Friday, May 25, 2007

Cute commercial!

Brings to mind JPII's quote, "The greatest gift you can give your child is another sibling." :-)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bruce Sullivan on Journey Home

Just wanted to let everyone know that on June 4th, Bruce Sullivan, the CoC preacher turned Catholic, will be on the Journey Home on EWTN! Be sure and catch it...times are Monday, June 4th, at 8 pm (that's Eastern time), with encores on Tuesday at 1am and 10am, Wednesday at 1pm, and Saturday at 11pm.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Revenge of Conscience

The Revenge of Conscience is a wonderful article about natural law, conscience, and its effects on society, written by J. Budziszewski, a convert to Catholicism and professor of government and philosophy at our very own University of Texas!

The whole thing is really a great read, here's a snippet:

Why do things get worse so fast? Of course we have names for the process, like "collapse," "decay," and "slippery slope." By conjuring images-a stricken house, a gangrenous limb, a sliding talus-they make us feel we understand. Now, I am no enemy to word-pictures, but a civilization is not really a house, a limb, or a heap of rocks; it cannot literally fall in, rot, or skid out from underfoot. Images can only illustrate an explanation; they cannot substitute for one. So why do things get worse so fast? It would be well to know, in case the process can be arrested.

The usual explanation is that conscience is weakened by neglect. Once a wrong is done, the next wrong comes more easily. On this view conscience is mainly a restraint, a resistance, a passive barrier. It doesn’t so much drive us on as hold us back, and when persistently attacked, the restraining wall gets thinner and thinner and finally disappears. Often this explanation is combined with another: that conscience comes from culture, that it is built up in us from outside. In this view the heart is malleable. We don’t clearly know what is right and wrong, and when our teachers change the lessons, our consciences change their contents. What once we deemed wrong, we deem right; what once we deemed right, we deem wrong.

There is something to these explanations, but neither can account for the sheer dynamism of wickedness-for the fact that we aren’t gently wafted into the abyss but violently propel ourselves into it. Nor, as I will show, can either one account for the peculiar quality of our present moral confusion.

I suggest a different explanation. Conscience is not a passive barrier but an active force; though it can hold us back, it can also drive us on. Moreover, conscience comes not from without but from within: though culture can trim the fringes, the core cannot be changed. The reason things get worse so fast must somehow lie not in the weakness of conscience but in its strength, not in its shapelessness but in its shape.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Non-Catholic "Experts" on Catholicism

It's curious to me how so many people out there, namely non-Catholics, are somehow so sure that they know more about Catholicism than Catholics. Now, I admit I was once among this number. For some reason, I had it in my head that the Big Bad ROMAN Catholic Church (doesn't the emphasis on ROMAN just give it that nice extra touch of whore-of-babylonish-ness?) had people duped, and that I was privileged enough to have found out the "real" truth about what they taught. Those mindless Catholics had obviously just shut their brains off and embraced the vain rituals (pretty beads! pretty colors!) as if those rituals would save them. Poor Catholics.

Having been there myself at one point helps me to be able to clearly see the same attitude in others. Case in point:

A Methodist pastor shares a story, in this post, about a ROMAN Catholic family whose non-baptized son tragicly committed suicide. He asks for help in trying to understand a "strange" experience with this Catholic family. He explains:

The family was Roman Catholic, but of course the Catholic Church would not do the service, since this young man was cursed to go to Hell. This is where I came in. Why this was so strange, and the part I don’t understand is while the Roman Catholic church turned their back on them, and said that the young man was going to hell, the family still put a rosary in his had, and repeatedly genuflect over the coffin.

Somebody help me here! If the “church” said I was going to hell, why would I still honor the church in the service? Are those rituals that are jammed down our throats as children so ingrained that we cannot even recognize the hypocrisy in them?
Now, several Catholic commenters came and kindly offered an answer to his question, correcting some of his misunderstandings along the way. Namely, the misunderstanding that the Catholic Church ever "condemns" anyone to Hell, and also that a Catholic funeral was most certainly denied because of suicide, since it was more likely denied (assuming the family did in fact ask) because he was never Catholic (having not been baptized).

Now, after having asked the question, you would think he'd be happy to receive an answer from several, seven in fact, knowledgeable Catholics, all echoing the same sentiments, offering their support for his kindness to the family and service to God, while charitably explaining what the Church really teaches about all that. But instead, we find out that he's one of those non-Catholic experts on ROMAN Catholicism that knows more than all of the actual Catholics. His response was this:

Interesting replies to my earlier post. Obviously a group out to save RC from the horrible protestants. [Huh? I simply saw charitable answers to the question posed!] My information on salvation came from my local priest who clearly informed me that outside the "church" there is NO salvation. Maybe he is wrong (of which I am certain), but he sure thought he was right! [COULDN'T be a misunderstanding on his part, of course.]

He also refused to allow a non-catholic to participate in a funeral mass, because non-catholics were not allowed --- again quoting him "according to the bishop." [It's not clear whether by "participate" he means as in a co-pastor type situation, or just attending the mass, though I'd really be skeptical if he meant the latter.] Maybe it is different where you all are from, but unfortunately, Vatican II has not come to North-West Indiana. [*eyeroll*]
It gets even better...after another commenter tried to explain that he had a misunderstanding of the often used phrase "NO salvation outside the Church," he pulled out the old pedophile priest card in his combox. Nice! I guess there were too many Catholics saying the same thing (that he was misunderstanding the teaching), because suddenly comment moderation was turned on. (Nothing wrong with that, of course, it's just interesting that while usually people use that to make sure things don't get ugly, it seems he just didn't like the fact that Catholics were trying to explain their faith.) Well, if you don't want the answer, don't ask the question!

Of course, it's clear that all the informed Catholic commenters who have spent years studying their faith and all had essentially the same response are just WRONG, cuz, y'know, he talked to a priest once (who later became a pedophile, gotta be sure and mention that, ZING!) that said there was NO salvation outside the ROMAN Catholic Church (nevermind what that actually means).

(On a side note, isn't it interesting that while so many orthodox Catholics are surrounded by priests who take inclusiveness and "tolerance" to heretical levels, the one priest a Protestant talks to just happens to be a mean old jerk condemning all non-Catholics to Hell! It's amazing, really!)

Isn't the humility refreshing? Who knew that a non-Catholic was so much more educated on ROMAN Catholicism than all the Catholics? I had forgotten that as a Catholic I'd become a mindless sheep with whose faith doesn't make sense. Silly me! Off to eat some grass...baaa-aaaa.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Book Meme!

I've been tagged by Peter for a meme about books! This is a tough one!

Three works of non-fiction everyone should read: many wonderful books to choose from!

1. Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
Having grown up in a church where any books about Christianity other than the Bible were essentially verboten, this book was an amazing read for me. It helped me to appreciate and understand the Christian faith in a way I never had before.

2. The Science Before Science - Anthony Rizzi
Anyone who is even remotely interested in science, philosophy, or theology should absolutely read this book. It explains the importance and necessity of "right thinking," and the dangers we will inevitably fall into if we don't practice "right thinking." I made a short review of it here.

3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Ok so this may be kind of an obvious pick, but I think everyone should sit down and read through it cover to cover at least once. It really is a wealth of information, and I think that we're so used to it being there that it is easy to forget how fortunate we are to have this wonderful compilation of Church teaching filled with scriptural and historical references. Again, coming from a background where we were tied to "the Bible alone," it is a wonderful tool to have as a Catholic!

Three works of fiction everyone should read:

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Ok...if I could, I would just say every Jane Austen novel is a must-read, lol, but I'll choose this one as it's one of the most popular. Her wonderful novels prove to our over-sexed culture that gratuitous sex and detailed descriptions of intimate moments (basically porn in written form) are absolutely unnecessary to have a gripping love story. Mainly, they remind us that love is so much more than sex.

2. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
This is a beautiful and heartbreaking and penetrating masterpiece that has been mostly overshadowed by the horror film versions of the tale. The real story is about so much more than a "scary monster" (whose name is NOT Frankenstein, btw, the man who created him is Frankenstein.) Definitely a must-read.

3. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
For obvious reasons, I think this book points to so many of the dangers of our current society.

Three authors everyone should read:

So I already cheated and said Jane Austen, lol...but I'm going to add three more!

G.K. Chesterton
The man was a genius. His writing is simply wisdom and wit rolled into one!

C.S. Lewis
Yeah...pretty much ditto the above!

William Shakespeare
For pretty obvious reasons! He didn't stand the test of time on accident!

Three books no one should read:

Hehe...well, even when I don't like books, I often read them so that I'm aware of what's in them, or why people do read them. But if there were some books I think either do more harm than good or aren't worth much, I'd say...

1. The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown
I don't have to explain this one, do I?

2. Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
I admit it, I simply don't like Woolf in general. Certainly it's important to read her work if you're in a literary field to know what it's about, but I just really don't think she has much to offer, contrary to much of the hype that surrounds her. Mrs. Dalloway was one of the worst, IMO.

3. The Left Behind series
I have to steal this one from Peter, because I couldn't agree more!

Phew...that was really hard!!!

I would LOVE to hear what Jennifer's answers would be, and also Kasia's, if y'all are up to it!

It Might Be a Bad Homily If....

There's an amusing list of the top ten signs that you might be listening to a bad homily listed on this blog.

These were among my favorites:


This is the homiliy we usually hear in our suburban parishes. Love = quiescene / Fighting for what you love = evil. If this theme describes what you're hearing ... it might be a bad homily.


Beware of homilies that start with anecdotes about cute crap. "A boy at camp whose mother sent him cookies ..." "There was a woman who found she had a terminal illness ..." Anything with a Reader's Digest flavor to it is probably from, which is what I call the clearing house for shallow thinking sermons that fit easily into a template. If your priest sounds like he's beginning his talk with a canned anecdote ... it might be a bad homily.

[Oh this one is SOOO spot on! This is usually my most common complaint!]

This is very common. The priest doesn't say anything wrong or heretical per se, but he makes a huge implication about the nature of the Faith in what he leaves out of his homily, in what he does not say.

So, for example, if speaking on Our Lord's commission to the apostles at the end of the Gospel of John ("Feed my sheep" "Someone will lead you, Peter, where you do not want to go"), a bad homilist will focus on how important it is that we must care for the poor, and leave it at that. True enough, but what about Our Lord's promise to Peter that in feeding his sheep and tending his flock he will be persecuted? There's an edge to this reading that a bad homilist will always cut away, giving us the gelded interpretation.

This is akin to discussing "King Lear" and saying, "a daugther should be nice to her father". Well, true, but that sure leaves a lot out.

If your homilist Doesn't Get it Wrong, but Doesn't Get it Right Enough ... it might be a bad homily.


If your homilist tells more jokes than Heny Youngman with a fiddle ... it might be a bad homily.

He asks for readers' input, so feel free to go add your own!

Curtsy to Mark Shea for the link!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi Continued...

A fellow board member from the NFP board made a blog post about a recent trip to an Orthodox Church entitled Don't take a disgruntled Catholic into an Orthodox Church. I thought this part was especially penetrating:

Modern Catholic churches have abandoned this separation between the nave and the sanctuary, and it is not accidental. Church designs have been driven by a true change in belief, at least of the architects. Church design promotes inclusion, not separation. I understand the drive, in Christianity God is, in a way, both immanent and transcendent, both here and not here, both Same and Other. However, it was folly to abandon centuries of tradition without care or thought. The loss of a "holy space" in the Church has been followed by a loss of a sense of the Holy, in general. There has been a dramatic change in the understood nature of the priesthood. Priests are now counselors or leaders, rather than individuals set apart to represent the whole of humankind to God, and to represent God to their congregation. I can't help but think that the crisis in the priesthood (priests leaving, "the scandal," drop in number of vocations) is intimately connected to this change in belief.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Sacramental Imagination

Have you ever read a book and walked away feeling that it was Catholic literature, when there wasn't actually any overt mention of Catholicism in it? Catholic blogger and Sci-Fi writer Ann Lewis examines this occurrence, which she calls sacramental imagination, in this post.
What is it that makes a piece of literature seem Catholic to non-Catholic readers? Some might read say: Tim Powers Declare and/or J.R.R. Tolkein's Ring trilogy and they say: well that's Catholic literature! Tim was told his book was "overtly Catholic" and was criticized for it (he still won the World Fantasy Award for it by the way...'nuff said ). But how so? What makes it that way? Tim's work, among all writers, is actually NOT overt in this way.

The truth is, I am a practicing Catholic, right? This is going to be there in my writing - this kind of spirituality, which is a quiet, deep, personal relationship with Christ (despite some claims to the contrary) is imbued in our everyday lives, and often inseparable and indistinguishable from what we are. Most can sense the Catholicism of writers like Tim or even Flannery O'Conner - but they cannot say for certain where or what it is. It is a culture steeped in faith, a spiritual culture that calls us to see the physical world as an extension of the metaphysical or spiritual. As a result, reflections of the physical world in any form of self expression will reveal this spiritual culture.

Good stuff! Be sure and read the follow-up post about Catholic author Dean Koontz!