See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Archbishop Nienstedt on Gay Marriage: Nein!


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I never got my DVD in the mail yet.

Why gays can't get married.


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For one thing, they don't have the proper training.  Boing!

The Apparition of Our Lady of Medjugorje at Vienna's Cathedral


This is completely new and unprecedented.
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An important Cardinal hosts the visionaries of Mejugorje at St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, Austria.  The cathedral was packed to over flowing, with the faithful praying the rosary and adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
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What does this mean?
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What does this mean for the Church and the world?
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Remember, only the Pope may criticize a Cardinal (and will he do so?):  "It is reminded that in the Church, when it is a question of accusations against a cardinal, the competence belongs only to the Pope; other entities can have a consultative function, always with due respect for the persons." - angelqueen
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What up?


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Links:
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Videos here:  Mary TV
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Te Deum Laudemus' take on the event.
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Photo credit
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H/T Spirit Daily

The Feast of St Sergius Radonezhsky


Sergius died on September 25, 1392, and was glorified (canonized) in 1452. His incorrupt relics were found in 1422 and placed in the new Trinity Cathedral of the Lavra which he founded. The church commemorates him on September 25, the day of his death, and on July 5, the day his relics were uncovered. Among the many affectionate titles given him, he has been referred to as the "Abbot of Russia" and "valiant voevod" of the Russian land. The Roman Catholic Church officially recognizes Sergius as a saint, listing him in the Martyrologium Romanum. - Wikipedia
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Icon: St. Sergius - by Terry Nelson  (my caligraphy is terrible)
Posted by Picasa

Some people really get it right...


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H/T Christine

Friday, September 24, 2010

The execution of Teresa Lewis.


Why?
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I do not receive the daily newspaper, nor have I watched television news today, so I don't know if anyone else noticed but I picked up the story online that the execution of Teresa Lewis, the first execution in 100 years for the state of Virginia, took place last night.  Does anyone care? 
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I'm not strictly opposed to the death penalty - but I do believe it should only be applied - if ever - in very rare circumstances.  Unfortunately for Teresa Lewis, I'm convinced the sentence was totally unwarranted, especially considering the actual hired killers got life imprisonment for carrying out the murders.
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The first woman executed in the United States in five years was put to death in Virginia on Thursday for arranging the killings of her husband and a stepson over a $250,000 insurance payment.
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Teresa Lewis, 41, who defense attorneys said was borderline mentally disabled, died by injection at 9:13 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. She became the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century. 
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Lewis enticed two men, Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller, through sex, cash and a promised cut in the insurance policy to shoot her husband, Julian Clifton Lewis Jr., and his son, Charles, as they slept in October 2002.
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Both triggermen were sentenced to life in prison and Shallenberger committed suicide in 2006.

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Lewis appeared fearful, her jaw clenched, as she was escorted into the death chamber. She glanced tensely around at 14 assembled corrections officials before being bound to a gurney with heavy leather straps. - Source
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Teresa Lewis expressed sorrow for her crimes before she was executed.
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I honestly don't get it.  I do not see why this execution was necessary.  For the past few months or so there has been a huge outcry against the capital sentence by stoning for a woman caught in adultery in Iran.  (If the Iranian woman had been guilty of murdering her husband, she would have been immediately hanged - similar sentence for similar crimes - who's the better for it?) 
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I of course think stoning is a barbaric, medieval sentence - and it is ridiculous to equate adultery with a capital crime such as murder.  That said, there is likewise something wrong with our justice system when we feel the need to execute someone who could have just as well served a life sentence for the crime.

Why Archbishop Nienstedt had to come out in defense of marriage.



Just doing his job.
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"The bishops of the state have an obligation, by ordination, to be teachers,” the Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis told MPR's Tom Crann. “And we all know the state of marriage in our society today,” he continued, citing divorce rates of up to 50 percent, and recounting the exponential growth of fluid arrangements like cohabitation and unwed parenthood. “The state of marriage is not very healthy in our society.
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Archbishop Nienstedt indicated that attempts to redefine marriage contribute significantly to this already rapid breakdown of family structure throughout society. In such a perilous climate, he told MPR, it is especially urgent to affirm what marriage is –in his words, “a commitment for life, a life-giving commitment that is open to the procreation and the raising of children”-- and what it cannot be.
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He (...) described same-sex “marriage” as “a dangerous risk to society,” not only according to the dictates of Christian faith, but according to “what we call the natural law,” which “precedes any government.” 
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Rather than giving the name of “marriage” to virtually any kind of sexual arrangement, Archbishop Nienstedt argued, “government is meant to support marriage between a husband and a wife,” to provide social support for “the raising … and the protection of children.”
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The prelate likewise reaffirmed the Church's opposition not only to same-sex “marriages,” but also to divorce, which he described as a “risk to our society today.” Divorce is also regarded by the Catholic Church as a serious violation of the natural law.
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Asked whether the bishops' suggestion of a constitutional amendment defining marriage was strictly a “political statement,” Nienstedt said that in the context of the video it was simply an exercise of the bishops' authority to teach on matters of reason and faith.
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"We need to remind our people,” he said, describing the bishops' mission in mailing the video, “what it is we believe, why it is we believe what we believe, and thirdly, why it's so important.” - CNA
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My thoughts:
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The Archbishop is clearly exercising the duties of his office: teaching and guiding the faithful in faith and morals.  I'm pleased that he included divorce in the conversation - naturally he cannot cover every issue in one interview, but it might have been an opportune moment to remind everyone of Church teaching on contraception and acknowledging that some of his predecessors and brother bishops pretty much rejected Paul VI's Humane Vitae.  If the teaching of Paul VI had been heeded, we may not have come to the crisis point we find ourselves in today.
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For those who claim Nienstedt ought to have given the money for the cost of the DVD campaign to the poor or some other pressing social justice cause, let them not get too high and mighty in their protests...  Rich gay activists pour millions into pro-gay political causes - chief among the causes, to unseat conservative law-makers and promote same-sex marriage.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Attendance at Mass is off... Why?



One word:  Ordinary.
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It hit me last Sunday.  A great deal of Catholic worship has just become too ordinary - and that includes the Ordinary Form of Mass - as well as too much trying to be ordinary; like the up with people music ministries, entertainment tonight adult faith formation, rock the youth ministry; boring, mind numbing homilies, running the parish like a business, and so on.  Take fundraiser homilies for instance - or rather stewardship drives - not unlike public television donor week pitches.  Why do priests twist the scripture of the Sunday to suit the fund raising appeal?  You need money - ask for it straight up - don't put on a show or turn the scripture into some banal commercial.   
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Culture clash?
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The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is calling the drop off in attendance a culture clash - because they are losing young people.  I think there is less to it than that.  When church people play down to people - young or old - they get bored.  When they go too far in the other direction, it can all become too cerebral and more boring still.  And if church people try to entertain - there is nothing more pathetic or boring.  You see, at one time the Church successfully offered and supplied the extraordinary in life - now however, so much has become just plain ordinary - in it's presentation at least.   
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I may be wrong but it seems to me that the greatness of ordinary life is only found in and through the extraordinary greatness of the Church - it's liturgical life and worship which sanctifies, feeds, nourishes and animates.
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What the experts are saying.
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The churches once were packed. A Gallup poll 60 years ago found that 75 percent of Catholics said they attended Mass in the past seven days, compared to 45 percent today.
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Church leaders and researchers say the trend is driven by a combination of cultural and social forces, as well as the church’s failure to prepare its people for the elimination of the Latin Mass and other changes following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

The clergy abuse scandal also hurt, but the drop in Mass attendance was under way long before the crisis erupted eight years ago.

The explanation cited most often for falling attendance is an increasingly secularized society that emphasizes individualism over community.

The role of the church in the social lives of Catholics also is waning. In the first half of the 20th century, the local parish was the hub of social activity for Catholics, many of whom were poor, working-class immigrants shunned by the rest of society.

Today, however, Catholics tend to be as educated and wealthy as Americans of any other faith. They don’t rely as much on the church because they don’t have to. - Cincinnati.com

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It may sound old fashioned, but in the early 20th century and throughout the 1950's the importance of devotion and fraternal organizations which facilitated it, focused upon sanctification.  For instance, groups such as the Holy Name Society, Altar and Rosary Society, Legion of Mary, along with the Dominic Savio Club, or the Maria Goretti Club, were featured attractions for parishioners, who actively participated in and contributed to the parish.  Nevertheless, the main attraction for all, or rather the source and summit of Church life remained the obligation of Sunday Mass - and it was extraordinary... 
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Get it?

When the world was growing cold...


In every age O Lord you have been our refuge. [Ps. 90]
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If I remember correctly the collect for the feast of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi contains those words, "When the world was growing cold..."  - the Lord saw fit to impress upon his servant Francis the Holy Wounds of Christ.  Indeed, the seraphic Francis and his followers set Europe on fire with their evangelical poverty, simplicity, penance and devotion.  Likewise, in the last century, the son of St. Francis, St. Padre Pio inspired - inflamed - the hearts of the faithful by his example of penance and suffering, his fidelity to prayer, his priestly ministry and devotion; but above all, his conformity to Jesus Christ crucified... just as the world was growing cold...
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Pio was and is a sign of contradiction in our secular age, when science, intellectualism, and materialism still seems to triumph, and faith and devotion is continually mocked...  when the world was and is growing cold.  Yet as in the time of Christ, and again in the days of St. Francis, it has always been the simple, the lowly and afflicted, the lame and the crippled, the poor and the laborer, who are irresistibly attracted to the holiness we witness in Padre Pio, the humble Italian friar marked with the sign of faith.  Padre Pio was a living book and treatise on the mystical life - a living Gospel.  He demonstrated authentic holiness and spirituality, the call to repentance and conversion.  It is amazing to have witnessed the humble devotion of his followers and clients over the years, be they great men or simple peasants.
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Great men and learning, education and riches, all of these are vanity, as today's first reading at Mass tells us: 
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"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart." - Responsorial Psalm 90
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For the past few days I have been thinking of some friends of mine who are dead now.  One was an actor/model, a guy from a rich family, well educated at Catholic schools and college.  Some say he killed himself, others that he died from complications of alcoholism.  He was still quite young when he died.  I pray for him all of the time.  I wanted to write about him and searched for a photo or any trace of him online.  He died in the '90's - but there was nothing at all online.  Again today's reading comes to mind, "There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them." - [Ecclesiastes 1: 11]
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Very few of us will ever be remembered - despite all our ideas and convictions, our learning and accomplishments, even beauty and grace... "Vanity... all things are vanity.  What profit has man from all the labor he toils at under the sun.?"   What does it profit one to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process?
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One thing lasts however.  Padre Pio and his simple followers know what it is.
 

St. Pio

Consolations from Padre Pio.
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"The longer the trial to which God subjects you, the greater the goodness in comforting you during the time of the trial and in the exaltation after the combat. "
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"Keep close to the Catholic Church at all times, for the Church alone can give you true peace, since she alone possesses Jesus, the true Prince of Peace, in the Blessed Sacrament."
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"Fear not because God is with you."
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Source

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Catholics For Equality: Using the 'Catholic' name in vain.


Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio Says the homosexual advocacy group is not 'Catholic'.
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After receiving a letter from the group Catholics for Equality urging a change to the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, the Archbishop for Military Services responded, saying that the archdiocese's position is “clear.” The prelate added that the group “cannot be legitimately recognized as Catholic.”
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Catholics for Equality had requested a meeting with Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio, claiming he offered misleading and false arguments in his June 1 statement against allowing open homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military.
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The organization was founded by groups such as New Ways Ministry and Dignity USA with cooperation from the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Committee (HRC). It aims to “support, educate, and mobilize equality-supporting Catholics to advance LGBT equality at federal, state, and local levels.”  It also charges the Catholic hierarchy with favoring discrimination and having an “anti-equality voice” that does not represent Catholics.
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In his Monday statement, Archbishop Broglio explained that according to canon law a group may call itself Catholic if it has been approved by a bishop or recognized by the Holy See in some manner. CNA
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Check out the credentials of anyone fundraising or claiming to speak for the Catholic Church.
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Catholics for Equality is not authorized nor is it approved.  Somehow I have been placed on their mail list, and have received emails from them.  Initially I thought it was an official group - obviously it is not.  I'm concerned this type of propaganda/marketing campaign is going to happen with greater frequency these days.
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This past weekend another rogue group calling itself the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform held a 'synod' in Minneapolis, claiming to be working in union with the local Catholic Church, as noted in their press release:
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Although CCCR currently works independently of the clerical leadership of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, it considers itself in union with Archbishop John Nienstedt and as working for church reform within the Catholic tradition. “The majority of coalition members are part of local parishes,” says co-chair Michael Bayly. “The dialogue we encourage and engage in is grounded in well-formed consciences – something our church values and expects.” - Wild Reed
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Not true.
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In a comment on Michael Bayly's blog, the error was promptly called out by Dennis McGrath, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.
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Michael:   The fourth paragraph in your press release about tomorrow’s synod is absolutely untrue and was craftily phrased to give the impression that CCCR and this synod are “in union with Archbishop John Nienstedt.” That is, as you well know, patently untrue. CCCR is not “in union” with either the Archbishop nor the Archdiocese in any way, shape or form. That fact has been posted on our Archdiocesan web site since this past August and has been printed in the Catholic Spirit.
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From the claim that some of CCCR’s “members” are also members of individual parishes does not justify the giant leap to conclude that CCCR is “in union” with this Archdiocese or its parishes in any way. 
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The decent thing for you to do would be to issue a correction of this claim, but since I presume that’s unlikely, we would ask you, on behalf of Archbishop Nienstedt, to refrain from making this kind of false claim again. - Wild Reed comments
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Call your chancery if you have questions about any group, fundraising effort, no matter if the person be priest, religious, religious order or organization, or lay people claiming to be working for the Roman Catholic Church.

On Contraception...

As I always say, contraception is the original sin of the sexual revolution...
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From A Baptist:
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I’m quite negatively inclined toward the pill. I think that it’s something that more and more people are rejecting – the whole idea of using chemicals to fool the body into thinking that it’s pregnant, for a long period of time, seems to entail health risks that are significant. As well, there is the overall cultural effect of the pill over the last 40 years, leading to such things as widespread promiscuity, the degeneration of the family, the objectification of women, sexual irresponsibility, breakdown of family, high rates of divorce, etcetera; clearly there are big moral issues tied up in the whole question. And these moral issues I think are tied up with all forms of contraception.
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The idea of contraception itself is becoming morally questionable to people I think through the consequences of the ‘sexual revolution,’ or what we could even call the ‘contraceptive revolution’ – the whole idea that sex is recreational, that it’s not about children and family and marriage. The consequences of that, as they are worked out in society, with the predictions of Pope Paul VI coming true – these are causing people to look at it again and re-think what they took for granted, and I would count myself among those who are doing so. I am in the process of re-thinking contraception from a natural law perspective, and I would be at the point now of thinking that it really is inconsistent to embrace contraception, and then to not embrace the rest of the sexual revolution.
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The relation to same-sex marriage.
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I think the one thing that has happened in the last couple of years that has really forced people to think about this issue is the legalization of so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ in Canada. The idea of same-sex ‘marriage’ seems to entail a legitimation of homosexual behaviour, and when homosexual behaviour is legitimized, it is described as being morally equivalent to heterosexual sexual behaviour that is contraceptive in nature. This presents a real problem, because in order for Christians to say homosexuality is wrong, it seems inconsistent to say contraceptive heterosexual behaviour is right. And so if you’re relying on a strictly Biblical law perspective – simply the fact that homosexual behaviour is considered to be wrong in the Bible – if that’s your only basis, then the problem that is you may very well be able to say, “Well we Christians in the Church ought not to engage in that,” but for those who don’t accept the Bible, for those who are non-Christians, there doesn’t seem any way to justifiably require them to accept the anti-homosexual perspective.
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And so without a natural law approach to it, it seems as though Christian support for traditional marriage collapses. And this is what we are seeing in our society. So I’m in the process of re-thinking the basis of Christian opposition to homosexuality, and asking the question of whether, in fact, it is justifiable to expect a society that is pluralistic, that is made up of Christians and non-Christians, to accept anti-homosexuality. While in asking that question one is driven to a natural law analysis of the morality of sex, which raises the question of contraception.
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Theology of the Body
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I have developed a great appreciation for the Theology of the Body, and it’s very possible to read the Theology of the Body as a massive explanation for why Humanae Vitae (Pope Paul VI’s encyclical) is correct from a Biblical theology perspective. The Catholic Church has always based its opposition to contraception, clearly and openly, on a natural law analysis.
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As the sexual revolution took off in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, the western Church was divided between Protestant and Catholic thought; the Protestants had a Biblical theology/divine command approach to ethics, while the Catholic Church emphasized the natural law reasoning against contraception. Now, after Protestant opposition to contraception collapsed during the 20th century, I see the churches as having been put in a weakened position, because on the one hand we had Protestants with a Biblical emphasis on sexual morality and family issues, but then you had the natural law analysis of the Catholics. But the Catholic position didn’t seem compelling to Protestantism, hence the collapse of their opposition to contraception, and not sharing the Catholic natural position, Protestants were not able to speak strongly into the culture about the morality of sexuality. - A Baptist's opposition to contraception.
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H/T to Paula for the story.

Some more 'stuff'.


The dishonest steward...
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Note to self:  How I feel about 'me' blogging...
  • "You are steeped in sin from your birth, and you are giving us lectures?" [Jn. 9:34]
A note for the anonymous commenter to whom I mentioned something about a stick:
  • "I am very sorry for being so rude, please forgive me."
My prayer for today:
  • "Put falsehood and lying far from me..." [Proverbs 50:6]  "Remove from me the way of falsehood, and favor me with your law." [Ps. 119]
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Art:  Jacob and Angel Wrestling.  No other information available.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's in the mail - Archbishop Nienstedt's campaign against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Minnesota.


It isn't any 'last ditch effort' either.
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The Archbishop, together with the Bishops of Minnesota have launched a campaign to educate Catholic Minnesotans on the longstanding misinformation-propaganda campaign by pro-same-sex-marriage advocates.  As the local ordinary, the Archbishop is the primary teacher on faith and morals for Minnesota's Roman Catholics, and therefore it is his pastoral duty to respond to this controversy with clear moral teaching.  No one is as decisive and clear on Church teaching as Archbishop Nienstedt, and we are fortunate and blessed to have him as our Archbishop.
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From CBN:
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Archbishop John Nienstedt announced Monday that every Catholic in the state would be mailed a DVD defending marriage as between one man and one woman. Nienstedt appears at the beginning of the eight-minute video presentation that was produced by the Knights of Columbus.
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The archbishop told Minneapolis/St. Paul television station KTSP that 800,000 DVDs would be mailed to all Catholics in the state on Wednesday.
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"Our target is basically our Catholic people," Nienstedt said during the interview. "To remind them of what we believe and why we believe it and why it's so important that they believe it."
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The diocese is asking voters to watch the DVD and contact their state representatives. The DVD is scheduled to arrive in Minnesota homes six weeks before the November 2 elections.
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Nienstedt said he hoped the DVD would be a "teaching tool" to parishioners in the diocese's 217 parishes.
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"It's not partisan politics in any way. But you know, it's kind of rallying the troops around this issue and pointing out to Catholics that this is an important issue in every election year," the archbishop said.
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"We're not a political force," Nienstedt added. "But we are a religious force. So we think we should be part of the conversation."  - CBN News
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Link:
KSTP News coverage.

Catholic Sex Theologian News: Chris West Opens New Show!


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Breaking News:  West ends sabbatical with comeback performance.
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His upcoming show, titled “Fill These Hearts: God, Sex and the Universal Longing,” is a collaboration with the young folk-rock group Mike Mangione & The Union. West's teaching will also be illustrated visually through film and sand paintings. The show was initially developed for Sydney's World Youth Day in 2008, and performed earlier this year in New York City.
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The performance at Colorado Springs' Pikes Peak Center this Saturday will be West's first public appearance since his announcement of a six-month break in April. His “personal and professional” sabbatical followed a spate of critical comments from Catholic theologians and authors, such as Dr. Alice von Hildebrand and David Schindler, who claimed that West was ignoring the weakness of human nature and presenting an overly sexualized vision of Christianity.
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The show, West told the Independent, is “for everyone,” including non-Catholics and the non-religious," and it is meant  “to blow the lid off the common idea of what Christianity teaches,” although “there will inevitably be some who are offended.” 
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“You'd probably be surprised as to who (the critics) are,” West told the Independent, saying that those offended by his presentations are “usually from the religious right." - CNA
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So he just repackaged it then?  I'm so religious right.  Oh well.  After Pike's Peak - OL of Vegas! 
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Link: The Tour (Thanks Mat!)
Catholic sex theologian. ;)

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Dr. Thorndyke, I assure you, Prince Charles is just as sane as I am!"

Inmates running the asylum, and other news.
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Prince Charles talks and listens to plants and trees and stuff.  I do too... though I don't listen to them - but I see nothing crazy about that.  I'm more worried about this:
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Hilary's new do:  Was she just released from treatment or what? 
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H/T Drudge

Blessed John Henry Newman: Officially entered into the annals of cultural myth and urban legend.


Brotherly love profaned.
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As much of the world knows by now, Pope Benedict XVI beatified Cardinal Newman yesterday on his State visit to the U.K..  Though officially, liturgically and canonically enrolled amongst the blesseds and saints, Blessed Cardinal Newman has also been unofficially enrolled into the annals of cultural myth and urban legend by - popular opinion - as the first gay saint.  Unless things change within the Catholic Church, that can never be an official patronal designation, much less a saintly identity, yet many gay people the world over insist it is accurate.  This all because Newman had an especially close friendship with a priest named Ambrose St. John.  Because they are men, the friendship is referred to as same-sex friendship.  Because we live in the 21st century, anything referred to as same-sex is imbued with a far different meaning than it would have had in Victorian England, between two men, two priests.
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I've received a few emails alerting me to media commentary on this unusual friendship between two celibate men.  Unfortunately, as with just about every human relationship these days, people have this need to sexualize and romanticize platonic, fraternal love.  (Platonic man-love according to the urban dictionary.)
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That said, no matter how much "we dispute with our foes in the gateways" - the legend has taken on a life of it's own, and it will most likely perdure through subsequent generations.  Just like the Pope Joan myth, the St. Sebastian was a big flamer myth, The David and Jonathan were lovers myth, the Pius XII as Hitler's pope myth,  the John XXIII wept when he read the Fatima secret myth, the Paul VI wept when he realized he authorized the changes in the calendar myth, or the CCCR Synod had anything at all to do with the Catholic Church myth, and on and on.  Many of these myths are now fairly well embedded in the cultural memory. 
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Nevertheless, the correction of errors becomes an occasion to proclaim the truth in charity.  In Newman's case, the truth and beauty of authentic friendship. 
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Art: Mary Giberne painted Newman and Ambrose St John at the Propaganda College on 9th June1847.

Quote of the week: "I can see November from my house!"


Larry did it again:
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It's not our currency that's in need of a makeover - it's Washington. And I can see November from my house...
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Now that's funny.

"They" just keep getting appointed...

It doesn't matter who is pope.
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Jozef De Kesel, the new Bishop of Bruges, has placed celibacy and the status of women within the church under debate. In addition, he sees the church as blind to the suffering of abused victims.
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.According to De Kesel, celibacy should no longer be required [for a person] to be a priest. "One could say that there should be celibate priests, but, for people to whom celibacy is humanly impossible, the opportunity should be given of becoming a priest," he told Radio 1.
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The bishop is also open to the possibility of women priests. "That is certainly negotiable and I hope for it, but it is still more sensitive than the issue of celibacy. I think that the discussion about celibacy can proceed much faster than the debate on the admission of women to the priesthood." - Rorate Caeli

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Some days I think (fear) there is a very good chance it's really going to happen:  Married priests.  Women priests.  Gay priests.  Everything has already gone this far already.  Without a miraculous return to traditional Catholic teaching, it's only a matter of time... 
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Apres Benoit, le deluge!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Whatsamattu U

Something missing?
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Imagine a young priest who doesn't read blogs, is not on facebook or twitter, and is just focused upon his ministry, his parish and parishoners.  He's also very prayerful and has a healthy social life.  One day while  speaking to another young man from the parish, the young man expressed concern over his internet use.  The young man mentioned he recently got into an argument with someone online and was uncharitable toward the person. 
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The young priest asked, "Do you know the person you got into the argument with?" 
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The young man replied, "No, I have no idea who he is."
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"Well..." the priest thought for a moment.  "Well why would you bother arguing with a stranger you do not even know?"  Pause.  "There has to be something more to this..."  Pause.  "Don't you see?  Something is the matter with you."

Mercy, mercy, mercy me.

"No Adam, you aren't being punished - look on it as a career opportunity.  Now get out!"
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Why do we sometimes bend over backwards to say God does not punish or chastise sinners or nations?  Why when someone says something concerning God's wrath do most contemporary Catholics quickly jump in to make excuses for God, as if the scriptures were untrue?  Why do we try to soft-peddle God's justice?

Mass Chat: Ordinary time.


The lounge singer.
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My parish is having it's annual Fall festival this weekend, including an outdoor Mass - why outdoors? I don't know.  Anyway, I went to another church for confession and Mass Saturday evening.  It was at a first tier suburban parish.  A really ugly church, but the priest is very good. 
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The church was packed - with seniors - like really old people, not just retirees.  I sat in back of the semi-round gathering space.  All I could think about is how close to death many of us could be, some apparently closer than others.  I think about that a lot, death I mean, and so I wondered if the people at Mass do so as well; obviously many of them have been retired for an awful long time, it just seems it would be a natural thing to contemplate.  Or is it?  Maybe we can't allow ourselves to think about the reality of it?  Whenever I think of death these days, I catch myself wondering things like, 'why do we live so long anyway?',  'what if there is nothing on the other side?', 'what's the point?',  and that kind of stuff.
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If it hadn't been for the pianist and cantor, I would have been terribly depressed.  The church was just so ugly and the liturgy so ordinary.  But the singers had really interesting, smokey voices, and they were rather good entertainers.  No lie, they actually sang the same way as lounge singers do - like in Vegas or some hotel bar, they had a distinct style.  Seriously, the hymns sounded like piano bar songs, I never quite heard hymns sung like that before.  As I was leaving I noticed the one female vocalist looked a lot like Liza Minnelli, she appeared to be the same age too.  I had to smile. 
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That said, I am so very grateful to have been able to go to confession and assist at Mass and receive Holy Communion.  It is all I have.