Sunday, January 18, 2015

Largest gathering of human beings in world history???

An estimated 6-7 million Filippinos attended the closing mass of Pope Francis' visit.  What devoted Catholics the Filipino people are!

The National Catholic Register has the story HERE.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day, 2014 - Pope Francis - "Urbi et Orbi" Message to the World

Full text from Vatican News: 
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!
Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, is born for us, born in Bethlehem of a Virgin, fulfilling the ancient prophecies.  The Virgin’s name is Mary, the wife of Joseph.
Humble people, full of hope in the goodness of God, are those who welcome Jesus and recognize him.  And so the Holy Spirit enlightened the shepherds of Bethlehem, who hastened to the grotto and adored the Child.  Then the Spirit led the elderly and humble couple Simeon and Anna into the temple of Jerusalem, and they recognized in Jesus the Messiah.  “My eyes have seen your salvation”, Simeon exclaimed, “the salvation prepared by God in the sight of all peoples” (Lk 2:30).
Yes, brothers and sisters, Jesus is the salvation for every person and for every people!
Today I ask him, the Saviour of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution.  May Christmas bring them hope, as indeed also to the many displaced persons, exiles and refugees, children, adults and elderly, from this region and from the whole world.  May indifference be changed into closeness and rejection into hospitality, so that all who now are suffering may receive the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigours of winter, return to their countries and live with dignity.  May the Lord open hearts to trust, and may he bestow his peace upon the whole Middle East, beginning with the land blessed by his birth, thereby sustaining the efforts of those committed effectively to dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
May Jesus, Saviour of the world, protect all who suffer in Ukraine, and grant that their beloved land may overcome tensions, conquer hatred and violence, and set out on a new journey of fraternity and reconciliation.
May Christ the Saviour give peace to Nigeria, where [even in these hours] more blood is being shed and too many people are unjustly deprived of their possessions, held as hostages or killed.  I invoke peace also on the other parts of the African continent, thinking especially of Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and various regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I beseech all who have political responsibility to commit themselves through dialogue to overcoming differences and to building a lasting, fraternal coexistence.
May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers; children, so many abused children.  May he give comfort to the families of the children killed in Pakistan last week.  May he be close to all who suffer from illness, especially the victims of the Ebola epidemic, above all in Liberia, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea.  As I thank all who are courageously dedicated to assisting the sick and their family members, I once more make an urgent appeal that the necessary assistance and treatment be provided.
The Child Jesus.  My thoughts turn to all those children today who are killed and ill-treated, be they infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life; be they children displaced due to war and persecution, abused and taken advantage of before our very eyes and our complicit silence. I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born.  Even today, their impotent silence cries out under the sword of so many Herods. On their blood stands the shadow of contemporary Herods.  Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Spirit today enlighten our hearts, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, the salvation given by God to each one of us, to each man and woman and to all the peoples of the earth.  May the power of Christ, which brings freedom and service, be felt in so many hearts afflicted by war, persecution and slavery.  May this divine power, by its meekness, take away the hardness of heart of so many men and women immersed in worldliness and indifference, the globalization of indifference.  May his redeeming strength transform arms into ploughshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness.  Then we will be able to cry out with joy: “Our eyes have seen your salvation”.
With these thoughts I wish you all a Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve, 2014 - Homily of Pope Francis

Full text from Associated Press:
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined" (Is 9:1). "An angel of the Lord appeared to (the shepherds) and the glory of the Lord shone around them" (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Saviour: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.
We, too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the "great light". By opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon.
The origin of the darkness which envelops the world is lost in the night of the ages. Let us think back to that dark moment when the first crime of humanity was committed, when the hand of Cain, blinded by envy, killed his brother Abel (cf. Gen 4:8). As a result, the unfolding of the centuries has been marked by violence, wars, hatred and oppression.
But God, who placed a sense of expectation within man made in his image and likeness, was waiting. He waited for so long that perhaps at a certain point it seemed he should have given up. But he could not give up because he could not deny himself (cf. 2 Tim 2:13). Therefore he continued to wait patiently in the face of the corruption of man and peoples.
Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption. This is the message of Christmas night. God does not know outbursts of anger or impatience; he is always there, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, waiting to catch from afar a glimpse of the lost son as he returns.
Isaiah's prophecy announces the rising of a great light which breaks through the night. This light is born in Bethlehem and is welcomed by the loving arms of Mary, by the love of Joseph, by the wonder of the shepherds. When the angels announced the birth of the Redeemer to the shepherds, they did so with these words: "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:12).
The "sign" is the humility of God taken to the extreme; it is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations. The message that everyone was expecting, that everyone was searching for in the depths of their souls, was none other than the tenderness of God: God who looks upon us with eyes full of love, who accepts our poverty, God who is in love with our smallness.
On this holy night, while we contemplate the Infant Jesus just born and placed in the manger, we are invited to reflect. How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? "But I am searching for the Lord" - we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant's presence is: do I allow God to love me?
More so, do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today!
The Christian response cannot be different from God's response to our smallness. Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him, and beseech him: "Lord, help me to be like you, give me the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life, give me the grace of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict".
Dear brothers and sisters, on this holy night we contemplate the Nativity scene: there "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Is 9:1). People who were unassuming, open to receiving the gift of God, were the ones who saw this light. This light was not seen, however, by the arrogant, the proud, by those who made laws according to their own personal measures, who were closed off to others. Let us look to the crib and pray, asking the Blessed Mother: "O Mary, show us Jesus!'"
 Photo Credit:  Max Rossi/Reuters

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Notable book: "Sword and Serpent" by Taylor Marshall

I have am looking forward to reading the new book, Sword and Serpent, A Retelling of Saint George and the Dragon, by popular Catholic blogger Taylor Marshall.

Dr. Marshall has written the book, a historical novel, for teens and young adults, but I suspect it is a book that older adults such as myself will enjoy as well.  In a blog post, he describes the book as follows: 
My first novel Sword and Serpent is a historical fiction novel about Saint George and the Dragon. Reviewers like it because it’s clean (you can give it to young adults), face-paced, and has a surprise ending.

It’s what would happen if you mishmashed stories like The Princess Bride, Lord of the Rings, and Hunger Games with historic truths about relics, miracles, bilocating saints, popes, and self-sacrifice. What if epic adventures didn’t have in a far away fantasy world…but happened in the Roman Empire in AD 299. That’s this story…and it has something like a dragon it!
Who could pass up a chance to read such a story?   I plan to start reading the book after Christmas, and then I hope to read it to my boys, who are just a bit under the recommended age.

For those who are interested in learning more about Sword and Serpent, the AdoroErgoSum blog has an informative interview with Dr. Marshall which can be found HERE.

Of course, a good starting point would be to check out the video trailer for the book below:

Beyond the book, I also would recommend you venture over to Dr. Marshall's blog which can be found HERE.  He covers a wide variety of topics and always has something interesting and informative to say.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent Book Giveaway

Only a few hours left on this neat Advent book giveaway at!

Click here to enter.,0,754,526

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Catholich Church: Why the change to married priesthood would be unwise.

With the papacy of Pope Francis, there seems to be an increased energy and and determination among those who have been calling for changes to the practices and teachings of the Catholic Church. In the media in recent months, I have come across a number of people who are aggressively calling for the pope to authorize married men to be ordained as Catholic priests.

While the pope has the authority to make this change since priestly celibacy is a discipline (practice) of the Church and not a doctrine (teaching), such a change would be a mistake.

The celibate priesthood is rooted in the idea of the priesthood as an all-encompassing vocation in which the priest is in essence "married" to the Church and devotes the totality of his being to the service of God's people. In more colloquial terms, the celibate priesthood enables the priest to be available to the Church 24/7 and to selflessly serve the Church wherever and whenever needed. Moreover, this model of the priesthood is rooted in the celibate life and ministry of Christ Himself. Also, celibacy serves as a powerful witness to the truth that spiritual goods have far more value than mere physical goods.

Thus, to allow priests to marry on a widespread basis would completely change the idea of what the priesthood is. Instead of being a vocation, the priesthood would become a job, and the priest's loyalty and time would be split between the needs of the Church and the needs of his own family.

The priest would be much less free to serve when and where needed by the Church. For example, would the priest be as willing to be assigned to a parish in a neighborhood stricken by poverty and violence and poor schools if he had a family that would have to accompany him to that assignment?

On a social and spiritual level, would there not also be added occasion for scandal and controversy given that the marriages of some priests would inevitably fail and some of their children would also inevitably stray from Church teaching as well?

Finally, on a more practical level, with many parishes struggling financially, how would the Church financially support the priest's wife and children? Moreover, since the priests would be expected to live up to Church teaching that married couples be generous in their openness to life, they likely have larger the average size families which would create even more expense for the parish. As a result, money that would be otherwise used in support of parishioners or the poor would have to be redirected to the priest's dependents.

In the end, a move away from a celibate priesthood would create a whole new set of problems while abandoning the beauty and inspiration of the traditional priesthood. Not a good idea in my opinion.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blessed Paul VI's gift to the world: Humanae Vitae

Today Pope Paul VI was beatified by Pope Francis.  

Paul VI's greatest contribution to the Church and to humanity was his prophetic encylical, Humanae Vitae ("Of Human Life"), which reaffirmed the Catholic Church's opposition to artificial contraception.  

To mark the anniversary, I am reprinting my annual post on this issue (with slight revisions) which includes information and resources (see links below) to help readers better understand this important teaching of the Catholic Church:

To begin, here are some key excerpts from Humanae Vitae:
On Marriage:

...Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives...
...It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner's own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.
Married love is also faithful and exclusive of all other, and this until death. This is how husband and wife understood it on the day on which, fully aware of what they were doing, they freely vowed themselves to one another in marriage. Though this fidelity of husband and wife sometimes presents difficulties, no one has the right to assert that it is impossible; it is, on the contrary, always honorable and meritorious. The example of countless married couples proves not only that fidelity is in accord with the nature of marriage, but also that it is the source of profound and enduring happiness.
Finally, this love is fecund. It is not confined wholly to the loving interchange of husband and wife; it also contrives to go beyond this to bring new life into being. "Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents' welfare"....
On Artificial Contraception:
...Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection...
My commentary:

It would be an understatement to say the encyclical was controversial when it was released.

Pope Paul was ridiculed by many.  

Proponents of artificial contraception argued that widespread use of contraception would strengthen and solidify family life by easing the burden of unwanted children, would dramatically reduce (if not eliminate) the need for abortion, and would liberate women so they could become equal partners to men. 

However, looking out at the cultural wreckage and family dysfunction of our society,  Pope Paul has been proven right in the end.  He predicted widespread use of artificial contraception would lead to:

1. "...Increased marital infidelity..."

2. "...General lowering of moral standards.."

3. "...a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and...reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires..."

Can anyone deny that all these predictions have come true?

What have been the "fruits" of artificial contraception?
  • Half of marriages end in divorce
  • almost half of today's babies are born out of wedlock
  • 50 million abortions have been procured in the US alone over the last 30 years
  • The spread of sexual disease is rampant
  • "hooking up" and "friends with benefits" have replaced romance and courtship
  • a popular culture rooted in the debasement, objectification, and sexual exploitation of women (have you looked at the magazines in the checkout line lately)?
This cultural wreckage is the real legacy of the widespread use of artificial contraception.

Yet, the proponents artificial birth control ridicule abstinence and argue that even more birth control is the solution to all these problems.

But, under their approach, what does a young person today have to look forward to?
  • Having to "protect" themselves from their partner? How did we get to a point where we have to "protect" ourselves during an act that is supposed to be beautiful and intimate?
  • Having their hearts broken over and over? And all the cynicism that results?
  • As a young man, being told by society that the value and measure of a man is in the sexual conquest of women.
  • As a young woman, being told by society that the value and measure of a woman is in her physical appearance, immodestly displayed.
  • Having to grapple with lifelong sexual diseases (including possibility of infertility)?
  • Taking an act that is meant to be beautiful, special, and UNIQUE to one's relationship with one's spouse, and turning it into something common and casual that is shared with many?
  • Being in a position where one of life's greatest joys, the conception of a child, is feared and viewed as a catastrophe?
  • "Living together" without commitment which studies have shown decreases their prospects for a successful marriage later on?
Why would anyone wish this lifestyle on their children?

Note: You may also be interested in my previous post explaining why Pope Benedict was right when he said recently that condoms are not the answer to the AIDS crisis in Africa.

Natural Family Planning  Information & Resources:

Humane Vitae - Full text is here.

My previous posts for Natural Family Planning Week:
- Post 1 (NFP resources & information here)
- Post 2 (benefits of NFP here).
Dr. Janet Smith's Contraception, Why Not the most persuasive presentation of the Church's teaching on artificial contraception I have come across. Contraception, Why Not? is available for here in various formats (including an MP-3 download for only $0.95). I highly recommend it.

The movement against contraception and its negative effects on our society is growing stronger and more sophisticated and is now educating young adults with a dynamic new website, 1FLESH,  which can be found HERE.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Roe v. Wade: A tragic anniversary.

Source:  CatholicVote

The History of the Pro-life Movement

A creative and moving look at the era of legalized abortion, from 1973 up to the present:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Prophetic words from Cardinal Ratzinger

This quote, written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger back in 1969-1970, has been popping up recently in a number of places on the web.

I find it to be quite striking.
From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge—a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so will she lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, she will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. 

As a small society, she will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly she will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Alongside this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. 

But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize her true center and experience the sacraments again as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship. 

The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystalization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. 

The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism of the eve of the French Revolution—when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain—to the renewal of the nineteenth century. 

 But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret. 

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death. 

--  Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and The Future

H/T Regina Magazine Facebook page 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Francis Cardinal George: 50 years in the priesthood.

Here is a nice tribute to Cardinal George by George Weigel on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Archbishop's ordination to the priesthood:
When Francis Eugene George first sought admission to the Chicago seminary in the 1950s, Chicago Catholicism imagined itself the future of the Catholic Church in the western world—and not without reason. A lot of the ferment in Catholic intellectual, liturgical, and pastoral life that would eventually produce the Second Vatican Council had already passed through Cook and Lake Counties in the previous two decades. Thus “this confident Church” (as one historian of Chicago Catholicism dubbed it) readily imagined itself the cutting-edge of the Catholic future: Where Chicago was, the rest of the Church would eventually be. It was a conceit, to be sure; but it was a conceit with some institutional and pastoral foundation.

Now, as he marks his golden anniversary of priestly ordination on Dec. 21, Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I., the first native Chicagoan to lead what many still regard as the flagship American diocese, is best known, in some circles at least, for proposing the possibility of a very different Catholic future. He sketched it starkly for a group of priests, to illustrate the implications of radical secularization for America: “I will die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die as a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.”

There have likely been moments when my friend Cardinal George has rued the day he publicly engaged in that thought-exercise. Many 21st-century Catholics are reluctant to think outside their comfort-zones; the blogosphere can distort anything. Yet the arresting way he formulated that possible future, and especially its net result, gets us to the essence of Francis Eugene George, I suggest.

By the time Francis George became its bishop in 1997, the “confident Church” of Chicago had become a shaken Church: Pastoral practice was slack; practice of the faith, by such elementary measures as Sunday Mass attendance and frequency of sacramental confession, had taken a severe hit; the seminary was in various forms of distress. Cardinal George addressed these and other problems in the face of ecclesiastical resistance (both clerical and lay), an increasingly challenging public environment, and a deteriorating culture. Yet even after a difficult decade of working to restore Catholic practice in the Windy City, Cardinal George remained confident that, even if the worst should happen down the line, the Catholic Church would not only survive but become one of the agents of society’s renewal. And the cardinal’s confidence rested, not on the vast institutional network that buttressed the “confident Church” of his boyhood, but on his faith in the Lord’s promise that the Holy Spirit would always be with the Church, calling it to conversion and mission, to the works of charity and service.

Francis Eugene George is a man of well-honed, critical intelligence. But to focus solely on the man of intellect can sometimes obscure the deeper truth that he is a man of profound faith: the cross-centered faith that supports the remarkable physical courage of this polio survivor who must bear regular pain; the faith in divine mercy that allows him to say, without blush, that “the most important conversations on the planet” take place in the confessional; the evangelically alert faith that has led him to support such bold initiatives as Fr. Robert Barron’s “Word on Fire” media ministry and its remarkable “Catholicism” series; the ecclesial faith that made him an effective leader of the U.S. bishops, preparing the way for the work of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and many others.

He may well be the most intellectually sophisticated bishop in U.S. Catholic history; he certainly has shown keen insight into the sources of America’s current crisis of public culture. Yet as he marks the 50th anniversary of the day when he became a priest of the Church, an icon of the eternal priesthood of Christ, it is as a brother in Christ whose faith-based Christian courage gives courage to others that I wish to salute him.  SOURCE

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center. His previous “On the Square” articles can be found here.

My how times have changed: The Obama "Man"

I chuckled when I came across this item at the Weekly Standard blog!

Manhood as portrayed by the U.S. government in 1943:

Manhood as portrayed by the Obama Administration in 2013:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel"

I like this version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Enya:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More bad news for the advocates of global warming!

From the New York Post: somehow wasn’t front-page news that committed believers in man-made global warming recently admitted there’s been no surface global warming for well over a decade and maybe none for decades more. Nor did we see warmists conceding that their explanation is essentially a confession that the previous warming may not have been man-made at all.
That admission came in a new paper by prominent warmists in the peer-reviewed journal Climate Dynamics. They not only conceded that average global surface temperatures stopped warming a full 15 years ago, but that this “pause” could extend into the 2030s.

Mind you, the term “pause” is misleading in the extreme: Unless and until it resumes again, it’s just a “stop.” You don’t say a bullet-ridden body “paused” breathing.

Remarkably, that stoppage has practically been a state secret. Just five years ago, the head of the International Panel on Climate Change, the group most associated with “proving” that global warming is man-made and has horrific potential consequences, told Congress that Earth is running a “fever” that’s “apt to get much worse.” Yet he and IPCC knew the warming had stopped a decade earlier.

Those who pointed this out, including yours truly, were labeled “denialists.” Yet the IPCC itself finally admitted the “pause” in its latest report.

The single most damning aspect of the “pause” is that, because it has occurred when “greenhouse gases” have been pouring into the atmosphere at record levels, it shows at the very least that something natural is at play here. The warmists suggest that natural factors have “suppressed” the warming temporarily, but that’s just a guess: The fact is, they have nothing like the understanding of the climate that they claimed (and their many models that all showed future warming mean nothing, since they all used essentially the same false information).

If Ma Nature caused the “pause,” can’t this same lady be responsible for the warming observed earlier? You bet! Fact is, the earth was cooling and warming long before so-called GHGs could have been a factor. A warm spell ushered in the Viking Age, and many scientists believe recent warming was merely a recovery from what’s called “the Little Ice Age” that began around 1300.

Yet none of this unsettles the rush to kill debate. The Los Angeles Times has even announced that it will no longer print letters to the editor questioning man-made global warming. Had the Times been printing before Columbus, perhaps it would have banned letters saying the Earth was round.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to push to reduce supposed global-warming emissions. Last month, the president even signed an executive order establishing a Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience that could dramatically expand government bureaucrats’ ability to restrict Americans’ use of their property, water and energy to reduce so-called “greenhouse gas emissions.”

Such attempted reductions in other countries have proved incredibly expensive, while barely reducing emissions. But damn the stubbornly weak economy, says President Obama, full speed ahead!...   SOURCE

A simple solution to the problem of gun violence!

Very funny!

H/T:  Fr. Z

Sherlock is Back!!!

I am delighted to learn that the BBC television show Sherlock is returning to PBS in January. 

Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two series (what we in the U.S. would call "seasons"), I find the show to be exceedingly creative and entertaining.   The visuals are striking and Brendan Cumberbunch's performance as Sherlock is as good as anything I have seen on TV.  

I suspect Sherlock might be a bit to quirky and eccentric for some, but I would recommend that everyone give the show a look.

Here is the trailer for Series 3 (Season 3):

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis: Time's "Person of the Year!"

From Time Magazine:
...How do you practice humility from the most exalted throne on earth? Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly—young and old, faithful and cynical—as has Pope Francis. In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.
At a time when the limits of leadership are being tested in so many places, along comes a man with no army or weapons, no kingdom beyond a tight fist of land in the middle of Rome but with the immense wealth and weight of history behind him, to throw down a challenge. The world is getting smaller; individual voices are getting louder; technology is turning virtue viral, so his pulpit is visible to the ends of the earth. When he kisses the face of a disfigured man or washes the feet of a Muslim woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church.

The skeptics will point to the obstacles Francis faces in accomplishing much of anything beyond making casual believers feel better about the softer tone coming out of Rome while feeling free to ignore the harder substance. The Catholic Church is one of the oldest, largest and richest institutions on earth, with a following 1.2 billion strong, and change does not come naturally. At its best it inspires and instructs, helps and heals and calls the faithful to heed their better angels. But it has been weakened worldwide by scandal, corruption, a shortage of priests and a challenge, especially across the fertile mission fields of the southern hemisphere, from evangelical and Pentecostal rivals. In some quarters, core teachings on divorce and contraception are widely ignored and orthodoxy derided as obsolete. Vatican bureaucrats and clergy stand accused of infighting, graft, blackmail and an obsession with “small-minded rules,” as Francis puts it, rather than the vast possibilities of grace. Don’t just preach; listen, he says. Don’t scold; heal.

And yet in less than a year, he has done something remarkable: he has not changed the words, but he’s changed the music. Tone and temperament matter in a church built on the substance of symbols—bread and wine, body and blood—so it is a mistake to dismiss any Pope’s symbolic choices­ as gestures empty of the force of law. He released his first exhortation, an attack on “the idolatry of money,” just as Americans were contemplating the day set aside for gratitude and whether to spend it at the mall. This is a man with a sense of timing. He lives not in the papal palace surrounded by courtiers but in a spare hostel surrounded by priests. He prays all the time, even while waiting for the dentist. He has retired the papal Mercedes in favor of a scuffed-up Ford Focus. No red shoes, no gilded cross, just an iron one around his neck. When he rejects the pomp and the privilege, releases information on Vatican finances for the first time, reprimands a profligate German Archbishop, cold-calls strangers in distress, offers to baptize the baby of a divorced woman whose married lover wanted her to abort it, he is doing more than modeling mercy and ­transparency. He is ­embracing complexity and acknowledging the risk that a church obsessed with its own rights and righteousness could inflict more wounds than it heals. Asked why he seems uninterested in waging a culture war, he refers to the battlefield. The church is a field hospital, he says. Our first duty is to tend to the wounded. You don’t ask a bleeding man about his cholesterol level.

This focus on compassion, along with a general aura of merriment not always associated with princes of the church, has made Francis something of a rock star. More than 3 million people turned out to see him on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro last summer, the crowds in St. Peter’s Square are ecstatic, and the souvenirs are selling fast. Francesco is the most popular male baby name in Italy. Churches report a “Francis effect” of lapsed Catholics returning to Mass and confession, though anecdotes are no substitute for hard evidence, and surveys of U.S. Catholics, at least, see little change in practice thus far. But the fascination with Francis even outside his flock gives him an opportunity that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, never had—to magnify the message of the church and its power to do great good...  Full Story

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thoughts on the reported Illinois pension "deal"

Word is that Illinois legislative leaders have reached a proposed pension deal which could pass as early as this coming week.

1)  This proposal is a not a "deal," because only one side of the dispute has agreed to the proposed changes, namely the politicians.

2)  People need to run the numbers and extrapolate them over time.  Every dollar of "savings" touted in the proposed plan is a dollar that will be taken out of the pocket of a retired teacher.  About $160 billion in total.

The proposed changes to the COLA (cost-of-living adjustments) will destroy the value of the teacher pensions over time, especially if we enter a high-inflation environment in the future (which seems entirely possible given the extent to which which the Feds are printing money every month).

Is this how we reward our teachers for a lifetime dedicated to educating the children of Illinois?  

3)  Critics who argue that teachers are over-paid and that their pensions are excessive are missing an important point.  School districts provide good pay and benefits to their teachers in order to attract and keep talented people which ensures that the children of the district receive the best education possible.

In reality, the public criticism of teachers and their union representatives as being unreasonable and greedy for wanting full payment of their promised pensions shows a disrespect for teachers and a lack of understanding of the difficulty and complexity of their jobs.

Teachers, like doctors and lawyers. are professionals with extensive education and unique skills, and they should be compensated accordingly.

4)   I am frustrated by the number of people who argue that Illinois teachers are greedy because they want to receive the full pension benefit that was promised to them. 

For decades Illinois legislators did not make the required contributions to the pension funds, so they could could use the funds instead for short-term spending to boost their political fortunes.

Those politicians who failed to properly fund the pensions for decades are the ones to blame for this mess, not the teachers who have always made their required contributions to the pension fund in full and on time and certainly not the benefits that were promised to the teachers and which helped attract many talented people to the field (to the benefit of the children of the state).

Those politicians who were complicit in raiding the pension fund over the years should be prosecuted and thrown in jail. Instead everyone is directing their anger toward the teachers who have honorably upheld their end of the deal and who have dedicated their lives to educating the children of this state.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Pope Francis Effect

The exceedingly positive reaction of lapsed Catholics and the non-religious to Pope Francis has been amazing.

William Oddie, writing for the outstanding The Catholic Herald (UK), looks at some of the evidence:
...The media will still respond positively to Pope Francis’s pastoral instincts and so should we all. We should also note the enthusiasm of many semi-lapsed Catholics: according to the Daily Mail, “After years of decline, cathedrals in Britain have seen a 20 per cent rise in congregations since the Argentinian Pope was elected as head of the Catholic Church eight months ago. And the ‘Pope Francis Effect’ is being felt across the world, with new and lapsed Catholics surging back to the confession box ‘by the hundreds or thousands’, according to the Italian Centre for Studies of New Religions. In Italy half of priests have noted a marked rise in support for the Church”. And so on. Even the sourest Francis-sceptic can hardly claim that all that is actually a bad thing: the worst they can say is that maybe it won’t last. But maybe some of it will. That growth in recourse to the confessional is particularly interesting: that looks serious, and potentially durable... (SOURCE)

Duck Dynasty's Jase and Missy talk about faith and saving sex for marriage

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Do you believe in miracles???

New from one of my favorite Catholic book publishers, Sophia Institute Press:
"Nothing Short of a Miracle" tells stories of modern miracles through the intercession of modern saints. Our video selects just a few of the inspiring stories. 
Read a sample chapter and order the book HERE.
Video trailer for the book:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

US Military teaches troops about "white privilege"

We have seen a lot of disturbing things happen in the last 5 years, but this one might just take the cake.

What the military is doing (see story below) is right out the radical, leftist university professor playbook.  

Under the radar, the Obama administration is pushing leftist ideology throughout the government, nowhere more so than in the US military.

The full article a must-read.  

What they are teaching our troops is absolutely unbelievable.  I cannot do it justice in summary form or through excerpts.  You have to read the article for yourself.

From Todd Starnes of Fox News:
A controversial 600-plus page manual used by the military to train its Equal Opportunity officers teaches that "healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian" men hold an unfair advantage over other races, and warns in great detail about a so-called "White Male Club."

“Simply put, a healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian male receives many unearned advantages of social privilege, whereas a black, homosexual, atheist female in poor health receives many unearned disadvantages of social privilege,” reads a statement in the manual created by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI).

The manual, which was obtained by Fox News, also instructs troops to “support the leadership of people of color. Do this consistently, but not uncritically,” the manual states.

The Equal Opportunity Advisor Student Guide is the textbook used during a three month DEOMI course taught at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. Individuals who attend the training lead Equal Opportunity briefings on military installations around the nation.

The 637-page manual covers a wide range of issues from racism and religious diversity to cultural awareness, extremism and white privilege.

I obtained a copy of the manual from an Equal Opportunity officer who was disturbed by the course content and furious over the DEOMI’s reliance on the Southern Poverty Law Center for information on “extremist” groups.
“I’m participating in teaching things that are not true,” the instructor told me. He asked not to be identified because he feared reprisals.

“I should not be in a position to do that,” he said. “It violates Constitutional principles, but it also violates my conscience. And I’m not going to do it – not going to do it.”
DEOMI instructors were also responsible for briefings at bases around the country that falsely labeled evangelical Christians, Catholics and a number of high-profile Christian ministries as domestic hate groups.  

I contacted the Pentagon as well as the DEOMI multiple times for comment on this story, but so far they have not responded to my requests.

DEOMI opened in 1971 in response to the civil rights movement. It’s responsible for Equal Opportunity/Equal Employment Opportunity education and training for military active duty and reservists, according to its website.

The subject of white privilege emerged in a 20-page section titled, “Power and Privilege.”

“Whites are the empowered group,” the manual declares. “White males represent the haves as compared to the have-nots.”

The military document advises personnel to “assume racism is everywhere, every day” and “notice code words for race.” They are also instructed to “understand and learn from the history of whiteness and racism.”

“Assume racism is everywhere, everyday,” read a statement in a section titled, ‘How to be a strong 'white ally.'"

“One of the privileges of being white is not having to see or deal with racism all the time,” the manual states. “We have to learn to see the effect that racism has.”

On page 181 of the manual, the military points out that status and wealth are typically passed from generation to generation and “represent classic examples of the unearned advantages of social privilege.”

“As such, the unfair economic advantages and disadvantages created long ago by institutions for whites, males, Christians, etc. still affect socioeconomic privilege today,” the manual states.

The guide also points out that whites are over-represented and blacks are underrepresented in positive news stories, that middle class blacks live in poorer neighborhoods than middle class whites and that even though there are more white criminals than any other race, the news coverage of black criminals is about equal to the news coverage of white criminals.

The military manual goes into great detail about a so-called “White Male Club.”

“In spite of slave insurrections, civil war, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, the women’s suffrage movement leading to the 19th amendment, the civil rights movement, urban rebellions and the contemporary feminist movement, the club persists,” the document states.

DEOMI states that “full access to the resources of the club still escape the vision of equitable distribution.”

The military also implies that white Americans may be in denial about racism.

In a section titled, “Rationalizations for Retaining Privilege and Avoiding Responsibilities,” the military lays out excuses white people use.

“Today some white people may use the tactic of denial when they say, ‘It’s a level playing field; this is a land of equal opportunity,’” the manual reads. “Some white people may be counterattacking today by saying political correctness rules the universities or they want special status.”

DEOMI points out that if “white people are unable to maintain that the atrocities are all in the past, they may switch to tactics to make a current situation seem isolated.”

They said some of the ways whites may claim to be victims include saying things like, “I have it just as bad as anyone else,” “They’re taking away our jobs,” or “White people are under attack.”

The military concludes the section by urging students to “understand and learn from the history of whiteness and racism” and “support the leadership of people of color.”

I called former Congressman and Lt. Col. Allen West (ret.) to get his take on the manual. In a nutshell – he wants a congressional investigation.

“This is the Obama administration’s outreach of social justice into the United States military,” he told me. “Equal Opportunity in the Army that I grew up in did not have anything to do with white privilege.”
West said he is very concerned about the training guide.

“When the president talked about fundamentally transforming the United States of America, I believe he also had a dedicated agenda of going after the United States military,” he said. “The priorities of this administration are totally whacked.”

West said the DEOMI manual reminded him of a similar program inflicted on the military by President Clinton.

“They came down with a new training requirement called, ‘Consideration of Others Training,’” he said. “The soldiers were supposed to sit around and go through vignettes and talk about their feelings.”

I truly wish the Pentagon and the DEOMI would return my telephone calls. I’d like to know how teaching soldiers, airmen and sailors about white privilege and fomenting racial division helps them protect our nation from the enemy.  LINK to original story

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Coming soon to a theater near you: "Lone Survivor"

Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell, is one of the best books I have read in recent years.

In the book, Luttrell tells the story of a Navy SEAL mission gone wrong in Afghanistan.

I am excited to see that a movie of the book has been made and is coming out soon.  I was unaware that they had been making the film.

Here is the trailer:

Here is an interview with the director of the film, Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights):

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A visit to St. John Cantius Church in Chicago

A visitor reports on a recent trip to St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago

From New Liturgical Movement:

On Sunday I took the opportunity to visit St John Cantius in Chicago, IL, a church which I have posted about before but never until now had the chance to visit. On the front of the church, large letters spell out 'Ad majorem Dei gloriam', to the greater glory of God, a phrase which always reminds me of the Cardinal Vaughan School, a unique and remarkable school in London where I directed the Schola for many years; the boys there used to write the abbreviated form A.M.D.G. at the end of every piece of work.  

The exterior of St John Cantius, named for a Polish Saint, belies the interior of the church which quite literally took my breath away, overwhelmingly beautiful, lovingly restored, the sweet smell of incense serving to emphasise the sacred purpose of the church. As I entered, the Pastor, Father Frank Phillips, was addressing a group of children, explaining the meaning of various signs in the church, in particular those on the wooden inlaid floor. He spoke to them in understandable terms yet without speaking down to them. Along both sides of the church were lines of people waiting for confession. The pews were filled with people in silent prayer, both preparing for Mass and having been to Mass. The words over the Altar are most apposite: Domus mea domus orationis est.

I attended both the 11am and the 12.30pm Masses, the first of which was a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, the second of which was a Tridentine Mass, the sanctuary filled with a number of seminarians visiting from Detroit. (In addition there is a Tridentine Low Mass at 7.30am and a Novus Ordo Mass in English at 9am, so you might say that the whole spectrum is covered.) The Liturgy was magnificent at both Masses with the Chant Propers sung by the wonderful Schola, and at the Extraordinary Form Mass there was also a beautiful choir which even sang a polyphonic Credo. The church was full for both Masses and there were a large number of immaculately behaved young children at both. The people were kind and welcoming, especially the lovely lady running the shop at the back who quickly picked up on my 'accent' and realised I had come a long way. And I'm so glad I had.

St. John Cantius has a fabulous liturgical music program, with many special music events scheduled throughout the year.  For more information on music at St. John's click HERE

To view a fascinating video about the restoration and revitalization of the St John Cantius parish, click HERE.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New organ unveiled at St. John Cantius in Chicago

The new organ at St. John Cantius Church made the front page of the Chicago Tribune today!!!!

The amazing story:

Hundreds of people filed into a West Town church to hear a once-silent 19-ton organ roar back to life. There were Methodists from Chicago's South Side, Roman Catholics from across the city and suburbs and musicians from around the world.

As the 87-year-old instrument's thunderous notes rattled the pews at St. John Cantius Catholic Church, Anna Jordan Hicks remembered the first time she heard the organ, more than a half-century earlier in a house of worship several miles south.

It was at St. James United Methodist Church. The organ, with its four keyboards and 3,790 wood and metal pipes ranging in height from a few inches to 16 feet, had been a gift from the famous meatpacking Swift family. For years before the church's closing in 2010, the instrument had drawn renowned organ aficionados for concerts and accompanied weddings, baptisms, funerals and Sunday worship.

"I have just relived so many of those early days there at St. James," Hicks said at St. John Cantius after hearing the organ last weekend for the first time in decades. "I could just see the service. I could just see the gentleman playing that organ. That's the impact that it had on all of us."

The night of nostalgia, and the organ's journey that made it possible, occurred only by chance...CONTINUED
For more information and a wonderful video about St. John Cantius Catholic Church and its amazing restoration after a near-death experience in the 1980's, click HERE.

Photo of Notre Dame's Cam Mcdaniel goes viral

A photo of running back Cam McDaniel, taken moments after his helmet was knocked off during a play against USC last week, has gone viral:

The photo caught the attention of the folks at NBC's Today Show, which led to this bizarre interview with McDaniel:

Is it just me, or are the female hosts flirting with the college-age McDaniel in the clip?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jon Stewart skewers Obamacare rollout.

Given that he is a man of the Left, Mr. Stewart's take on the Obamacare fiasco is priceless:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fabulous new Catholic magazine!

Regina might just be the most beautiful and intriguing Catholic magazine that I have come across.  

And it is free!

To check out the current edition of Regina click here and then hit the "click to read" button.

Video highlights from Notre Dame vs. USC

Highlights from Notre Dame's 14-10 victory over USC including Coach Brian Kelly's pre-game, half-time, and post-game speeches to the team:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pope Benedict prays before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima

It is nice to be able to see Pope Emeritus Benedict once again as he welcomed the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima to his home today:

The statue was then brought to Pope Francis and then taken on to St. Peter's Basilica.

The Full Story can be found HERE.