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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tagging myself

So, Fr. Stephanos got tagged with one of those memes that are constantly floating around the blog world... Doing something quite outside of my ordinary, since I typically don't do the memes I'm actually tagged with, I'm tagging myself with this meme just 'cause I think it's so dang fun!!

So the game is - you go to the infamous Wikipedia and search for your birth month and day (not the year). Then, list three events, two birthdays, and one death from the day's listing, along with one holiday/observance (if any).

I was born on June 22 and on that day in history...


217 BC - Battle of Raphia: Ptolemy IV of Egypt defeats Antiochus III the Great of the Seleucid kingdom
1633 - The Holy Office in Rome forces Galileo Galilei to recant his scientific view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe. (Ummm... actually, no)
1963 - Giovanni Cardinal Montini elected Pope by the College of Cardinals, and takes the name Pope Paul VI.


1903 - John Dillinger, American bank robber (d. 1934)
1964 - Dan Brown, American author

(Hmm... illustrious company I keep, eh?)


1969 - Judy Garland, American singer and actress (b. 1922)


Feast day of Sts. John Fisher & Thomas More (and Paulinus of Nola) - Ora pro nobis!

In an interesting twist, it appears that my birthday also has its own song, courtesy of the Russians (my birthday is also the anniversary of the Germans ill-fated invasion of Russia in WWII - hence they wrote the "June 22 Song")

Play the game too, it's fun!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Prayer of the Heart - with the CFRs!

Just got a note from Fr. Andrew Cozzens to pass along to all of you local young adults - You are invited to a special First Friday night of prayer with the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal!

Prayer of the Heart
December 1st, 2006
beginning at 8:30pm
St. Paul Seminary's St. Mary Chapel

(Map to campus here)

Eucharistic Adoration, Confessions and Worship!

With Fr. Luke Fletcher, CFR; Br. Sebastian Kajko, CFR; Sr. Clare Matthias, CFR; and Sr. Agnes Holtz, CFR

More questions, e-mail Claire Roufs at the Vocations Office, ctroufs@stthomas.edu or call her at 651-962-6891.

God in the Streets of New York City

Grassroots is the group that also made the amazing USCCB Vocations video, Fishers of Men which must be seen to be believed!

Monday, November 20, 2006

God Love You!

Just got word about a great new online resource - the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Audio Library and Catholic Resources website!

Listen to hundreds of the good archbishop's lively and interesting talks about living faith in daily life - and as relevant now as it ever was when he first spoke them, half a century ago! I love listening to Archbishop Sheen, particularly as my nightime listening before going to bed.

And, word is, he's on his way to being a canonized saint! God-willing, I sure hope so...

There is no reason for the fallen to be discouraged. Hope is the message of Golgotha. Find a higher love than the flesh, a love pure, understanding, and redeeming, and the struggle will be easy. The higher love is on the Cross and beneath it.

We almost seem to forget that there is a Cross at all. He begins to look more like a red rose, and she begins to look like the stem. The stem reaches down from Calvary into all our wounded hearts of the earth, sucking up our prayers and petitions and conveying them to Him. That is why roses have thorns in this life - to keep away every disturbing influence that might destroy our union with Jesus and Mary.
~Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where I want to be...

...more than anywhere else on earth.

Why? I can only point you to here. (Yes, those are *American* monks you hear and see! Check out their fabulous vocation video!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Way Cool Discovery of the Day

Google Mobile

Even if you don't have a desire to use it on your cell phone (why ever not?) it's pretty fun to run the system through its paces using the handy "interactive demo".

Try it! I'm so impressed that I've copied down the little "cheat sheet" listing they give into Word and printed it out onto a little business card to carry with me! Those dang text messages cost precious cents, but at the same time, to get address/phone numbers this way is still way cheaper than 411. And you can even get driving directions, translations, conversions, movie listings, current weather, a brief bio of Caravaggio, and a good definition of "transubstantiation" too! (Yes - try it. Type in "define transubstantiation"!)

7-Minute Killer Homilies

"When all you want is a zinger."

Just look at some of these amazing topics now available!

The Ash Wednesday Cyclops Sermon
The Meaning of Life
Will the Real Paul Revere Please Stand Up?
Autumn in Deerfield, Illinois
Do You Cry?
Tommy Learns How to Draw
We Mock What We Are To Be
The End of the World
The Good Shepherd: Warrior of God
Look Up!
Frog Kissin'
Science Proves That God Does Not Exist!

These and more at Fr. Joseph's 7-Minute Killer Homilies

Three for three!

Never thought I'd see the day, and then WHAM - out of the blue, not only does the USCCB meet and discuss worthy issues, but almost immediately worthy fruit of their efforts emerges!

ALL people, not just Christians and not just Catholic Christians, need to read the three documents that were approved and released today by the USCCB. All three were written with the average Catholic in the pew in mind, yet they sacrifice nothing in terms of the teaching they uphold. Written very smoothly, neither are they terribly difficult to read:

Married Love and the Gift of Life It explains very well the reasons for the Church's teaching on marriage and contraception. It's all here, nothing held back. It even recommends that JPII's Theology of the Body is a good way to help our young students to learn about chastity! Amen, bishops!

Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care Written for everyone to read, but with a mind towards helping bishops to make decisions on catechesis and programs in their dioceses. And yes, Courage and Encourage are listed as examples!

Happy are Those Who are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist Where was this twenty years ago??? This is wonderful, not just to help Catholics reflect on their own worthiness for Communion, but also for helping Catholics to understand practically what they should do when attending another Christian worship service. And, even better, it is a wonderful resource for our non-Catholic friends and relatives to have so that they can understand better why we ask that they not receive the Eucharist - I am going to have a few of these on hand for these types of occasions!!

I have half a mind to print out copies of all three of these and start distributing them everywhere I can find places to put them! In particular - those of you who are involved with RCIA groups, THESE are documents your catechumens and candidates need to have! Print 'em off today!

I have to admit that I was one of those who was a bit skeptical about these documents, as I considered the muted rumblings about them that went around the blogs. I didn't expect much out of them, I figured they'd be another "official" document that said all kinds of things and yet said nothing.

I am very delighted to report that I was completely wrong.

(The complete listing of statements and documents that the USCCB will be releasing during this November meeting can be found at here)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Time Waster O' The Day

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
North Central
The West
The Northeast
The South
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

It's "pop" of course. Silly people.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Now that's art!

If anyone ever asks me again why I have acquired a nervous twitch in response to most modern "navel gazing" art, I'm just going to show them this. If that doesn't explain myself, nothing I say can. Of course, nothing beats the actual experience of an Angelico masterpiece in person... my memory of Firenze and San Marco (scroll about halfway down) will be burned into my mind forever.

(And that's only the beginning of the cool stuff now up on one of the coolest sites on the planet - click and see!)

(H/T to the AmPap!)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Culture Clashes: America and Rome

Ever wonder why Rome is so "crazy"? Here's a spot on piece into the variations between Italian (ie, Med culture) and American (ie, Anglo-Saxon culture) from the ever-observant John Allen (by way of the ever-insightful Jimmy Akin): Americans Are From Mars; Romans Are From Venus

From what I have experienced of both cultures (granted, not really that much of Italian culture!), both Allen and Akin's observations are pretty on the money - and help to explain a lot why the Church in America and the Church in Rome sometimes seem to be talking past each other.

Allen writes: Only with time did it become clear to me that language was merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the deep “cultural gap” that divides Rome and America. It would be flip to say that “Americans are from Mars, Romans from Venus,” but there’s more than a smidgen of truth to the perception of being on different planets.

My observation is that Vatican officials and American Catholics often think they’re talking to one another, but in many instances they’re actually talking past one another, making deceptively similar statements that mask different psychological and sociological assumptions, and that mean very different things to each of the two parties. Sometimes they’re sitting in the same room, having the same experience, but drawing vastly different conclusions about what it means – and usually assuming the other party sees things the same way.

This could be due to a culture clash of "high context" vs. "low context" societies that Jimmy hypotheses. While I'm not entirely sure about this notion, in my experience it does explain quite a bit. In Italy, it certainly does seem that the expectation of proper etiquette hasn't died. There is a demand that one knows what the proper etiquette is (there are always exceptions to actually following it - but they expect that if you don't follow it, you KNOW that you're not following it!). And proper etiquette in Italy is vastly more complicated than any Emily Post book for Brits or Americans I've ever seen, because it is so fluid and unpredictable. It's not just a bunch of rules, it's a bunch of written rules with a lot of unwritten rules behind them, and a lot of acceptable circumstantial exceptions in front of them!

I dare say you actually need to be born an Italian to ever really understand what is expected of you in Italian society... And on the flip side, you will never be able to convice an Italian that American laws really are *it*, that there's not much else to "know" apart from what's written down.

Going along with this is the fact that the Italian laws themselves are, well, not quite like our laws. I mean, they're both far stricter, and yet far less enforced. Selectively enforced even. Sure, Italian drivers know that technically, on the books, there is a severe law for hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk (one strike, no driver's license for the rest of your life). However, there are an almost infinite number of circumstantial exceptions to this penalty, not ones that are written down as such, but ones that are ever-admissible before a judge. The laws themselves are so high, that nobody is really expected to follow them exactly all the time, and since they are not spelled out in extreme detail with particulars (if a, then b, if c then d, etc), much is left up to the discretion of the public, the police, and the courts. Of course, this is further complicated by the fact that SOME laws are indeed expected to be obeyed to the letter, while also being very high ideals - such as "thou shalt not kill." So, confusing matters further for us non-Italians, they are specific about some laws, and enforce them entirely, but the problem is that there's no real clear indicator (other than using "common sense") to a legalistic, non-Italian contextualized mind which ones are and which ones aren't.

We'd go nuts in America if we had Italian laws dropped on us. And this is why American Catholics (and American bishops and priests) sometimes go nuts - because they are Americans living under Italain (ok, Vatican) laws. Likewise, I'm sure the average Vatican worker also goes nuts, because they are Italians continually frustrated by having to deal with people who seem to have no "high context" understanding of the laws as written, and who thus are constantly asking for detailed explanations and "allowable exceptions". I should also add that the area of explicitness that I mentioned above does seem to be a difference between the Italian state laws and the Church's laws and documents... Otherwise, as one commenter on Jimmy's blog pointed out, no one would be expected to obey the Church's teaching against abortion and contraception. Clearly, we all ARE expected to obey this very high and idealistic (to our culture) law. The Church does, I think, do a better job than Italy does at being explicit where it means to be explicit - it's those other areas which are left more undefined to allow for pastoral judgment that tend to cause the confusion. The Church means what it says, and those things that are left vague are purposely left vague - but that doesn't mean anything goes!

In our society, if it's not written down as forbidden, it's allowed. In Italian culture, if it's not written down as forbidden, you're expected to use your God-given sense to ascertain *in context* whether or not it is reasonably allowable.

For a very long time, the Vatican saw no reason why there should be an explicit statement telling all priests everywhere to quit using Kool-Aid pitchers for the Precious Blood - what idiot, with any understanding about the sacredness of the Mass and the Sacrament, would do that?? Apparently, us idiot Anglo-Saxons would, the ones with laws so developed that there are laws in place to tell us who to sue when an appropriate law wasn't in place already.


As John Allen put it, so truly, American Catholics do in a sense have it the worst though - we're under "Roman law applied by Anglo-Saxon bishops!" This may be generalizing too much, but there's something true in that statement, looking back over decades of often-confused relations between American clergy and laity and Roman Popese and curial officials.

It does make me wonder... how exactly does our current (very Germanic!) Pope manage in the heart of Italy?!? It's gotta be the grace! :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My thoughts exactly.

The latest post from my good friend Christopher, over at Christopher's Thoughts:

Leadership and politics are not coinciding anymore. I believe that at one point in history they did, but not anymore. Why do I say this? I define leadership (in this narrow context) as leading people in a way that keeps their best interests in mind. A parent leads a child by doing what is best for the child. Does the child know what is best for it? Usually not; the child only knows what it wants and doesn’t want. Our American culture has produced a bunch of adult children who do not know what is best for them, they only know what they want and they cry when they don’t get it. A true leader would do what is best for them regardless of the whining and screaming. Our current politics is set up on the right idea – our elected politicians are supposed to represent the people. But this assumes that the people know what is right for themselves, and I believe that assumption is not being met. So what we get are political representatives doing whatever a mob of angry adult-children want, not true political leaders.

Read the rest here.

Well. We got what we deserved.

open book: The referenda:

When good people do nothing, evil wins over. My fault as much as anyone else's - could have, would have, should have done more... I'm going to go take the only "morning after pill" - going to Mass, in reparation for what our country is doing.

I don't even care much about the new mix-up in the House/Senate - other than to hope the Senate stays in Republican hands in case there is another SCOTUS nomination. No, I'm way beyond "parties" and now am finally, firmly, all about LIFE.

God bless America... in spite of everything!

Monday, November 06, 2006

What She Said

Americans - read this. It's basically what I was going to write. So why rewrite it? Just read it.

And then - VOTE! Every single vote counts. Did you know Hitler won control of his political party democratically - by one vote?

Don't just vote your conscience, vote your well-informed conscience! Form it with the help of this and this, with a little of this thrown in for good measure.

You're a living voter. Remember all those lives who have no vote and no voice. We are their voice! Vote for Life on November 7th!

O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care.

Most Holy Mother, we beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection.

Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people. Open our minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.
Free us from the falsehoods that lead to the evil of abortion and threaten the sanctity of family life. Grant our country the wisdom to proclaim that God’s law is the foundation on which this nation was founded, and that He alone is the True Source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

O Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death and the strength to build a new Culture of Life.
(from EWTN)

...The Rest of the Story

Remember that story from awhile back about the priest who got a parking ticket after parking in the Ambulance zone at the hospital while going to see a patient?

Check this out - 6-year-old flies to New York to help priest.

Fra Angelico's Annunciation