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Showing posts from June, 2006

Our Real Mission

Dawn Eden’s post struck a chord with me today. She links to an account by Cassidy Bugos, a college student who worked for a few weeks with the Missionaries of Charity in Tiajuana Mexico. The insight this young woman gained during her interaction with one of the nuns is a true gift of grace. I feel blessed to have read her story.

She said that that in India, material poverty is much, much greater than anything she’s seen in the West, and so she is never really impressed by what she sees here. Here, people suffer from poverty, but they do not die just from it; there they will die tomorrow if they do not get food…

She went on. Here in the West, she said, it is different. Here most poor people have enough, even though they don’t understand how little “enough” is. But they are unhappy, she said (and she knelt to look through the rear window at the tired faces of the mothers gathered outside the van, as the other Sister led them in Santa Marias before distributing their food). They are unhap…

Website Reveals Parish Priorities

Yesterday I spent some time catching up on my favorite blogs. Somewhere I ran across a comment that referenced St. Bernadette Parish in Severn, Maryland. I know the context of the comment focused on the openly homosexual activities of the parish members. I am afraid I have not been able to find the comment again to properly reference it.

In any case, I did check out the St. Bernadette web site. You can learn a lot about a parish from studying the web site. The links to other Catholic information include the National Catholic Reporter, not the National Catholic Register. The St. Bernadette site has lots of references to the spirit of Vatican II. From the History of St. Bernadette Parish page:

Into this milieu, in July of 1976, Fr. Joseph Connolly arrived as our pastor. Acting in the spirit of lay participation that emanated from Vatican II, he led us into a planned program of discernment. Through this process, the community assumed the decision making that determined our future. Every…

Will the Guitars Gently Weep?

No more guitar Masses? At least that is what we are hearing in the blogosphere. Rich Leonardi at Ten Reasons and Emily at Shrine of the Holy Whapping are reporting on Pope Benedict XVI’s call for an end to guitars and a return to traditional choral music. Did he really say that? Not exactly, but you can read the Zenit report of his comments here.

"Sacred polyphony," the Holy Father said Saturday after a concert held in his honor by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation, "especially the so-called 'Roman school,' is a legacy that must be carefully conserved, maintained alive and made known."

It will be of "benefit not only to scholars and enthusiasts, but to the ecclesial community as a whole, for which it represents an inestimable spiritual, artistic and cultural heritage," the Pope said, after the concert in the Sistine Chapel.

"An authentic updating of sacred music cannot occur except in line with the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian Cha…

A Faithful Shepherd in Saginaw

Having just written about the very reverent and orthodox liturgies I enjoyed in New Jersey, I am happy to see Bishop Carlson is bringing order to his Saginaw diocese as well. Like Bishop Finn of Kansas City, Bishop Carlson is not afraid to demand changes to bring his flock in compliance with Rome. We need more of these brave bishops who are not afraid to disrupt the status quo.

Bishop Carlson is ending the use of the female pronoun for God in the “Saginaw Blessing”. It seems it has been common practice for everyone in the congregation to raise both arms as a sign of blessing and sing:

May the Lord bless and keep you!
May he make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
And give you his peace.

May the Lord bless and keep you!
May she make her face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
And give you her peace.

Bishop Carlson offers very good catechesis on the Naming of God. He then applies this teaching to discredit the use of the female pronoun in the second verse o…

Enjoyed Mass in New Jersey

I am still trying to figure out what day it is after our long weekend in New Jersey. We spent four days in the lovely Garden State for the U.S. Club Soccer Region B Championship. My daughter’s team played great soccer and won the tournament. The prize is a no-expense paid trip to North Carolina for the National Championship so in a few weeks I will be reporting in from Greensboro. It should be fun!

Soccer has had us in New Jersey for the last two Sundays so we have discovered two very different but equally enjoyable churches. The first Sunday we attended Our Lady of Good Counsel in Moorestown, NJ. This is a beautiful old church that I am guessing has been renovated at some point since it looks freshly painted. However it retains its old church charm. Lots of beautiful stained glass windows and majestic archways. The tabernacle is front and center. More importantly, the newly ordained priest spoke boldly on the centrality of the Eucharist to our Catholic faith. He left no doubt that Chr…

Don't be a Spiritual Couch Potato

I’m back! At least for a little while. We will be heading to Texas in a couple of weeks so I have two weeks to get myself back in the blogosphere. Actually, you won’t hear too much from me over the next few days since I am headed back to New Jersey for yet another soccer tournament. We won the last one (Yea!) but this weekend looks like a bit stiffer competition. It also looks like it will be raining non-stop.

It has taken me a bit to catch up on the hot topics of St. Blog’s parish. Seems the Episcopalians created quite a stir with their recent gathering. Dave Hartline has an interesting report covering the issues.

In my own backyard, Washington D.C. has a new bishop. Amy Welborn has a good summary of the news about Bishop Wuerl.

However, the blog that has my attention this morning is Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things. He offers six steps to jumpstart your spiritual life. So often we approach our spiritual life in the passive mode. We are spiritual couch potatoes. We expect to go to Mass …

Moral Personhood from the Moment of Conception

I have added a new book to my summer reading list. Mirror of Justice points us to Defiant Birth: Women who Resist Medical Eugenics. From the publisher description:

This book tells the personal stories of women who have resisted medical eugenics - women who were told they shouldn't have babies because of perceived disability in themselves, or shouldn't have babies because of some imperfection in the child. They have confronted the stigma of disability and in the face of silent disapproval and even open hostility, had their babies anyway, in the belief that all life is valuable and that some are not more worthy of it than others. This is a book about women who have dared challenge the utilitarian medical model/mindset.

What a wonderful collection of testimonies to the dignity of human life!

Contrast this with the companion post at Mirror of Justice entitled Who’s a Person? It Depends on what they Want… Rob Vischer notes the argument by Glen Whitman that determination of moral pers…

A Worthy Life

A few days ago I wrote about my son’s classmate who died unexpectedly. Today my son and I attended the funeral Mass for this young boy. As was expected, it was very emotional with many tears but also many smiles as we remembered the joy this boy brought to those around him.

This child suffered from disabilities that made him a little “different”. His parents faced challenges as they dealt with a variety of therapies and special needs. At the end of the Mass today, his parents stood before the congregation and thanked Jesus he had given them this son. His father said, “Jesus could have given this child to anyone. I am so grateful He gave him to me.”

In this age of designer babies and abortions for any flaw or even potential flaws, this expression of gratitude is a true testament to the gift and dignity of all human life. I wish all those who think they can judge the worthiness of a life could have seen the congregation today. This young boy with his own set of earthly limitations, touche…

A New Translation of the Mass?

This week’s National Catholic Register is covering the upcoming vote by the U.S. bishops on the new English translation of the Order of the Mass. The new translation is more faithful to the original Latin. However, some bishops prefer the current more contemporary language. Leading the charge against the new translation is Bishop Trautman. Quoting from the Register:

But Bishop Trautman told the Register that he and about half of the nation’s bishops believe the proposed text contains too many complicated words, as well as sentences and phrases that are too long. The words “precious chalice,” for example, replace the word “cup” during the consecration prayers.

“To me, ‘precious chalice’ says something gold with diamonds all around it,” Bishop Trautman said. “Jesus used a drinking cup at the last supper, not a precious chalice”

Interesting. I don’t think of the “precious chalice” as covered with diamonds. I think of it as containing the Real Presence of Christ. That is why we call it the P…

Catholic Universities: What's a bishop to do?

I have broached the issue of what it means to be a Catholic University several times. Notre Dame, Villanova, and most recently St. Thomas University have each caused me to question their Catholic identity. This week Zenit posts an interview with Notre Dame's Father John Coughlin entitled The Identity of a Catholic University.

Q: What does it mean that a university is Catholic? What are the ways Catholic identity should manifest itself on a practical level?

Father Coughlin: A Catholic university is a community of scholars and students who are united by the love for truth and the desire to integrate faith and reason. The university is not simply a collection of individuals but a community grounded in Catholic faith.

From an academic perspective, a Catholic university requires a critical mass of committed Catholic scholars who are dedicated to the search for truth. It should be a place of lively and open intellectual discussion, and the discussion ought to be guided by the rules for r…

Fr. Duesterhaus

Some of you may have read the wonderful post, Real Men Kneel on Stone at Dom’s blog. The priest highlighted in the post, Fr. Michael R. Duesterhaus, is now grieving the death of his mother, who died this past Thursday.

He sent the following note:

My Dear Friends and CoWorkers in the Field of Faith,

I truly wished I had to the time to write y'all individually, but I have just returned from Iraq and need to pass word on things.

As many of you know, my mother passed away this past Thursday.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in the name of Judie and Rich Duesterhaus to So Others Might Eat (SOME) or Capital Hospice.

More later as life unfolds.

In Service of God and Country,

LCDR Michael R. Duesterhaus CHC, USNR
I MHG Chaplain
Fallujah, Iraq
Unit 42540
FPO, AP 96426-2540

"Keep your eyes on the crucifix,
for Jesus without the cross
is a man without mission;
and the cross without Jesus
is a burden without a reliever."

I have added the links for SOME a…

Biting My Tongue

By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach—Winston Churchill

(Thanks to Julie D. at Happy Catholic for the quote)

I love my extended family and having them healthy enough to visit is a blessing. Because of our military life we have never lived within a day’s drive of our loved ones. So family gatherings are an extraordinary event. However, having too many matriarchs under one roof can lead to friction.

I know words that set my teeth on edge will be said. I know that when we all gather to prepare meals, whoever fixes the mashed potatoes will do it differently than I do it. Even though I have been keeping my own house for over twenty-five years there will be recommendations that I change my methods. And then the dreaded discussions of weight! I want to scream when one particular relative insists on analyzing everyone’s fanny size compared to the last time she saw them.

There is no point in countering their words with more words. The truth is I love my family and t…

Let the chaos begin!

Deep breaths! Deep breaths! I am scurrying about getting ready for the next wave of company. My second son graduates from high school in nine days and family arrives in two. My daughter, my parents and I will be traveling to New Jersey over the weekend for a major soccer tournament. This means I will be leaving the men home to fend for themselves. I will also be leaving them home to make sure second son gets into his tux okay for prom. This should be interesting. In any case, all the activity and festivities will mean blogging may be sparse. I will keep you in my prayers so keep me in yours!

A Trinitarian Moment of Grace

Sometimes I just need to hear new words for a familiar concept. This morning Father spoke of the Trinity. (today is the feast of the Holy Trinity) Sure I knew the concept. One God. Three Persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I don’t know that I have ever thought too much farther than that. I am actually pretty happy to chalk it up to a mystery that I accept and press on. Today, however, a little tiny light lit up a bit of the mystery for me. Father explained God is of a single nature. He is God. Within that nature he is three persons. Nature is what you are. Person is who you are. God’s all knowing perfect nature can accommodate three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Three Persons of the Trinity exist in such perfect love and harmony, they can exist within the single nature of God.

It is very difficult to verbalize why hearing that phrasing of the mystery of the Trinity felt like a little epiphany for me. I just felt like I had a growth spurt of understanding. It was a mome…

The Comfort of a Familiar Prayer

As you can see by my previous post, my youngest child had to face a tragedy yesterday. This is probably one of the first encounters with death that touched him so personally. We are very blessed to have all the grandparents still alive and well and even a great-grandmother who will be celebrating her one-hundredth birthday soon. He came home from school tearful, frightened, and bewildered. However, he also knew it was a time to pray.

We sat together snuggled on the couch for a little while. We talked about his friend. We also prayed for his friend and his family. He then pulled a piece of paper that was tightly folded out of his pocket. When he unfolded it I could see it was the Hail Mary, very carefully printed, with a cross decorating the top of the page. My son explained that one of his classmates wanted to pray but didn’t know how. My son had written out the Hail Mary for him. He prayed the Hail Mary and returned the paper to my son so he could share it with others.

I know that pra…

Prayers Please

A classmate of my sixth-grade son died unexpectedly yesterday. Please pray for the soul of this child as well as for the consolation of his family. Please pray for all the elementary school children who are coping with this unexplainable loss. Thank you.

Catholic MLS Standings June 9 2006

Eastern Conference Standings

McCarrick’s DC United (7-1-3)
Finn’s Kansas City Wizards (4-4-2)
Campbell’s Columbus Crew (4-4-2)
O’Malley’s New England Revolution (3-4-2)
George’s Chicago Fire (2-3-4)
Meyer’s New York Red Bulls (1-2-6)

Western Conference Standings

Grahmann’s FC Dallas (6-2-3)
DiNardo’s Houston Dynamo (5-3-2)
Chaput’s Colorado Rapid’s (4-4-2)
Mahony’s Chivas USA (4-4-1)
Nierderhaur’s Real Salt Lake (3-5-2)
Mahony’s Los Angeles Galaxy (2-9-1)

Suggestions for Adult Catechesis

One of my pet peeves is that most Catholic parishes have very minimal adult education. The state of adult Catholic catechesis is really abysmal. So rather than just gripe about it a group from our parish decided to come up with some ideas for adult education topics. I thought I would throw the question out to the blogging community as well:

What topic would you like to see covered in an adult education program at your parish?

My answers:

1. Church history (The whole Da Vinci Code brouhaha pointed out the need for that!)
2. Systematic study of the Catechism
3. Theology of the Body
4. Keeping your Kids Catholic (Bert Ghezzi’s book of the same name is wonderful. It even has discussion questions at the end of each chapter.)

How about you?

Who Decides the Need for STD Vaccines?

Human Papillomavirus(HPV) is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease and is the cause of most cases of cervical cancer. Condoms offer very minimal protection against the spread of this virus. The Centers for Disease Control fact sheet on HPV can be found here. Therefore,
it is exciting news that the FDA has approved a vaccine to prevent HPV infection. The rub is this vaccine is most effective when given prior to a woman becoming sexually active. The current FDA approval is for the use of the vaccine in girls age 9 to 26. Should this vaccine be required for attendance at public schools?

The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will decide June 29 whether to endorse routine vaccination with Gardasil. That endorsement is critical if a vaccine is to become a standard of care.

It then will be up to individual states to decide whether to add the vaccine to the list of others required before students may attend public schools.

Some groups including Focus on the Family …

Let the kids (and parents) relax a little!

Earlier this week the Washington Post ran an article about the hectic life of the classroom room mother. She is the one who is making phone calls, recruiting volunteers, and planning parties. She is the uber-volunteer. I’ve been there and done that. I used to have the helium hand. Every time someone asked for a volunteer my hand just floated upward. Perhaps because I am now on my fourth child completing sixth grade, I just don’t have the enthusiasm I used to generate for all these school parties, carnivals, and projects.

My lack of excitement may also stem from the fact these events have just mushroomed. Elizabeth Simon of Fairfax suggests this as well in her letter to the editor in this morning’s Washington Post.

… we take everything to the extreme, that parental involvement in our schools has become an extreme sport. I fail to see how the constant frenzy of activity benefits our children. Let's pay our teachers a decent wage to educate our kids and dial down the expectation that s…

Parental Guidance may not be such a bad thing

Many are surprised and offended by the PG rating for the film “Facing the Giants”. This low budget film with an overt Christian message was labeled as PG by the MPAA because of its “thematic elements”. It has an Evangelical Christian theme.

At first blush I thought this was absurd. But after reflection, I think this makes sense. PG does not mean children should avoid the movie. It means parents need to evaluate it first and decide if the move is appropriate for their children. This PG rating acknowledges some, not necessarily a majority of parents, will find a movie objectionable for their children.

What if the movie had the same plot but instead of finding his Christian faith, the coach attributes his life improvements to becoming a Muslim? What if he begins to practice Wicca? Christian parents might very well object. In the same way, Muslim, Wiccan, Atheist, or even Jewish parents might be uncomfortable with their young children viewing a movie that points to Christianity as the roa…

Natural Family Planning is not an "organic" alternative to "The Pill"

There has been so much discussion about Natural Family Planning (NFP) all over the blogosphere in the last few weeks. I’ve been leaving my thoughts in so many comment boxes I decided to finally publish my ideas on my own blog site.

I noticed an uptick in the discussion of NFP when the Journal of Medical Ethics published this article by Professor Luc Bovens. He asserts that the “rhythm method” is responsible for more embryo deaths than any other form of contraception. American Papist covered this ridiculous claim very well here and here. I published the following comment on the Dialogue blog:

As a physician let me comment on the "embryo destruction". Once an ovum is fertilized it becomes an embryo. This embryo must then implant in the lining of the uterus to establish a viable pregnancy. Factors in both the embryo and the uterus must be right for this implantation to occur.

It is thought that embryos with significant abnormalities are less likely to implant. If they do not i…

Episcopatus unus et indivisus

Father Jim Tucker at Dappled Things points out this address by Cardinal Kasper to the bishops of the Church of England. His purpose was to confront the Anglican-Catholic issues that would develop if the Church of England chooses to elect women bishops. However, his words should be read and pondered by all the bishops of the United States before they convene this summer.

We are indebted above all to the martyr bishop Cyprian of Carthage for a thorough theology of the episcopal office. His sentence ‘episcopatus unus et indivisus’ is well known. This sentence stands in the context of an urgent admonition by Cyprian to his fellow bishops:

Quam unitatem tenere firmiter et vindicare debemus maxime episcopi, qui in ecclesia praesidimus, ut episcopatum quoque ipsum unum atque indivisum probemus. [And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the church, that we may also prove the episcopate one and undivided.]

This urgent exhortat…

Honor, Virtue, and Sin

Josiah Bunting III reflects in the WSJ Opinion Journal on the concept of honor.

In our culture of therapy, self-absorption and celebrity, "honor" has very little cachet. An abuse of honor--say, by perpetrating a public fraud or acting duplicitously in private life--is but the occasion for the administration of comforting words of understanding, the application of medicines to assuage lingering anxieties and the invitation to appear on "Oprah," the better to explain the forces that, overwhelming meager resources of conscience and character, impelled a dishonorable act. Next may come an invitation to undertake the labor of a book, more fully to explore and expiate the fall from grace. Closure (as it is called) will then, at last, be obtained.

In short, there is no shame in actions once known as dishonorable, and the virtues that supported honor seem moribund. Chastity and modesty--so important to honor in social relations--are treated as relics from Jane Austen and &q…

Enjoying the Conversation

Julie D. at Happy Catholic has a humorous banner for her blog today. Bart Simpson is writing repetitively on the blackboard, “Blogging is not a substitute for human interaction.” I can identify. Blogging has been very sparse these last few days since we’ve been enjoying the company of family visiting from Texas. We keep in touch via the phone and email, but an occasional in person visit is required to really keep family bonds intact. That warm person to person interaction trumps blogging.

I have had the pleasure of actually meeting bloggers and readers over the last few weeks. It has been a lot of fun to put a face with the comments. I can truthfully say those I have met are as charming in person as they are in cyberspace.

When blogging, I put my thoughts out there and know they are being read. I can watch my readership numbers on my Site Meter. But the real fun comes when someone comments and discussion ensues. In another week a new round of company arrives and blogging is likely to…

"Spiritual Injuries"

Curt Jester has an absolutely hilarious list of “Spiritual Injuries”. Read the entire list but these are some of my favorites:

Cranium Sprain: Occurs when straining to come up with a charitable explanation for someone's actions when none are evident.

Tabernacle whiplash: Happens to some looking back and forth in a rapid action trying to spot the tabernacle in a church.

Inclusive Language Twitch: A nervous condition experienced by readers at Mass who strain to convert male pronouns into inclusive language on the fly. Breakdowns after the realization that they forgot to add a "and sister" after saying brother are known to occur.

Vocal Cord Spasm: Caused by attempting to sing unsingable liturgical music that resides in nobody's vocal range except possibly porpoises and whales.

Leoretardation: Disease that results in reduced mental capability where the sufferer thinks that liturgical dance is a good idea in bringing people closer to God in worship.

The Real Cookie Monster?

There has to be more to this story! According to news reports, an eighth grader at Hungary Creek Middle School in Richmond, Virginia was suspended for one day and kicked off the baseball team because he “stole” a cookie. The boy reports he was sent in to the faculty dining area to fill up the baseball team’s water cooler. In the process a cookie jar was knocked over and cookies spilled. As he picked up the cookies he ate one.

Caryl Maitland says her son, Jeremy, told school officials that someone knocked over a cookie jar in the Hungary Creek Middle School kitchen and he ate one of the cookies as he picked them up.

She says the family received a letter from the assistant principal telling them the cookies were a staff member's personal food. Jeremy, who's been suspended twice before this year, was disciplined under the school's theft code.

School officials cite privacy restrictions prevent them from giving more details, but state it is more than just the theft of a cookie.…

Passage to Manhood

Very little blogging has been going on because I have family members visiting from Texas. We have been busy preparing for and celebrating a big event for Second Son. He is eighteen and a senior in high school so one would think the big event is his high school graduation. While that is a huge event, we will not dive into the graduation festivities for another three weeks. This weekend’s milestone was his Eagle Scout Court of Honor.

He had completed the requirements for this, the highest rank in Boy Scouts, several months ago. However, we waited until Oldest Son (also an Eagle Scout) was home from college to mark the occasion. Both of my older boys were older teens when they achieved the rank of Eagle. The Court of Honor to mark this accomplishment became a time to commemorate their passage from being boys to being men. I certainly felt this yesterday as I watched him stand so straight and tall on the stage. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient…

Does Charity Entrench Poverty?

Both Amy Welborn and Fr. Jim Tucker refer to the article, Do helping hands in Appalachia do more harm than good?, in the National Catholic Reporter. The author, Lucy Fuchs, questions the benefit of the charitable work done in the Appalachians. Has charity entrenched poverty?

When Fr. Beiting first came to Kentucky in the late ’40s, he was appalled at how badly many people lived. At first, he just gave people food and clothing and arranged housing for them. Then he organized fundraising and gathered volunteers, trying to reach out to anyone in need, not only giving them help but trying to maintain their dignity.

In those days, the people of East Kentucky were either coal miners, disabled or unemployed, or on their way north or west out of the state. Fr. Beiting fell in love with the natural beauty of this part of the country and he genuinely loved the people. There were few Catholics in East Kentucky, and people were often suspicious of Catholics, especially Catholic priests, so he had …