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, January 29, 2011

The Spiritual Combat



Every day I pray to Fr. Solanus for priests.  Why?  Because he is such a good example for priests, despite the fact he was a simplex priest.  That means in part that he didn't hear confessions nor did he preach.  Nevertheless he counseled thousands of souls and his prayer and Masses were so exalted only heaven knows.  Despite his canonical limitations, he was a faithful priest, through and through.  All priests entered seminary with the same holy enthusiasm.  Not a few falter - because the demands of the vocation can be very difficult at times.  So I pray especially for the priests I know, friend and stranger alike.  I pray for those who read me or link to me, those I read and link to, those who write to me, those who minister to me, and so on.  I pray very, very much for priests - every day.
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Sadly, I just came across scandalous news about a famous priest/exorcist.  I don't believe the stories for a minute.  I suspect the scandal is demonic and most likely a spiritual attack because of the priest's dedicated work on pro-life causes and exorcism.  Even if the stories are found to be factual, I still believe it was an attack by Satan on his ministry.  Temptation and sin is part of the spiritual combat.  I would never cease praying for him even if the stories were true.  I don't want to link to the stories or discuss them as they do no good at this point.
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That said, I am praying for Fr. Tom and I ask all of you to pray very much for him in these trying times...
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Please pray every day for all priests, as well as our bishops and the Holy Father.
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For information on Ven. Solanus:  http://www.solanuscasey.org/

When kids leave home.



Something is happening here, and you don't know what it is.
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Chris Cuomo did a piece on homeless kids from really bad homes last night on ABC's 20/20.
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I was like those kids.  I had a job though - which got me through graduation from High School.  Then I moved in with some one who offered me a home and a comfortable life.  Kids need and look for love - they also want to give love - and people are out there to take it from them.
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O my God! am I here all alone?
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I have long understood that mortal sin has been the cause of all the dysfunction in my family - and in my life.  Mortal sin excludes genuine love and charity... and kids.
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Art:  Bob Dylan.  His Ballad of a Thin Man gave me the courage to leave home.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Islamic Revolution in North Africa and the Middle East: When will news media, blogs and public opinion light up with concern?



Answer:  Only after it affects the price of oil.
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"Investors have their eyes on Egypt as civil unrest in the North African country has progressively escalated into a full blown crisis with international repercussions. Beyond the obvious and inexcusable human cost, the protests against Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign have hit the sovereign debt and equity markets, and are working their way through the oil and gold markets." - Forbes




The comment box as mosh pit.

Let's not.
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I once managed a Catholic book store for a religious goods company.  Most of the employees were very devout Catholics, leaning heavily towards the traditionalist side of things, and terribly opinionated.  Employment was rather fluid and many types would come and go.  Of course, the customer base was rather diverse as well, although the regulars were definitely uber-uber-Catholic.  These facts worked together in such a way that sometimes the store would suddenly erupt into a sort of battlefield.  I did my best to adjust sales associate's attitudes through customer service training and establishing store policy guidelines to help control the situation and establish boundaries.  In a couple of cases, I would no longer schedule an overly outspoken, antagonistic part-time sales associate.  In another case, I was able to arrange a department transfer for a particularly contentious person.  New hires were screened accordingly. 
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By the time I left the business I had a good-looking, customer friendly crew, whose evangelization efforts were limited to serving the customer's needs in a friendly relaxed environment, while promoting the company's excellent Catholic product.  The sales staff knew enough about the books and devotional  items to help customers according to their needs.  My theory about Catholic bookstores is that if the product is solidly Catholic - the business is the apostolate - providing the product is their particular means of evangelization.  Not bullying and starting fights.
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I mention my experience because the upshot of some of the fighting and arguing amongst employees, as well as with customers, including the hell and damnation preaching, actually drove good people away from the store.  Customers were uncomfortable shopping there - sometimes they were deeply offended, in other cases, they just didn't feel welcome.
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I respect you.
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Comment boxes on blogs can have the same effect on people.  I've been receiving a few emails from readers who are afraid to comment because of what other commenters might say - they just don't feel welcome.  I realize at times the comment box gets a little rough.  I understand that - I really do.  But many "normal" readers don't - and the printed word without vocal inflection or facial expression can read extremely offensive.  To be sure I believe the overly PC restraining tendencies focusing on the 'new' civility in language so we can "all just get along" and "agree to disagree" does little to nothing to arrest or correct error.  Nevertheless, in our discourse here we need to avoid getting too heavy handed with one another.
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Therefore, what I've decided to do is to close comments on a particular post when and if things begin to get too wild.  In some cases I will delete a comment, although I will only delete comments that are mean-spirited or discriminatory - for instance, never write anything anti-Semitic - I might be Jewish.  Never insult another commenter.  Never use the "F" word or blaspheme, and so on.  (WTF is okay though.  LOL!) 
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Thanks very much.
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Art:  Dan Witz

If only priests could just be priests.


Art:  Priest Teaching Catechism - no further information available.  Source

Was St. Thomas Aquinas really fat?



That's what they say - and evidently not that attractive either...
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"St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet; very mild and magnanimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart from the humility of holiness; and abstracted, even apart from his occasional and carefully concealed experiences of trance or ecstasy." - Source
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Happy feast day tuba!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cabinet of Dr. Gosnell...



And his clinic of horrors.
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Pro-choice/pro-abortion nazis claim the horrors discovered in the abortuary operated by Dr. Kermit Gosnell have nothing to do with abortion...  Really?
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PZ Myers, a biologist and associate professor at the U of M Morris, whose reputation also has an element of creep about it, suggests Gosnell's major crime was pretty much limited to "bad medicine and unrestricted, unregulated, cowboy surgery..."  For Myers the big horror turns out to be the unprofessional operations, employing non-professional assistants, in an unsanitary environment.  Sort of "back-alley" slam-bam-thank-you-mam no-frills infanticide.  How very tacky a "doctor" could be so unprofessionally mercenary and obvious in his "practice".
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"If anything, the Gosnell case is an argument for legal abortion."

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It is entirely appropriate that this monster be shut down and charged with serious crimes against women. This isn't the first death for which he's responsible; another woman died of a perforated uterus, others suffered from punctured internal organs, others were left sterile by his botched work. The most shocking news is that this guy has been chopping up poor women since 1979, and that the last time the state actually inspected his facilities was in 1993. Why have people looked the other way and allowed this to continue for 30 years?
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He has also been charged with the murders of seven babies, and there I have to disagree. There has to be a difference in degree, or the mothers of those infants would also have to be charged as collaborators (they were all willing volunteers for this medical procedure, and they knew the result would be termination of their pregnancy). They haven't, and they shouldn't. Much noise is being made about the "horrific" killings, but late term abortions, even the ones done in clean, properly maintained facilities with well-trained personnel, are always necessarily bloody and unpleasant affairs, like most surgeries. The important word there is "necessary". Late term abortions should be carried out when it is essential for the life and health of the woman, who is the most important participant in these circumstances, and opening the door to accusing doctors who perform necessary operations as murder is a dangerous precedent.
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Gosnell committed many crimes. He posed as a qualified practitioner of his art, when he wasn't. He did not maintain a medical facility in an appropriate manner. He had even less qualified people do life-threatening work. He lied to women about their pregnancies. He mutilated and killed women. He did harm. That should be what generates public outrage, not the fact that he did abortions." - This is not a case about abortion.
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No difference in practice.
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I'm somewhat encouraged this story has generated so much public outrage.  It should also wake people up to the reality of killing pro-abortion advocates such as Myers attempt to cover up with their verbal shell-games.  What the average person needs to understand and take from this - while keeping it ever before his eyes, is that every abortuary is an abortion mill - albeit sanitized, professionalized, and sometimes even dressed up like a spa.  The Gosnell clinic reminds us that every abortion clinic is a slaughterhouse.  Babies, unborn, late-term, or survived-born-alive, are routinely and callously put to death and disposed of like garbage.  And it is all done for profit.  In reality, there is no difference in practice between the Dr. Gosnell clinic of horrors and the commercialized professional facility.  No difference in practice.
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Photo credit:  LifeSiteNews story dated May 7, 2010

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Padre Oprah back on TV.



As St. Paul wrote to Timothy - or was it Titus?  "There is great gain in religion..."
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Father Alberto CutiƩ, best known as "Father Oprah," is getting his own daytime talk show.

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Fox Television stations, including WNYW/Ch. 5 here, and the Debmar-Mercury company this summer will test "Father Albert," a daily one-hour advice show.
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Each episode will be built around CutiƩ's insight into current events, as well as interviews with special guests. - Source

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He's got a family to support you know.
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H/T Spirit Daily





Got doctrinal questions?





There's a resource for that:  Complete list of Documents from the Congregation For the Doctrine of Faith
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I decided to post this resource because when Catholics get confused, many of them turn to anyone they perceive as religious to get answers, which very often are incomplete, incorrect, or more confusing than the original question.  Confused about Masons?  The CDF has a document for that.  Confused about homosexuality?  The CDF has a document for that.  Confused about meditation, contemplation, centering prayer, yoga, etc.?  The CDF has a document for that as well.
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Lately I've I noted the subject of Christian meditation, Centering Prayer as well as yoga, have come up on various blogs and Catholic news sites.  Frequently the authors write about the topics subjectively, not without some authority and experience to be sure, but not always as clearly and concisely as official teaching presents it.  I'm sometimes troubled when we do such things, considering that if it is not in the Catechism, there is most likely an actual directive from the the Teaching Magisterium clearly stating what is wrong with particular types of pseudo mysticism/gnosticism.
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Seeking "oneself" in experiences of "well being".
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Recently online Catholic news sites have brought to light a Catholic-yoga program hosted by Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.  As most people know, yoga is not only trendy, it is big business in the health and beauty industries, not to mention 'for profit' spirituality centers or spas.   The Cathedral website refers to their offering as Catholic Yoga albeit seems to be more ecumenical - whatever that means...
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Drawing from multiple faith traditions, yoga has evolved across the ages as a means of tuning the body for better communion with God through prayer and meditation. Join us as we explore the multiple spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice while explicitly integrating prayers and spiritual themes of our Catholic faith. Typical sessions will include an opening prayer, inspired movement & strengthening, and contemplative prayer to close. The program will be focused around various themes to coincide with the liturgical calendar and progression of our faith life across the seasons. - Catholic Yoga
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Whatever.  When I returned to the Church and the sacraments, I came out of the occult; namely TM and other pseudo-mystical dabbling.  Leaving the darkness behind, I returned to the light of solid Catholic teaching.  At the same time trendy monks and nuns were launching their new age contemplative ashrams and communes around the country, I discovered John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila and authentic mysticism.  Believe me, the other crap is darkness.  Many of the new age mystics "forage in a land they know not", and since "priest and prophet"  are often included in their midst, one must be vigilant and careful to whom one goes to for sound Catholic doctrine.  That said, I've selected a few paragraphs from the CDF Letter to the Bishops on the subject:
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LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
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12. With the present diffusion of eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of an attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian. Proposals in this direction are numerous and radical to a greater or lesser extent. Some use eastern methods solely as a psycho-physical preparation for a truly Christian contemplation; others go further and, using different techniques, try to generate spiritual experiences similar to those described in the writings of certain Catholic mystics.13 Still others do not hesitate to place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory,14 on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ, which towers above finite reality. To this end, they make use of a "negative theology," which transcends every affirmation seeking to express what God is and denies that the things of this world can offer traces of the infinity of God. Thus they propose abandoning not only meditation on the salvific works accomplished in history by the God of the Old and New Covenant, but also the very idea of the One and Triune God, who is Love, in favor of an immersion "in the indeterminate abyss of the divinity."15 These and similar proposals to harmonize Christian meditation with eastern techniques need to have their contents and methods ever subjected to a thorough-going examination so as to avoid the danger of falling into syncretism.

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23. Without doubt, a Christian needs certain periods of retreat into solitude to be recollected and, in God's presence, rediscover his path. Nevertheless, given his character as a creature, and as a creature who knows that only in grace is he secure, his method of getting closer to God is not based on any technique in the strict sense of the word. That would contradict the spirit of childhood called for by the Gospel. Genuine Christian mysticism has nothing to do with technique: it is always a gift of God, and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy.27
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To live out in one's prayer the full awareness of one's body as a symbol is even more difficult: it can degenerate into a cult of the body and can lead surreptitiously to considering all bodily sensations as spiritual experiences.

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28. Some physical exercises automatically produce a feeling of quiet and relaxation, pleasing sensations, perhaps even phenomena of light and of warmth, which resemble spiritual well-being. To take such feelings for the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit would be a totally erroneous way of conceiving the spiritual life. Giving them a symbolic significance typical of the mystical experience, when the moral condition of the person concerned does not correspond to such an experience, would represent a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations. - CDF
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Catholic Spiritual Direction also has some good posts on these lines.
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H/T to Paula for something to blog about.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Obama's State of the Union Address: My commentary...

Terry shrugged.

March for Life: Hundreds of thousands marched in Washington yesterday.



Ignoring the facts.
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Yesterday afternoon the only thing I came across on line regarding the March for Life in Washington DC was a piece from the Washington post.  Last night I believe there was a passing reference to the event on network news.  I dare say all Catholic bloggers knew about the march - as do most Mass-going Catholics.  The Church gets the message out.  Although some people say there is a secular news media black out of sorts, determined to bury the story.  But hundreds of thousands marching on Washington is a hard one to ignore.
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President Obama leads the way of course, in the arrogant affirmation of Roe v. Wade:
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President Obama, however, praised the Roe v. Wade decision on its anniversary, Jan. 22, stating that he is “committed to protecting this constitutional right.” The decision held that a right to abortion was implicit in the 14th amendment, a provision originally intended to ensure that no person or group would be unjustly deprived of “life, liberty, or property” after the abolition of slavery.

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The president, whose 2009 “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” allocated a total of $4.1 billion for government-funded or state-run child-care programs, nonetheless said that the Roe decision “affirms the fundamental principle” that “government should not intrude on private family matters.” - CNA
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"Hundreds of thousands" - imagine that.  The tide is against him.  The President will offer his State of the Union tonight - but he won't get it right.
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H/T Pewsitters

Christian Unity



Silence of the lambs.
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The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity comes to a close today, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.  I've never been a great devotee of this observance.  I of course pray for these intentions and all of the intentions of the Holy Father, but I'm not sure I do much else, or even think very deeply about it.
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Sometimes I've lamented the fact non-Catholic friends do not understand why they can't receive Communion with me, especially when they see the whole church going forward for Communion.  I can explain it to them, but they still don't really 'get it'.  Likewise when I'm with a devout Orthodox or Anglican Christian - we find we believe exactly - or close enough - the same things, but there is no inter-communion.  Ordinary people do not see division as clearly as the theologians and scholars, and in a time when errors are taught more often than truth, it is no wonder ordinary people become confused, if not apathetic.
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Ecumenism seems to me to be a rather vague term in the first place.  I recall learning about it in the 6th grade, when we were encouraged to do a project on the subject - for Christian Unity Week of course.  That was in the early '60's - a few years later (1964) Catholics were 'at last' encouraged to join other Christians in prayer for Christian unity.  (That got out of hand of course, and we see many abuses today.)  Nevertheless, I chose for my project to interview a married Orthodox priest and learn about Russian Orthodoxy.  I had calendars and icon prints and wrote a very good report - which included the issue of married priests in the Eastern rite.  Sr. Lillian decided not to permit me to give my presentation, I never knew why.  Somehow, I got the feeling she didn't know what ecumenism meant either.  So much for Christian Unity Week back then.  I saw Sr. Lillian years later at a Fatima event, she was one of the few of her order still wearing the old habit, and wasn't at all interested in our reunion. 
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So yeah, I pray, pay, and obey with this one... being a sheep isn't a bad thing.  Perhaps my best efforts for Christian Unity have been my prayers for my parent's conversion and happy death... God heard those.
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With all the division amongst Catholics, Christian Unity almost seems impossible, but as we know, nothing is impossible for God.
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My best efforts seem limited to prayer and acceptance of non-Catholics, Christian or not, devout or not; after all,  we share the same planet.  That said, I'm not interested in worship outside the Roman Catholic Church or the corruption of the Roman rite by non-sacramental, low church innovation and novelty.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Remember when the Pope encouraged Catholics to blog?



Good idea, right?
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Everyone felt so empowered after that - some even thinking of it as a vocation or a special call.  Maybe it is.  But the Holy Father seems to be aware of how all of that is going... adding caution to our wind, as it were.
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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI told Catholic bloggers and Facebook and YouTube users Monday to be respectful of others when spreading the Gospel online and not to see their ultimate goal as getting as many online hits as possible.
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Echoing concerns in the U.S. about the need to root out online vitriol, Benedict called for the faithful to adopt a "Christian style presence" online that is responsible, honest and discreet.
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"We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its 'popularity' or from the amount of attention it receives," Benedict wrote in his annual message for the church's World Day of Social Communications.
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"The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive." - Google News
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The Pope urged users of social networks to ask themselves "Who is my 'neighbour' in this new world?" and avoid the danger of always being available online but being "less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life". - Reuters

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Kudos.  As one priest might say, "Why don't you go over to the Vatican website and raise those stats."  ;)
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H/T Michael R for the story.



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cyber overload: "Are you talkin' to me?"


The Internet IS the Antichrist.
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I check out my friend Angela's blog every day, and today she said she's taking a break.  She says there is too much depressing, sex-saturated news stories, blog posts and Facebook soft porn photos of people she knows.  I know what she's talking about.  It all gets to be too much and though everyone is talking, things just seem to be getting worse.
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Periodically I write about living online and all of the foibles of Internet addicts - including my own.  I dare say many of us are in denial that we are addicted - I know I am.  Truth be told, I never miss a day blogging - even when I say, "I'll be offline for the day."  But that usually means I'll have a post ready by sunset.  Some bloggers literally live online - count the daily posts and twitters. 
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Anyway - experts are checking in on how it is all going - the social networking thing, that is.  Angela may have some support for her moratorium...
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"The way in which people frantically communicate online via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging can be seen as a form of modern madness, according to a leading American sociologist.
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"A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological," MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is leading an attack on the information age.
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Turkle's thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world." - Finish reading.
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Blogging, Twittering, inter-Face-booking and web browsing all day and night is not exactly a life, much less a real job - no matter how much your followers/friends box, wishlist and donation bucket gets filled.  Con-job might be a better word for one's virtual reality existence on one's imaginary digital continent.

Orphans and widows.



Sunday vigil Mass is full of them.
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Tonight I spoke to Kevin.  He's a recovering alcoholic, disabled due to a head injury.  He lived with his mom who died at 3PM on Christmas day.  He doesn't know what to do now, "because she took care of me."  He told me he may be placed in a half-way house, "but I can't endure that!  I won't last."  He is a devout guy - in his 40's I think.  I'm not able to help him except to pray for him.  I know a couple of other orphans just like him.  They sometimes stop by adoration - these guys lost their moms too - and now they are on their own.
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Please pray with me for these adult children, newly orphaned.  They are very frightened that they will fall away and be lost.
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Art:  Madonna of the Disabled - Filippo Lippi