Sunday, March 20, 2011

On Mary's Apparitions

from Mark Shea in this timely and useful Lenten piece.  Excerpts:
...if God goes to all the trouble of sending the Blessed Virgin to warn us of something, the smart money is on listening to the Blessed Virgin, not on ignoring her. So, for instance, as the history of the 20th century has borne out in an ocean of blood, it would have been a good idea to listen to Our Lady of Fatima and her warnings of the rise of Communism and the Second World War. As with all private revelations, what she called us to was, in essence, being better Catholics by praying more (especially the Rosary), offering sacrifice, (you know, like we do in Lent anyway), seeking the salvation of sinners and frequenting the sacraments while living out the virtues and works of mercy. It wasn’t a backbreaking request. But ignoring it turns out to have been a very bad idea...

Muslims to Europe: Let Us Use Your Empty Churches

Fascinating.  Excerpts:
...In a press release published Friday, March 11, 2011, the "Banlieuses Respect " Collective asked authorities in charge of organization of the Church of France, to place at Muslims’ disposal "empty churches for Friday prayers". Hassan M. Ben Barek, a spokesman for the Collective, said the measure would "prevent Muslims from having to pray on the streets" and being "politicians’ hostages”.

In fact, for several years now, every Friday, alongside dozens of mosques in France, Muslims have blocked the surrounding streets for an hour or two, spreading mats on the roads to pray. In many cases, local authorities close their eyes to this offense, and in some cases the police are there to ensure the safety of those who block the streets. This situation is on the rise in France (for example, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier. Montreuil, Nice, Paris, Puteaux, Strasbourg, Torcy...). A situation that is found all over the world (Athens, Brussels, Birmingham, Cordova, Moscow, New York ...) and also in Italy (Albenga, Canicattì, Como, Gallarate, Milan, Modena, Moncalieri, Naples, Rome ...). In the Muslim world this phenomenon is present, especially in Egypt. On 10 December, in Lyon, Marine Le Pen (National Front) denounced the Muslims "street prayers", which led to negative reactions towards the Muslim community in France.

Three points...
Some thoughts about this new cultural encounter becoming ever more real in the present European context:
If you think I'm missing important titles/authors, let me know in the comments.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Deep Magic

otherwise known as the Logos, rules the universe.  Excerpts:
...For the thoroughgoing atheist, the problem of suffering might eventually be solved by means of technology and an ingenious rearrangement of political systems.

But the Christian knows that it takes blood.

I wrote a few months ago on my favorite things about being a Catholic. One of them was that we can offer up our sufferings for the good of others. This seems to me not so much an addendum to the spiritual life as the very heart of it. The fact that voluntary suffering is spiritually efficacious is no less than a spiritual law, in almost exactly the same sense that gravity is a physical law.

That is to say, it’s not a rule in the same sense that soccer has rules. It’s descriptive rather than prescriptive. It is the way the world works. If we are surprised that the spiritual world should have rules, it is because we have forgotten that the spiritual world is no less real, no less objective, than the physical world. More so, if anything.

Seeing things in this light has helped me gain a better understanding of the Redemption...

Planned Parenthood Payouts

ought to stop. Excerpts:
Planned Parenthood has been misleading Congress and American taxpayers for many years. I know -- I was part of the deception. For eight years I worked at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, and for two of those years I was the clinic's director.

Here are the ways Planned Parenthood is deceiving the public -- and taxpayers -- about what it does...

Friday, March 18, 2011

God, Death, and Falling Cows

An interesting reflection from a former teacher.  Excerpts:
...At fifteen, the charming little man-lings in my class believed they could outfox God. They forgot (or never realized) the only important fact in these hypothetical end-of-life scenarios: not everyone gets a deathbed.

To drive this truth home to them, I would conjure up an image of the most ridiculous demise I could conceive of:

“You could be walking down the street one day and a cow might fall out of the sky and end you.”


“It could happen.”


The funny thing? Two years after I quit teaching high school, it actually did happen...

Spain...What Happened?

Interesting.  Excerpts:
...Some 70 college students stormed into the chapel of Madrid’s Complutense University on March 10, shouting insults against the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI and priests.

Several females from the group stood on the altar, undressed from the waist up.

Another female student who was in the chapel praying at the time told the Spanish daily ABC that two of the young women on the altar “boasted about their homosexual tendencies.”

The group of students stormed into the chapel with a megaphone and pushed the chaplain out of the way. They proceeded to shout insults against the Catholic Church and her teachings. The group also placed posters in the pews and on the bulletin board at the entrance to the chapel.

The entire incident was caught on film...

"Let Jesus Be Jesus"

Gah.  It's a challenge...  Excerpts:
...Sometimes we just don’t want Jesus to be Jesus. We want him to be our kind of Jesus. Not the kind of Jesus he really is. Which isn’t really fair, if you think about it. Most of us want other people to know and understand us for who we really are. We want other people to let us be ourselves! But do we try to understand Jesus for who he really is? Do we try to let Jesus be who he really is? When we don’t, we again find ourselves in the devil’s shoes. The devil tempted Jesus to be someone other than the real Jesus. He showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and promised that they could all be his if he would only fall down and worship him. Yet if Jesus were to do that, he would be denying that he is God’s Son. He would be denying himself. But Jesus was true to himself. He always is. And we need to accept that.

This is perhaps the greatest challenge that the temptations of Jesus place before us. They teach us that we’re not to make demands of Jesus; we’re to embrace his demands of us. We’re not to place ourselves above Jesus; we’re to humble ourselves beneath him. We need to let Jesus be Jesus, and not remake him in our image. And we need to follow Jesus, not along a path of worldly power, but the godly path of weakness, sacrifice, and trust. Should we do this, we’ll never have to frantically search for an elusive Jesus. He’ll always be there, at our side...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where is Jesus?

An excellent article.  Excerpt:
...In his book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict writes: “The arrogance that would…impose our laboratory conditions upon (God) is incapable of finding him. For it already implies that we deny God as God by placing ourselves above him. To think like that is to make oneself God.” And isn’t that what the devil wants us to do? Isn’t that what he tempted Eve to do in the Garden of Eden? “Eat this apple,” he hissed, “and you will be like God...”

Mary, Mother of the Son

and, as Pope John Paul II explains, collaborator in the work of salvation.  Excerpts:
...After becoming aware of the maternal role of Mary, who was venerated in the teaching and worship of the first centuries as the virginal Mother of Jesus Christ and therefore as the Mother of God, in the Middle Ages the Church's piety and theological reflection brought to light her cooperation in the Savior's work.

This delay is explained by the fact that the efforts of the Church Fathers and of the early Ecumenical Councils, focused as they were on Christ's identity, necessarily left other aspects of dogma aside. Only gradually could the revealed truth be unfolded in all its richness. Down the centuries, Mariology would always take its direction from Christology. The divine motherhood of Mary was itself proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus primarily to affirm the oneness of Christ's person. Similarly, there was a deeper understanding of Mary's presence in salvation history.

2. At the end of the second century, St. Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, already pointed out Mary's contribution to the work of salvation. He understood the value of Mary's consent at the time of the Annunciation, recognizing in the Virgin of Nazareth's obedience to and faith in the angel's message the perfect antithesis of Eve's disobedience and disbelief, with a beneficial effect on humanity's destiny. In fact, just as Eve caused death, so Mary, with her "yes", became "a cause of salvation" for herself and for all mankind (cf. Adv. Haer., III, 22, 4; SC 211, 411). But this affirmation was not developed in a consistent and systematic way by the other Fathers of the Church.

Instead, this doctrine was systematically worked out for the first time at the end of the 10th century in the Life of Mary by a Byzantine monk, John the Geometer. Here Mary is united to Christ in the whole work of Redemption, sharing, according to God's plan, in the Cross and suffering for our salvation. She remained united to the Son "in every deed, attitude and wish" (cf. Life of Mary, Bol. 196, f. 122 v.). Mary's association with Jesus' saving work came about through her Mother's love, a love inspired by grace, which conferred a higher power on it: love freed of passion proves to be the most compassionate (cf. Ibid., Bol. 196, f. 123 v.)...

Patrick's Breastplate

aka Irish Catholic awesomeness.  One of the coolest prayers ever composed, handed down as part of one of the coolest stories of saints at (spiritual) war ever.  From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
...The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick, popularly known as "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate", is supposed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over Paganism. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Appeal for Japan

I doubt that Gerard Nadal will mind my borrowing the following.  Excerpts:
For Christians of all stripes, and especially pro-lifers, I offer the following from Isaiah 58 in light of our brothers and sisters in Japan.

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations and getting set to aid in long term support. 95% of their money goes directly to support services.

Also, the children in my parish are starting a toy drive for the children in Japan, as well as kids’ clothes, etc. We are contacting the bishops in the stricken dioceses and setting up a way to ship to the bishops who will ensure distribution.

For pro-lifers, as we respond let’s remember Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 5:
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Forsooth! Baseball!

Heh. This is amazing.

Contraception Raises Abortion Rates

So saith Rome...and the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood's research arm.  h/t Gerard Nadal.  Excerpts:
...The Bishops warned us that contraception took us one long walk down the road to abortion. They were ridiculed as clueless old celibates.

Then, there is this from Guttmacher:
Contraceptive use is a key predictor of women’s recourse to abortion. The very small group of American women who are at risk of experiencing an unintended pregnancy but are not using contraceptives account for almost half of all abortions. Many of these women did not think they would get pregnant or had concerns about contraceptive methods. The remainder of abortions occur among the much larger group of women who were using contraceptives in the month they became pregnant. Many of these women report difficulty using contraceptives consistently.
This is quite an admission by Guttmacher. The people who hand out the birth control pills like candy indicate elsewhere that 54% of all women presenting for abortion were using contraception in the month in which they became pregnant. In the face of their colossal failure, they claim that what is needed is more contraception.

I love my Bishops...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

If You Want to Talk to God

then some of these might come in handy.

Here's a remarkably helpful guide to the interior life by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange.  Physical copies here.  Shorter version here.

Here's a list of resources for a healthy spiritual life, including a great many of the classical masters.  For a history of Christian Spirituality, see Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition.

Here's some of the traditional authors.  And here's a piece on the difference between superstition and prayer.  And a guide to being charitable while online.  And, for the busy person, Fr. Robert Spitzer's Five Pillars Of The Spiritual Life.

Abortion is Wrong Because Apples Is Apples!

So saith Peter Kreeft in this piece.  Excerpts:
...I will try to prove the simple, common-sensical reasonableness of the pro-life case by a sort of Socratic logic. My conclusion is that Roe v. Wade must be overturned, and my fundamental reason for this is not only because of what abortion is but because we all know what abortion is.

This is obviously a controversial conclusion, and initially unacceptable to all pro-choicers. So, my starting point must be noncontroversial. It is this: We know what an apple is. I will try to persuade you that if we know what an apple is, Roe v. Wade must be overthrown, and that if you want to defend Roe, you will probably want to deny that we know what an apple is...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Catholics for Social Justice!

A good idea.  Excerpts:
Few efforts to cajole corporations into a deeper sense of social responsibility have been more celebrated than the “Sullivan Principles,” elaborated in the late 1970s by African-American minister Leon Sullivan to apply economic pressure on South Africa to revise, and eventually abandon, its system of apartheid.

By consensus, the “Sullivan Principles” worked because they condensed volumes of lofty theoretical language about global solidarity and human rights into a short set of concrete, practical commitments, which had a visible impact in the real world.

Building on that model, the Vatican may now be preparing to develop a similar template for business ethics in the 21st century – a sort of Catholic version of the “Sullivan Principles” – based on Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate...

If anything, the aim of these new “Sullivan Principles” would be even more audacious than the original – not to bring down a racist system in one nation, but to reshape an amorphous economy that spans the entire globe, often defying control by anyone, pushing it in the direction of enshrining “gift” alongside profit as a core economic value.

The “Logic of Gift” symposium brought together academics who specialize in Catholic social teaching with a cross-section of business professionals. The aim was to flesh out what notions such as “gratuity,” which loomed large in the pope’s encyclical, mean when applied to running a private equities fund or managing an international retail goods firm.

Underlying those discussions was a frustration that the noble aspirations of Catholic social teaching often evaporate when it’s time to move from theory into practice.

As one participant put things, “We seem to have a sense of what we yearn for, but behavioral specificity is thin.”

Andreas Widmer, a former Swiss Guard who now runs a private fund in Boston promoting enterprise solutions to poverty, provocatively suggested that captains of industry should give themselves a test: “If you were arrested for being Christian business leaders, and the police did an audit of your company practices and policies, would they find evidence of the social tradition informing your business?...”


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