Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cooking and eating are the priority. A beautifully prepared meal is another sign of God's great love for us; but don't forget that Mass is the ultimate sign of God's great love for us. If you don't already, incorporate Mass into your Thanksgiving Day celebration.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Life is Worth Living

Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Worldwide Rosary

60 Catholics were brutally murdered while attending Mass in a Catholic Church in Bagdad, Iraq. They are glorious martyrs.

But 400,000 Catholics remain and are being persecuted for the faith. And we’re being asked to pray the Rosary to help them.

Click here to read more.

Rosaries at the ready.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Music! Music! Music!

They say that when St. Cecilia married the pagan Valerian she heard music in her heart; it is for this she's called upon by singers, musicians, instrument makers, composers and poets for her intercession as their patron.

Litany of St. Cecilia
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, wise virgin, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of Divine love, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, apostle by thy zeal and charity, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who converted thy spouse and procured for him the crown of Martyrdom, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who by thy pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true Church,
Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who didst unceasingly see thy guardian Angel by thy side, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who didst mingle thy voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who by thy melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, illustrious Martyr of Jesus Christ, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who during three days dist suffer most excruciating torments, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke thee, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students, Pray for us.
We salute thee, O Virgin, who didst give thy blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
God glorified Saint Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.
Let us pray: O Eternal God, Who didst give us, in the person of Saint Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days, like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise Thee and bless Thee forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Faith of a Child

"This is the 3 year old boy, named Adam, who shouted against the extremists to stop shooting the people. As a result, the islamic extremist forced a gun into Adam's mouth and pulled the trigger." (from

I have no words.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sneek Peek of The Catholicism Project

It's due out in Fall of 2011. I am trying to be patient. Really, I am.

CLICK HERE to learn more about this groundbreaking production from Word on Fire.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WHC Cass County ND Chapter

They must be members, because they've basically told abortionist Dr. Lori Thorndike that she really doesn't need to follow the law. All an abortionist needs to do is slap her forehead and declare, "Whoops, I forgot to file the paperwork! Silly me."

Cheryl Sullenger from Operation Rescue puts it best: " one is saying that Thorndike did not break the law. They simply refuse to enforce the laws that were broken."

Read about it here.

Pray in reparation for the injuries to and deaths of women
because of Abortion and Birth Control.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Progressive Catholicism 101: The 4-Point Polemic

I was just reading a great post by Thomas Peters (the American Papist) at about Abp. Dolan's election as President of the USCCB. Congrats, by the way, to the Archbishop. I decided to comment that his election is evidence that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church, and that Christ has certainly kept His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

I got sidetracked, though, by another comment to which I started composing a rebuttal, then decided instead to deal with it here in my own blog. So, I left my original comment and prepared the following public service to my dear friends and readers.

The comment that sidetracked me (color-coded for the discussion below):
I'm catholic. I do not agree and do not approve the more aggressive approach to publicly deny Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, warn Catholic voters they should never vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights under any circumstances and reining in prominent dissenters in their dioceses. And I understand their reasons and justifications. But it's not something Jesus Christ would do. It's not worse than a priest giving mass and abuse children sexually. To then be forgiven for abusing children sexually without truly repenting to later abuse children sexually again. The church leadership has to take care of their own priests and superficial faithful corruption and the government has to take care of their own corruption. Yes I agree that abortion must be illegal. But not impose on others one sin over other. There are worst sins. The church makes a big mistake by focusing on the pro life agenda to protect the unborn child who does not have a voice or someone to defend him. And because of that focus they are indifferent to other negative influences or sin behaviors that occur that affect us and hurts much more. Peace & love.

This comment, despite its total desecration of the English language, is actually quite useful as an example of what I call "the 4-point polemic".
  1. Jesus Loves Dissenters, Too.
  2. Priest Scandal Trumps All
  3. Seamless Garment Theory Revisited--Badly
  4. I'm a Catholic; Peace & Love
Let's take a closer look at each point.

1. Jesus Loves Dissenters, Too. See, Jesus was really all about love, which means we don't judge, or tell people they're doing wrong. Forget that Christ is King, Lord of Heaven and Earth and Judge of all of humanity at the end of time. He just wants us all to get along. A Rodney King of the Ancient world, if you will; our buddy; our homie; our cosmic BFF.

2. Priest Scandal Trumps All. No priest anywhere can make any comment or statement ever about faith, morals, sin, right and wrong. All Catholic priests, no matter what anyone says, are exactly the same and must be strictly stereotyped as abusive and dangerous. Forget the actual statistics or facts about the scandal. This catch-all rebuttal can be thrown in anyone's face at any time, in any context.

3. Seamless Garment Theory Revisited--Badly. One sin isn't any worse than another, and the worst sins are putting one sin over another as being worse. When we try to fight one type of sin, we're really not fighting sin at all, because we're taking one sin and focusing on it and not focusing on it in light of all sins, which are the worst sins than the worst sins that are worse than the sins of the worst kind.

4. I'm a Catholic; Peace & Love. Because I said it, it is true. All that matters is that I say the words. I don't have to actually believe, or even know, what Catholicism teaches. I don't actually have to be peaceful or loving, either. My post, comment or article can be as inaccurate, uninformed, vitriolic, insulting, rebellious, nonsensical or ungrammatical as I feel like, as long as I say I'm a Catholic and get those words "peace & love" in there. I'm a Catholic not because of what I believe, but because I say I am. Peace & love don't hinge on my propagating truth, logic, morality and compassion, but on my simply saying or writing the words.

For all faithful Catholic bloggers, directly refuting the 4-point polemic would be a total waste of time. Instead pray for the 4-point commenter/writer/blogger. Pray especially that he or she is freed from the shackles of irrational thinking born of secular idealism, and is given the wisdom of God, and a deep desire to learn the faith that Christ gave to us. Also pray for those who continue to fight the good fight, like Abp. Dolan, and all those who preach the real good news.

Then put on the Armor of God and fight the good fight yourself through constant, diligent dedication to the truth in all you say and do.

MVH: Show Your Support

CLICK HERE to read the latest update from Mahoning Valley Health.  Please keep them in your prayers.

Pray in reparation for the injuries to and deaths of women
because of Abortion and Birth Control.

Proving Saints

Saturday, November 13, 2010

St. Silvan: Mysterious Incorruptible

We know very little about him, except what we can see. St. Silvan was a Roman, possibly a priest, and was martyred around the year 350. His body can be viewed at the Church of St. Blaise at Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

Heavenly Father,

In every age, You call certain persons to defend the human family from oppression, tyranny, and evil. Since our founding as a nation "conceived in liberty," countless American men and women have stepped forward to defend our country and many others from aggressors, and to liberate those held captive.

Today we revere all our veterans: those who rest in honored glory, those who still suffer from the wounds of war, and those who, with us, enjoy the blessing of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O God, thank You for the selfless sacrifice of these veterans and of their families. Help us to remember them, to pray for them, and to care for them. Please bring all our departed veterans into Your Kingdom, and console their families with Your unfailing love. Please heal our wounded veterans through the power of Your Holy Spirit, and give to all our veterans the satisfaction of having served You even as they have served us.

Thank You for Your gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. May we fight to keep these rights available to all. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

(Originally posted at Literary Compass, Nov 9, 2007.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anti-Christian Violence Latest Headlines...

from Bishop Urges Christians to leave Iraq:

“I say clearly and now-- the Christian people should leave their beloved land of our ancestors and escape the premeditated ethnic cleansing,” said Archbishop Athanasios Dawood, one week after a massacre at the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad. “This is better than having them killed one by one.”

(Watch an interview with Archbishop Dawood here.)

and from Iraqi priest, torture victim leads school esteemed by Muslim neighbors:

Father Douglas al-Bazi, a Chaldean Catholic priest...has decided to stay in his Baghdad neighborhood despite being kidnapped and tortured in 2006. “It’s not that I’m a hero-- I don’t care about that,” the priest says. “I care about staying with my people. My people never asked me to be a hero, they just want to see me here with them.”

Genocidal violence in Iraq has been escalating against Christians since 2003.

Iraqi Christians' long history
Wave of anti-Christian violence spreading in Iraq
Baghdad church hostage drama ends in bloodbath
Death toll rises to 58 in Iraq church standoff
All Christians 'targets,' Iraqi militant group says

Two Loves

The following is an excerpt from one of Pope St. Leo the Great's sermons.  (Click here to read the entire text of Sermon 90).

"(T)here are two loves from which proceed all wishes, as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful.

"And therefore we must cling inseparably to eternal treasures, but things temporal we must use like passers-by, that as we are sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids on the way, not snares to detain us. Therefore the blessed Apostle makes this proclamation, "the time is short: it remains that those who have wives be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they wept not; and those who rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and those who buy, as though they possessed not; and those that use this world, as though they used it not. For the fashion of this world passes away (1 Cor 7:29-31).

"But as the world attracts us with its appearance, and abundance and variety, it is not easy to turn away from it unless in the beauty of things visible the Creator rather than the creature is loved; for, when He says, "you shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and from all your mind, and from all your strength (Mt 22:37),"  He wishes us in noticing to loosen ourselves from the bonds of His love. And when He links the love of our neighbour also to this command, He enjoins on us the imitation of His own goodness, that we should love what He loves and do what He does.

"For although we be "God's husbandry and God's building," and "neither is he that plants anything, nor he that waters, but God that gives the increase," yet in all things He requires our ministry and service, and wishes us to be the stewards of His gifts, that he who bears God's image may do God's will. For this reason, in the Lord's prayer we say most devoutly, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done as in heaven, so also on earth." For what else do we ask for in these words but that God may subdue those whom He has not yet subdued, and as in heaven He makes the angels ministers of His will, so also on earth He may make men? And in seeking this we love God, we love also our neighbour: and the love within us has but one Object, since we desire the bond-servant to serve and the Lord to have rule."

(On the Fast of Seventh Month, V.; III. The love of God contrasted with the love of the world. All paragraph breaks are mine to facilitate reading.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Temple of God

You are God’s building.
According to the grace of God 
given to me,
like a wise master builder 
I laid a foundation,
and another is building upon it.
But each one must be careful how 
he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation 
other than the one that is there,
namely, Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 3:9c-11

The Lateran Basilica has been through wars, fires, earthquakes, vandalism, the changing times--and throughout history the faithful has rebuilt her again and again.

As we should. After all, she is the Cathedral of the Holy Father, and thus the Cathedral of each one of us, the faithful around the world. We truly are one body in Christ.

I pray today for the Church that is the Body of Christ; for those who continue to struggle against forces of darkness that desire nothing but the destruction of Christ's people; for those who suffer at the hands of the world, who continue to hope in Christ Jesus who promised to be with us until the end of time, and find the courage to rebuild again and again.

Here is one such group of believers:

(from GOD IN CHINA: The Struggle for Religious Freedom, produced and distributed by Rome Reports.)

The stairs upon which stood our Lord as he was judged by Pilate and condemned to death.  These stairs now lead to the Sancta Sanctorum in the Lateran Palace, the personal chapel of the Popes of the Early Church.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Buy This Book! Between Allah & Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims

I know, it's a touchy subject. Islam has a pretty nasty reputation here in the West, thanks to the political realities of our times. These political realities, however, shouldn't stop us from seeking out peace, and finding ways to dialogue with Muslims, and to better understand their beliefs and culture. How else will we ever succeed in evangelizing them?

Between Allah & Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims by Peter Kreeft (IVP Books, 2010) is a series of fictionalized conversations between a Muslim, a Secular Humanist, a fundamentalist Christian and a Catholic priest (and a few other minor "characters"), designed to discuss the broader philosophies and thinking behind the Muslim belief system. Within the conversations, Kreeft is able to discuss how these belief systems clash with the West, and where we all go wrong in our assumptions about each other.

If you happen to be looking for political commentary, look elsewhere. Between Allah and Jesus is about theology and spirituality, and how these are meant to be lived in practice. He does discuss politics, but only in a very narrow, controlled context of where religion and religious beliefs have a direct effect on politics. The point Kreeft is making here is a pretty gutsy one--every side is right in some ways, but very wrong in others.  For example, in his introduction Kreeft makes the following point:

There are two Islams in the world today. (1) There is the Islam of the Qur'an, which is one of the great religions of the world. It is a religion of peace (not of pacifism nor of aggression) and of divine justice (not of divine tyranny nor of divine intimacy). (2) There is also the Islam of the terrorists, who are murderers and assassins, especially murderers of their fellow Muslims.  Shiites and Sunnis hate each other for their "heresies" more intensely than either hates the West. (The London bombings deliberately targeted Muslim neighborhoods.)

 ...It is very tempting, if you see either if these two things, to ignore the other one. (Kindle Edition, Loc 118-120, 125)

Kreeft deals with these two points very effectively in the narrative as well by building some flaws and prejudices into each of the western characters, and giving his Muslim character, 'Isa, a chance to discuss them. He admittedly idealized 'Isa in both his knowledge and his practice of Islam, which is a smart approach, particularly because Kreeft in no way idealizes Islam. He presents Islam honestly, including those areas where it is fundamentally incorrect according to the truth of Jesus Christ.  At the same time he's taking on Islam's theological inadequacies, he also takes on Christians, who have become weak and ineffective in the material traps of Western culture.

One of Kreeft's strengths across his body of work is his ability to boil down what could be difficult theological ideas and lengthy psychological assessments into very accessible text. This work is no different. By using the context of conversation he was able to deliver complex information concisely without sounding too elementary, while at the same time delivered the harder truths without sounding too combative. He did use a few forced colloquialisms, and some of the conversations seemed a little unnatural, but as Kreeft explains in his introduction, this is not a novel, but a means of information delivery.

As to what exactly it is that we have to learn from Muslim spirituality, well, you'll have to read the book to find that one out for yourself.  I will tell you this much: it made me really think about just how well I practice my own Catholic faith, and what kind of reflection of my Catholic faith I am on the rest of the world.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of Between Allah and Jesus for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Oplatki and Advent Calendars. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brick By Brick

"A lifelong conversion consists of many reasons and arguments, much study and discerning," writes J.W. Blakely in his conversion story for the Word On Fire blog.
"Despite what the modern world tells us, conversions are not simply some irrational process by which we leap blindly and flailing into the dark. They are rather an act of construction, of care and of building, of change and of practice. Like the building of a solid church they are slow and methodical, brought up brick by brick, the cracks patched and kept up through bad weather. But unlike the construction of a church, the building itself is invisible, its materials the extension of our own lives through time."

(click here to read more at Fr. Robert Barron's Word On Fire, and click here for Blakely's entire conversion story.)

I venture to guess that many of us would use a similar description when considering our own conversion stories. I know it's true of mine. It would take years to find the words for all I've come to know (which when considered amid the wonders of all of creation, is practically nothing). We need the metaphors because what we have come to know about our God cannot possibly be funneled into a cleverly turned phrase or slogan for which the world has been conditioned. As Thomas Aquinas said, "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." Yet we are compelled to explain it, because what we've found is what everyone seeks from within their inmost being whether they know it or not, whether they believe it or not.

We often refer to our life as a journey--a trek up a mountain, or through great mansions, or on pathways straight and narrow or long and winding, or as Blakely has in his conversion story, as a process of building something. Conversion isn't an overnight thing--we don't just wake up one day and "get it", and we don't find answers through intellectual exercises around Scripture, the Doctors of the Church, the Catechism or any other resource.

      The Truth Speaks To Us Without Noise Of Words
      "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." 1 Kings 3:9

      ...Let not Moses nor any of the prophets speak to me, but speak Thou rather, 
                 O Lord God, who art the inspirer and enlightener of all the prophets, 
                 for Thou alone without them canst perfectly instruct me, but they 
                 without Thee will avail me nothing.
      They may indeed sound forth words, but they give not the spirit.
      They speak well, but if Thou be silent they do not set the heart on fire.
      They deliver the letter, but Thou discloseth the sense. They publish mysteries, 
                  but Thou explainest the meaning of the thing signified.
      They declare the commandments, but Thou enablest us to keep them.
      They show the way, but Thou givest strength to walk in it.
      They work only outwardly, but Thou instructest and enlightenest the heart.
      They water exteriorly, but Thou givest the increase.
      They cry out with words, but Thou givest understanding to the hearing.

- from My Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
Book III Chapter 2: How Truth Speaks

It took Blakely being almost incapacitated with an undiagnosed illness to finally be in a state of mind where he could actually discern the voice of God, and begin to know the truth that God so desperately wants us all to know. You will be thoroughly enriched by his conversion story.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I think the world would be a better place if everyone felt like this:

Twelve Traits of Jesus Christ

Last night Deacon Ron Bunofsky of St. John the Baptist Parish, Campbell, OH, presented Spiritual Direction on a practical imitation of Christ. It couldn't have come at a better time for me, as I've been in a little dry spell in my Christian formation. Spiritual direction is one of those things that you don't really think about until you get some, and then you wonder how you ever lived without it.

"As Christians", he said, "we know how important it is to use Jesus Christ as our model. There have been many books written on the subject. We've all probably heard of My Imitation Of Christ by Thomas à Kempis." Many early Christians, he explained, thought that Jesus was only God, and wasn't really human, but He was fully human, and lived a fully human life.  It's why the Christian walk begins with imitating Christ.  "The more we are like him," he went on, "the more human we will be. To be fully human is to imitate Christ, and NOT to give excuses as to why we're "messing up"."

Until last night, I forgot that I had a copy of this book, one of those pocket-sized books with the super-thin tissue pages that you have to highlight with a colored pencil. I'll be locating that book rightly. Deacon provided us with a list twelve traits of Jesus and some scripture verses for our private study and reflection during the next few weeks, along with these questions to consider:

Which of these traits do I admire in others?
The lack of which traits in others upsets me?
Which of these traits do I need more?
Which of these is my strongest trait?

Twelve Traits of Jesus Christ
  1. Forgiveness: Lk 6:37, Mt 6:14
  2. Authority: Mt 1:22; Jn 16
  3. Humility: Mt 18:4
  4. Compassion: Stands out in Christ's ministry
  5. Generosity: A loving response to others needs
  6. Love: Jn 13:34; Jn 15:9; Jn 23:34
  7. Purpose: Jn 10:10
  8. Patience: Poise, inner calmness, confidence, quiet endurance
  9. Prayerfulness: Lk 18:1
  10. Faith: Mk 5:34, Lk 7:50; Mt 8:12; Mt 21:22
  11. Courage: Ro 8:31
  12. Receptivity: Like Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Magi, the Shepherds

Monday, November 1, 2010

Becoming A Saint

"Our ultimate goal is to be a saint. It is our greatest calling and what is desired for us by our Creator. Father Robert Barron paints a beautiful and mysterious image of what it takes to be a follower of, 'the One who is, Jesus Christ.'" Read more about Untold Blessing: Three Paths To Holiness at the Word On Fire online store.

I bought Untold Blessing in the Viewer's Choice DVD Pack, and I think it was some of the best money I ever spent. I've purchased quite a few of Fr. Barron's videos, and have loaned them all out over the last few months to friends and family for a variety of reasons and applications.

I think what makes Fr. Barron's media so compelling is his ability to hold our culture up against the truth, and to explain how our culture measures up against it in a way that everyone can understand. He doesn't shy away from those harder truths, either. In Untold Blessing: Three Paths To Holiness, Fr. Barron lays out for us what it means to have a properly ordered life and how to achieve it, in a way that inspires the viewer to strive for the prize.

Today as we honor all the saints in Heaven, may we each rededicate ourselves toward achieving our places with them.
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