Friday, November 30, 2007

Ron Paul on the issues

On commenter asked what Ron Paul's Stance was on cloning. Here is Ron Paul on the issues
He did vote NO on the Human Cloning Prohibition Act, but as with many of his votes, one needs to understand a bit deeper who he is and how he votes.

I would direct you to this answer from one of the debates. He doesn't look at the government as the savior from all issues. If government didn't fund ESCR, would it even exist?
Q: Would you expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research?

A: Programs like this are not authorized under the Constitution. The trouble with issues like this is, in Washington we either prohibit it or subsidize it. And the market should deal with it, and the states should deal with it.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007
Also see this article by Dr. Paul on the Pro-life cause.
Pro-lifers should be fiercely loyal to this system of federalism, because the very same Constitution that created the federal system also asserts the inalienable right to life. In this way, our constitutional system closely links federalism to the fundamental moral rights to life, liberty, and property. For our Founders it was no exaggeration to say federalism is the means by which life, as well as liberty and property, are protected in this nation. This is why the recent direction of the pro-life cause is so disturbing.

Pro-life forces have worked for the passage of bills that disregard the federal system, such as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, the federal cloning ban, and the Child Custody Protection Act. Each of these bills rested on specious constitutional grounds and undermined the federalism our Founders recognized and intended as the greatest protection of our most precious rights.
This is why I don't support the Federal Amendments for marriage and against abortion. They don't belong at the federal level. Taking it to the federal level got us in this mess (see Roe v. Wade).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Searching for answers, coming up with laws

Dom at Bettnet has a couple of related posts recently well worth noting,  Can't Legislate Common Sense  and Every problem, a crisis.  His response to the Boston city council trying to legislate against every stupid act that ends in tragedy got me to thinking.  Specifically,

The only solution to this tragedy and others like it does not come written on a ticket or a summons. It is simple common sense and that’s not something you can legislate.

Unfortunately, people don’t want to hear that. They want to be told that the Columbine and Virginia Tech killers could have been stopped with more gun control laws. They want to be told that wildfires and earthquakes and plane crashes could be prevented with more regulation and red tape. What they don’t want to be told is that sometimes bad things happen in a fallen world and sometimes those bad things happen because a nice kid with a life full of opportunity does something stupid

Every time I hear the excuse or complaint that God wouldn't allow that or why is there evil in the world, I consider the same thing.  

What is so hard to understand about personal responsibility?

I do stupid thing, I get lazy, trying to do my seatbelt after I started onto the street and wham, a cop drives by.  Suddenly I am looking at $140 fine.  I could rant and rave about the draconian laws in this goofy state, the cops paying more attention to the money making seatbelt infraction rather than dangerous drivers and blame anybody but me.  But even if they are true, where did the responsibility lie and who failed?  I did, I knew the law (disagreed with it, but I knew it) and didn't comply.

Same with evil.  Same with tragedy.  Did I do anything to prevent it?  The article doesn't talk about the death or quote anybody involved.  I assume the parties involved are horrified and deeply affected.  But how many times do we hear someone close to the situation ask why nobody did anything?  Why is this allowed?  Well, the solution begins with number 1.  The person asking the question. 

It ties right into his second post

This is an entirely predictable reaction. Politicians—on both sides of the aisle—have trained us to believe that every problem in society is a crisis and every crisis requires a drastic solution and those drastic solutions can only be devised through arcane legislation passed by those very politicians (who helpfully include earmarked spending for government contractors in their districts) who are so necessary to fixing anything and so brave to stand up and call a molehill, a mountain.

Seatbelts, car-seats for kids into their teens, "Caution, this package of peanuts may contain nuts" ....  We have all seen them, ludicrous laws aimed to protect every idiot in the ever growing nanny state.  Well, for every idiotic law, there will be an idiot willing to ignore it or even flaunt it.  I did.  When I was younger I couldn't stand the political push behind the seatbelt propaganda.  As a grade-schooler, I recognized it for what it was, manipulating statistics to change behavior.  I rebelled.  I wouldn't wear my seatbelt just because I didn't want to be told how to live.  I realize that seatbelts do save lives, but they aren't divine intervention.

So what is it that "people don't want to hear" or what is it about "the fallen world" that scares people into running to the government for help? 

I would wager that many of them don't have faith.  I could be wrong, but the worry mongers strike me as people that encounter death and have no answers.  Suddenly the veil is pulled back, a glimpse of mortality reveals the meaninglessness of a materialistic life.  Quickly they recover and re-cover that glimpse.  Then "rationally" they move on to look for a solution to tragedy. 

Perhaps sometimes tragedy is just that.  Tragedy. 

Mourn, learn and don't repeat.  But as band-aids don't fix mortal wounds, more laws aren't going to fix every tragedy.

Where have I been

And why haven't haven't I watched this podcast before.

Cardinal Arinze rocks. He keeps it interesting with his humor, but there is no waffle in this five course meal. He answers questions on Adoration during retreats, if liturgical dance is acceptable in some cultures (hint, not in ours) and what is acceptable during Mass (it has to do with ACTS).

ACTS is Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Watch the video and tell me you aren't impressed.

via Alive and Young

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Narnia and the Seven Heavens

Not sure I get the whole of what Michael Ward is writing about here. And not sure I buy all of that I do understand. But as a lover of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the deeper meanings behind the story, this is some interesting thoughts on Narnia's Secret.

To me, Narnia was a perfect series for the un-cluttered mind of a child. It was easy to recognize the Christianity behind the writings, but unconcerned about the "theology" of it, the inconsistencies didn't bother me. A child could "get" the moral without being clubbed over the head with it.

As an adult, I have greater appreciation for the "theology" of Tolkien and the years of effort he put into making sure it was correct. The Christianity in it isn't so easy to decipher, until one steps back and thinks about it. On the first read, I missed many of the connections or "knots" in the rope as Tolkien described them. But as I read about it, listened to podcasts on the subject and then discuss the books with my daughter, they become apparent.

It is interesting to look at the Narnia series as Ward does here, looking deeper and making the connections that weren't obvious before. Seems like great literary works offer that deeper meaning every time they are reviewed and studied, like the greatest literary work of all time, the Bible. But one must be careful not to have the theory formed before the facts are presented (to borrow from Sherlock Holmes) because that can lead to facts being twisted to fit the theory.

Not saying that Ward does that with here, but just saying.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On politic, Ron Paul and Huckabee

On my recent post on Huckabee, commenter Lee Strong levels the extreme liberalism comment at my post. He makes some good points that in many cases, Huckabee sounds very conservative.

I am wary of Huckabee because he talks a good game, catering to the religious voters. But how does he stand on other "small government" items. According to Thomas Woods Jr. in his
Open Letter to the Catholic Community in Behalf of Ron Paul, not so well. via CfRP
On education and home schooling, Ron Paul is the clear winner. Fred Thompson, John McCain, and Duncan Hunter all voted for the execrable No Child Left Behind Act, and Governors Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have both come out in favor of it. Ron Paul – as did the Republican Party itself not so long ago – opposes any federal role in education, which is the responsibility of parents and local communities.

In other words, Ron Paul believes in a little something called subsidiarity, which happens to be a central principle of Catholic social thought. Subsidiarity holds that all social functions should be carried out by the most local unit possible, as opposed to the dehumanizing alternative whereby distant bureaucratic structures are routinely and unthinkingly entrusted with more and more responsibilities for human well-being.
And if you look at it from a Catholic perspective, Ron Paul scores a 99 on the Evaluation of 2008 Presidential Candidates Against US Bishops' Criteria. Huckabee scores a 69 while Mitt Romney had to clarify his positions to get up to a 10. Giuliani? At the bottom with negative 28.

But back to Huckabee and Ron Paul, the only two candidates I would consider. Huckabee follows rank with the current Republican agenda of "No Child Left Behind (or untaxed)". So he seems to be a panderer. Thrown out there to keep the religious voters happily involved. He has done surprisingly well, so he sticks around. But he isn't going to turn this country around. Bush had that same quiet "humility" and faith about him before he was elected.

I have said it before and will again. When you bind yourself too closely with a party, be it Republican or Democrat, you will be disappointed. And then what options are left? Sinking with the ship or leaping of into the big wide ocean, not knowing which way to swim.

High notes

Not a musician here, but this kid hits some serious notes. wow.

Via The Spirit's Sword

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Enough said

About Huckabee. Sounds good on many issues, but he is dead wrong on this one. Mike Huckabee Says Fred Thompson Has Wrong Approach to Abortion
Washington, DC ( -- Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said in a Sunday interview that fellow GOP hopeful Fred Thompson has the wrong approach on dealing with the issue of abortion. Huckabee said he favors a national human life amendment while Thompson favors overturning Roe v. Wade and letting states ban abortion.
Pushing this at the federal level is flat out wrong and bad politics. It might seem like a victory to some, but it would be a phyrric one Cuz the death mongers would have every right to push the exact opposite through when they got in power.

He also shows his weakness on history also.
"It's the logic of the Civil War," Huckabee said in an interview with the "Fox News Sunday" program.
Remember, we are the United STATES of America, not the Federation or some top heavy government. Well, not supposed to be anyway.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Minding the kids

I have been asked on more than one occasion how we get the children to mind so well in church.  Other than noting that from a parents perspective, they aren't always angels. 

But they do stay pretty quiet and we don't make too many trips  "out back". It occurred to me as I was interrupted from my state of awe last Sunday.  Just as Father was about to consecrate the Body of Christ, our two year old and 5 year old started squabbling and the shush was more than the tender feelings of the little one could bear.  So as he was rushed out of the pew just as he drew his breath for the second wail, I turned to see what they were fighting over.

It was nothing more than a book.  But there lies the rub.  It wasn't our book, we tend to be minimalists in our approach to Mass time entertainment.  It isn't asking too much for kids to be quiet and behave for one hour.  The youngest two draw/scribble on the little papers provided for that purpose.  But the family behind us offered one of them a book halfway through Mass.  Which was fine until the other noticed and wanted to hold it.

Entertainment only serves to promote the need for more entertainment and then the equal distribution of said entertainment.  Then there is the enforcement of the distribution, the threat of future enforcement if this one isn't followed and so forth.  Pretty soon the whole Mass is spent minding the kids rather than the kids minding their manners.

Clinging to the moments

Bear-i-tone's deep question at The Spirit's Sword reminded me of a brief moment at Mass this weekend. Bear is troubled over the quality of music they are required to sing.

The music doesn't fit the bill. We've lost members over this. We are having trouble recruiting in a large part because of this. Few people like this and the rest are left out in the cold. A very large portion of this music is theologically inadequate. It is inadequate in almost every sense. So I come back to my troublesome question: Should I ask, "Why in God's Name are we singing this garbage?" or "Why are we singing this garbage in God's Name?"

I would say the question should be the latter. He quotes Fr. Longnecker's excellent treatise on What's a Hymn For?

However, if the Mass is meant to take us to the threshold of heaven; if it is meant to be a glimpse of glory and a participation in the worship of the spheres of heaven itself, why then the sentimental, sweet and comforting songs just won't do. They wont' do not because they are bad or untrue, but because they are not good and true enough. Worship that takes us to the threshold of glory needs to be, well...glorious.

Mass is about worshiping God. Our Creator and the very one whom without His active presence we would cease to exist. Mass isn't about how great we art, but about "How Great Thou Art". Which leads me to my brief moment of profound worship. We were asked to stand in as proxy sponsors for a baptism. Hence we were up in the second row, we made it to Mass on time (well about 1 minute late, but they waited for us.) and the kids were in good behavior mode for the most part (more on that later).

The readings fit together wonderfully (as the Church has planned out over a 3 year cycle of Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament and Gospel readings). The homily was well done. But what set this Mass apart was one song. The Offertory was "How Great Thou Art". All four verses and by verse 3, it started to hit me.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

That floored me. It was one of those moments that sustains me for a long time. I don't get many of the "profound moments" that really affect my heart. I do much out of duty and because I know it is right in my heart. But it is rare that emotions get through. I long for that, but not unlike Mother Theresa's dark night of the soul, I have a 40 days and nights in the desert. Of course I am far from her holiness and complete submission and am by no means a mystic. But lets just say, I can understand what she meant by not "feeling" the presence.

So then, the 4th verse followed.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!

I was at the threshold of glory. I wished I could have stayed there. But a fight over a book by the youngest two right before the consecration demanded my attention come back to earth.

But one of those moments had happened. And I cling to them knowing "How Great Thou Art"!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Above the board

Planned Parenthood is up to its tricks again. Being such noble defenders of all that is good and true about abortion, they would never hide their agenda to get one of their golden castles of choice built. Well, it happened once in Aurora Ill, but that was just an oversight.

That is until it happened again in Denver.
The bishops write, “In early November, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) broke ground on a new headquarters and clinic in northeast Denver.” They “purchased this property secretly under the guise of Fuller 38 LLC.”

“Planned Parenthood told the Denver Post that PPRM planned to complete the entire project in secrecy to avoid protests and delays that other Planned Parenthood buildings have encountered around the country.”

Looks like it is getting a bit heated down in Aurora where the Police don't seem ready to deal with the protests there. Illinois pro-lifers face threat of paddy wagon for Planned Parenthood protests

All about choice

Remember, it is all about choice. A woman's right to choose and the decision should be made between a woman and her doctor. Unless of course the woman doesn't want to abort her babies. The culture of death just keeps on needing more grist for the mill. Mother delivers quintuplets after refusing multiple abortions
London, Nov 19, 2007 / 10:42 am (CNA).- A Russian mother has given birth to quintuplets despite opposition from doctors who wanted her to abort some of them. Varvara Artamkin and her husband Dimitri had to travel to England in order to keep all of their children.

She and her husband Dimitri, a 28 year-old math professor, were told by Russian doctors that they would not treat Varvara during her pregnancy unless she aborted two or three of her babies. The doctors said the 'selective terminations,' as the abortions are called, were essential to giving the remaining babies a chance of survival.

Mr. Artamkin's grandmother, Irina, 74, speaking from her home in Moscow, described their plight: "They went to several maternity hospitals to ask them to take her on but the doctors kept saying they would only accept her on the condition that she terminated two or three of the babies."
But I remain confident that the staunch defenders of a woman's right to choose will step up and be heard.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not really

Tis often frustrating trying to get the 5 boys and a girl settled down for bedtime. Hence prayer time can be somewhat stressful. Must have been the case tonight as my kids caught a slip in the Act of Contrition. It wasn't what I was thinking, but at the moment, one could almost understand.

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.
And I detest all my SONS, because of thy just punishments,
but most of all because they offend Thee my God whom art all good
and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of
thy grace to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin.

Muslim nations and barbaric acts

During a discussion on a resolution condemning the death penalty, a
Right-to-life debate unexpectedly erupts at UN
The representative of Egypt stated that since the resolution was aimed at respecting life, it was appropriate to widen the scope to include protection of innocent human life.
Oddly it is the supposedly barbaric Muslim states that were sponsoring this pro-life amendment. And the "enlightened" European countries that opposed it?

So lets get this straight. Death Penalty is bad. Criminals don't want to die and deserve mercy. Euthanasia and abortion is good because ... the elderly and unborn can't appeal?

Safe to say

This movie won't be on our limited viewing agenda.
ZENIT - What Every Parent Should Know About "The Golden Compass"

Pete Vere and Sandra Meisel aren't calling for a boycott, just ignoring the blatant marketing of atheism to our children.
I agree with Pete. Avoid both the movie and the books. It would be best if people didn't picket or make a public fuss because that's just free publicity. If the movie fails at the box office, the second and third books won't be filmed.
Another good reason to avoid the books as well as the movie?
Pullman's work, on the other hand, appears to be driven by the critics. The only people I know recommending Pullman's work are English majors and university professors. I don't know a single electrician, hairdresser or accountant who recommends Pullman's work by word of mouth. Thus the books haven't resonated with the average person to the same degree as "Lord of the Rings," "Narnia" and "Harry Potter."

Catching up

Fr. Euteneuer spells out Japan's Death Spiral
For years, Catholic pro-lifers have been warning that abortion, sterilization and contraception cause the collapse of an individual's morality and the destruction of families.

Now, demographers are indirectly telling us that these evils are destroying entire nations and continents. Unfortunately, governments do not even acknowledge the root cause of the problem of the “demographic death spiral.”

An impending white paper by the Japanese government tells us that the “foundations of communities” - police, fire and other basic services - will be threatened by the country’s declining birthrate and aging population.
Sort of reminds me of the old adage, "Nature bats last." You can mess around, tweaking and manipulating nature(the natural cycles of the body, or human nature.) But just as you think you have it under "control", it blows up in your face.

Funny how the pro-death crowd ages and then decries their own policies. Age catches up on all of us. But now the childless adults are wondering why they have no children to care for them.

The results can be pretty sad.
Saddest of all is the sight of elderly Japanese women cuddling Takara-Tomy's talking Yumel robotic dolls. These women buy these expensive dolls because they have no children or grandchildren to lavish their attentions on. The dolls, which are selling very well, tell their owner how much they love her and welcome her when she walks back into the room. Yuko Hirakawa of Takara-Tomy says that “many elderly people think the dolls are actual grandsons and granddaughters.”
Or in our society, all the people that consider their pets to be children. Some are just over-enthusiastic pet lovers, but I see a large portion being those without children around and/or grandchildren. Our mobile society has contributed to the lack of grandchildren around their grandparents, but the odds are greatly increase with only one or two children.

I am always amazed at how many elderly people are attracted to our large family. They love kids.

But Japan is in trouble and government programs probably aren't gonna help.
After all, if a government promotes “family planning” for decades, if it drills into the people's heads the idea that children are messy, noisy, expensive, and bad for the environment, once it has promoted and funded millions and millions of abortions, there is really no way back. As proof, an amazing 70 percent of young Japanese single women say they have no intention of getting married.

Babies are just too much trouble.
When the anti-child message has fully resounded and it is now time to reap what has been sown, the future looks dim. But there is always one light. A light for all ages.
Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 93 | Friday, November 16, 2007
Japan in the Death Spiral
(Spirit and Life® guest columnist, Brian Clowes, PhD)

For years, Catholic pro-lifers have been warning that abortion, sterilization and contraception cause the collapse of an individual's morality and the destruction of families.

Now, demographers are indirectly telling us that these evils are destroying entire nations and continents. Unfortunately, governments do not even acknowledge the root cause of the problem of the “demographic death spiral.”

An impending white paper by the Japanese government tells us that the “foundations of communities” - police, fire and other basic services - will be threatened by the country’s declining birthrate and aging population.

This paper correctly identifies the source of the problem—that Japanese are simply not having enough children. For a nation to replace its population, each woman must have an average of 2.1 children per family. Japanese women average a disastrously low one child.

Japan's population peaked in 2005, and will plunge from its current 127 million to just 89 million in 2050—a decline of thirty percent. Japan is currently the oldest nation on Earth (median age 43, twice the age of many African nations). Japan will continue to hold this dubious title through the year 2050, when the average Japanese will be 61 years old. Inevitably, more and more Japanese leaders are looking for the easy way out of the dilemma of “over-aging.” On October 18 of this year, the Japanese Association of Acute Medicine became the first organization to recommend euthanasia for the terminally ill.

Melancholy signs of a declining population are everywhere in Japan. During Japan's 2007 Children's Day, the government soberly noted that the number of children in Japan has declined for the 26th consecutive year. Over the past decade, more than 2,000 junior and senior high schools have closed due to lack of children, but many are enjoying new life as elderly care centers. More than 60,000 teachers have lost their jobs because they have no children to teach. Elders of villages who traditionally call out the names of newborns at autumn festivals often have no names to call. More than 90 Japanese theme parks catering to children have closed. More and more pediatricians are switching specialties and becoming geriatricians.

Saddest of all is the sight of elderly Japanese women cuddling Takara-Tomy's talking Yumel robotic dolls. These women buy these expensive dolls because they have no children or grandchildren to lavish their attentions on. The dolls, which are selling very well, tell their owner how much they love her and welcome her when she walks back into the room. Yuko Hirakawa of Takara-Tomy says that “many elderly people think the dolls are actual grandsons and granddaughters.”

Some prefectures and cities have tried just about everything to entice young couples to have children. They have offered substantial cash bonuses to couples who have more than one child, and have even sponsored dances and “speed dating” parties to get young singles together. In 2006, the Year of the Dog, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi urged women to “do as dogs do” and have large litters!

Unfortunately—and predictably—none of this has worked.

After all, if a government promotes “family planning” for decades, if it drills into the people's heads the idea that children are messy, noisy, expensive, and bad for the environment, once it has promoted and funded millions and millions of abortions, there is really no way back. As proof, an amazing 70 percent of young Japanese single women say they have no intention of getting married.

Babies are just too much trouble.

What is the solution to the vexing and lethal trend of “country-cide”? Some suggest massive immigration, but Japanese society is 99 percent ethnically homogenous and very xenophobic. It is not an exaggeration to say that many Japanese leaders would rather allow their culture to die than to be diluted or assimilated.

The only solution to the plague of depopulation is to rekindle the love of God and children in the people's hearts. The Japanese must undo three decades of anti-natalist propaganda with an intensive program of teaching the people the value of family, the beauty and joy that children provide, and the satisfaction of fidelity to a husband or a wife until death.

These are not religious values, these are human values, and they are the only answer to the death of a nation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Signs of the Apocalypse

Seems the end of the world (yes I know apocalypse means "to be revealed" but it sounds good) is upon us.

First, the graphic that the Ironic Catholic dug up, And For Certain Soldiers of the Liturgy Wars, This Stained Glass Replacement Was The Last Straw.

Second was the homily this last weekend. I loved the readings. Where else but the Catholic Church are you going to hear Maccabees. The Gospel had the Sadducees testing Jesus about the resurrection. Sad to say, I wasn't expecting much of a homily since the visiting priest was a Jesuit from nearby Gonzaga University and his opening prayers for the Mass were quite odd. But as Matthew at CMR sez, Don't give up on the Jesuits.

Not only was his homily relevant to the readings, was engaging, sprinkled with just a bit of humor, and informative; it had quite a shock value to it. After all, when is the last time anyone heard a homily on Heaven, Hell and ... Purgatory. And this all from a Jesuit priest. I was stunned as he mentioned those words. Stunned even more as he expounded upon them rather than dismissing them. The kids paid attention, I came away from Mass feeling filled with some new knowledge and for a short time, life was good.

/aside I say short time cuz I wasted the rest of the morning watching the Vikings get humiliated by the Packers. I would say that is another sign of the apocalypse, but it seems to be too common this year for it to be anything other than a sign of a high draft pick next spring.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Silence is golden

A great story in the Courier Journal of Louisville, KY. And newsworthy too. Archbishop joins abortion protest
[Archbishop] Kurtz, who was installed as the Archdiocese of Louisville's leader in August, stood and knelt while facing the EMW Women's Surgical Center at Second and Market streets for nearly 1½ hours. He spoke only when he gave a blessing that ended the gathering.
Truly a shepherd leading his flock.

via Sarah at the CUF

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not a floppy

But still pretty impressive. 

Saw the "files waiting to be written to CD" pop-up balloon on my wife's laptop this weekend.  I opened it to see what was "waiting" to be written.


Friday, November 09, 2007


My brother is famous.

If I was a writers guild member on strike, I would be very afraid.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Glad I got these blues

He calls 'em the Nicean Blues. by the Tiber Jumper via the Curt Jester

Wake up and smell the coffee

...while reading scripture?

Leon at CUF offers some encouragement on Seizing the Moment
In our daily spiritual lives, moments of decision typically revolve around temptations. We’re trying to follow Christ and abide by His teachings and commands. Then we’re confronted with a situation in which we’re being lured—subtly or overtly, whatever best suits Satan’s purposes at the time—into doing what we know we shouldn’t do.
We all struggle, but what about setting the tone early in the day. In essence, girding up for battle as soon as we wake.
Instead of having the day’s moral decisions dominated by choices to avoid temptations to sin, as though we’re constantly navigating through a spiritual minefield, why not capitalize on moments of opportunity to grow in the love of God and neighbor? After all, the best defense is a good offense. The first moment of decision in a given day, and one in which quiet heroes are made, occurs the instant we awake. It’s the decision literally to get out of bed. At that moment, we’re comfortable, we might still be tired or not feel so great, and it would be easy to justify hitting the snooze button so we can sleep some more.
Wise words that seem to hit home. I have wanted to get up earlier and spend some time in prayer or reading scripture for quite some time. But I keep hitting that blasted snooze button. Not motivated enough to make the commitment.

But as is often the case, prayers are answered on God's time. When you seek, you find. And this challenge is perhaps just what is needed to bring out the commitment.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Overdue and under duress

I am writing this using the beta of Windows Live Writer, so bear with me if it comes out looking funny.  But it is much overdue.

Here in North Idaho, we have an annual Catholic men's retreat.  Usually very inspiring, spiritually uplifting and even when the retreat master is less than wonderful, three Masses and confession more that makes it worthwhile.  And then there is the evening festivities involving great Catholic male conversation and usually libations.

Sad to say, this year was different.  I actually came home spiritually depressed.  In a much worse mood than I when I left.  It really bothered me to be struggling spiritually after what many describe as a weekend to recharge the spiritual batteries.  I felt like I had gone away and someone had left the the lights on.  My battery was drained.  So what was the problem?

Well, first off; I didn't have the usual suspects there with me.   Plenty of men I knew and I had good conversations with many, but none of the core group was there.  None of my fellow Maccabeen warriors. But as I said, there was plenty of men, 83 I think, there and how can one not enjoy spiritual conversations with fellow Catholic men?

The first talk on Friday was inspiring and got me fired up.  So even though the retreat master wasn't great as the weekend went on, it wasn't an issue of a poor topic, poor presentation or general malaise on my part.

The problem was much deeper than all this.  I was the victim of a bigger scam.  Many on St. Blog's have been offended with their priest dressing up as a clown for Mass.  I (tongue in cheek here) witnessed a clown dressed up as a priest. 

Anyone familiar with this site know about issues I take with poor liturgy.  The Mass does not belong to any one person, even the priest and therefore should not be treated as private property.  No inventing stuff, no changing the script to suit personal tastes or omitting certain prayers.  There are options that are offered.  But inventing your own Mass is forbidden. 

Anyway, this priest could give a great homily.  He believes in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  And in many ways he would pass as a rock solid priest.  But as I try to lighten up on the liturgical policing role, for my own good I can overlook many things.  But what completely ruined the weekend for me was doing what he knew was wrong, commenting on it during Mass and acting like it was a joke.  If Catholics truly believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, would we really treat the Mass (where Jesus comes TO us, in OUR place, in OUR time) as a stand-up comedy routine?

Anymore Catholics will hardly notice a deviation from the script.  There are four options for the opening prayer, and not too many of us have all four memorized.  But to add his own, then comment how he felt it wouldn't be a big deal to add a fifth, drag that into a comment about him bringing a fifth (of spirits) elsewhere and then joking how he hoped no one would turn him into the bishop.  Many complaints have been heard about the monotony or repetition in  Mass, but this was about the only repeated line I remember from the weekend, about not being turned into the bishop.  Perhaps he was begging for someone to do just that.

The best thing I can take away from this weekend is a new appreciation for how mundane and ordinary our Sunday Mass at our church is.  Hardly perfect, poor music, bad hymns and questionable homilies from the deacons; but at least they don't joke about how bad they are.  And for that I am very thankful. 

I have come to a compromise with anyone who likes the liturgical goofiness.  I won't whine and complain about the little stuff anymore if you promise not to flaunt it.  It is so juvenile and could ruin a perfectly good weekend.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The smiling Dalai

Father Raymond de Souza asks why the Dalai Lama always seems to be smiling. Perhaps because quietly and without military force, he has become China’s nemesis
The PRC has moved against the cultural institutions of Tibet, primary among them the role of the Buddhist monks. Restrictions have been placed on their own internal decision-making and designation of leaders. Most pointedly, the Dalai Lama is forced to live in exile, as he refuses to accept the PRC’s swallowing of Tibet as legitimate.

China has yet to learn that sheer might and growing prosperity are not replacements for the rights of conscience and religious liberty. While the International Olympic Committee, and Google, and Mattel and others are perfectly willing to bow before the PRC leadership, the Dalai Lama and his monks are made of sturdier stuff. And nothing confounds the politically powerful more than the man of religion who bows only to his God. Whether the ancient pharaoh and Moses, Pilate and Jesus, Henry II and Thomas Becket, Henry VIII and Thomas More — the story is the same, and you would have thought the Chinese would be wise enough to learn it.
China is so afraid of this one man being free, that they risk looking absurd, even to point of recognizing what they claim doesn't exist.
So unhinged has Beijing become over the Dalai Lama that this past summer they moved to prevent him from reincarnating himself as the next lama after his death. I do not believe in reincarnation and so am not concerned with the particulars of how it is supposedly accomplished, but surely a certificate of permission from the religious affairs bureaucracy is not essential.

Yet effective last Sept. 1, Beijing decreed that any reincarnations accomplished without official government permission were invalid. Of course the monks will ignore the decree, but it would be delightful to discover what the actual process was for obtaining a permission to reincarnate from the PRC government.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Candy mix up

Mark Shea does a brilliant look at HellCo's Corporate Propaganda on Catholic Exchange.
October is, among other things, the month in which the devil sends out the most press releases about how business is booming, what with Halloween and all. Of course, like any big international business operation, Hell has to maintain several faces depending on the public it is talking to. To secularists, it frequently issues press releases from Materialist Myth Manufacturing Ltd. subsidiary of Hell, reminding its customers that Hell doesn't exist, that God doesn't exist, and that everything is just atoms and energy, followed by the long long night of death (so be sure to pick up as much sex, drugs, rock n' roll and self-indulgence as your shopping cart can hold in our Life Clearance Sale! Available now!)

Curiously, Hell's press releases for both the Materialist and Fundamentalist have something in common. For all the hard-boiled atheism of the one and all the sincere religious faith of the other, there remains this common thread: Matter and Spirit must never intersect. If they do, the atheist fears that you will lose your intellect and the Fundamentalist fears that you will lose your soul.
Dead on Mark. Pardon the pun there. As is pondered often here, one can drown by jumping off either side of the boat. It is still the same vast ocean they fall into. Stay the narrow road.

Where will we hide?

The CUF folks ask "What do CUF Catholics do about Rudy?" in The Giuliani Dilemma and the Price of Purity (or Impurity!)
Do we:

A) Repeat the same arguments used against John Kerry, to the effect that it would be impossible or nearly so for a Catholic to support him in good conscience? And then if he wins the nomination, do we support Clinton, who has no pretense of being Catholic; back a third party “values” candidate; or stay home entirely? In any event, the result would be the same—a big win for Hillary. Purity—in this case at the price of whatever damage a 4–8 year Clinton interregnum would do.

Or, B) Do we support another GOP candidate and deny the nomination to Giuliani even though, according to polls, none of the others is as likely to win in November?
My answer is B. And I would say that Ron Paul is probably has the closest to a Catholic stance of any. Huckabee talks big, but seems to be for big government. Ron Paul is pro-life but not for the federal government being involved in a state issue.

A federal amendment is not the answer. It just gives credence that that congress should be involved in this issue that truly belongs at the state level. And then when congress decides to change their mind and make abortion rights an amendment, then we will have "cut down all the laws to get at the devil" and where will we hide when "the devil turns on us" (to quote St. Thomas More from "A man from all seasons".)

Quick like a glacier

Glaciers are relatively speedy compared to the movements of the Catholic Church. But of course one doesn't last 2000 years by hopping on the latest fad. Still, I am anxiously awaiting the New English translation of Missal
The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has completed a draft of its English translation of the Roman Missal.

The ICEL draft, which was unveiled on November 1, will now be submitted to the bishops' conferences of the English-speaking world. Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, England, explained that ICEL will solicit comments on the draft, make appropriate changes, and hopes to complete the English translation by the end of 2008.

The ICEL draft is a translation of the Latin that appears in the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal. That official Latin version was released in 2002.
So we get our hopes up and then we wait some more. It will be interesting to make us think about what we pray during Mass. A subtle change causes us to pause and consider the words more carefully.