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Monday, May 30, 2005

Corpus Christi! Amen!

At homily, Fr. Paddy expounded, explained and asserted. God bless the man, he's truly one of the best preachers I have ever known. The Eucharist! Summit of the Christian faithful and, -- something that really stuck to me -- the ultimate test of faith. I truly pray that our non-Catholic brethren, aside from the Lutherans, will one day consider it and discover it. The Incarnation, right there before us, from ordinary bread to the Body of Christ. That is truly and wonderfully Christ, present before us, and shared among us, eaten as he wills to be consumed by us, so that we may be the Incarnation with him.
 Today's Gospel: Jn 6:51-58 Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
Unless we eat, said our Lord, of his very flesh -- and so we eat. Thus do we believe, and have faith in his very words, and his words are never idle. (I was hoping that the choir would take Fr. Paddy's joke about Tantum ergo seriously. I've missed singing that.)

From Home: Something to be Proud of

I say more power to Mayor Lito Atienza. So why are these organizations distributing the Morning After Pill (RU-486) when abortion is illegal in the Philippines (and may it always be so)? Probably because it's been packaged as a birth control pill. A case where marketing speaks loud and doctors, who know this for a lie, don't talk as loud.

The Objective Evil of Exploiting Embryos for their Stem Cells

 "But to Pickup, whether that research pays off isn't the most important issue. Even if embryonic stem cells were his only chance for a cure, it's a chance he'd refuse to take."
I was wrong. The reason to reject any recourse to embryonic stem cell research isn't the fact that it doesn't work, but simply because it is wrong. What makes it the worst sort of crime is that it is done at the expense of human beings who are the least able to defend themselves.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

On Fr. Reese, Former Editor of America

The resignation/termination of the editor of America has sparked sharp criticism from all over. It is being used to attack the Pope. They claim that this is an unjust policy of silencing intellectual discussion. Such critics who say this are instead being unjust, and they're talking loud -- not smart. Imagine that this editor was the ambassador of the United States of America to some middle eastern country. Let's say he publishes a newsletter for general release. In it he facilitates debate about American policies. He lets dissenting voices have their say in the newsletter. Of course, he also lets pro-American views be published. After 7 years, he resigns or is terminated, partly because of his conflict of interest, but also because it's standard procedure to rotate ambassadors every 6 or 7 years. Will there also be furor? Will the government be labelled unjust? Isn't it true that it is exactly against the office of an ambassador to invite dissent against his employers' policies, and it is in his job description to defend those policies? Wouldn't it be fair to say that he has betrayed the trust given him? That jesuit editor is an ambassador of the Catholic Church. He's supposed to defend the Church. He's trained to do so and, as a priest and jesuit, had vowed to do so. Suggested reading: Fr. Neuhaus on Fr. Reese.

Mindless Propaganda

It appears that the proponents for embryonic stem cell research are at it again. I still don't understand why. Adult stem cells have scored 56 successful human treatments by early 2005, and more success comes along. The last count I've seen says that embryonic stem cell research has so far garnered ZERO successful human treatments. What's more, the impracticality of embryonic stem cell research is serious and well-documented. Here's an eye-opener:
 “ES [embryonic stem] cells and their derivatives carry the same likelihood of immune rejection as a transplanted organ because, like all cells, they carry the surface proteins, or antigens, by which the immune system recognizes invaders. Hundreds of combinations of different types of antigens are possible, meaning that hundreds of thousands of ES cell lines might be needed to establish a bank of cells with immune matches for most potential patients. Creating that many lines could require millions of discarded embryos from IVF clinics.”
 -R. Lanza and N. Rosenthal, “The Stem Cell Challenge,” Scientific American, June 2004, pp. 92-99 at p. 94. [Editor’s note: A recent study found that only 11,000 frozen embryos are available for research use from all the fertility clinics in the U.S., and that destroying all these embryos for their stem cells might produce a total of 275 cell lines. See Fertility and Sterility, May 2003, pp. 1063-9 at p. 1068.]
So why on earth do they keep pushing for this? Because backing out will seem to agree that the human life in embryos is a given, and is precious even at that early stage. On the other hand, making embryonic stem cell research legal and unrestricted advances the delusion that human life begins only at birth. Several billion dollars could be riding on this as abortion clinics and pharmaceuticals who sell abortion pills make their livelihood from the self-same delusion about when human life begins. They can't afford to lose the psych war, with abortion advocacy plummeting this year. Here's a quick way to resolve that delusion. Let us consider X and Y to be the unique DNA "fingerprints" of the father and mother, respectively, and Z is that of the embryo from the first hour of conception. If Z = Y, then we can say that the embryo is a cluster of tissue entirely belonging to the mother. If Z = X, then the embryo is a cluster of tissue that belongs to the father. Lo and behold, neither of the two are true. Z is a unique DNA fingerprint. It is autonomous. What's more, Z is also the unique DNA fingerprint of the baby born thereafter. We must conclude, therefore, that each human being's life began with such an embryo, from the moment of conception. No, it does not begin with the gametes: for each gamete, i.e., sperm or egg cells, bears the DNA of the father or the mother, and with only 23 chromosomes each. The embryo has a unique DNA with 46 chromosomes, identifying that embryo as human. The propaganda continues. They're still engaging in false dilemmas. The US Senate discussions apparently don't even mention adult stem cells. Where's the data that supports funding embryonic stem cell research as against adult stem cell research? Nowhere that I've noticed.

Friday, May 20, 2005

An Anglican Comes Home

The forum is very warm, sometimes hot, but for the most part, even from the Anglicans he leaves behind, there are good wishes for Rev. Al Kimel, the blogger known as the Pontificator, on his decision to come home to Rome. As expected, some people are hurting, such as Peggy in the comments on that link. It is best to consider, I think, that the future Fr. Al (he will apply for Roman Catholic priesthood, which happens all the time for convert clergy), makes his decision with no small amount of anguish. Someone in the forums mentions having cried for five hours (and probably several times) when he left the Church of England for the Orthodox Church. It is so much like the mystery of baptism, when we die to sin through sorrowful and contrite repentance, but rise to joy and life. Even more, it is so much like the Easter mystery that begins with the Passion, culminates in death and gloriously triumphs in the resurrection. Fr. Al will be in my prayers, along with this prayer for every Christian who fearlessly and sincerely searches for the truth in this prayer (John 17):
 9 I pray for them. I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me: because they are thine. 10 And all my things are thine, and thine are mine: and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou hast given me: that they may be one, as we also are. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept: and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition: that the scripture may be fulfilled. 13 And now I come to thee: and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy filled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them: because they are not of the world, as I also am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil. 16 They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. 21 That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Thanks to the Curt Jester for leading me to Fr. Al's story.

Bad Reporting Explained

Most everyone's probably heard about this:
 In 1997 Ratzinger called Buddhism an "autoerotic spirituality" that offers "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations." Hinduism, he said, offers "false hope," in that it guarantees "purification" based on a "morally cruel" concept of reincarnation resembling "a continuous circle of hell." At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church's main enemy.
Apparently that was from a rabbi from San Francisco, editor of Tikkun, a Jewish magazine. Supposedly this same rabbi is/was one of Hillary Clinton's advisers. My sincere gratitude to Joseph Marshall, writing on his blog to clarify what turns out to be gross misrepresentation in the quote above. Read his emergency post that examines the actual interview with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. What he actually said was:
 Do you fear that Catholics might lose their souls while dialoging with other religions, like Buddhism? Dialogue between religions is necessary in a world becoming more unified. But the danger is that of a superficial dialogue. This is because relativism, which today has taken hold in the world, leads to a moral and intellectual anarchism where people do not accept a single truth anymore. To assert truth is now regarded as a mark of intolerance. However a true dialogue does not exist in a vacuum. It has as its goal a common search for the truth. A Christian cannot give up his knowledge of revealed truth, that Jesus Christ is the only son of God. If they are attracted to Buddhism, this is because it offers a possibility of happiness by touching the infinite, without having concrete religious obligations. It is, to some extent, a spiritual self-absorption. Somebody predicted in 1950, that the challenge to the Church in the 20th century would not be Marxism, but Buddhism. What would you say to a Catholic tempted to believe in reincarnation? This has a particular meaning in the Hindu religion, it means a path leading to purification. Out of that context, reincarnation would be morally cruel, because endless lives would be an endless hell.
Clears things up, doesn't it? There are, of course, those who are nonetheless disappointed by the Holy Father's obvious preference for the Catholic faith. One must understand that man is simply being honest -- he is Catholic, after all. Besides, how can he be a leader of anything if he does not hold some beliefs above others? If, as the silly claim goes, every faith is true, then nothing is true, or truth loses its meaning. It is acceptable to say that every system of faith contains some truth, and that's what both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul the Great have said in the past. It is a wholly Catholic world view to say that shadows of God's truth can be observed in everything, e.g., the natural universe. On the other hand, we firmly believe that Christ is the Truth. To say otherwise is to relinquish any privilege to speak for the Catholic faith. Furthermore, to say otherwise would probably prompt a Buddhist or a Hindu to ask you: are you sure you're Catholic?
Thanks to The Anchoress and Amy Wellborn, who led me to Joseph's blog.

On Grace and Conscience

Short and sweet, I love the way Mark Shea can pack a good punch in few words in this short correspondence at Catholic Exchange. One of my very first blogs was about conscience and invincible ignorance. Mark sums it up better than anything I could come up with:
 "As C.S. Lewis observes, the trouble with trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you can often succeed... But our task is to keep informing our consciences, not to make ourselves stupider."
Hungry for more of Mark Shea's writings? Start here. (Warning: Mark is on hiatus, finishing up a new book. Still, the stuff he's got on that site and his blog site should be more than enough to satisfy, and he's almost done with the book, I think.)

But David Brooks Makes His Case

I don't want to be guilty of being myopic. While I thought that David Brooks had missed a point, he did make a good case: extremism is indeed the bigger problem and extremist agendas are truly cause for alarm. Read David's excerpt from a speech given on Palestinian TV. I suppose the need for responsible journalism, in the light of riots and deaths resulting from Newsweek's blunder recently, is a practical point. Knowing how volatile the situation is, yes, we do have to prudently walk on eggshells. Not as a principle, not because we don't have freedom of speech, but because, until extremist violence becomes less of a threat, the potential for terrorists to use anything to justify terrorism cannot be ignored. You don't run away from a fight that you didn't start, when so much is at stake, but you don't whip up the opposition into a frenzy either.

Another NY Times Op Ed

David Plotz is saying that government concerns about the potential HIV contamination of sperm is not as important as opening up on donor anonymity. It looks like another case of obscuring the government's valid concern as a result of his own concerns. Sure, it's important to reconsider donor anonymity if there's evidence that children born from IVF need to know who their biological fathers are. On the other hand, is David really saying that government concerns about HIV infection are insignificant? We know that the government's concerns are not about genes -- there are no "gay genes" as far as science is concerned. Now HIV contamination, yes, one would expect sympathy for such grave concerns. Just how perfect is HIV screening anyway? AIDS.org reports 99%. My question is this: is the demand for sperm so high that a 1% risk of HIV contamination is worth it? My other concern, of course, is Mr. Plotz characterizing the demand for sperm as a free market business, and of women as customers. In such a paradigm, what does that make of IVF babies? Commodities, no more. This is what the contraceptive generation has come to. Pope Paul VI had warned us, in Humanae Vitae, that there are consequences in sundering "the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act." I think there is a trinity in the unitive marriage of man and wife, the procreativity of the marriage act, and the child thus formed. Like a stool with three legs, this trinity is an optimally well-balanced whole. Break any of the three and the whole thing collapses.

David Brooks Might Have Missed the Point

In his op-ed about Newsweek Bashing, David Brooks asserts that the Newsweek blunder and retraction "has sent everybody into cloud-cuckoo-land." What has "everybody" said that he thinks is so off the mark? He actually points at three things: (1) the right blames the liberal bias of Newsweek; (2) the left contends that the Newsweek report was true, regardless of their retraction; and (3) the government is using the Newsweek blunder to gain popularity points. He has a point about excessively blaming liberal bias, if that's what people from "the right" are saying. I've seen some of the blogs he might be referring to and I don't think that's their point. People have biases, and we can only urge them to study the issues dilligently, in the hope that they will change their views. The point is not the bias but the incompetence that let the bias get in the way of responsible journalism. Catholic blogs I've seen at least are all about what a blunder this was, how incompetent that was for a seasoned writer to publish without reasonable certainty. They can put all their biases in their op-eds, but when they talk about events, they had better do their homework first. Mr. Brooks also has a point about the left ignoring Newsweek's retraction, continuing to rant and rave that the desecration incident did happen. They already know how the extremists used the story to whip up violence and hatred? It is irresponsible to drag it on, knowing the grave consequences, when they don't have their own credible evidence. As for the government being tough on Newsweek and sensitive to Afghanistan -- what does Mr. Brooks expect? First and foremost, lives were lost. Furthermore, diplomatic ties with Afghanistan were sorely tested and civil order was momentarily lost. Afghanistan is trying to rebuild and recover from the rubbles of war, and America has invested years, resources and lives. Of course the government is concerned! What should worry him is if the government says "oh well, these things happen," disregarding the loss of lives in the riots and subsequent attempts to commit violence against Americans as a result of that erroneous news report. Mr. Brooks made some good points in the article. The real problem is the advocacy of violence and hatred from the extremists, but we don't have to give up our peripheral vision. Mr. Brooks didn't address the issue: so what did cause the Newsweek blunder? He didn't say. Next, is he really telling people to forgive and forget? Newsweek accepts responsibility for the consequences of their actions, and that's good. We can forgive, but we cannot forget -- certainly not the media, lest this sort of thing happens again.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Conversion Story

Please read this conversion story. (Link found in Amy Wellborn's Open Book).

Cosmopolitan Claims on Abortion

Last night I flipped through my wife's Cosmo. It had the usual soft porn, then I stumbled upon the editorial about abortions. They oppose any restriction on abortions because the rights of the mother outweigh the rights of the fetus (their words). Then there's a claim that 2/3 of patients in the largest maternal hospital in Chile are women suffering complications from backyard abortions. I wonder how true that could possibly be? There's this confession of an ex-abortionist I blogged earlier about Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who admits responsibility for 75,00 abortions over several years running a huge abortion mill, and co-founding the National Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Laws (NARAL) in the U.S. In it he says:
 "We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000. Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law. Another myth we fed to the public through the media was that legalising abortion would only mean that the abortions taking place illegally would then be done legally. In fact, of course, abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the U.S. and the annual number of abortions has increased by 1500% since legalisation."
I wonder how we might obtain actual figures from that Chile hospital.

Fertility problems in Germany

Read it yourself.

Mark Shea: "Faith and Religion"

In "Faith and Religion," Mark dismantles the premise that faith should abandon (organized) religion. In a newsgroup this morning, someone explained that the personal faith crowd (my own tag, to simplify) should realize that there are too many references to Christ and his Bride, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, to ignore the necessity of the Church on earth. The same crowd should also be astute enough to observe that the unchurched are easy pickings in this crooked and highly anti-Christian generation. The world rushes like a river away from God and we're called to be witnesses to the good news that the world doesn't have to do that. Pebbles thrown into that river wouldn't cause a ripple. You'd have better luck with a rock -- a big one. Christ gave us a huge rock, a kepha -- the Aramaic name (transliterated as Cephas in most Bibles) that Christ gave Simon Peter. And on this kepha did Christ build a Church, the same Church that St. Paul refers to as the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). Detach your faith from the foundation? That would be spiritual suicide.

Synod of Bishops in October

There will be a Synod of Bishops in October 2005 with the theme "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." I wonder if their brother bishops from the East, the Orthodox Church, will attend? I am praying for that! Ut Unum Sint! -- that they may be one, as our Lord prayed.

Latin Mass

I received an email yesterday from a group urging Catholics to join them in voicing support for the return of the Tridentine/Latin Mass. That's how I understood it anyway, reading their objectives. I'm not sure how I want to go about this request. I love the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in Latin (I haven't been in one since college) more than in English, but I don't know that the Eucharist should eventually be celebrated purely in Latin. I'm almost sure that the readings and homily will be given in the vernacular, and, sure, the liturgy will be more solemn in Latin. I'm also aware of the continuing corruption of most languages, like English, as it continues to overload words with sometimes conflicting meanings. On the other hand, I also believe that the real issue with liturgical abuses after Vatican II lie mostly in innovations of the liturgy itself, not the language. For example, the lack of proper decorum and attire, or the introduction of those occasional modern dance routines. Finally, I'm not sure if Latin will end up affecting the worship of those who are not predisposed to learning the language. On the other hand, I also understand that worship in the liturgy is the lifting up of our hearts in participation and prayer. It's not about what we say or listen to but what we mean and hear. I certainly don't mind if we had one Latin Mass said every Sunday in the cathedrals and some of the more heavily attended churches, but for every Mass to be said only in Latin..? I just don't know. This bears more thinking before I do anything with that request.

Catechism, Anyone?

There's this Online Catechism Class website (CatechismClass.com) that looks promising. Read the motivations of the group responsible for this site in the Why? and in the About Us pages. Particularly if you're a parent, these issues should concern you. I've seen too many supposedly books on Catholicism that get too many crucial things wrong.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

How to Respond to This?

There's this post at the Call to Action (CTA) forums. CTA is, of course, one of those Catholic dissident groups pushing for such innovations as the ordination of women, same-sex marriage, giving people voting powers to elect their own bishops -- the usual cafeteria fare. This post, however, puts me off by the sheer.. wrongness of the person's ideas. There's the usual sympathy for heterodox theologian Hans Kung, but there's also a fervent belief that the Bible should be revised. There's also this blazing anger at how the Church has oppressed women, or womanhood. In the face of such anger, I don't know if words alone could help at all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What Bothers Me About Reality TV Competitions

The one thing that bothers me about reality TV competitions is how deception and manipulation become so prominently part of logical strategy. These are games where people are often forced into such actions in order to remain competitive. I can picture viewers coming away with what they think is a lesson in the game of life. It rationalizes the bad choices that people sometimes make that leave shattered trust and broken consciences in their wake. Tonight I saw probably the 5th episode of that show that I've seen since it started maybe 3 years ago. I saw one contestant giving way, sacrificing a chance to remain competitive, aparently for the sake of friendship with the other competitors. That gives me comfort. On the other hand, it's the other players that I'm worried about, especially the ones who feel forced into betraying trusts. That they gave in bad enough, but what makes it worse is when they tell themselves, and are told by their family and friends, that their actions were justified. That it was all in the game. It also reminds me of Rev 13:16-17. I know, I know, you might say it's paranoia, but it's also a parallel. I pray that I will not be brought to such a test.

A Lesson in Kids' Education

My wife and I had a sales guy selling us a Math education software for the kids. We chickened out. It was expensive and that was half the reason. The other half was that this education package was just not good education. Our kids would wind up sitting in front of the computer for some time every day and work things out with minimal parental supervision, which subsequently disappears as they get a bit older. We'd also get 20 hours of free phone tutoring, but that's just not right. It would also be too tempting for my wife and myself to go hands-off just because this software was available for them to use. That's exactly where things would go wrong. It's not just a matter of wanting to raise them up and guide them, but as Mr. Incredible said, our kids are our biggest adventure, and we don't want to miss that. The sales guy gave this pitch (with a slideshow presentation!) that got me thinking. He gave us visuals on how schools educate our children like building a layered stack structure. The claim is that they may do such a bad job that they leave a gaping hole in the middle of the very first layer. The result is that there's the same gaping hole on each layer as they are laid. What got me thinking was that it will take our time, mine and my wife's, in order to ensure that we don't have such a shoddy stack -- and I hadn't been putting that time in. That's got to change. And of course, this whole thing also applies in other aspects of their education, not just Maths.

Think You Know Alfred Kinsey?

Think again. Gerald Augustinus blogs about Kinsey and the truth behind the hero of the sexual revolution. The original article is an article from Zenit.org that came out on May 15, 2005, "The Truth Behind Alfred Kinsey." In case that Zenit link doesn't work, it's almost certain that Gerald's blog about it over at The Cafeteria is Closed will be.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Lesson in Sacraments

Why did Jesus need to use mud to heal that blind man in John 9? We know he can heal him with a mere thought. He's healed people from a distance, like the servant of that centurion. Dr. D'Ambrosio explains that God does not hold physical matter to be beneath Him. God made us from dust, after all, and He made the physical world, and He said that it was good. Scripture is filled with stories of how God uses physical matter, like lamb's blood, water, oil, and most of all, the human body, in which He became man and through which He defeated sin and death and saves us. So before you dismiss Catholic sacraments as mere superstition that is unscriptural, think again. It is entirely in Scripture where the continuing relationship between God and the physical universe is related.

New Research on Post-Abortion Effects

So says new research, blogged over at the Saintly Salmagundi. This does not detract from the wrongness of abortion in and of itself, for the unjust taking of a human life. However, I do notice that wrongful acts carry consequences. The more wrongful the act, the greater the consequences. Abortion certainly keeps embarassing its lobbyists by coming up with so many consequences that become harder and harder to suppress.

Confessions of an Ex-Abortionist

Please read this confession of an ex-abortionist. By his own account, he was responsible for 75,000 abortions.

Pentecost and Tongues of Fire

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. Fr. Paddy talked about the tongues of fire that came down to the Blessed Mother and the disciples of the Lord in the upper room. Those tongues of fire manifested how the Lord pours out His Spirit upon men and women in the last days, and they would prophesy, speak in tongues, cast out demons, and dispense the power of God as the Spirit directs them. Fr. Paddy touched on another meaning for those tongues of fire: such should the tongues of Christians be, fiery words to speak words of the gospel. Fiery words from hearts full of fire, overriding anxiety and fear. Fiery with love, fiery with hope, and fiery with faith. Somewhere out there is someone who needs to hear from your tongues of fire. Someone whose heart may be broken. Who knows what would happen if we withhold such words that might make a difference?

Friday, May 13, 2005

New Blog: Angry Twins

Yep, when Fr. Sibley says that these twins are angry, he wasn't kidding. Not just the twins but their friends too, it seems. But why shouldn't they be? I'm not saying that they should be abrasive, but taking the persecution of the Chinese Catholics in China as their cause, they have good reasons to rail against spoiled Catholics. Many of these lead privileged lives, taking for granted that they can hear Mass without fear of being arrested because of it. They take for granted that there's always a priest in their parish, that they can always see the priest as the need arises. They take their faith for granted so much that they are almost if not outright apologetic about being Catholic. And they get bored. So bored that many of them become creative in their idleness and waste their time rationalizing. Then they become so taken by their own perceived genius and righteousness that they hit upon the idea that the Church should be remade in their own image. Boredom is bad. It's like taking a breather in our faith journey that extends into a permanent vacation. Perhaps it's due to a perceived lack of challenge. Our faith is strongest at times of adversity. A priest once told me that when my life is so easy, then there's reason to worry. Adversity is the forge by which our faith is tempered in steel. Which also explains why Christianity grows/grew in those centuries and places where persecution is/was greatest, e.g., during the persecution of Nero and Diocletian. It also explains why Christianity has declined so badly in Europe. So the next time you're tempted to relax your guard, to say yes when someone whispers to your heart, "why complicate your life?", WAKE UP! As Pope John Paul the Great had said in one of his memoirs: Arise. Let us be on our way!

Monday, May 09, 2005

New Blogger: The Cafeteria is Closed

A new blog. Looks good. Go look.

Who Says.. Catholic Humor?

Like I've always said: the Curt Jester is funny! Now this is one guy engaged in creative ministry, and this is the proper venue for some good ol' comedy, yes, even when it pokes fun at our Catholic faith.

Parental, Not Government TV Censorship: Does It Work?

There's this TV censorship battle a-brewing in the US. This report cites a poll that cites an 8-to-1 ratio of Americans preferring parental/domestic control over what kids get to watch, over government involvement. I think it's a foregone conclusion that parental controls are ideal. No arguments there. The problem is that it just doesn't happen. What are the odds in today's busy societies that parents keep tabs on what their kids watch? Especially if they've long opted to buy their kids their own TV to watch in the privacy of their own bedrooms? Of course, I can just see the Devil accusing us later of our own negligence in this regard. Indeed, we could stand accused of that and we'd have to concede that the accuser is right: we should have kept tabs. I know of at least two families where minors, between 6 and 8 years old, were allowed to watch movies like Spiderman and Lord of the Rings, and even TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here they ignore the rating system that TV Watch cites in the article as the way to go. They know it, too. The poll would have been more intelligent and far more useful if they had also checked just how relevant the ratings have been to parents. To be practical, I don't think the rating system is enough at all, since parents have been and will continue ignoring the ratings system. In the same sense, government controls will be more effective by far. At the very least, the government actions show concern for how children can be adversely affected by adult TV programs. Can't say the same for the other side. Why do I get the feeling that this is a conflict between entertainment and children's welfare? One would think that the latter would far outweigh the former.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

To Sash or Not To Sash?

Read about the Sash Wars. Tim rightly observes that the real issue is "one’s proper disposition before receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ." What the Rainbow Sash members are missing is that this is a celebration of communion with the Body of Christ, both his physical body and his mystical body. If one is dissenting from Catholic dogma, certainly something as serious in nature as Church dogma on homosexual acts, then there can be no communion. Political stunts with the Eucharist is inappropriate at best, sacrilegious at worst.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Dissident Book Club

Choking Hazard: Don't read Jeff Miller while drinking or eating: The Dissident Book Club.

Vitamin B-16 and Alpha+Omega for Spiritual Health

Jeff Miller is funny. Before you object, there is no claim that the Pope is the Alpha and Omega. That would be ridiculous indeed. However, he is the pope, whose primary function it is to serve the servants of Jesus Christ, who IS the Alpha and Omega. He's the true food from Heaven that we need, and B-16 is one among a multitude of others sent by the Lord to call and to serve in his name. Hmm.. here's an idea for a teaser: "B-16 helps the body (of Christ) absorb Alph and Omega (who is Jesus Christ) by protecting against harmful toxins (heresies) found in many substances that YOU are exposed to each day, e.g., MSM (mainstream media) and HM (hate music)." Just wish it could be as funny as Jeff Miller's. Then again, he's not the Curt Jester for nothing!

Christ's Real Presence in the World

Fr. Frank E. Jindra issues a challenge: Making Christ's Presence Real in the World. These are days of martyrdom to those who take up the challenge of Pentecost, when the Lord is dead to a world that needs to hear the gospel. Through the Holy Spirit, all Christians must stand up to proclaim the Risen Christ, his redeeming Cross, the Truth of his words and the power of his love and mercy.

The Decline of Privacy: a Chronology of Sorts

Mary Kochan of Catholic Exchange writes a short chronology, entitled Leave Me Alone!, that sums up how the notion of an individual's right to privacy degenerated and was manipulated from something truly private to something that changed society in many places today. In case you can't quite catch what Mary might be hinting at here and there, you may wish to check out her other articles.

The Paraclete

Great short from Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio on the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit who is the less visible in the Trinity, but no less the powerful for that. I recently taught my kids this song which is always something to see and hear, coming from a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old: Come, Holy Spirit, I need you. Come, Holy Spirit, I pray. Come with your guiding power. Come in your most special way. My kids sing it with gusto, although at this stage they still fight over who gets to sing it solo. ;-) I find that it's more heartfelt for me to pray this before spiritual reading, e.g., the Bible. St. Benedict supposedly developed the powerful practice of feeling God's holy presence right wherever we are and whatever we are about. I can't think of a better way to get into that than invoking the Holy Spirit who can plumb the depths of our being, as He does the depths of the being of God.