Monday, February 28, 2011

A Day in the Life of BXVI

Many of us will never get a chance to meet Pope Benedict XVI, let alone spend a day with him. Lucky for us, Fr. Robert Reed of Catholic TV gave us the next best thing.

Click on this picture to spend a day with Holy Father!

A Catholic View: Fr. Pavone, the ‘Terri Schiavo Priest’, will pay to bring Baby Joseph to U.S.

Now this is what I call faith in action.
"If I have to fly from Rome to Canada to get Baby Joseph out of the hospital and back home where he belongs, I am ready to do that right now,” said Father Pavone, who has been attending meetings at the Vatican this week.

Father Pavone said Priests for Life will pay all expenses to bring Baby Joseph and his family to a hospital in the United States that would agree to perform the tracheotomy that would make it possible for him to go home.

Read the entire press release HERE.

A shout out to Christine at A Catholic View for posting this yesterday. Click on the title of this post to see the video she posted of the baby. Joseph is most certainly NOT in a vegetative state as the press would have you believe.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Contemplation

Matthew Kelly, author of Rediscovering Catholicism, gives a dynamic talk on contemplation.  Matthew Kelly will be coming to a local parish in April...I will definitely be there!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fasting on Fridays?

I confess...I'm a hit-or-miss when it comes to the no-meat-on-Fridays thing. In my heart I want to abstain, but occasionally I totally blow it. This week I'm being good--so far. I had oatmeal for breakfast, a salad and a spinach calzone for lunch (Pizza Joe's, you rock) and so far no snacks. Hopefully I can hold out through the rest of today.

I don't know about you all, but I get conflicting stories when it comes to Friday abstinence. Some say we don't do it anymore, others say that "oh, yes we do!", still others say it's not official but if you want to its your option.

So I went digging.

Here's what I found...

From the Code of Cannon Law:
Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

from the Vatican Website, Code of Cannon Law (CLICK HERE).

The USCCB has done what Can. 1253 perscribes. Directly from the USCCB Website:
Ash Wednesday—This day marks the beginning of the Lenten season. The imposition of ashes is an ancient penitential practice symbolizing our dependence upon God's mercy and forgiveness. Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence in the Church.

Good Friday—Christ suffered and died for our salvation on Friday. On the Friday that we call "Good," the Church gathers to commemorate Jesus' Passion and death. Good Friday is a day of fast and abstinence. The Good Friday fast is the Paschal fast—a fast of anticipation and longing for the Passover of the Lord, which should continue, when possible, through Holy Saturday.

Fridays During Lent—In the United States, the tradition of abstaining from meat on each Friday during Lent is maintained.

Fridays Throughout the Year—In memory of Christ's suffering and death, the Church prescribes making each Friday throughout the year a penitential day. All of us are urged to prepare appropriately for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday.

from USCCB Website, "Penitential Practices for Today's Catholics: Penitential Days" (CLICK HERE)

The USCCB also lists on the same page 15 forms of penance that we can do every Friday of the year. So the answer is YES, we still abstain from meat on Fridays, and we have 14 other options to do along with (or instead of if you are unable to abstain).

As a bit of commentary, I love this statement from the USCCB: "All of us are urged to prepare appropriately for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday." If every Sunday is Easter, then every Friday is Good Friday.

So let's all make it a Good Friday!

UPDATE: I added more information about Friday abstinence HERE.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Humanae Vitae Was Ahead of Its Time


This past weekend I was given (thanks, Bernie!) my third copy of Matthew Kelly's book Rediscovering Catholicism (the other two copies I handed off before I could really get into reading them). I'm only a few chapters into it, but I've already hit quotable material. This excerpt, for example:

We spend much of our time fixated on secondary questions and very little time exploring the primary questions about our brief stay here on earth. This is why many of the philosophies we live our lives in allegiance to are absorbed through the culture rather than the result of any well-thought-out approach to life.

This is what the Church in every age is here to teach us: a well-thought-out approach to life. Jesus Christ is unchanging; so is his bride the Church whether She clashes with the whims of culture or not. We see a very clear example of this in Pope Paul VI's encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. While many people don't like what the Church teaches with regards to human sexuality, marriage, contraception and abortion, Her teachings will not be altered. Truth is not subject to an opinion poll.

From Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae:

It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction." She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.

Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man. (Humanae Vitae, 18)

If you haven't read Humanae Vitae yet, CLICK HERE and get caught up.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Need to Confess

A few years back I discovered the rare genius that was the great Russian author, Fyodor Dostoevsky. If you haven't read Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, or The Possessed, you're missing out on some great storytelling.

I bring up Dostoevsky because of something that Fr. Barron said in his most recent video commentary (watch it below) regarding the new iPhone app for confession: "this need to confess seems to be hard-wired in us, to bring our problems before some higher authority and receive a word of forgiveness or a word of judgment." I immediately thought of Crime and Punishment.

The book is about a man named Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov who has convinced himself that in spite of being poor and unemployed, his education makes him a superior human being. He rationalizes that his superiority gives him the right to judge as worthless to the world a woman with some money who lives in the neighborhood. His plan is to kill her, steal her money and then use it for himself, the superior human being much more worthy of living. His plan is foiled when the woman's sister walks in on the murder. Raskolnikov panics, kills the sister, grabs a bag of worthless trinkets and runs off in haste with none of the money he planned on taking.

Throughout the novel Raskolnikov's crime torments him as he spins his stories to cover his tracks and dodge the police. He becomes paranoid, is wrapped up in lying, hiding, rationalizing, worrying, looking over his shoulder and alienating himself; yet still he continues to revel in his delusion of superiority, laying blame wherever possible to avoid taking responsibility for his terrible crimes. He is constantly arguing with himself, sometimes out loud in public like a crazy man, as he fights the urge to confess his crimes, and several times he almost confesses in spite of himself.

Herein lies the punishment.

Yes, this is extreme, but one of the lessons to be learned from Crime and Punishment is that we can't hide from our sins or rationalize that we're somehow above making a confession. We are the ones who have sinned, who have turned away from God; it is therefore we who must take that step and reconcile. That's why the Sacrament is called "Reconciliation."  Why punish ourselves with being apart from God and His Church?


Lent is only a few weeks away.  What a great time to find a regular confessor and make confession a new spiritual habit.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Penance! Penance! Penance!

"Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!"

"Thus spoke the Mother of God herself to Bernadette Soubirous at the Grotto of Massabielle near Lourdes, France, on February 24, 1858, the eighth time that she had appeared there to Bernadette Soubirous, the first being on this very date one hundred fifty-two years ago...

"This is the Mother of God speaking. It is not to be a Jansenist to love penance and to live penitentially. Our Lady, the Mother of God herself, has told us that we must do penance, something she stressed in approved apparition after approved apparition, including her apparitions in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal, fifty-nine years after she appeared to the impoverished fourteen year-old Bernadette Soubirous as she was gathering wood near the River Gave not far from the Grotto of Massabielle. Shouldn't that be good enough for us.

"After repeated entreaties by Saint Bernadette Soubirous to reveal her identity, Our Lady said, "I am the Immaculate Conception," on March 25, 1858, the sixteenth apparition and the Feast of the Annunciation (as well as the traditional date on which her Divine Son was Crucified on Good Friday). These words were uttered by the Mother of God three years, three months and seventeen days after Pope Pius IX had solemnly defined the doctrine of her Immaculate Conception in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus. Our Lady was ratifying that solemn proclamation of her own perpetual freedom from sin, begging us as well to try to live as sinlessly as possible in cooperation with the graces that have been won for us by the shedding of every single drop of her Divine Son's Most Precious Blood and which flow through her own hands (as she had shown Sister Catherine Laboure in the convent at Rue de Bac twenty-eight years before) as the Mediatrix of All Graces.

"Yes, Our Lady was conceived without stain of Original Sin. She committed no Actual Sin in her life. We must aspire to root out sin and selfishness from our lives by embracing our crosses with joy, yes, with joy, for each and every one that comes our way. Each cross has been fashioned for us from all eternity by the very hand of God Himself. It is the means of our purification from sin, the means of sanctifying and thus saving our own souls, the means by which we can offer to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through her own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart whatever merit we gain for bearing it without gratitude and with love..." 



St. Bernadette, Pray For Us


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Former Atheist's Journey Home


Dr. Kevin Vost, Psychologist and former atheist, discusses how the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, Alfred Adler, Sigmund Freud and many of the prominent figures in modern philosophy and psychology seduced him away from the Church, and how the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas brought him back.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Insurance Health Assessment Going Too Far?

For a 50% reduction in our health insurance payroll deduction, our insurance carrier is offering all of its participants employed by my company a health assessment and wellness program.

The program requires annual check-ups and blood screenings, along with the completion of an online questionaire which generates a wellness report containing an overall look at your physical health and some general health advice.

I have some troubling feelings about this program. In theory it's a good idea to offer an incentive to get people to the doctor. Too many people, including me, wait until there's something wrong before darkening a doctor's doorstep. This program got me to a doctor for the first time in years.

What don't I like? Well, there's this questionnaire that we're required to fill out. I'm required to provide the results of my blood screen and checkup. I'm not comfortable with a third party having access to my personal health information, particularly my medical insurance provider.

More importantly, I didn't expect to be asked the following questions on the assessment, even after I indicated that I was married:

1. Are you sexually active?
2. How many sex partners have you had in the last 5 years?
3. Do you use birth control?

Aside from the fact that the results didn't discuss anything related to any of these points, these are the kinds of issues for your confessor and your physician, NOT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY. How, exactly, does wedging itself like this into my marriage help my health?  I was not the only person offended by these questions.

We all know how insurance companies operate. They determine what health care you will get by determining what they will or will not pay; and thanks to ObamaCare they have a green light from our government, since every American will be required to carry medical insurance by 2014.

It all stinks of socialism.

Recently I was sent an article titled "What the Popes Really Say About Socialism" by the folks over at  America Needs Fatima. It's great stuff, take a look at it when you have a few minutes. While I was filling out the questionnaire it was Pope Leo XIII's quote that rang a bell. The excerpt that follows is directly from his encyclical titled Quod Apostolici Muneris:
(Socialists) debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is "the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith," they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one's mode of life.
Some "benefits", eh?  Eddie-Ray, we will be having a talk about all this.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What if...?


Manhattan Declaration Pro-Life Video Contest Winner
Congratulations, Ryan Brooks!

CLICK HERE To see the rest of the videos.  They're all great.
While you're there, sign it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

In Preparation for the New Translation

Last Saturday my husband and I attended the very first Mass said by the new pastor at my husband's former parish. We were married at my parish three years ago (just last Wednesday...Happy Anniversary, Eddie Ray and Gina!) and we just stayed there; but we will most definitely be around ol' St. B's much more often than we have been.

Fr. Bill, "the new guy" as he referred to himself during the announcements, is not new to us. He's been the spiritual director of our local Cursillo center for many years. He's one of those priests who just "gets it"--he knows what he's doing, believes in what he's doing, and puts his entire self into every Mass. He has also killed a couple of small forests by making hundreds of handouts over the years, pulled together from Scripture, the Catechism, papal encyclicals, and all kinds of other Church documents, in an effort to try to make us "get it" as well. I could kick myself for not thinking to keep those handouts sooner than I did.  I hope he decides to offer some instruction on the new English translation of the Novus Ordo.

I admit that I've been a little more than concerned that Advent 2011 will arrive and people will not be ready.  I've already surprised a number of people at my own parish, who have no idea that there will be some changes. Parishes need to be preparing for the changes better, of which there are quite a few: new responses, some new words to the Gloria and the Creed, new acclamations, etc. If the church is going to give her people a new translation of liturgy, wouldn't our parishes be wise to use this gift as an opportunity for some formation? Having read through just the annotated sample text of the Order of the Mass, available at the USCCB Website, there's enough there to hold a weekly study from now until Advent. What good, after all, will come of just giving us new words to sing or recite?

Fr. Dwight said it best today in his most recent post over at Standing on My Head:
Mass isn't reverent simply because you start using lofty language that 'sounds religious'. True reverence is the fruit of a condition of heart. Reverence in worship is a by product of a certain type of Catholic mindset. It is not the automatic product of a particular form of words. (CLICK HERE to read the entire post titled "Is the New Translation More Reverent?")
He's absolutely right. If this new translation is supposed to ignite within Catholics the fire of faith, our parishes need to do more than just rely on osmosis and hope for the best.

Fr. Bill, I sure hope you're working on some new handouts. I'll even start a binder!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

There Be Dragons


My prayer is that God will bless this work, driving people of all walks of life to learn the REAL story behind St. Josemaría Escrivá, his writings, his works and his magnificent legacy: Opus Dei.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Presentation

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace,
your word has been fulfilled:
My own eyes have seen the salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.
The Canticle of Simeon

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter Storm

The little red dot thing is me.
All that blue and purple is the snowstorm a-comin.

It's going to get pretty nasty tonight. 

 ...and it's looking bad for the next two days.
They're even warning everyone to be ready for power outages.

We are very fortunate: we have full oil lanterns, plenty of wood for the insert, a fridge full of food and big front porch to move it to if the power goes out.  It's looking like hundreds of thousands of people across the country will be affected by this storm. Pray for those on the streets; those who have no heat alternative; those with empty refrigerators; those who are alone; the children; the elderly; the sick. It's going to get cold, dark, icy and dangerous.
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