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

October 31, 2010

Mormons set to build new temple in Rome, Italy

The Mormon Church has been on an ambitious temple-building spree for the past 30 years. With 134 currently operating temples and nine under construction, the group recently announced 14 new temples, including one in the Eternal City. This, of course, is something they consider to be a milestone in their expansion, in part because Italy has been a country where Mormon missionaries have not had great success in finding converts.

The two major reasons for their overall lack of proselytism progress there is, in my view, 1) because Italy is more than just ostensibly a Catholic nation and, 2) because Mormonism is so very, very “American” that Italians, as with other Europeans who tend to look down on America and Americans, are even less interested in buying what the Mormon missionaries are selling than they might otherwise be.

In any case, I am disappointed but by no means dispirited by the news of this new temple. It may well be that Catholics in Italy who are still serious about explaining, sharing, and defending the True Faith will see in this development an opportunity to renew their efforts to reach out and evangelize Mormons and others. I certainly do pray for that and hope that the appearance of this new Mormon temple in Rome serves as a much-needed catalyst for Catholics to stand up for the Truth in the face of a Made-in-America theological off-brand.
Dinne s’alcun Latino รจ tra costoro
che son quinc’ entro, se l’unghia ti basti
etternalmente a cotesto lavoro.  — Dante

October 27, 2010

Japanese Beatles

Meet the BeaTrips. I love their Engrishy tag line: "The Beatles Real Cover Band." These boys don't look the part, but they nailed the song — except, perhaps, for the very last line, which to me doesn't sound much like, "I've got blisters on my fingers!" Maybe I should try to catch their act, next time I'm in Japan. 

Now, feast your ears on the exquisite Engrish stylings of "John," as he warms up the cloud for this next number. Once they start playing, I can pretty much groove with them all the way down the line (again, Parr's baseline is frawrress), but the Yoko-esque vocals that keep peeking through around the edges are disorienting. Still, their technical musical proficiency means that a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

This next one both attracts and repels. Technically, the music is good, especially Parr's bass rendition, though "George's" vocals suggest, somewhat creepily, how the Beatles
might have sounded if (shudder) Yoko had completely taken over the band.

Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy

“Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation. Through Your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.”

Some additional info about Luisa Piccarreta and the "Divine Will" Movement

A new era of grace. Revelations of Jesus never before seen by the eyes of the Church. The possibility of a holiness beyond that of saints. An Italian mystic who rivals the Blessed Mother in importance and sanctity. Sound intriguing? Good. We're about to take a trip through the Kingdom of the Divine Will. Hang on, it could get bumpy.

Divine Will Hunting
By Fr. Terrence Staples

Church history is littered with strange movements; those that have passed away and those that still remain. Just about all of them started with a single individual who, through charismatic presence or seductive writing, managed to gather a flock of believers. The Divine Will movement is no different.

Enter Luisa Piccarreta. Born in 1865, bedridden for most of her life, she claimed to receive locutions from Jesus. Evidently, the communications were lengthy and frequent, filling 34 volumes by the time of her death in 1947.

According to Piccarreta's writings, there were three great eras in salvation history which corresponded to, and followed from, three great "fiats." The first was the creative fiat: God created all things by His Word. This initiated the "Age of Creation." The second fiat came from the Blessed Virgin Mary: "Let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). This ushered in the "Age of Redemption."

Finally, after many years of turmoil in the Church, God has completed the work of creation and redemption by inspiring the third fiat: Piccarreta's own surrender to God. Her submission, which is presented as being on par with the fiat of creation and that of our Blessed Mother, brought the Church to a new level of sanctity. We have now entered the "Era of Sanctification." Through Piccarreta, the Kingdom of the Divine Will came to earth and is available to all who welcome it. Eventually, this new gift to the Church will spread to all Her members and creation will be restored to its pre-Fall state.

This raises the obvious question: What does this gift entail? According to Piccarreta's revelations, to "live in the Divine Will" is to literally possess the Divine Will in such a way that one's actions become purely divine. Before the "Era of Sanctification," all that could be achieved by the saints was a "poor and lowly union with God." They could, by grace, do God's will, but were not capable of possessing the Divine Will itself.

This new union with Deity was introduced to the Church by Jesus through Piccarreta (though Adam, Eve and the Blessed Mother had this gift as well). One alleged locution has Jesus saying, "When a soul acts in My Will, her humanity is, as it were, suspended. Then the Divine Life of My love takes its place and acts; and, as it acts in a creature, My love finds itself unburdened of its desire for expression" (Book of Heaven, 94).

Contrasting the traditional way of holiness (ie. obedience to God's will by grace) with the new way (ie. possession of the Divine Will), Jesus tells Piccarreta, ". . . to live in My Will is to reign in It and with It, while to do My Will is to be at My orders . . . To live in My Will is to live with a single Will — God's Will — a Will all holy, all pure, all peace." In this way, the traditional Catholic means of holiness is denigrated as mere servitude, over and against the new life in the Divine Will.

How, then, is one to receive this sublime gift? Two things must be done . . . (continue reading article)

[Also . . . read the letters to the editor written for and against this article, as well as Fr. Terrence Staple's lengthy, point-by-point response to challenges to his view of Luisa Piccarreta and the "Divine Will" movement.]

October 25, 2010

Queue "The Twilight Zone" Theme for this

Sure, this could be some kind of high-tech digital hoax, and maybe that's just what it is. No problem. But if it's not, then I don't know how to account for it. What do you think?  

October 21, 2010

I'll be on Relevant Radio in a few minutes to discuss Marian doctrines

You can tune in online

A few thoughts about golden leaves and graying hair

Today has been another crisp, gorgeous fall day in Central Ohio. I love it here, and while I love all the seasons, I think I love fall the best. As I've gotten older, the changing color of the leaves always evokes in me a happy-sad, bitter-sweet, contentment alloyed with an ever-keener sense of unrequited longing in my soul.

I know that it's the Triune God I long for, and the arrival of the fall colors is a quiet, beautiful harbinger of the eventual end of this earthly life and the commencement of the life to come. Nature's resplendent colors during this season are, at least for me, a reminder that those of us who are fortunate enough to live the allotted "three score and ten" years (I've only lived two score and ten of them, thus far, but I have my fingers prayerfully crossed that more will follow) must not forget that winter is  . . . not far off. 

With gratitude, joy, and peace, I want to welcome the approaching winter of my life, even though it may be a ways away just yet. But most of all, I pray the Lord will grant me the graces necessary to be ready to go be with Him on that day when all the leaves of my life have fallen and the snow lays thick upon the frozen ground. How I want to be with Him and His friends forever in that land of eternal spring!

“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!” (Psalm 27:13)
“The glory of young men is their strength, but the beauty of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).
The autumn leaves are a reminder to me of the time of life I am in now. Turning 50 this year, my ever-graying hair is analogous to the leaves turning from deep green to red and orange. Winter will be here soon enough, and the leaves will  fall to the ground. The endless cycle of life.
Rural Ohio, where we live, experiences a beautiful explosion of color each autumn. It's a glorious time of year. I learn something new and deeper, each year. These colors are a faded signpost of muted glory pointing off into the distance, down this road I am travelling, toward a fog bank topped by a dark cloud with a piercingly brilliant, radiant, golden explosion of light beyond it.
The leaves are bright and beautiful, but not for long. Winter will be here soon.
This is a house I pass by on my short drive into town. This particular tree is quite spectacular.
These are a few of the lovely sunset maples in our front yard that grace the landscape with their magnificent fall colors. Soon, their leaves will all be gone. Just a memory of what once was and the barest hint of the glory yet to come. But first, winter, frigid and gray. Bleak. And then . . . can you feel it? Spring is not far off . . . 

October 20, 2010

If being apathetic is wrong, then I don't care.

Memo to a certain Medjugorje adherent who is attacking skeptics (again)

Relax. Settle down. Be at peace.

There's no need to obsess the way you are over what a tiny handful of people may think about Medjugorje. If some, like I, doubt that it's an authentic apparition, so what? Why does that rob you of your peace? Your most recent behavior indicates that you are unsettled, anxious, and worried about the fact that some are skeptical about Medjugorje. This turmoil and defensiveness exhibited in your recent public comments is not from the Holy Spirit.

Pause, take a deep breath, and ponder these words from Scripture:
“If this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:38-39)
Please remember that this passage is just as important for you as it is for anyone who doubts Medjugorje. Think about that. Just pray for God's will to be done in this matter.

And then, spend some time thinking prayerfully about this wise advice from Saint Teresa of Avila:

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing afright you.
Nothing is wanting in w
hom God possesses.
God alone suffices.
All things are passing.
God never ceases.
Patient endurance attains all things.”

Election day is almost here. Are you ready to vote with a clear conscience?

October 19, 2010

Tom Bosley, R.I.P.

The affable dad on “Happy Days” died today at 83 from lung cancer. May he rest in peace. He entertained millions of people with his acting, myself included.

I recall when “Happy Days” debuted on TV in 1974. That's the year I started high school, and watching Richie, Fonzie, Ralph Malph, and Potsie was "must see TV" (to coin a phrase) for me and my whole family each week. I always liked Mr. Bosley's Howard Cunningham character — A.K.A. "Mr. C." His calm, avuncular, and wise persona was almost grandfatherly. Let's all pray for the repose of his soul, that the Lord will grant him an eternity of happy days in His presence.

Do you recognize this face?

That's my buddy and brother in Christ, Marcus Grodi, the founder and president of the Coming Home Network, which for over 15 years has been helping Protestant clergy converts come home to the Catholic Church (hence the organization's name). 

Anyway, I'm going to have the privilege and joy of joining Marcus, my bishop, Most Rev. Frederick Campbell, Bishop of Columbus, and a pantheon of illustrious Catholic speakers and authors, including Scott Hahn, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, and several others at the 8th-annual "Deep in History" conference, sponsored by the CHNetwork. 

It takes place this coming weekend, October 22-24, 2010, at the Easton Hilton Hotel in Columbus, Ohio. My talk theme will be “The Fathers Know Best: A Look at the Relationship Between Scripture & Tradition in the Early Church.”

There's still time to register! Click here for the details. I hope to see you there. (Please share this on your FB pages, on Twitter, blogs, etc. Many thanks.)

What do you say to a cradle-Catholic who doubts the doctrine of the communion of saints?

Well, here's what I said in response to Ed, a recent caller to my "Open Line" radio broadcast (Thursdays from 3-5 p.m. ET). He also had doubts about the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so we talked about that as well. To listen, click here, or click the image.

If you'd like to acquire a copy of my book on the communion of saints, Any Friend of God's Is a Friend of Mine, I'd suggest to go first to your local Catholic bookstore. If you don't have one near you, you can get the book here.

Here are some additional, popular-level resources on these subjects:

Any Friend of God's Is a Friend of Mine
Immaculate Conception and the Assumption  
How to Argue for Mary's Assumption
Assumptions About Mary
Saints Preserve Us

The fastest goal keeper ever

The goalie is wearing a light-green uniform. At about the 35-second mark, you'll understand why I named this post as I did. 

A prank phone call that backfired beautifully

I've known a lot of former atheists over the years. One of my very favorites is Jennifer Fulwiler. Among the reasons I like her so much (there are many) is that she's a skilled and insightful writer. I'm happy to say that she writes a regular column for us at Envoy Magazine.

For the moment, though, I'd like to direct your attention to her blog, where she posted an unexpectedly powerful story about how she tried to prank a telemarketer, back when she was a Christan-despising atheist. As you'll see, she didn't expect the results she got, and I didn't expect that the story would move me as much as it did. I really think you'll like it, too.

P.S. Jennifer wrote the cover story in this next issue of Envoy Magazine (vol. 9.4). It's called "Up From Atheism." As soon as it's out, I'll let you know.

(Jennifer Fulwiler not shown actual size)

October 18, 2010

Muslim blasphemer dances on the high altar at the Florence Cathedral

Here's an outrageous story that will likely go unnoticed and unreported by the media. Try to imagine what would happen if a Christian were to perform this same moronic dance in crowded mosque. Do you think he'd leave the building alive? I don't know if this Muslim is deranged or just maliciously trying to insult and provoke Catholics, but either way, he's a jackass, and I hope he's prosecuted for this. May God forgive him. (Click the picture at left for the video.)

More information on this story here.
UPDATE (3:45 p.m.) — It occurred to me that others will have the same question that I had when I first saw this: Does this profane the altar such that it would need to be reconsecrated before Mass could be celebrated upon it again?

Not being a canon lawyer, I have no way to answer that question with certitude, but I would like to both post the canons that seem relevant
and solicit the opinions of any canon lawyers who might wish to expound on how (and if) these canons are applicable in this particular case. Is there a iuris doctor canonici in the house? I invite your comments. 

Can.  1211 Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.
Can.  1212 Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been destroyed in large part, or have been turned over permanently to profane use by decree of the competent ordinary or in fact.

October 14, 2010

Quote of the Day

“Game, set, match equals tennis.
Set, match, run equals arson.”

— Demetri Martin

October 2, 2010

The earliest known daguerreotype image of Abraham Lincoln

This is fascinating.

The basic story is this: In 1977, Albert Kaplan, an antiquarian collector of 19th-century artifacts, shelled out $27 to buy an old daguerreotype called "Portrait of a Young Man" from a New York art gallery. As he scrutinized the face in the picture, he became convinced that he was looking at a young Abraham Lincoln.

The following video elaborates how he became certain that the youth in the picture grew up to become the revered President of the United States who presided over the Civil War, freed the slaves, and was cut down by an assassin's bullet at age 56.

October 1, 2010

New Media and the Holy Sacraments Just Don't Mix

Take a Virtual Tour of St. Peter's Tomb Beneath St. Peter Basilica

I've had the good fortune of taking the Scavi tour in Rome several times, and let me tell you, it is spectacular and inspiring. And you can take it today, right now, in fact, without getting out of your chair.

If you want to visit the tomb of St. Peter and the Vatican necropolis, it’s no longer necessary to book tickets and travel to Rome.

The Vatican website now offers an exciting virtual tour through interactive high quality images. With just one click you can skip the queues and get into the foundations of St. Peter's Basilica.

The virtual tour also includes explanations of the most relevant details of the necropolis, and a map showing your location at all times within the necropolis towards the tomb of St. Peter.

You will have one of the best guides possible for your visit: Cardinal Angelo Comastri, president of the Fabbrica of St Peter’s, which looks after the necropolis.

An amazing look at the origins and construction of St. Peter's Basilica, available from any computer in the world.