court costs mentioned in the summons, plus a very good start to May (or perhaps some luxuries like food and utilities)...

(UPDATE: The donor roll has increased to 59, as of a few minutes before the new day begins. The job interview that was scheduled for the past afternoon is postponed until noon tomorrow.)
Much thanks to all who have gotten the word out and to those who followed prayers with deeds in supporting Ron in his time of need.

I encourage you to read his "accounting," especially the comments which he has featured in the post.

Please keep praying for Ron's successful interview, for the Catholic guy who commented, and all those who are seeking employment, that God help their efforts and show them great good out of these trying times.

Jesus: Thirty, and Not Married

There is one thing that must have struck the townspeople as singular about him [Jesus]: he was thirty and he was not married. Remember the rarity of virginity among the Jews — not one woman in the Old Testament, among men only the prophet Jeremiah, and he had accepted celibacy for no spiritual reason. There were eccentrics, Essenes and perhaps the sect at Qumran, withdrawn in communities of their own and remaining celibate (again for no profoundly spiritual reason — Josephus says it was because wives "give the handle to domestic quarrels"). Anyhow the carpenter was no eccentric, and he plied his trade in his own town. In Palestine men usually married round twenty. The fathers of marriageable daughters must have weighed him up and found him eligible. Those opinionated cousins of his must have asked him what he thought he was up to, still celibate when he should have been married these ten years. Mary knew why, but it was not her secret to tell.

But this was the only peculiarity (and it was not in his favor). For the rest, the town took him for granted. Even when all Palestine was ringing with his miracles and the power of his utterance, Nazareth would have none of him — they had known him all his life, been to school with him, some of them, had him do their big and small carpentry jobs — plows, doorframes, wooden boxes.

Their reaction to his fame was a "What, him?" — amused smiles perhaps to begin with, such rage when he at last came to speak in their synagogue that they tried to kill him. Imagine your own plumber suddenly turning preacher and miracle-worker after many blameless years of mending leaks in your water pipes. You would not the be the first to believe, I think. Neither was Nazareth. They simply could not take all the high talk about him seriously. They knew him too well. He might fool others, but not Nazareth, never Nazareth. Not one of his apostles, apart from his own cousins, came from his own town...

Let us look steadily at him. He was a carpenter in a town, which even in insignificant Galilee, was despised as insignificant. He was not playing at being a carpenter, as Marie Antoinette and her ladies played at being shepherdesses at Versailles. He was a carpenter; the household depended on what he made; if trade was bad his Mother had to go without. The locals hired him to make and mend in wood. He would name a price and it would be a just price. They would haggle as is the way of the East, beating him down, asking doubtless if he thought they were made of money. In a better mood (having got the price down, perhaps) they might offer him a drink.

And he was omnipotent God, the second Person of the blessed Trinity, by whom all things were made, including the wood of his carpentry, and the drink, and the customer who was arguing with him about the price: including his own human body and human soul — that human soul which had to sustain the wonder of his divine self and not be blinded by it.
To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Prayers Needed

For Ron Rolling. My heart goes out to him. Let our prayers storm heaven.

Backing Up Prayers With Deeds
For anyone who feels called to help Ron out in addition to prayers, he has been talked into accepting donations. There is now a PayPal button in his sidebar for any blogging buddies or readers who are interested.

Prayers Requested

Theocoid tells us of a tragic accident that left only the father alive. Prayers are requested for him and for the souls of his family.

Growing in Virtue

St. John Chrysostom urges us to struggle in our interior life like little children at school. First, says the saint, they learn the shape of the letters. Then they begin to distinguish the strokes; and thus, step by step, they learn to read. If we divide up the virtues into different parts, we can learn first, for example, not to speak badly of people. Then, passing to another letter, we can learn not to envy anybody: we can learn never under any circumstances to be a slave to the body: we can learn not to give way to gluttony. Passing on from there to the spiritual letters, we shall study continence, mortification of the senses, chastity, justice, and scorn for vainglory. We should try to be modest and of contrite heart. Let us link virtues together and write them on our souls. We have to do all this in our own home, with our friends, with our wives, with our children.

What is important is that we should make a definite and loving decision to strive after virtue in our everyday affairs. The more we practice performing these good acts, the easier we will find them to do next time. In this way we will identify ourselves more and more with Christ.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's About Time!

I've been waiting and waiting for these folks to get an RSS feed ... and now I have my hands on it. Yes, I'm connected.

Now y'all can be too. Here ya go:

What ... Nothing Was Available in Advertising?

You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)

You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.
You'd make a talented professor or writer.

Via Doctor Laura

You Know You're a Catholic Nerd When ...

The biggest fight you've had with your boyfriend is about which one of you was praying the Apostles' creed wrong.
Guilty as charged ... if you consider some of the arguments that happen in the comments boxes here.

Venial Sin

It is so easy to slip into the way of thinking that venial sin isn't that bad. True, it is not mortal sin, but it still is quite destructive and will erode our union with God in that "drip of water on rock" way.
Our Lord has called us to holiness for us to love with deeds. And on the approach we adopt towards deliberate venial sin will depend the progress we make in our interior life. For when we do not struggle to avoid venial sins or when there is not enough contrition for them, they damage the soul grievously. These venial sins make the soul insensitive to the inspirations and motions of the Holy Spirit. They weaken the life of grace and make the virtues more difficult to practice, and incline one towards mortal sin.

Many pious souls, says a present-day author [B. Baur, In Silence with God], are in an unfaithful state almost continuously as regards "little things;" they are impatient, hardly charitable in their thoughts, judgments and words, false in their conversations and attitudes, slow and lax in their piety; they don't control themselves and are excessively frivolous in their language, or treat the good name of their neighbor lightly. They know their own defects and infidelities, and perhaps even accuse themselves in confession; but they do not seriously repent of them, nor do they make use of the means to avoid them in the future. They do not realize that each one of these "imperfections" is like a leaden weight that drags them down. They do not realize that they are beginning to think in a purely human way and to work only for human reasons, or that they habitually resist the inspirations of grace and misuse them. The soul thus loses the splendor of its true beauty, and God is increasingly distanced from it. Little by little the soul loses contact with God: in him it does not see a loving and lovable Father to whom it should give itself with filial affection; something has been allowed to place itself between the two. This is the beginning of the road to lukewarmness.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Just as I Feared ... 50% Weird

(and it rhymes ... cool!)

You Are 50% Weird

Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!

Via "Not Nearly As Weird" Karen Hall.

I Won!

And I didn't even know there was a contest. I will finally get to find out if a pair of hand-knitted socks is like a hug for your feet.

Perhaps this will inspire me to get going on trying to knit a pair myself. I have the instructions but just have been too scattered to get it together to collect needles and yarn to get started.

Back to Basics: Vaccination Against Original Sin

This is probably the simplest explanation I've ever seen of how baptism fights original sin.
Catholicism sees original sin differently from actual sin, which is what a rational person does when she consciously, deliberately, and willingly disobeys God. Original sin is the natural inclination to sin.

For example, nobody is born with polio, measles, or chicken pox, but folds aren't born with any immunity to these diseases, either. A baby needs to be vaccinated, so the human body can produce its own antibodies and fight these diseases when it's exposed to them. Likewise, you can think of original sin as being born without any immunity or ability to internally fight sin. On the spiritual level, human beings, born without any resistance to sin, need a spiritual vaccination.

Baptism is to original sin what the polio vaccination is to the poliovirus. Baptism restores what should have been -- a spiritual resistance or immunity to sin and temptation. The first sin of the first parents, Adam and Eve, wounded human nature, and every one inherited that wounded nature from them. Baptism washes it away.

... And just as vaccinations are but a first step for a healthy physical life, Baptism is but a first step for a healthy spiritual life. Cultivating a good, healthy spiritual life means avoiding what's bad for your soul, such as sin and evil, and doing what's good for your soul -- prayer and works of mercy motivated by divine grace.

In addition to getting rid of original sin, Baptism also imparts or infuses sanctifying grace, a special free gift from God. Sanctifying grace makes the new Christian a child of God and applies the merits of Jesus Christ, his suffering and death for sins, to the new Christian personally, because the person being baptized is mentioned by name ...
Catholicism for Dummies by John Trigilio

Monday, March 27, 2006

66% Genuine!


(66% dark & bitter, 33% working class, 66% genuine)

It's a testament to Bass Ale, and therefore to YOU, that when I went to look for ads for Bass, all I found was this. An ad from 1937. Bass is legit, and if your scores are true, so are you. I tip my glass to that.

Personality-wise, you have refined tastes (after all, Bass is kind of expensive), but you know how to savor what you get. Your personality isn't exactly bubbly, but you're well-liked by your close circle of friends. Your sense of humor is rather dark, but that's just another way to say sophisticated, right? Cheers.
Link: The If You Were A Beer Test.

Via that half pint o' Guiness, The Anchoress.

Mensa for the Numbers People

Find the six-digit number in which the first digit is one more than the second, the third and fourth digits are the sum of the first and second, the fifth digit is two less than the fourth, the sixth digit is two less than the fifth, and the sum of the fifth and sixth digits equals the second. The sum of all the digits is 33.
I don't know about y'all but my brain melted just typing this monster.

UPDATE: we have a winner (I am amazed by her mental powers ... "math brained" doesn't begin to describe it) so don't go into the comments box if you're still figuring it out.

You'll Be a Man, My Son


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
Rudyard Kipling
In a society all too eager to point out any masculine gender differences as something bad, to be blamed on men, just who will teach our boys to be men?

That is the question posed by Mary Jacobs in her Dallas Morning News editorial. Ms. Jacobs who loves the qualities that makes her son different from her daughter is reading The Minds of Boys by Michael Gurian. It sounds like a book that I would read also if I had a son to raise.
Women have always attempted to rein in boys' reckless impulses, Mr. Gurian says, but feminism made maleness inherently defective. Think of two fictional icons of American boyhood, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. The Widow Douglas may have attempted to civilize them with starched collars and good table manners, but Mr. Gurian says, "If Huck and Tom were alive today, they'd probably be diagnosed with a conduct disorder and put on Ritalin."
The answer to that question is that real men are quietly teaching their sons in spite of society's message. In a post that dovetails nicely with this editorial, Joel at On the Other Foot had his sons in mind when he wrote this wonderful piece about what a man is and what a man does. Here's a bit but do go read the entire thing. It is not to be missed.
As a man, you are stronger physically than women. You are also bigger than they are and hence intimidating to them, if only on a subconscious level. Never loom over them, never yell at them, never treat them as though they were men. (On the other side of the coin, don't condescend to them either. They're small, not dumb.) Bear in mind that you have all the equipment and strength necessary at any moment to overpower and violate any woman. It's therefore vital that you conduct yourself in a way that makes obvious that you not only wouldn't do something like that, but you'd step in front of a bullet or a grizzly bear to keep her safe. This isn't something you say out loud, but an attitude that stays in the back of your mind.
Lucky sons to have such a wise father. And, Joel's wife, Christina, at Confessions of a Hot Carmel Sundae, shows what a difference it makes to be married to such a man.

My lessons in the qualities that make a man came from Tom's mother who never forgot that her husband and her five sons were men, different from women, and rightfully so. Her small asides here and there about these men in her life were touchstones for me, who really had soaked up all the propaganda that was handed out by society when I went to college. My often surprised rejoinders to her insightful comments would lead to a five or ten minute conversation about what men were like and how to support them in being themselves. I am lucky to have had that input from a wise woman who loved her men and helped me to appreciate the innate manliness in my husband.

Many are not so lucky. We can only hope that the pendulum is beginning to swing back to the middle and that once again manliness will be appreciated in our society.

This also can be found at Spero News.

Back to Basics: Original Sin and Our Original Parents

I love it when science corroborates Scripture.
More than make connections and relationships, Baptism also washes away original sin, the sin of the original parents of the whole human race: Adam and Eve. The Book of Genesis (1:26-27) says that God created man in his own image and likeness, male and female. The first man was called Adam, and the first women, the wife of Adam, was called Eve. They were the prototype man and woman, and their sin affected all men and women after them. And the Bible says that their sin was disobedience.

Even secular science today uses the name Eve to refer to the first human woman -- the first homo sapien. We want to mention that avowed atheist scientists from Oxford University in England have identified seven ancestral matriarchal groups from which all Europeans appear to have descended. Every European, according to the study, can trace his evolutionary history back to the seven ancestral mother groups, also referred to as the Seven Daughters of Eve. This corroborates the discovery of biochemists Allan Wilson and Vincent Sarich of the University of California at Berkley who've shown that every man and woman on earth, past, present, and future, can be traced genetically to one human woman.
Catholicism for Dummies by John Trigilio

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Celebrating the Basic Catholic: My Husband

I think the truest value of various debates I have become involved in within St. Blog's Parish (wearing scapulars, whether Jesus went to school, where does that comma go in what St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, and many more such issues) ... has been to make me appreciate my husband even more.

He is what I suppose many people would call the most basic sort of Catholic ... loves the Church because of the truth (though he says that most people would not call his trust in the Church "love"), follows the rules because they are there for his good, and simply lives his faith better than any other person I have ever known. (He says that he always thought he was a "Catholic Neanderthal." Wrong.)

It might bother many people because Tom doesn't say novenas, say the rosary, wear a scapular or do any other overt signs of devotion. He has a quiet, basic faith that expresses itself every so often but mostly stays hidden.

And he doesn't talk, talk, talk about it. Hardly ever. He just lives it.

I mention this to him. He looks at me and says, "Isn't that what we are supposed to do?"

What a testimony that is to me time and again. When we are asked to give for some worthy cause and I am ready to cheap out, Tom will look at me and remind me of how much we have been given and that we should pass it on. Then he will name an amount that makes me gasp. Sometimes, very rarely, he will say something like, "Isn't this what that story about burying the talents is all about?"

Tom applies thoroughly practical thinking and a dispassionate view of "the big picture" in answering questions like the ones that people in the blogosphere will argue over for days. In one or two sentences he can bring things into a perspective that has been totally lost by people who spill tons of ink (or bytes) on issues. And then ... wait for it ... he lets people make up their own minds.

This is hugely important, and in my view, is one of the key ways that he "lives his faith" to the greatest degree. He trusts the person to think for themselves and make their own decisions. This, largely, is how we also deal with each other in our marriage. One or the other of us will bring something up (oh, let's say what we already know ... I usually am bringing the things up) and we will discuss it and then we will let it drop for each to consider in their own way. He doesn't push me to do things his way and (believe it or not) I don't push him to do things my way. We trust each other to be honest in our considerations and our responses.

It is amazingly effective. And after a day in the blogosphere what a relief it is.

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Bartolomo Esteban Murillo. Annunciation.
c.1660-65. Oil on canvas. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. (Source)

On today's feast the Church celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation and, at the same time, the vocation of Our Lady. It was her faithful response to the angel's message, her fiat, that began the work of redemption...

The setting of this feast day, March 25th, corresponds to Christmas. In addition, there is ancient tradition that the creation of the world and the commencement and conclusion of the Redemption all happened to coincide at the vernal equinox.

The Incarnation should have a pronounced and dramatic on our life. This event is the central moment of human history. Without Christ, life has no meaning. Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself" (Encyclical, Redemptor Hominis). It is only through Christ that we will come to comprehend our inner self and everything that matters most to us: the hidden value of pain and of work well done, the authentic peace and joy which surpass natural feelings and life's uncertainties, the delightful prospect of our supernatural reward in our eternal homeland...

The human testimony of the Son of God teaches us that all earthly realities ought to be loved and offered up to Heaven. Christ has transformed the human condition into a pathway to God. Consequently, the Christian's struggle for perfection takes on a profoundly positive character. This struggle has nothing to do with snuffing out one's humanity so that the divine might shine out instead. Sanctity does not necessitate total separation from worldly affairs. For it is not human nature that opposes God's will, but sin and the effects of original sin which have so badly damaged our souls. Our struggle to become like Christ brings with it a life-long battle against whatsoever degrades our humanity -- egoism, envy, sensuality, a critical spirit ...

In the same way as the humanity of Christ is not effaced by his dignity, so it is that through the Incarnation the human condition preserves its integrity and finds its final end.

The Vocation of Our Lady

Vittore Carpaccio. Annunciation.
1504. Canvas. 127 x 139 cm. Galleria Franchetti in the Ca d'Oro, Venice. (Source)

In the oldest Christian calendars, this Solemnity [The Annunciation of the Lord] is referred to as a feast of the Lord. Nevertheless, the texts do make special reference to Our Lady. For many centuries this has been considered a Marian feast. The Church has traditionally held that there is a close connection between Eve, the mother of mankind, and Mary, the new Eve, Mother of redeemed humanity.

The messenger greets Mary as "full of grace;" he calls her this as if it were her real name. He does not call her by her proper earthly name "Myriam" (Mary), but by this new name: "Full of grace." What does this name mean? Why does the archangel address the Virgin of Nazareth in this way?

In the language of the Bible "grace" means a special gift, which according to the New Testament has its source precisely in the Trinitarian life of God himself, of God who is love (cf I John 4:8) [John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater]
. Mary is called "full of grace" because this name expresses her true being. Whenever God changes a person's name or gives him or her an extra one, He destines him or her to something new, or reveals to that person his or her true mission in the history of salvation. Mary is called "full of grace," most highly favored, because of her divine Motherhood.

The angel's announcement revealed to Mary her task in the world, the key to her whole existence. The Annunciation was for her a most perfect light that filled the whole of her life and made her fully aware of her exceptional role in the history of mankind. Mary is definitively introduced into the mystery of Christ through this event. (John Paul II, loc cit) ...

Mary's reply fiat, is rather more final than a simple "yes." It is the complete surrender of her will to what God wanted of her at that moment, and for the whole of her life. This fiat will reach its culmination on Calvary, when standing beside the Cross, she offers herself up with her son.

The "yes" that God asks of each one of us, whatever our path in life may be, lasts for the whole of our lives. Sometimes it will be our reply to small occurrences, at other times to larger, more important events. It will be our reply to each call that God makes and which leads successively to the next. Our "yes" to Jesus leads us not to think too much about ourselves. It should lead us to keep our hearts alert so that we may be attentive to the voice of God, who tells us who belong to him which is the path He has traced out for us. As we lovingly respond to his call we should see how our freedom and God's Will mingle in perfect harmony.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Are Mormons Christian?

Twice within the last couple of days I have come read posts by Mormons (or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka LDS) angrily declaring that they are Christians because of their belief in Jesus and that they do not appreciate being told otherwise.

I know that one of the main reasons for this conflict is that both groups are using one word "Christian" to define two radically different beliefs about Jesus. For example, LDS believe God the Father and God the Son have physical bodies and that the Holy Ghost is a spirit who as yet does not have a body. When one considers how different just this nugget of information is from the theology of the Trinity, it is easy to see where problems in understanding one another begin.

I wrote asking for the scoop to several ex-LDS who are either Catholic now or quite close to being confirmed at Easter.

All wrote back with good links and saying basically the same thing in different ways. However, Defensor Veritatis has just posted a piece about that very subject so I will send anyone interested to Brad's place.

My friend (and devout LDS) Garry has a good and comprehensive comment about all this for any who are interested.


I don't read the blog being parodied but this is funny anyway. Thanks to Jay for the heads up!

AND the B Team has a wanted poster out for that Lisper ...

Want the Scoop on the Consistory?

American Papist has more links than anyone knew existed about it. I meant to post this earlier but forgot. So there's no time like the present for going over there to catch up.

Some Favorite Podcasts

Chris tells me that he's getting ready to dip his toes in the podcast ocean. I told him that I'd pass along a few of my favorites to help him get started.

These can all be found at iTunes. (Nothing Catholic as that isn't his interest ... check my sidebar under "They Like to Talk - Podcasts" for those.)

Mark Kermode Film Reviews
He's British, witty, irreverent, brilliant and overall great fun. It's nice to hear a viewpoint from outside America as well. An ongoing, amusing game is played with real-time listeners in which they email or phone in a cryptic one-liner movie description which Kermode guesses. Weekly.

Two Chicago movie lovers review current releases as well as have a top five list on different themes. They also usually have an ongoing series which continues for several weeks and allows them to cover great classic movies. Past series have included westerns and overlooked auteurs. The current series is musicals. This show has added a lot of titles to my "must rent" list. I tend to skip listening to readers' responses on this one. Twice weekly.

Normally I wouldn't give two hoots about a podcast covering a television show. However, the executive producers are so hilarious when recapping the previous show and the answering questions that it is worth it just to hear them joke around (if you are a diehard Lost fan ... otherwise probably not). Weekly when a new show is airing.

iPod Traveller
Cheeky Opal and travel guru Nick have great chemistry, wit, and style in this show highlighting European budget travel. Rather than just give basic info about a place, they usually also have interesting travel experiences which is what makes this interesting even if you have no immediate prospects to get to Europe (such as is the case for many of us in America). Weekly.

Wine for Newbies
This is a really good basic primer for those who don't know much about wine. Bill Wilson's style is quite formal but don't let that put you off. He has a winning enthusiasm and desire to help newbies really understand wine. No set time for new podcasts.

This Week in Science -- The Kickass Science Podcast
First of all, this has the best theme song of any podcast I've heard. Kirsten and Justin cover the latest in science news. Occasionally they may interview an author or scientist which I may or may not listen to depending on my interest. Kirsten is a PhD candidate in neuroscience and is very good at giving practical explanations of why stories matter. Justin is laid back and irreverent ("rather like a game show host" as Sigorney Weaver said to Bill Murray in Ghostbusters). It all comes together to make ... well, "kickass science." Weekly.

The Animation Podcast
Animator Clay Kaytis airs interviews with some of the major animation talent of our time. So far he has had only animators who have worked with Disney one way or another but they have all been fascinating. I advise beginning with the oldest podcasts as it is interesting to see how these animators' paths have crossed at one time or another. No set time for new podcasts.

The Battle of the Reviews

Scott at Nehring the Edge and I have been battling some time over the movie "Millions." He felt it was a commercial laden, banal film. I absolutely loved it.

He has posted my review, which appeared originally at Spero News, and provided a link for his.

Who is right? You be the judge.

As an aside, if you haven't been reading his blog please do give it a try. I agree with Scott much more often than not and find his sharp wit words delightful.

Back to Basics: The Seven Sacraments

You know, I never thought of this correspondence, but it does make sense.
Why do Catholics have seven sacraments? Why not more or less? The easy answer is that Jesus instituted all seven. In the 13th century, however, philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out that seven stages of human development occur in the realm of nature, so it makes sense that God created the sacraments to correspond with each of those events. It's not that God had to make seven sacraments, Aquinas said, but it's reasonable to have seven:
  • We are born: Baptism

  • We are fed: Holy Eucharist

  • We grow: Confirmation

  • We need healing: Penance

  • We recover: Anointing of the Sick

  • We need family: Matrimony

  • We need leaders: Holy Orders
Catholicism for Dummies by John Trigilio

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Nazareth

At school he [Jesus] was taught Scripture, first the books of Moses, then the rest of the Old Testament, and some of the great commentaries of Israel's scholars. In this matter, as always when we try to picture to ourselves what was actually happening, we are almost giddy at the thought of the boy Jesus reading the Old Testament, learning what it had to tell of the Messiah, of himself in fact. It is hard to think that he did not discuss it with his Mother: children do, naturally. And Joseph, the man of the house, would have been listening to such Scripture commentary from those two as man has never heard, listening and making his own contribution.

As the boy grew older, the talk would be freer. A time would come when he must be told that Joseph was not his father in the way of nature. Is it fanciful to think that his Mother told him not only of her own virginal conceiving but of God's message about the child herself? They were a living family, not a set piece. They were not three figures in a ritual, cataleptically rigid in their muteness about the things that matters most, elaborately pretending that they were just like anybody else, each wondering how much the others knew! A loving family shares everything -- shares knowledge, shares thoughts and wondering. In the beginning Mary pondered in her heart: she would have discussed her pondering first with her husband, then with the boy, as he grew toward manhood.

If family life means anything at all, the story of God's message would have been gone over again and again: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called Son of God." Did those words lead sooner or later into discussion of the Trinity? I cannot pretend to know. I can only record my own feeling that it would have been strange if they did not. Mary was not just a convenience, to get him born, Joseph not just a convenience to keep the neighbors from talking. They were the two people closest to God-made-man. If they come to talk of the Trinity or of Jesus' Godhead, we need not assume that they used the terminology the Church has slowly hammered out -- Jesus had his own luminous experience of these truths and may have conveyed their reality more luminously than the Fathers of Chalcedon could have dreamed -- or even comprehended! If only one knew --!
To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Possible Eucharistic Miracle in Dallas? UPDATED

It was quite odd to see this along with the fact that they are waiting on Bishop Grahmann to make a ruling. Isn't this sort of thing really supposed to just happen in Italy? Via The Crescat.

It isn't a miracle ... get the scoop at Spero News. No shock there as the circumstances alone were fairly strange.

Well, I Know I Like to Watch ...

You Should Be a Film Writer

You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

Via a favorite screenwriter of mine, Karen Hall, who is tantalizing us with the tale of being galvanized into action on her newest book. Hurry up, Karen, I wanna read it!

More About That Episode in the Temple

As to the scene in the Temple [when young Jesus was found with the teachers], the amazement probably did not spread much beyond the group actually present: it would have been a nine days' wonder for a handful of people. Nazareth, one imagines, never heard of it. The boy's schoolteacher would have been mildly surprised if some such account as Luke gives had reached him, and would certainly have dismissed it as exaggerated.

Of one thing we can be fairly sure -- the boy never staged a repetition of the incident in school. If he had, the master would probably have decided that it was high time to flog some humility into him, a masters have done to brilliant boys in all ages. But Jesus did nothing so spectacular, in school or out of it. We cannot remind ourselves too often how startled his townspeople were when his public mission began. It is clear that the thirty years in Nazareth contained nothing to prepare them either for his miracles or for the incomparable power of his mind.
To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Episode in the Temple

We have got into the way, some of us, of thinking that the twelve-year-old Jesus was teaching some of the most learned men of Israel. But that is not what Saint Luke says. What was happening was an example of a daily custom in the Temple. Groups would gather round a rabbi, and ask him questions, on theology or morals or ritual. He would give them the benefit of his learning, which would usually be very considerable learning. As part of his teaching, he would put questions to them. It was in one such group that his parents found Jesus.

He was not teaching the doctors, he was "hearing them and asking them questions." It is clear that he was answering the questions put by the learned men who conducted the group: but we must realize that they were not searchers after truth asking him to enlighten them, but teachers using questions as part of their teaching method. His replies must have been brilliant, at any rate for a boy: because Luke tells us that all who heard him "were astonished at his wisdom and his answers" -- and the Greek verb used is a great deal stronger than our word "astonished," they were quite "taken out of themselves!" ...

Mary and Joseph wondered too, and once again the Greek verb is stronger than the English: it was if they had a sort of electric shock. Why? Not, one imagines, because his answers were brilliant. Most probably what startled, almost stunned them,was to see him showing his brilliance.
To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed

A Couple of Literary Notes

On Rose's recommendation, I began Uncle Tom's Cabin yesterday and have been surprised to find myself riveted ... to the point where I was propping it open to read while making lunch or washing dishes. I'm in the early stages, needless to say, but let me just say this. All this talk about Uncle Tom and not one person has ever mentioned Aunt Chloe? Well, knock me over with a feather! I only had time to read that she is the cook at the big house and that may be all there is to her information, but still ... it never occurred to me that Uncle Tom might be married.

I really love it when Rose sums up these classics for me. She has just begun Madame Bovary. Having read only about 20 pages she told me, "So far the book is only about Charles Bovary."

I said, "That's Madame Bovary's husband?"

She waggled her eyebrows, "He's the loser she runs away from later."

Short. Sweet. To the point.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Public Service Announcement


This movie is the newest recipient of The Coma Award, replacing Schultze Gets the Blues, which while an amazing waste of our time, did not depress us to the point of tears ... and partway through this dreary indie movie I was actually at that point.

The movie distributors obviously knew that this view of a slacker working in a nursing home was a problem as the trailer lied to us by putting together the only two minutes worth of humorous, upbeat footage in the entire piece. The acting is so bad that Tom actually thought it was a documentary for much of the movie, the plot is miniscule, the pace that of a snail, and the only reason we could think that it got any awards was so that the award givers could fool themselves into not feeling shallow.

No wonder everyone loved The Station Agent so much. They'd been watching movies like this one.

Two good things about this movie:
  1. It is only 73 minutes long.
  2. I now appreciate Deacon Tom and all those who give loving care in a nursing home even more than I did before.
HC rating: * Worse than Godfather III.

More Mensa

To give us "wordies" another chance after most of us failed so spectacularly at the last Mensa word puzzle, here's a little something to get our brains revved up for Monday.
What three words, formed from different arrangements of the same six letters, can be used to complete the sentences below?

The posters were all on one theme: protect our ______. The campaign was meant to ______ an awareness and be somewhat ____ than scare tactics.
Go ahead and put answers in the comments box. If you are still thinking and don't want to know the answers ... stay out until you're ready to know all. You have been warned!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Remembering Terri

Today is the one-year anniversary of when Terri Schaivo's feeding tube was removed. She was not the first and, sadly, not the last to be murdered with the assistance of the courts. Let us keep her in our minds and hearts as we pray and work against this evil.

Blogs for Terri requests:
Bloggers, please join with us over the next 13-days and write about Terri's life and death, honoring her memory by making the argument for why lives like hers should be protected, respected, and loved.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kiss Me, I'm 45% Irish ...

... actually, that might be just about accurate.

You're 45% Irish

You're probably less Irish than you think you are...
But you're still more Irish than most.

Via Alabama Improper.

When German Eyes Are Smiling...

We now interupt the Irish festivities to show this endearing photo of Papa,
shamelessly ripped off from American Papist.

Ok, as you were ... back to all things Irish.

On Seeking Out Mortification and Penance, Part II

As I promised yesterday, here is a follow up reading about the opportunities mortification in our ordinary daily routines.
... It has to mean serving the person one does not get on well with, expecting nothing in return. This is the best way of giving one's life for others, in an effective and hidden way which is hardly noticed, and which enables us to tackle that egoism of ours which deprives us of joy...

To serve others requires mortification, a continuing realisation of the presence of God, and a forgetting of self. On occasion, this spirit of sacrifice will clash with the mentality of those who think only of themselves. For us Christians it is our pride and our dignity. For in this way we are imitating Christ, and in thus serving willingly, out of love, many human and supernatural virtues are brought into play. This dignity is expressed in readiness to serve, in keeping with the example of Christ, who "came not to be served but to serve." If in the light of this attitude of Christ, "being a king" is truly possible only by "being a servant," then "being a servant" also demands so much spiritual maturity that it must really be described as "being a king." In order to be able to serve others worthily and effectively, we must be able to master ourselves, in order to be able to possess the virtues that make this mastery possible (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 21).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

On Seeking Out Mortification and Penance

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require;

So I said, "Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll.

To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!"
Psalm 40:7-9
When the words "mortification" and "penance" come up everyone tends to imagine taking on all sorts of additional, dreadful struggles and sacrifices offered to God. Of course, this is terribly unappealing. Who would want such a thing? However, God knows our hearts. How could doing his will be our delight if the mere words awaken such feelings? This is not to say that penances and mortifications are things that make us dance and sing necessarily but I wonder if they are not necessarily as difficult as we may tend to think.

As our priest reminded us this week in our prayer group, the real key is to look at our intentions. Personally, my life offers more than enough opportunities for mortification and penance just in trying to be a good person in my regular routine.

It is helpful for me to think of penance and mortification as the way they are specifically practiced during Lent. Penance is the "giving up" and mortification is the "adding on." It would be nice to think that I am so sweet and cheerful and self-sacrificing that when I have to give up my plans in order that I instead may accommodate someone else's needs I do not let out an exasperated sigh which makes the person wish they never asked. Or that I will notice that the trash is full and add on taking it out to my evening activities, instead of nagging someone else to do it.

It would be nice. However, I am sorry to report that it does not happen on a very regular basis.

Perhaps that is why the great saints perform penances and mortifications that often stagger our minds. They already have chipped beneath the rough surface to find the diamond below. They are diamonds that need polishing by different methods, although some of those methods (such as living on top of tall pillars) seem dubious to our eyes. However, that is between them and God.

As for me ... well, I still am working on the rough surface, hoping to see a glint of the gem beneath. It takes slow, steady, methodical work and that is supplied by many opportunities sent my way every day. I have noticed that when I do have the right intentions, when I remember these are daily opportunities to serve God and smooth another edge, I do have a joyful heart.

Today, I offer a reading about penance that inspires me. Tomorrow I will offer one about mortification.
We practice a spirit of penance and of sacrifice in our daily lives, in the ordinary events of the day, without having to wait for extraordinary occasions. Penance is fulfilling exactly the timetable you have fixed for yourself, even though your body resists or your mind tries to avoid it by dreaming up useless fantasies. Penance is getting up on time and also not leaving for later, without any real reason, that particular job that you find harder or most difficult to do.

Penance is knowing how to reconcile your duties to God, to others and to yourself, by making demands on yourself so that you find enough time for each of your tasks. You are practicing penance when you lovingly keep to your schedule of prayer, despite feeling worn out, listless or cold.

Penance means being very charitable at all times moving towards those around you, starting with the members of your own family. It is to be full of tenderness and kindness towards the suffering, the sick and the infirm. It is to give patient answers to people who are boring and annoying. It means interrupting our work or changing our plans, when circumstances make this necessary, above all when the just and rightful needs of others are involved.

Penance consists in putting up good-humouredly with the thousand and one little pinpricks of each day; in not abandoning your job, although you have momentarily lost the enthusiasm with which you started it; in eating gladly whatever is served, without being fussy.

For parents and, in general, for those whose work involves supervision or teaching, penance is to correct whenever it is necessary. This should be done bearing in mind the type of fault committed and the situation of the person who needs to be so helped, not letting oneself be swayed by subjective viewpoints, which are often cowardly and sentimental.

A spirit of penance keeps us from becoming too attached to the vast imaginative blueprints we have made for our future projects, where we have already foreseen our master strokes and brilliant successes. What joy we give to God when we are happy to lay aside our third-rate painting efforts and let him put in the features and colours of his choice! (J. Escriva, Friends of God)

RC Mommy says it a lot better (and quicker).

Catholic Trivia: Cassock

Before the Reformation secular clergy wore cassocks buttoned from the waist up and tied with a belt. From the waist down they were open and unbuttoned, like the garb of the boys of Christ's Hospital to this day. This was the true Sarum cassock and is distinct from the double-breasted form which is usually so-called. Moreover, it is more than likely that these cassocks were blue in colour. Bishop Richard Challoner's cassock at Allen Hall Seminary, although of eighteenth-century vintage, retains the Sarum blue colour, with red cuffs, piping and buttons to show his rank. Challoner continued the Sarum tradition, and so this seems reliable evidence.

Purple as the colour for Bishops has only been in vogue since the sixteenth century. The change took place because Pope Pius V (1566-72), being a Dominican, stuck to white. The Cardinals then changed to a papal scarlet, and the Bishops adopted the "sacred purple." However, the original colours in each case are retained in the stripe on the cord of the pectoral cross. The papal soutane was granted to the English Catholic clergy by Pope Pius IX who, when the English clerics asked what cassock they should wear, declared, "Like mine, but black."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mama T and In This House of Brede

Book #9: In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. The classic, classic story of life in a cloistered monastery, told via the story of Philippa Talbot, a widow and late in life vocation. The book very gently puts to rest any preconceptions about cloistered nuns being "otherworldly" or "hothouse flowers". This is our book club selection for this month, and the discussion should be wonderful. If you have never read this, go NOW, buy and read! It's that good.
This great review will make The Anchoress happy also as she and I bonded long ago over our mutual love of this book. Check out the rest of Mama T's Big Ol' Book Update. I am going to have to read something by Rafael Sabatini now. She had me at Samuel Shellabarger as regular readers of this blog know ...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Gig 'Em Aggies!

Hannah got her acceptance letter today. Woohoo!

Tom can't wait to buy his very favorite bumper sticker, "Honk if I'm an Aggie."

HC Film Festival: Two American and One Chinese

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
This was enjoyable but much simpler than I expected. I did enjoy seeing Robert Redford play a character that was not boyishly likable. The only reason we could think of for movie's extreme popularity at the time was that it was among the first that put modern-style quips in the mouths of characters in an period piece. Moderately enjoyable but not really worth seeking out. HC rating: ** More boring than church.

The Sting
The same enjoyable pairing of Paul Newman and Robert Redford as in Butch Cassidy but with a much more interesting and complex plot. I didn't realize until reading the DVD cover that this movie won 7 Academy Awards. Would that The Academy had had such a choice in this year's nominations. Thorougly enjoyable and we plan to watch this one with the girls. HC Rating: **** Nine thumbs up!

This impulse selection filled my lack of small, foreign language (preferably Asian) movies lately. It is a sweet, charming story of a son who returns home due to a misunderstanding. He has made a successful life for himself in another city while his father and brother have remained in business at the father's bath house.

On one level the story is predictable, revealing the problems of the bath house regulars. As we expect, the returning brother has been somewhat estranged from his family and this, too, is resolved. For instance, I will never again hear "O Sole Mio" without thinking of this movie.

However, on another level, there is complexity that was unexpected. This is provided by the brother who has remained at home and by the father's revelation of his past ... whereby we understand exactly why he loves running his bath house. Quite enjoyable also are the glimpses of life in the father's corner of Beijing.

My one question is ... if anyone has seen this movie ... what is the significance of the story about the grandmother and granddaughter on their pilgrimage? Neither of us really got that. However, we will be watching this with the girls also and perhaps one of them will have an insight. Regardless it is highly recommended. HC Rating: **** Nine thumbs up!

Additional Comments
You know you might have seen too many Chinese movies when you watch the other trailers from the DVD and recognize actors from several favorite movies. Not that I know the guy's name ...

Also, I retain just enough of my one year of college Chinese to have been able to understand a fair number of words in the dialogue. This reawakened a desire to study Chinese, a language I really enjoy, at least enough to be able to pick up more movie dialogue. I went to iTunes and found ChinesePod: Learn Mandarin Chinese which seems to be very good, as of lesson 8 at any rate which I just finished this morning.

More Mensa

Which of the words below is least like the others? (The difference has nothing to do with vowels, consonants or syllables.)
  • TWIN
  • CARE
  • HAT

Will the Great Whore of Babylon Please Stand Up?

Just a little clarification from Women in the Bible For Dummies.
The Great Whore of Babylon is mentioned in the last book of the Bible, called the Apocalypse or Revelation: "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great whore who is seated on many waters" (Revelation 17:1) and "Babylon the great mother of whores and of earth's abominations" (Revelation 17:5). Earlier in the New Testament (1 Peter 5:13), Peter uses the word Babylon as a metaphor for the city and the empire of Rome: "Your sister church in Babylon." Because ancient Babylon was synonymous with imperialism, unbridled power, arrogance, and the persecution of Christian believers, the Roman Empire seemed almost like a reincarnation of the Babylonian Empire for many from the first century AD until the legalization of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine in AD 313 with the Edict of Milan.

There is no actual "whore of Babylon." Rather this term is a concept, just as Lady Wisdom is. Whereas Wisdom is described as a gentle, loving, intelligent, and beautiful lady, the whore of Babylon is associated with infidelity, fornication, lying, cheating, stealing, and idolatry. In essence, the whore prostitutes the faith by ignoring truth and by disregarding God's religious and moral laws.

The Book of Revelation says that the whore of Babylon will eventually be defeated, as will the Antichrist (Revelation 18:1-24). Bible commentaries and scholars believe that, as a place, Babylon usually represents the city of Rome, the Roman Empire, or the secular world at large. When referring to a person, especially in the case of the whore of Babylon, Babylon refers to the believers who have abandoned their faith and polluted their religion with false teaching and the worship of false gods.

Over the course of history, several individuals and even entire religions have been unjustly and unfairly identified by their opponents as being the Whore of Babylon or the Antichrist (called the best in Revelation 13:1 and 17:3). For the most part, however, biblical scholars and theologians consider the whore of Babylon to be a metaphor for only those believers who have lost or given up the faith. These include men and women and their assemblies that no longer preach the Gospel, no longer teach the truth, and no longer practice the Christian faith (by following Christ's commands to love they neighbor, turn the other cheek, and so on.)

Monday, March 13, 2006

More about St. Mary's ...

... or when I'm wrong I'm very wrong!

Not that I am wrong to pray for the souls of our bishops. That is something everyone can use, regardless of position.

However, HC's "beat reporter," aka frequent commenter Bender Rodriguez (any Futurama fans out there?) dug deeper and found more indicating that it is highly likely the priest and bishop are not really out of line. This was spurred, ironically, by the St. Mary's parishioner group trying to defend themselves in the comments boxes (a defense I've seen pop up wherever a blogger mentioned the dispute).

This is from a couple of emails that Bender sent me.
Regarding the controversy at St. Mary's, I'm sure you've seen the post from Manuel Ruiz. Do you think that his explanation helps their cause? After reading it, I tend to have less confidence in the protesters' version of events and am beginning to think that maybe the reports of unreasonable and unjust actions by the priest and bishop are overstated.

From what I can tell, they are not only wrongfully expecting to have their own "priest for life" at their parish (well, old Father Johnson didn't do it that way), which borders on a kind of idolatry (I know that's a harsh word, but I can't think of a lesser word), but it is clear that they technically are not even part of the parish, i.e. within the territorial boundaries ("you are free to go back to your home parishes"), and therefore, under canon law, cannot justly claim any right to be a member of the parish. It is also clear that their complaints are not limited to kneeling, but extend to complaints about having the sign of peace, extraordinary ministers, and female lectors -- all of which are perfectly proper and acceptable.

Given that, their credibility is fading fast. And given that they have passed out flyers after every Mass for 17 weeks, it is sounding more and more like it is they who are in the wrong here.

Also, Manuel's posting made me curious, so I went over to those other sites and was only confirmed in my suspicions. For instance, Stephen Heiner, who claims to be a former parishioner, states that "Fr. Johnson absolutely REFUSED to give communion in the hand, . . . [and the] 'expulsion' from the Diocese is a direct result of His Lordship, Bishop Tod Brown's absolute hatred of the Traditional Latin Mass. He shut down the Indult the day after Fr. Johnson retired." (inferring that the bishop allowed it before the retirement) Then the give-away, "It seems, as always, that Novus Ordo people will tolerate women with short skirts in their sanctuaries, laypeople giving the St. Blase blessing or administering ashes, communion in the hand, the destruction of communion rails...but God forbid tolerance for people who ask to receive communion on the tongue while kneeling." (horrors! women in sanctuaries (the short skirts are a red herring), Communion by hand -- all of which is perfectly permissible) - Source.

And then there is "johnchrysostom," who has a couple of dozen long and rambling posts regarding this matter up at romancatholicblog, and bettnet.

W at bettnet, 03/09/06 at 04:20 PM, reports that "I used to attend St. Mary?s and went for the Tridentine Rite of the Mass. I went consistently for a few years. . . . However, I (and some though not all of those friends) began to realize that many folks there (not the priests, however) were not so keen on following the bishops or the Pope in certain matters in which they should have followed. They wanted to follow their own understandings of still living a faith as they believed it was expressed before the Council. I picked up on hostility towards the Pope and public disrespect to bishops, even when it did not merit it. As well, I encountered irrational hostility when I engaged in discussions on 'Ecclesiae Dei,' to the point where any questioning of their interpretation of the document made them reply to me as if I was just like the rest of the so-called 'Vatican II Catholics.' Well, I would tell them, I just try to be a Catholic, one that tries to live according to the teachings of the Church, a Church that incorporates the authentic teachings of Vatican II into her treasury."
Yes, there is definitely more to this story than the protesters have let on. Whatever happened to "obedience?"

No one ever seems to remember anymore that some of the greatest saints put up with a whole lot and had amazing miracles worked through their efforts because they were obedient even when it looked as if they were being treated unfairly.

Their example at Roman Catholic Blog of St. Catherine of Siena ignores the fact that she did so while being respectful and obedient anyway. As for their justification of themselves by mentioning Peter rebuking Paul, this reminds me of Disputations' commentary about how we often are very willing to compare ourselves to great saints without any other qualifications than a bad habit or two (usually one that I'd bet the saints themselves would have been glad to be rid of).
Are you obnoxious? You must be as learned as St. Jerome. Do you complain about bishops? Gosh, when I close my eyes I can't tell whether you or St. Catherine of Siena is speaking.
This is also an excellent lesson to me to dig deeper before automatically blaming the bishop, tempting though that may be.

Turns out the fliers "disinviting" the parishioners to the church were never distributed but the group thought fit to pull them from the trash and send the copy around anyway. Classy.

Dom has more info, including this from someone who attended the church yesterday.
After the Pater Noster, the priest offered the sign of peace, but the congregation did not respond. After the Agnus Dei, about 90% of the congregation knelt. The priest interrupted his prayer and asked everyone to stand. No one stood up. What is interesting is that one person stood during the entire Canon, even during the consecration, yet the priest said nothing about this person.
There is no excuse for that. None. At. All. Jesus told us to forgive 7 times 70 ... and these people can't extend the sign of peace during the Mass?

Dom goes on to say, "The bulletin clarifies the Church’s liturgical law which gives the bishop the discretion to decide whether the people of his diocese will remain standing from the great Amen until after the reception of Communion. He’s right. The Church’s law gives the bishop this right and the people should obey all lawful adaptations. Some critics have pointed this out as if this settles the question. It doesn’t."

Why not?

Yes, the bishop certainly could be wiser, kinder, and he sure seems to need better people skills. The priest ... well he seems to be stuck in the middle. However, the people seem rebellious and disobedient. It might do them a great deal of good to humbly obey instead of laying out terms.

No one is coming out of this well.

Much prayer is obviously needed for the parish, the priest, and the bishop. God grant them wisdom.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Another HC Film Festival On the Horizon

Yes, the girls are working musical crew for a last weekend and that means that we once again have the freedom to choose whatever we want. Woohoo!

Definitely on the plan are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Can you believe I have never seen it? What a crime! Although I have seen the ending about a thousand times and the bicycle ride only slightly less I am still looking forward to it.

A nice double feature with that (thanks to Chris who works with us for the suggestion) is The Sting. I watched it long ago (yes, when it first came out at the movie theater ... and we're not gonna start counting backwards now). We're both wondering if we'll remember much of the plot, except once again I know the end, but don't care.

The third movie is more up in the air.
  • Mirror Mask. As a Neil Gaiman fan I've always been interested in this movie and after reading Jeffrey Overstreet's review am keenly interested.
  • Monsoon Wedding. I have seen this but can't remember exactly why it has an "R" rating, so would be screening it to see if the girls could watch it. Also, Tom just hasn't had enough Bollywood in his life (poor guy).
  • Shaolin Soccer. This would be the lightweight fun entry. 'Nuff said.
  • Love Actually. Recommended highly by Penni and also by Chris. They are different enough that this intrigues me highly. And as it has been recommended by a guy then possibly Tom would like it also.

Real Life Simpsons

This is too, too funny.

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Changing My Lenten Reading

What Jesus Saw from the Cross just isn't hitting me right this Lent so I am switching to a favorite book that I had forgotten about until The Curt Jester mentioned it, To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed.

Sheed looks at Jesus' life by weaving together all four Gospels. He also takes into consideration the times in which Jesus lived, how the people then would have interpreted Christ's teachings and witness, links to the Old Testament, teachings of the Chruch Fathers, archaeology, and more. The goal of all this is to give us a richer, deeper understanding of Jesus since to know the Father you must know the Son ... and there is nowhere better to meet him than through the Gospels.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Novena Prayer
Divine Jesus, You have said, "Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you." Behold me kneeling at Your feet, filled with a lively faith and confidence in the promises dictated by Your Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary. I come to ask this favor: (Mention your request).

To whom can I turn if not to You, Whose Heart is the source of all graces and merits? Where should I seek if not in the treasure which contains all the riches of Your kindness and mercy? Where should I knock if not at the door through which God gives Himself to us and through which we go to God? I have recourse to You, Heart of Jesus. In You I find consolation when afflicted, protection when persecuted, strength when burdened with trials, and light in doubt and darkness.

Dear Jesus, I firmly believe that You can grant me the grace I implore, even though it should require a miracle. You have only to will it and my prayer will be granted. I admit that I am most unworthy of Your favors, but this is not a reason for me to be discouraged. You are the God of mercy, and You will not refuse a contrite heart. Cast upon me a look of mercy, I beg of You, and Your kind Heart will find in my miseries and weakness a reason for granting my prayer.

Sacred Heart, whatever may be Your decision with regard to my request, I will never stop adoring, loving, praising, and serving You. My Jesus, be pleased to accept this my act of perfect resignation to the decrees of Your adorable Heart, which I sincerely desire may be fulfilled in and by me and all Your creatures forever.

Grant me the grace for which I humbly implore You through the Immaculate Heart of Your most sorrowful Mother. You entrusted me to her as her child, and her prayers are all-powerful with You. Amen.

My God, I offer You all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the intentions for which He pleads and offers Himself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in thanksgiving for Your favors, in reparation for my sins, and in humble supplication for my temporal and eternal welfare, for the needs of our holy Mother the Church, for the conversion of sinners, and for the relief of the poor souls in purgatory.

Read more here

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Why I Pray for the Souls of Our Bishops

Dom at Bettnet reported a few days ago about the mass expulsion of Catholics from their parish in California.

Their crime? Wanting to kneel at the Agnus Dei. This is actually what the Vatican wants everyone to do but Bishop Tod Brown has decided to be disobedient to Rome in this matter and to punish those who will not obey him. Dom also has a follow up post here.

Just as Dom says in the article, the Vatican says that kneeling is the preferred posture. However, when it comes to some of these bishops ... well ... I tell you I pray for their souls because some of them are so very proud and cause so many to turn away from their faith. Sadly, I learned that the hard way a few years ago during a confrontation between our own bishop and our parish.

I often remember that I read somewhere, maybe in Triumph by H.W. Crocker III, that disliking bishops is a time honored tradition in France because they abused their positions so much throughout history. It surprised me at the time but I see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It makes me think of the story, which I can't find right now and so will retell badly, about the man who visited Rome and came back a Catholic convert. This astonished his friend who asked the man if he didn't see all the corruption there? "Yes," the man replied, "and I knew if the Church was still going strong after all that those men were doing, then God Himself must be keeping it going."

I remember all that, pray for the bishops and for those who they are hurting, and keep on going.

Secret Agent Man covers this much more thoroughly than I could ever hope to. Essentially, it turns out that the "allowed" kneeling I was thinking of is right before and after Communion, not during the Agnus Dei. However, he also makes an excellent point that if the bishop can't handle this properly in about a minute, then there's a problem there also. All in all, this probably sums it up best, "The only thing that's clear to me is that tempers and vanity are running so high that nobody's yet interested in authentic dialogue about what's happening."

Some good links on kneeling in general that I am moving here from the com box:

Knees to Love Christ by Bishop Olmsted

Liturgical Norms and Liturgical Piety by Cardinal Arinze

Cardinal Responds to Questions on Liturgy: a Q&A with Cardinal Arinze

The Theology of Kneeling from Cardinal Ratzinger's Spirit of the Liturgy

Abortion Providers Aren't Feelin' the Love

Unbelievably, they evidently feel it necessary to have a national appreciation day.
National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers
Monday March 10, 2003

On this day -
Stand up with your abortion services providers and say:
Thank you for your heroism, perserverance, courage, and commitment to women.

* Step up to the front lines and be a volunteer clinic escort.
* Ask your local provider how you can help.
* Praise clinic staff and doctors with postcards of appreciation.
* Write your local newspaper, call talk shows to express support.
* Take out ads in your newsletters and local newspapers.
* Organize local appreciation day events.
* Use your imagination, creativity and dedication to help create a climate at clinics where women, doctors and staff can hold their heads high without feeling shamed or fearing assault.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. A more repugnant "appreciation day" I can't imagine.

I honestly was stunned at the attitude that these people are oppressed. They feel they are victims? Go figure. I guess I've been in the habit of thinking of those murdered babies and deceived parents as the victims.

I saw this at Ramblings of a GOP Soccer Mom who had an excellent countersuggestion:
Why not write your local crisis pregnancy center and thank them for the opposite? Tell them how much you appreciate them helping women avoid abortion and choose life for their children.

Go here for information about CPC's in your area. If you start now, they'll get the letter in time for Friday.
Even if they don't receive the letter by Friday, I'm sure they'll appreciate the letter no matter when it arrives.

Jean at Catholic Fire has the answer ... we're probably too late for that march but surely can pray for the conversion of these abortion providers' souls.

Some Good Guidelines for Confession

... The use of too many words frequently denotes a desire, whether conscious or not, to flee from direct and full sincerity. So as not to fall into this we need to make a good examination of conscience.

Concise: Confession with few words, just the words that are needed to say humbly what we have done or have failed to do, without any unnecessary elaboration or adornment.

Concrete: Confession without digression, without generalities. The penitent will suitably indicate his situation, and also the time that has elapsed since his last Confession and the difficulties he finds in leading a Christian life (Paul VI). He declares his sins and the surrounding circumstances that have a bearing on his faults so that the confessor can judge, absolve and heal.

Clear: A Confession where we make ourselves understood, declaring the precise nature of the fault, manifesting our wretchedness with the necessary modesty and delicacy.

Complete: Integral Confession, without leaving anything out through a false sense of shame so as not to appear bad in the confessor's eyes.
I realized a confession or two ago that I have a big problem with the "concise" category and not just because I like to go on and on and on. It was because I was putting in all the reasons excuses for my sins. It is a big struggle to go in there, confess my sins fairly baldly and just let it lie. If the priest has any questions, he'll ask them. Otherwise, God (and all the angels and saints, as someone once reminded me) already has watched me "in the act" so I just have to let it go. In writing this I just realized that once I started doing that I quit getting so many little lectures and the penances went down too ... interesting.

Again, I will mention that I always pray for my confessor while I am waiting; that he is open to the Holy Spirit, that God will use him to speak to me in the way I need (and I've had a few distinct surprises that way), and I have rarely been disappointed. It is truly a wonderful Sacrament.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Bloggers Just Wanna Have Fun


If you haven't dropped by Amateur Catholic you are missing a real treat.

There is a lot of creativity and ... surprisingly ... passion in these "application" posts. Also I am astonished at how many blogs there are that I have never heard of although I suppose I shouldn't be since there are 700 or 800 Catholic blogs out there from what I have heard. So there is also a lot of good reading to be had from checking out all the different blogs. Check it out.


I was asked by a friend to look into video presentations on sexuality appropriate to show to Catholic teens for a youth retreat. I'm going to have a section in my sidebar for these but thought I would share what I found ... and ask for any other suggestions, which don't have to have videos but could just be good spots for teens on the subject.
Pure Love Club

Phil Chalmers

Real Love - Mary Beth Bonacci

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Catholic Trivia: Spilling Salt

This was held to be unlucky (it was thought that the person had been jogged by the Devil), hence salt was thrown over the left shoulder with the right hand (to put salt on the tail of the Devil). In Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper Judas is shown spilling the salt. Salt was used in Baptism to symbolically cast out evil. It is an emblem of purity, and hence it has been put in coffins to ward off the Devil.

About That Infallible Decision That Women Can't Become Priests

When Jay from Living Catholicism laid this out for us before I heard from a few people about it not being an ex cathedra pronouncement. Therefore, they said it would not be considered infallible. You know, I didn't have a clue about that one way or the other though Jay's info seemed authoritative to me.

So it was with great interest that I came across this when reading Catholicism for Dummies.
Since Vatican II, however, the content and context of the document determines the degree of authority and not just the type of papal document. If the pope intents to definitely teach the universal Church on a matter of faith or morals, then that is his supreme authority as head of the Church being expressed. When John Paul II issued his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in 1994, he officially declared that the Catholic Church has no power to ordain women. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was not an ex cathedra papal statement, but it's part of the Ordinary Magisterium, and thus, according to the Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the teaching is infallible.
Kind of ironic that it was Vatican II that made that possible, isn't it?

I also liked that the book goes on to point out that encyclicals are equally infallible.
Encyclicals are the routine, day-to-day, consistent teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, which is equally infallible when it concerns faith and morals and reiterates the constant, consistent and universal teaching of the popes and bishops. Their content requires religious submission of mind and will of faithful Catholics around the world. So-called dissent from papal teaching in encyclicals isn't a part of Catholic belief. The Catholic faithful willfully conform to papal teaching and don't dispute it.
Which links quite nicely with this article from the Boston Globe. It asks the question, "Should liberals leave the Church?" I have seen various positions around St. Blog's parish, the most popular being that the liberals should change their positions to agree with Church teachings. I agree and that is my prayer for them.

However, if they really, truly believe that the Church is wrong on these fundamental issues then they are being untrue to their consciences to stay in the Church, as St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out. In many cases, they do not want to fully consider the Church's position, history, and teachings on these issues. In which case, they are in the wrong place purely from the point of view of furthering their own relationship with God, to say nothing of the discord they are bringing to everyone else ... and they should go.