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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Crossing the Threshold of Hope: Online

Catholic.net has got JPII's book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, online. I read this maybe 6 years ago and I definitely liked it. Even in writing, the warmth of Pope John Paul II the Great can get to you.

False Teaching: "Loving -- A Catholic Perspective on Vocational Lifestyle Choices"

That book by Michele McCarty (Wm C Brown Publishers, Dubuque, Iowa), is so wrong and can't be further from the truth as the Church proclaims it about marriage, families, sexuality and what single blessedness really means. Parents and kids: check your school libraries and, if you find this book, alert the parish priest or the bishop's office. The doctrines in it contradict the Catholic faith and will cause confusion and worse, if they get a foothold in a student's mind. Get the details from Diane Dew. Thanks to Ut Unum Sint for the red alert.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

"Abortion Clinic Workers Refuse to Help Mother Screaming to Save Live Child"

Is it the motto of this clinic to abort, no matter what? Source: LifeSite

The Faith of My Family

The thought that my own family is not of one faith is heart-breaking, so I usually don't dwell on it too much. The kids are growing up, however, and the occasion to think about that comes up more often lately. When we go to Mass, I am unable to offer to my God a family that is united in faith and worship. When I receive our Lord in the Eucharist, I am saddened that my wife does not. How will my children grow up? How firm will their grasp of God be? Already they ask me "how come Mama doesn't make the sign of the cross?" "How come she doesn't join in communion?" The sign itself is not a major concern, but the imperfect picture being formed in their minds is. For how does this generation regard the faith, when their parents are ambiguous, diverse in their convictions? Many grow up unconvinced of any importance attached to faith. Their motto might be that some do and some don't. They might be told that there is no absolute, exclusive faith. Dad is a Catholic, Mom is Evangelical, both are Christians and that's all that matters. But I worry because they can see that the roads we took do not run side by side. There are serious differences. What are the odds that, in their minds, pluralism merges with ambiguity, where any road becomes no road after all? I worry, and I shudder to consider how the lack of unity of faith in this family may translate to an anemic witness, one that could leave my children unimpressed by any regard for Christ after all. For if our lives are to give witness to who Christ is, then our contradictory faiths might teach them that no one really knows, so how could we expect them to? Ask me how Christ feels about his followers divided amongst themselves: the Catholics, the Orthodox, the Protestants and their thousands of denominations underneath. All I can tell you is how a father feels over this family divided.

The Not-So Political Conclave

In a recent gathering among friends, someone raised the world-wise view that the conclave was rife with political maneuverings. Coward that I was, I conceded this point and chose to change the topic. Part of that retreat was what I read in the face of the speaker: a conclusive expression that told me, and I could be wrong, that this was not open to discussion. Regardless, it was a cowardly retreat on my part. It only goes to show that, regardless of how enthusiastic I might be, I am not fit to be an apologist. I am not quitting, however. What I did not realize then, was something that Oswald Sobrino wrote almost in passing: Pope Benedict XVI was elected in a "lightning quick conclave." That does not fit into the political science models that Oswald cites in his blog, and it does not fit the "political maneuvering" opinions that many are quick to charge the cardinals with. And it strikes me as unfortunate that Catholics themselves can be so cynical as to forget that the papacy was not instituted as a tradition of man. Jesus Christ built his Church on a man, St. Peter, and instituted the papacy by referring to his office with the vizieral Keys of the Kingdom (links to Dr. Scott Hahn writing about the Papacy). He meant it to be a visible office, handed down by annointing, and he meant the office to hold an authority second only to that of Christ himself over his Mystical Body, the Church. So the charge that Catholics lay against the conclave as being so much political maneuvering is serious because it takes the Holy Spirit out of the picture. I must confess that I am not so brave as to suggest that the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with the election of the Pope. Nor am I so dense as to believe that an unusually quick conclave such as this does not bear any specific message for the faithful. What message do I see in the quick election of a Pope who has been champion of orthodox doctrine for many, many years? You can figure it out. :-) References (links in context given above): 1. Oswald Sobrino: The Political Model of the Conclave Collapses, Catholic Analysis Blog. 2. Scott Hahn: on the Papacy, Catholic-Pages.com.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pope's First Message

Catholic Analysis has the full text (with relevant emphasis added) of Pope Benedict XVI's first message. I loved it and I have something to get off my chest about that, but that'll have to wait until a bit later. In the meantime, read the message with an open mind.

Posts from Rome

Fundamental papist Catholics write about the moment of new Pope's first appearance at the Vatican. Tsk tsk. I know. I wish I'd been there, too. What a beautiful story. Viva il Papa! ;-) I wonder.. would Mark Shea sue me if I changed my blog name to "Papist and Enjoying It" or would my wife receive phone calls from our Evangelical friends consoling her?


Loved this one. What are you waiting for? Click that link! ;-)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Disturbing the World

Every news report I've seen or read today made sure to highlight something negative about our new Pope Benedict XVI. When I sent Oswald Sobrino of Catholic Analysis a link about what the Left Behind Prophecy Club are saying about the death of John Paul the Great, he said something simple but profound. He pointed out that, even in death, he disturbs people who need to be disturbed. It's happening all over again with our new Holy Father, and I find it a source of comfort that he's disturbing the same people for all the right reasons. Many are disturbed that Catholic orthodoxy will be unlikely to wane under Pope Benedict XVI, and that is good, because it shouldn't wane. Seminary entries have picked up under Pope John Paul II because he firmly led with orthodoxy. Catholic youths have grown weary of the secular world and the ambiguity and mediocrity of secularism and the worship of the human body. Instead, they were captivated by Pope John Paul II because of his orthodoxy. Many others are disturbed that the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI will be uncompromising with the modern world, and I find it a source of wry amusement that they still don't get it. If the Church wasn't built by Christ to constantly recall the world from a destructive path, to repentance and renewal, to faith and faithfulness to the ever-constant Jesus Christ, then what was it built for? The Church was built to call the world to discipleship, not the other way around. Let those who hate orthodoxy in the world be disturbed. Mr. Sobrino is right: they should be disturbed. Beware the preacher whose Christ does not challenge you, because Christ is the greatest challenge for humanity.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mark Shea: "At the Core of Reality is Joy"

Read his latest at Catholic Exchange. It has often been said that the perception of reality is relative to each one of us, but this is not an absolute truth. The reality is that Jesus Christ died, apparently in abject defeat, but rose again, in absolute triumph over death and sin. What would be relative would be the reaction ellicited from each of us. For the faithful, Christ's resurrection is cause for joy, but for Satan, it is a cause for despair. Reality is not what we make of it, for it remains true regardless of what we make of it. That is what reality means: it is what is. This also brings to mind who God is: He is who is, and so God and His triumph are reality, regardless of what we make of it. As Mark says, the reality is that the worst had already happened, and Christ won. Christ won: that is reality and that is cause for joy. Even Satan, whose reaction goes the other way, must nonetheless acknowledge that Christ won. How much more real can that be, when even the enemy who would do anything to unmake reality must acknowledge that it cannot be undone.

Il Nuovo Papa: Annoying the Right People

Not that I trust my Latin there, but you get the idea. These folks get it, too: What a lovely day! ;-)

Reactions to the New Pope

"'I’m super happy,‘ said Thomas Weber, 22, of Hettange, France. ΄I didn’t care who it was, because he is guided by the Holy Spirit.‘" (source: MSNBC) Too Catholic? Darn right it is! No less true for that. We don't trust in the papacy because of the Pope. We trust the papacy because it was instituted by Christ and is guided by the Holy Spirit. What's so strange about that? Certainly no stranger than trusting the writers of the Bible, not to mention the scribes who copied the copies that we base our modern versions on today. Not to mention the translators from Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek for our English-speaking world. Not to mention our priests, pastors, theologians and writers whose interpretations and explanations of Scripture we trust. And need I mention our own human hearts and minds as the readers and witnesses of Scripture? Can things still go wrong? Of course they can, since man has ever had a free will and the capability to rebel against his own conscience and the Holy Spirit that speaks to that conscience. In the end, however, the Holy Spirit is more powerful than our weakness. Thanks be to God, and to the promised Advocate, Helper, the Paraclete, the soul of the Church. Oh, and it's Wednesday. Perfect time to meditate on the third of the Glorious Mysteries of the holy rosary, the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

Welcome, Pope Benedict XVI!

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI, and the Church rejoices in the providence of Christ, now and when it all began with St. Peter (Cephas, not Lithoi), the first rock upon which the Church was built. It has been 2,000 years since then and we have had good and bad popes, but they have been pretty darn good over the last century. As the great Pope John Paul II said in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, "Be not afraid" to refer to the Pope, to call him the Holy Father. The papacy and his fatherhood were not devised by man but by Christ. We have no fear to call our fathers "Dad" (or, as my children call me, "Dada"). St. Paul had no fear to refer to himself as the spiritual father of St. Timothy and others. Fatherhood is of God just as family and marriage are of God. Christ will continue to reign and this happens through and despite the papacy. Habemus papam! We have a pope! And if some now quake or shake their heads (or fists), let them know this: you can always pray. Whatever your take on our new Pope is, a humble, sincere prayer to God our Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, can't go wrong. Me, I'll be praying, too. Right now I am thanking God for a speedy election, an orthodox theologian as my new pope, and (really) a defensive stance by the liberals and secularists among us. As Oswald Sobrino says, "they need to be disturbed." The Church and every single Christian has got to be in the world but not of the world. They are to be salt of the earth, so they're supposed to be radical, to challenge the world with Christ and the Gospel. Pope Benedict XVI is a challenging figure for the non-Christian world right now, and that's a good thing because the world isn't doing so well. Further reading about the election of the new successor of St. Peter: Thanks be to God!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

NBC's Revelations and the Word Incarnate

Steve Beard talks about "Revelations" over at NRO. Revelations is a new NBC miniseries about the end of the world and a race to avert it. The plot appears to wrap around a warped Christian eschatology, but the fact that anything religious figures in at all is mildly interesting. John Rhys-Davies is in the cast as a skeptical scientist, and he has these things to say:
 "By and large, all the bad things you hear about Hollywood are true," he continued. "...There are very few people who actually understand that a good story done well may just attract an audience and make money. The people who are in charge of Hollywood really are not quite literate in any real sense, and very few of them actually understand what a good story is...But the reason Hollywood has discovered good and evil is that people believe in it."
Which is really a source of some hope, since, even as Hollywood refuses to "get it", many in their audience typically still recognize good and evil in the world. The problem, of course, is when their doctrines get compromised that way. What I really like about Rhys-Davies is that, in this interview as in others, he doesn't mind being countercultural:
 "When you're faced with a great, scary, supernatural threat, the trick is to remember that God managed to turn spirit into flesh, which gives him one up on the devil, because the devil can't do that. The old Dominicans used to say when you're faced with this great evil, just remind the devil of his limitations and the incantation was Jesu ad verbum caro factum est -- Jesus and the Word was made flesh. It is the incarnation that gives the moral and spiritual value of good over evil that actually defeats the devil in the imagination."
Once again, he not only says something that folks in Hollywood would rarely say in an interview, but he says something that Hollywood folks probably don't like hearing at all. Repeat after me: verbum caro factum est.. verbum caro factum est.. There's enough evil in the world today that we need to remind ourselves of this prime source of hope -- and perhaps stop devoting so much energy in escapism and pessimism, something that some folks obsessed with dispensational premillennialism can get seriously into.

"to love and be loved"

Dorinda C. Bordlee of the National Review (04/13/2005) says that radical feminism got it wrong. What women want is not about pleasure and power: they want to love and be loved.
 "A January 2003 peer-reviewed survey of the long-term impact of abortion on women’s health found that women who had undergone abortion were three to six times more likely to commit suicide. A March 2005 study seems to confirm the hypothesis that women are often coerced into abortion by partner violence and emotionally unsupportive men by showing that post-abortive women are much more likely to be the victims of homicide. It seems that far from liberating us, the radical feminist idea of what women want -- uncommitted sex (pleasure) and abortion rights (power)-- has facilitated the sexual exploitation of women on a scale far grander than men could have ever thought up by themselves. It’s time to reevaluate."
Read it all and think about it.

Cardinal Ratzinger's Homily for John Paul the Great

Take a deep breath, read up, and celebrate the life of a great servant of God and humanity. Our great father has been called home to our Heavenly Father, but his words and his life remain with us as a shining beacon to follow him as he followed Christ as he exhorts: "Be not afraid."

Mark Shea's Got New Stuff!

Yey, my fave blogger is back, if only on a short break from writing his up and coming new book. Please check out his stuff -- you won't be disappointed! He may go away for several weeks again after this week, but what he's already written is well worth reading (no use-by dates there). Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Crime after Crime

There's this story that doesn't excuse the act of murder but does point out just how interconnected the lives of people can be. If this interconnection is not ruled by love, however, then what comes down the chain can be deeply sad and profoundly tragic, as this case was.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Two Deaths in 1 Week

Two deaths of note in the last week are that of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II. I haven't had time to do any research lately, so I can't really blog much about either one, apart from what I've been blogging about Terri's fight up to this point. As for the late Pope, I have to say this: farewell to you, our beloved Pope. Yours is a death to mourn but a life to celebrate. You have been a rock of my faith. God bless you now with peace and the happy reward for a man who fed his lamb and strengthened his brothers. Thank you.