“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

November 30, 2008

California Dreamin'

Who wants to be a millionaire parish?

A few years ago, a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Orange (Southern California) received a $10 million contribution from an anonymous benefactor. And that got me to thinking: How would I spend the $10 million if I were the pastor?

Here's my own wish list, in no particular order of importance. I'd like to know what you think of this list and how you'd spend the money differently, if you were the pastor.

What a grand thing it would be if the parish used the $10 million to . . .

1) Open a large, well-equipped soup kitchen located in the inner city areas of Santa Ana or Anaheim (cost $500,000);

2) Open a free medical and dental clinic for the local community that would cater especially to illegal alien and migrant farmworkers, the homeless, and low-income families. Organize local physicians, dentists, and nurses from the community, Catholic and non-Catholic, to donate their time (say, one day a month) to staff and operate the facility (cost: $2,000,000);

3) Establish two low-power 24-hour local Catholic radio stations, broadcasting from the parish itself and possibly retransmitting the great programming at WEWN shortwave. One would broadcast in Spanish, the other in English. Add Vietnamese programming, too, if you can find some dynamic and orthodox Vietnamese priests and lay people who have the skills for radio. This kind of station would have a small footprint, say a 10-mile "bubble" around the parish and it would be an excellent, low-cost evangelization outreach to the local community (cost: $500,000);

4) Buy or build a spacious and comfortable building as a home for indigent or low-income unmarried pregnant women. Provide free room, board and medical care, the sacraments (for Catholic women, of course) catechism instruction, home-ec classes. This would be a proven brick-and-mortar pro-life solution for local women who are tempted by the blandishments of the vile abortion industry. (cost: $1,000,000)

5) Buy or build a modest convent for the Missionaries of Charity sisters (Mother Teresa's order) and for the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Alhambra; invite them to send sisters; also buy or build a modest monastery for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; invite them to send priests and brothers to work among the poor and evangelize (cost: $1,000,00). 

6) Open a large, parish-run MEGA Catholic bookstore. Make it BIG, well-stocked, reasonably priced, and loaded with excellent and orthodox Catholic books, CDs, DVDs, statuary, rosaries, candles, etc. (cost: $500,000);

7) Open a large, warehouse-style parish-run food and clothing bank for the poor and disadvantaged (cost: $1,000,000).

8) Buy or build a center that will house a school for Catholic lay-missionaries and trained apologists. Aim for graduating a well-trained cadre of 25 Catholic lay-missionaries and apologists each year who will go out into the wider community, visiting homes door-to-door in small groups, to spread the Good News and bring people home to the Church and the sacraments (cost: $1,000,000).

9) Adorn the interior of the parish with beautiful statues, votive candles, stained-glass windows, and traditional fixtures of all kinds. Do everything possible to enhance the sense of the sacred inside the church itself. Erect a large crucifix outside the parish buildings, close to the road. The bigger the better— 30' high would be awesome (cost: $500,000);

10) Provide each family in the parish with a free "Catholic Family Kit," including a sturdy copy of a Catholic Bible, 5 rosaries, one crucifix, one 12" statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a copy of the Catechism, a prayerbook, a bottle of holy water, five apologetics books and five apologetics CDs & DVDs on the basics of the Faith, and, of course, a one-year subscription to Envoy Magazine (cost: $100,000);

11) Build a large shrine to our Blessed Lady on the parish grounds. Make it big and beautiful. Encourage all the faithful to make a pilgrimage there at least once a year as a family (cost: $200,000);

12) Put $700,000 in the bank for a rainy day and so that the food bank, medical clinic, and home for unwed mothers can be maintained and replenished with supplies annually.

13) Send $100,000 to the diocese as a gift.

14) Send $400,000 to the Holy Father as a gift for his Peter's Pence collection and for the missions.

15) Give the remaining $500,000 to the poor, dividing it among area Catholic and Protestant soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

The Perpetual Duel Between Good and Evil

Nancy shared this with me me awhile back (the story, not the burger). True, it is a non-canonical, apocryphal account, but it does contain some useful insights:

God populated the earth with vegetables of all kinds, so that Man would live a long and healthy life.

And Satan created the 99-cent double cheeseburger. And Satan said to Man, “Want fries with that?”

And Man said, “Supersize them!” And Man gained pounds.

And God created healthful yogurt. And Satan froze the yogurt and brought forth refined sugar, chocolate, nuts, and brightly colored candy to put on top. And Man gained more pounds.

And behold, God brought forth running shoes. And Man, seeing what the Lord had wrought, repented of his folly and resolved to lose those extra pounds.

And lo, Satan then brought forth cable TV, remote control, and potato chips. And Man clutched his remote control and ate his chips. Satan saw this and said, “It is good.”

And verily it came to pass that Man went into cardiac arrest. And God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery.

And Satan created HMOs . . .

Wanna Caption This?

November 29, 2008

The Prophecies and Dreams of St. John Bosco

The great Italian priest, St. John Bosco (founder of the great Salesian order of priests an brothers), experienced many prophetic dreams and visions, some relating to his own era, others involving future events.

I recommend reading two in particular: his chilling dream of souls entering hell and his famous dream about the two pillars, the persecution of the Church, and the apparent assasination of a future pope. The former dream is perennially beneficial, I think, and the latter dream is a glimpse of dramatic future events.

Sometimes, I am inclined to wonder if are entering into or . . . gulp . . . already are in the dire times he foresaw. 

For All Your Papal Encyclical Needs

Just when you thought you couldn't get enough of your favorite papal encyclicals . . . uh . . . this nifty site has catalogued them all, for easy access online.

N.B.: My American friends who read this blog might want to read Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, regarding the dangers of Americanism, which he addressed to Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore in 1899. Some very interesting and pertinent stuff there, I'll tell you.

Listen to What the Man Said

Some years ago, I mentioned the following item in the pages of Envoy Magazine. I ran across it again and thought I'd post it here, as it's an interesting slant on the discussions about the role of the Holy Father that have been swirling around among Catholics, Anglicans, and others:

And for some related encouraging news from Great Britain. Under the headline “Churches agree Pope has overall authority,” Oliver Poole wrote in the London Telegraph a few years ago:

"The Pope was recognized as the overall authority in the Christian world by an Anglican and Roman Catholic commission yesterday which described him as a ‘gift to be received by all the Churches.’

"Disagreement about the extent of the Pope’s authority was one of the main causes of the English Reformation in the 16th century, and has been a constant stumbling block to the two Churches reuniting. However, yesterday’s statement, released at Lambeth Palace — which is not binding — accepted that if a new united Church was created it would be the Bishop of Rome who would exercise a universal primacy. Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury . . . said: ‘In a world torn apart by violence and division, Christians need urgently to be able to speak with a common voice, confident of the authority of the gospel of peace.’

“The 43-page document, The Gift of Authority, has been produced by the 18-member Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, after five years of debate. The commission concluded that the Bishop of Rome had a ‘specific ministry concerning the discernment of truth’ and accepted that only the Pope had the moral authority to unite the various Christian denominations. However, it did not go as far as to confirm the Pope’s infallibility. Instead, it said: ‘This form of authoritative teaching has no stronger guarantee from the Holy Spirit than have the solemn definition of ecumenical councils.’ The document does not specifically address the issues that divide the two Churches, such as the place of the Virgin Mary and women’s ministry . . .

"The proposals are expected to shock many Anglicans, particularly on the evangelical wing of the Church, which remains wary of an extension of the bishop of Rome’s authority. Mark Birchall, a member of the Church of England Evangelical council, said: ‘It speaks as if the Bishop of Rome has always been on the side of the angels while it is well known that for several centuries past the Bishop of Rome was certainly not.’ . . . The Rt. Rev. Mark Santer, the bishop of Birmingham and co-chairman of the body, said: ‘This is a serious piece of theological work and to understand our conclusions you have to follow how we got there. One faith was given by Christ and his apostles and what we are trying to do is rediscover that one common faith.’ The Rt. Rev. Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and the other co-chairman, added: ‘The primacy of the Pope is a gift to be shared.’”

Well, although some individual popes definitely were not on the side of the angels, as I explain in my book Pope Fiction, those bad popes notwithstanding, the good angels have always been on the side of the papacy and the Catholic Church. And now, even Anglican clergymen are saying it publicly.

The wonder of it all, baby.

Frank Sheed: A Giant Among Catholic Apologists

Here's is an article I wrote a few years ago for Crisis Magazine (which has since morphed into the excellent website: InsideCatholic) about the renowned Catholic author, publisher, andmajor 20th-century Catholic apologist Frank Sheed. He is truly a luminary in the company of modern defenders of the Faith.

Although he died in 1981, I never met him in person (how I wish I had!). But I've learned an immense amount from him through his many books and even some audio tapes of his lectures I managed to get hold of. I did once have one long phone conversation with his son, Wilfred Sheed, which was very illuminating and helped me gain some insights into what Frank was like, up close and personal. Oh, if you're interested in Frank Sheed, be sure to read Wilfrid's book Frank and Maisie: A Memoir With Parents (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985).

Frank was an excellent example of a intellectually formidable, well-trained, emotionally balanced, charitable, and effective Catholic apologist. I pray that God will send us more men like him. We surely do need them.

(If you're not yet familiar with Sheed's work, a good place to start would be Theology for Beginners.)

A Modest Proposal for Rebuilding People's Lost Faith in The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Prayer Before Holy Communion

(From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom)

“O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of Your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal Your mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to You: Remember me, O Lord when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me O Master, when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me O Holy One, when you shall come into Your kingdom. May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your most precious Body and Your life- giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen. O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned without number.”

This beautiful expression of love for Christ in the Holy Eucharist contains a wealth of important theological truths. If more Catholics were taught to pray this prayer and others like it before receiving Holy Communion, I believe the widespread tepidity and ignorance about the truth of Christ's Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist would gradually diminish. Of course, an increase in praying prayers like this wouldn't in itself fix the problem, but it would go far in that direction.

My proposal here is that priests who read this post would consider printing out this prayer (or another like it) and having the congregation recite it just before receiving Holy Communion. I'd also suggest that laypeople reading this might begin privately praying this prayer and even, if the circumstances in their parishes would permit it, approach their pastor with the request that he include this prayer as part of the congregation's preparation for receiving the Eucharist.

As the Latin maxim
“lex orandi, lex credendi” (the law of prayer [affects] the law of belief) implies: how we pray directly affects what we believe.

So many Catholics these days have lost any real belief in (much less ferver for) the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If people started praying prayers like this one, it could only serve to help rebuild that lost faith. Don't you think?

Where in the World Are You?

Over the past three weeks or so that I have had this blog up and running, about 6,000 visits have been logged. It's amazing to me how far flung some of you are, and I am grateful to all of you who make a point of stopping by to visit, especially those of you who have signed up to “follow” this blog (which you can easily do using the widget over at the lower right).

Here's a small random sampling of some of the locations where you have been visiting from in the last 24 hours or so:

Carefree, AZ
Ballwin, MO
Winnipeg, Canada
Newark, OH
Richmond, VA
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Bridgetown, Barbados
Newark, OH
Etobicoke, Canada
Melbourne, Australia
Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari, Iran
Sacramento, CA
Mount Prospect, IL
Kennesaw, GA
Scottsdale, AZ
Madrid, Spain
Phoenix, AZ
Eugene, OR
Milton, WI
Merrimack, NH
Aliqippa, PA
Seville, Spain
Glasgow, Scotland
Glendale, AZ
London, England
Edmonton, Canada
Kansas City, MO
Stuttgart, Germany
Beaverton, OR
Moscow, Russia
Hayward, CA
Toronto, CA
Paris, France
Wasilla, AK
Sydney, Austraila
Salvador, Brazil
Washington, DC
Indianaoplis, IA
Tampa, FL
Palm Springs, CA
Cardiff, Wales
Frankfurt, Germany
Boca Raton, FL
Adelaide, Australia
Kandivli, India
Harlingen, TX
Allouez, MI
Brisbane, Australia
Rancagua, Chile
Porto Alegre, Brazil
New Delhi, India
Rome, Italy
Viterbo, Italy
Quingdao, China
Algiers, Algeria

The list goes on, but that should give you a little taste of how cosmopolitan we are here!

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

“Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. . . .

“Thou art my God, and I will give thanks to thee;
thou art my God, I will extol thee.
give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures for ever!” (Psalm 118:19, 28-29)

God bless you all! You are in my Mass intentions and prayers today in a special way for a peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving and Advent.

November 26, 2008

Now This Guy Is a Prophet

Meet Peter Schiff. I had never heard of him before today. Over 2 years ago, he was accurately predicting exactly what has happened in our economy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was scoffing and laughing at his dire predictions. Well, they're not laughing any more.

My favorite part is when Ben Stein (who gets it really wrong, but whom I otherwise enjoy watching) says that Merrill Lynch “is an astonishingly well-run company.”
So well-run, in fact, that only months after he said this, the company suffered an 8+ billion dollar loss in 2007 and fired their CEO as a result.

November 25, 2008

A Debate Worth Hearing

Let Me Know What You Think

Post a comment to let me know if you prefer the wider format for this blog, or the more narrrow version I've been using recently. I see pros and cons each way, but since this place is for you, please let me know which style you prefer. Thanks.

BTW, don't forget: To post and read comments, you must click the post title. (Clunky, I know, but it's a glitch in Blogger that I and my techy friends haven't yet figured out how to fix.)

Further Evidence That I'm Not So Good At Predictions

Shortly before the election of Cardinal Ratzinger to be Pope Benedict XVI, I posted this little aside. You'll notice that the one, glaringly obvious possibility that I completely missed was that the new pope would choose the name Benedict. Read on, and you'll see why that means anything. 

Oh, and by the way, I am not a proponent of or an apologist for the alleged Prophecies of St. Malachy. But it is an historical curiosity that contains more than a few very interesting connections with the popes who've reigned since St. Malachy issued these predictions.

I wrote:

Some people deride the 
Prophecies of St. Malachy as forgery containing simple pious nonsense, while others fervently believe them to be accurate, if obscure, clues about all the popes from Malachy's day to the end of the world. Then there are those, like myself, who are somewhat skeptical but also willing to be convinced that they are, in fact, genuine predictions made by the Irish saint.

We may delve more deeply into these prephecies on this weblog, but for the moment, I wanted to post a few thoughts about his Latin motto pertaining to this next pope: Gloria Olivae or Glory of the Olive.

That's all he wrote. Literally. So it leaves hardly anything upon which to base speculation about what this phrase means.

I was being interviewed on a large AM talk radio station in Ohio a few days ago, and this issue was front and center in the host's and the callers' minds. On the show, I offered the following possibilities for understanding the meaning of "Gloria Olivae" [again, assuming for the sake of discussion that these statements about the popes by St. Malachy are in some way authentic and meaningful].

1) "Glory of the Olive" could refer to a Jewish cardinal or bishop being elected pope. In Romans 11, St. Paul descibes the Jews as a cultivated olive tree, and those Jews who, at the time of Christ, willfully rejected Him, are depicted by St. Paul as branches of that olive tree that were "snapped off." Gentile believers are likened to branches from a wild olive tree that were grafted on to the cultivated tree (i.e. Israel). The only current cardinal I am aware of who is Jewish by ancestry is Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the retired former archbishop of Paris. His election seems to be a major long shot, but when it comes to papal conclaves, expect the unexpected (e.g. the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtiya)

2)  "Glory of the Olive" could refer to some spectacular peace or peace initiative that would transpire during the reign of the next pope. I am under the impression, though, that the symbol of an olive branch as a connotation of "peace" is of relatively modern origin. Therefore, it may be purely anachronistic to assume that this refers to peace.

3) "Glory of the Olive" could refer to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (in this case, Archbishop Michel Sabbah, a Palestinian) being elected. The olive tree is a frequent symbol in Scripture, and the Mount of Oilves overlooking the Old City, is the location of such momentous events as Christ's weeping over Jerusalem, His Agony in the Garden, the Great Commission, and His Ascension. This, too, seems to me to be a long shot, in part because Archbishop Sabbah is not a cardinal, and it seems likely, if not certain, that whoever is elected will be one of the 115 cardinals who enter the conclave on March 18th.

4) "Glory of the Olive" could refer to a member of the Order of St. Benedict being elected pope. A branch of the Benedictines has been known historically as the "Olivetans," I haven't researched whether any of the cardinals who will vote in this conclave are Benedictines (techincally, when a religious is consecrated a bishop ordinary he becomes a member of the secular [i.e. diocesan] clergy), but even if there are none, it's possible, though not likely, that a man who is not a cardinal could be elected. I think this fourth understing of "Glory of the Olive" is the least likely.

I will try to post more on this general issue. I suspect that some who read this (and I'm thinking of a few in particular) will chime in with the obligatory “the prophecies of St. Malachy are a medieval forgery, not to be taken seriously,” etc. That's okay. It seems to me thatif nothing else, these alleged prophecies are an interesting topic for discussion. (Originally written on April 11, 2005.)

Nostradamus I Am Not

About three and a half years ago, I made a few predictions about Pope Benedict's pontificate.  It's interesting to see how things have panned out thus far. I think I was pretty accurate on #2, so-so on # 3, and way off the mark on # 4. I certainly wish the Holy Father ad multos annos, so I hope I wind up being waaaay off the mark on #1.

1) His reign will last less than ten years, perhaps as few as five. That's a no-brainer, of course, since the pope is already 78. Declining health as the result of advanced age combined the crushing weight of his duties of office will take their toll sooner rather than later.

2) Because his reign will be relatively brief, and I believe the pope is keenly aware of this, his will be a papacy marked by much decisive action. He will travel less, perhaps much less, than Pope John Paul II did, and he will likely write fewer encyclicals, simply because he won't have the luxury of 26 years in which to pen the torrent of important works that his predecessor did. By "action," I mean that Pope Benedict will actively confront heresy and dissent, he will rebuke as well as coax, and he will make a series of stunningly good episcopal appointments, especially in the United States.

3) The media campaign of criticism and carping won't die down; it will continue and increase in sharpness. The secular media will be aided in this effort by dissident Catholic groups and dissident Catholic leaders: Curran, McBrien, FOTV, etc.

4) There will be a growing "good-cop" "bad-cop" juxtaposition between Benedict XVI and John Paul II.

Just Some Pet Peeves. No Big Whoop.

Ever notice how some words seemingly all of a sudden become buzz words, and everyone is using them? For example, "utilize" was a perfectly respectable word years ago, but in the late 1980s or thereabouts, it suddenly became the ubiquitous replacement for the less flashy "use." You couldn't just "use" a tool or a software program, no, you had to utilize it.

The same thing happens, now and then, with pronunciations of words. I remember when CNN led the charge of showing how enlightned, sophisticated people pronounce "negotiate." The traditional ne-go-shee-ate didn't cut it anymore. Now, it was ne-go-see-ate. Nego-see-ations replaced negotiations, etc.

Well, I was just sitting here, apropos of nothing, thinking about the latest crop of buzzwords, catchphrases, and whatnot that I don't like and try like heck not to use, just out of principle. Here are some that come to mind. I'll add more as I think of them:

Having said that . . .
It seems that very few people these days can string two sentences together, in print or verbally, and not use this one. They seem to forget that
everything you say after the first thing you say includes the reality that you said what came before.

If you will . . . is another broadcast news-driven catchphrase that has crept into the popular discourse where it has no place. I hear television and radio reporters sprinkle "if you will" so liberally into their reports, that I'm convinced that it's just another "ummm" or "ahhh" to fill space between thoughts. It's the equivalent of saying "as it were." Just imagine how quickly annoying it would become if everyone on TV, and then everyone else, started saying things like, "Well, my opinion about this, as it were, is that we need to rebuild New Orleans, as it were, as quickly as possible." Our heads would all explode. Ditto for this particular catchphrase. It's lame and unnecessary, if you will. 

Don't even go there . . . or its abbreviated version: "don't go there." Everyone uses this stilted phrase, and I mean everyone. It's cute when a Southern-type person employs this bit of homespun charm, but when anyone else trys it on, it just doesn't work (think Robert Bork's beard or Richard Reich's political philosophy). It's about as lame as "You go, girl!" and for the exact same reasons.

You go, girl! . . . See above. This is always and everywhere lame. No exceptions.

Dude . . . I can understand why my 11 year old son Theodore and his cronies use "dude" hundreds of times a day in their 11-year old discourse. No problem. When I was his age, we employed "boss" and "tough," and other slangisms with abandon. But the difference is, our parents didn't.Those words belonged to the world of adolescents. Everyone understood that, and any adult who, back then, made a habit of saying things like, "Hey, Herb, that new sports jacket you have on today is really boss," would be unlikely to succeed in the world of adults. The problem with "dude" today, as with "cool," is that although these are completely good and useful words for kids, teens and even to some extent young adults, they sound lame coming out of the mouth of a 50 year old. Any 50 year old uttering phrases such as, "Dude! How cool is that!" when the office's new color copier has been installed is just a middle-aged hipster wannabe. Pretty much like the 50 year old woman who dresses like she's 17. It doesn't work.

How cool is that! . . . see above.

Sort of . . . This one, I am pretty sure, filtered into parts of the American mainstream via highbrow British actors and celebrities who appear on TV here in the States. I'm not talking about "Benny Hill" or "The Office" (the latter show I really, really enjoyed). I'm talking about the Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson types -- beautiful British people with good teeth and nice clothing -- musing about this or that while being interviewed by Larry King or Charlie Rose. "Well, Larry, I got this sort of inspiration for my role as I was watching this sort of BBC documentary of . . . ." Whatever. When I hear U.S. celebrities like Tom Cruise or Katie Couric affect this Britishism, I laugh. It's okay when Emma Thompson says it, but it's lame in the extreme when coming out of pretentious American mouths.

He (she) just doesn't get it. . . . This is code for "he (she) just doesn't agree with me." And it seems the biggest offenders with this catch phrase tend to be political commentators. The claim that so-and-so just doesn't get it, in addition to being an insult to so-and-so's intelligence, also comes across as a smug reassurance to the reader that, although so-and-so is too dense to get it, I, on the other hand, (and here the blogger's nose rises an inch or two higher) am sufficiently enlightened and sophisticated to 'get it.'" And if you disagree with me, well, then you just don't get it. Got it? :)

On the Phenomenon of False Compassion

And so, this is Christmas

Our culture, commandeered as it has been by the vehement forces of consumerism and secularism, has robbed us of the true meaning of this great feast, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us.

Makes me sad.

November 24, 2008

Follow You, Follow Me

This is one of my all-time favorite songs. It evokes in me so many good, happy, Southern-California memories, each time I hear it. “Follow You Follow Me,” by Genesis is practically the soundtrack of my life in 1979-1980, as I fell in love with, wooed, and then married, my lovely Nancy.

Enjoy . . .

Oh Good Lord, No

One can just imagine the gloating among all those Catholics of a certain variety as our new Líder Maximo selects a Catholic — Tom Daschle, who countenances abortion with weasle words — for his cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services. Now comes word from the Jesuit publication America — read into that what you will — that some voices on the Catholic left are clamoring for another kind of appointment. And I wouldn't be surprised if their wish comes to pass. 

In another display of smug condescencion from the far-left political fringe, someone named Michael Sean Winters elbows his way into the discussion with asseverations (emphasis added) such as these in his article “Kmiec for Vatican Ambassador”

Obama deserves his own person at the post and, in the event, there is a perfect candidate: Professor Douglas Kmiec. . . .  Despite his Republican credentials, Kmiec endorsed Barack Obama this year and penned a thoughtful book, 'Can a Catholic Support Him? The question is ridiculous to most ears and, in the event, most Catholics did support him. But for some extremists on the right, there was a firm conviction that no Catholic could vote for Obama. A Dominican priest even denied Kmiec communion at a Mass in May. (The priest was later reprimanded by Cardinal Mahoney.) [N.B. see Ezekiel 34:1-10] Longtime associates of Professor Kmiec denounced him, often in ways that lacked all charity, suggesting bad logic or bad motives or both. There is no better way to answer those who argued that no Catholic could vote for Obama in good conscience than to see the man who wrote the book (literally!) defending the proposition that Catholics can and should vote for Obama being received in the Sala Clementina by Pope Benedict XVI! . . . In truth, Kmiec’s pro-life credentials, despite some carping from the far right political fringe, are impeccable. . .” et cetrera, et cetera, et cetera.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Winters and those who agree with him on this issue enjoy their day in the sun. I really don't think the nice weather is going to last all that long.  

A Psychological Analysis of Surprised by Truth

This is interesting. Although the book has been reviewed all over the place in the last 14 years, since it came out, this is the first review to consider it from a psychological perspective. Those of you who've read it may find this helpful.

By Peter E. Martin 


I heard about this meteorite in Canada a few days ago, but I had no idea it was this spectacular.

Back From California

I'm back from a great, if brief, visit to my homeland, a.k.a Southern California. I was speaking at San Secondo D'Asti Parish in Ontario,  but I had enough time on Friday to make a swing through some of my old haunts and was able to have lunch and visit with my mom and dad. It was really good to see them, but my dad's health is precarious, which makes me sad. And he's kind of depressed about it, which makes him sad. So, please pray for them that God will strengthen and encourage them both during this time in their life together (more than 50 happy years of marriage) that's proving to be difficult health-wise, and not the peaceful “golden years” they had anticipated. God is good, and he will provide.

The seminar went well, and I was delighted to see several old friends in the audience. That's one of the excellent fringe benefits of traveling the country giving talks on Catholic themes. Having these kinds of opportunities to see far-flung friends is always a treat.

I had some odd and interesting experiences while flying to and fro, which I will recount for you in another post. For now, though, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who keep me in your prayers.  

Masters of Persuasion

This is a curious little experiment on how susceptible we are to subliminal suggestions in advertising. The concept of “hidden messages” in ads isn't new, but this video shows how it works from an angle I have not seen before.

Update: The embedded link doesn't seem to work anymore, so try this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyQjr1YL0zg


November 20, 2008

Señor Quintero Asks a Rhetorical Question

“Are Cardinal Stafford and Cardinal Mahony in the same Church?” He is prompted to ask after hearing Cardinal Stafford's recent eyebrow-raising remarks (with which I totally concur) that our newly elected Líder Maximo is “aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic” in his implacable extremism in promoting abortion.

Watch the video and then check Quintero's blog to see how he juxtaposes Cardinal Stafford's message with Cardinal Mahony's quite different message to our new Jéfe. I'd say there's quite a difference, indeed. What do you think?

“Loyal, Lame, Defiant, and Demonic”

That's how Fr. Dwight Longenecker classifies the 5500+ e-mails that Fr. Jay Scott Newman, (pastor of St. Mary's Church in Greenville, SC) received in the wake of his courageous statement regarding those Catholics who supported pro-abortion politicians in the election and their need to repent and go to confession.

Fr. Longenecker, an assistant priest at St. Mary's, chronicles the aftermath of that statement, including the “loyal, lame, defiant, and demonic” comments that it drew. 

On Married Couples Who Refuse to Have Children

I feel very sorry for men and women who refuse to be open life, which is a refusal to be open to God's will for their marriage. His will for them may well include the blessings of children. When these childless-by-choice Christians die and face Christ their Judge (just as we all one day will face Him), their matching Harley-Davidson bikes and gourmet kitchens won't pray for them or play any positive role in their judgment.

The following article is worth reading and forwarding to your friends, Catholic and Protestant. And for a good antidote to the contraceptive "childless by choice" insanity so rampant among many married couples, check out Dr. Janet Smith's "Contraception: Why Not?" presentation, available for cheap at One More Soul. 

Touchstone Magazine ran an eye-opening piece about this issue awhile back: 

Joe and Deb Schum aren’t worried about baby-proofing their house or buying a car seat. They don’t intend ever to have children. As a matter of fact, they are proud of their childlessness. According to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The Schums are part of a growing number of couples across the country for whom kids don’t factor in the marriage equation.”

The nation’s birthrate fell in 2002 to a historic low of 66.9 births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44. That represents a decline of 43 percent since just 1960. “Many childless couples,” according to the report, “revel in their decision, despite badgering from baffled mothers and friends. Others struggle with the choice before keeping the house kid-free.”

An Epidemic

The Schums just don’t want kids to get in the way of their lifestyle. They enjoy cruising to the Georgia mountains on their matching Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They love their gourmet kitchen, outfitted with the very latest stainless steel appliances and fashionable countertops. Deb Schum explains, “If we had kids, we would need a table where the kids could do homework.”

This pattern of childlessness has caught the media’s attention. The left-wing Internet site Salon.com actually published a series of articles entitled, “To Breed or Not to Breed,” featuring couples and individuals who have decided that children are not a part of their chosen lifestyle.

One woman wrote that motherhood just doesn’t fit her self-image or her schedule. “I compete in triathlons; my husband practices martial arts; we both have fulfilling careers; we travel the world . . . we enjoy family and friends; we have a fun, intimate relationship.” Another woman asked: “What would the return be on the investment? Are there any laws that would require my children to pay for my nursing home when I am old? Are they going to be a sufficient hedge against poverty and loneliness?”

Some who have chosen to be childless have actually formed organizations in order to band together. The group “No Kidding” was formed in Atlanta four years ago as a social outlet for couples choosing to have no children. . . . (article)