July 31, 2010

Documentary on Archbishop Fulton Sheen comes to the silver screen

Homily for 18th Sunday in ordinary time

Fr. Rene Butler

Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! This passage from Qoheleth (or Ecclesiastes) makes me think of the song made famous by Peggy Lee (pictured), “Is That All There is?”

The lyrics express constant disappointment in life: Is that all there is to a fire?... to a circus?... to love? In that case, “let’s keep dancing, bring out the booze and have a ball.”

But there is a big difference between Qoheleth and the song. The latter is purely pessimistic, the former is not. In fact, in Qoheleth we read many beautiful and comforting passages:

“I recognized that there is nothing better than to be glad and to do well during life.”

“For every man, moreover, to eat and drink and enjoy the fruit of all his labor is a gift of God.”

“It is well for a man to eat and drink and enjoy all the fruits of his labor under the sun during the limited days of the life which God gives him; for this is his lot.”

“Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of the fleeting life that is granted you under the sun. This is your lot in life.”

The rich man with the bountiful harvest, in the parable, seems to say the same thing as Qoheleth: “eat, drink, be merry.” But here too there is a big difference. Qoheleth sees the good in his life as a blessing from God. The rich man sees only his wealth and prosperity, without any thought of “what matters to God.”

Imagine a child (or yourself) blowing bubbles and ask yourself which element of each of the following pairs is most like them:

Life, or status?

People, or things?

Love, or being right?

Sharing, or winning?

Health, or wealth?

The list goes on and on. We need to ask ourselves what really matters to God and to us, and what are the bubbles, the “vanity,” in our lives.

July 30, 2010

MARRIAGE: THE GOOD WINE (a wedding homily), Part I By Cormac Burke

"You have kept the good wine until now".

In these words the steward expressed his amazement to the bridegroom at Cana. And his amazement was redoubled when he found the bridegroom just as surprised as he was. The words should, of course, have been addressed to Jesus, who had just let himself be persuaded by Our Lady to work the first of his miracles.

After thirty years of hidden life, Jesus begins to reveal the divine power that is his by nature. Surely it can be no accident that he works his first miracle on the occasion of a human celebration, and in order to provide more of what would make people merrier still at a party already filled with merriment?

Is it too much to suggest that Our Lord chose this moment because he wished to make it clear that he had come to bring men happiness; not just the ultimate and perfect happiness of heaven, but also the passing though real happiness of earth? He had come to give a divine touch to human things, so that man's store of happiness, even if at times in danger, need never run out.

God became man not to destroy man, but to save him, not to limit or inhibit or frustrate man, but to show him the way to fulfilment and to freedom: to the final and limitless freedom and fulfilment of heaven, to be sure; but also to that relative but true freedom and happiness which God himself wants us to achieve on earth. Christianity, when all is said and done, does not devalue human things, but leads them to their true fulfilment (which can be so easily missed), and far beyond.

Most people's dreams of happiness are dreams of human love. The instinct to look for happiness in love and marriage is rooted deep in the human heart, and has surely been placed there by God. Our Lord's choice of a marriage feast as the setting for his first miracle seems a good proof not only of the obvious fact that he is in favour of marriage (his own institution, after all!), but also that he wants people's hopes of happiness in marriage to be fulfilled. I am certain that Jesus rejoiced in the noble and pure love of the young couple at Cana, just as he most certainly blessed it with his presence. I am sure that this marriage, with Christ and his Blessed Mother present at its inception, was one of the very many happy marriages of history.

But our Lord did more on this occasion. He worked an evident miracle in favour of this marriage. And he worked a deeper miracle still, in favour of all subsequent marriages... (to be continued)

Visit Monsignor Cormac Burke's excellent website for related content and more.

By the effective exercise of only one virtue, a person may attain to the height of all the rest.

-- St. Gregory Nazianzen

July 29, 2010

Awakened from Death: Pope Benedict Thoughts on John 11:1-45

The gospel of the resurrection of Lazarus … concerns the last “sign” fulfilled by Jesus, after which the chief priests convened the Sanhedrin and deliberated killing him, and decided to kill the same Lazarus who was living proof of the divinity of Christ, the Lord of life and death.

Actually, this gospel passage shows Jesus as true Man and true God. First of all, the Evangelist insists on his friendship with Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. He emphasizes that “Jesus loved” them (John 11:5), and this is why he wanted to accomplish the great wonder. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him out of sleep” (11:11), he tells his disciples, expressing God’s viewpoint on physical death with the metaphor of sleep. God sees it exactly as sleep, from which he can awaken us. Jesus has shown an absolute power regarding this death, seen when he gives life back to the widow of Nain’s young son (see Luke 7:11-17) and to the twelve-year-old girl (see Mark 5:35-43). Precisely concerning her, he said, “The child is not dead but sleeping” (5:39), attracting the derision of those present. But in truth it is exactly like this: bodily death is a sleep from which God can awaken us at any moment.

This lordship over death does not impede Jesus from feeling sincere “compassion” for the sorrow of detachment. Seeing Martha and Mary and those who had come to console them weeping, Jesus “was deeply moved in spirit and troubled,” and lastly, “wept” (John 11:33, 35). Christ’s heart is divine-human: in him God and man meet perfectly, without separation and without confusion. He is the image, or rather, the incarnation of God who is love, mercy, paternal and maternal tenderness, of God who is Life. Therefore, he solemnly declared to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” And he adds, “Do you believe this?” (11:25-26). It is a question that Jesus addresses to each one of us: a question that certainly rises above us, rises above our capacity to understand, and it asks us to entrust ourselves to him as he entrusted himself to the Father. Martha’s response is exemplary: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world” (11:27). Yes, O Lord! We also believe, notwithstanding our doubts and darkness; we believe in you because you have the words of eternal life. We want to believe in you, who give us a trustworthy hope of life beyond life, of authentic and full life in your kingdom of light and peace.

We entrust this prayer to Mary Most Holy. May her intercession strengthen our faith and hope in Jesus, especially in moments of greater trial and difficulty.

—Angelus, March 9, 2008

An excerpt from The Joy of Knowing Christ by Pope Benedict XVI.

Homily - Martha and Mary

Jesus with Martha and Mary

Fr. Micheal J. Woolley

In today’s Gospel we meet for the first time in the Scriptures a women whom Jesus becomes very good friends with, named Martha.

And this very brief scripture passage paints us a very detailed picture of Martha: her personality, her virtues and her shortcomings.

Martha comes across as an extrovert, a take charge type of person, a woman of action.

We also see that Martha possesses at least two virtuous qualities: the virtue of faith in Jesus and the virtue of hospitality.

These two virtues inspire Martha to welcome Jesus and probably the twelve apostles also to her home for dinner.

But what of course jumps out most to us is Martha’s shortcomings. Jesus sums them all up when he says to her “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.”

The Lord, who sees into the heart, looks into Martha’s heart and sees that it’s not just one thing Martha is anxious and worried about, she is rather anxious and worried about many things.

Yes, there’s the matter at hand, getting dinner ready and the table set and keeping everything warm without a microwave for 13 hungry men. All that’s got her a bit anxious and worried.

But that’s probably the least of Martha’s “many” worries and concerns.

We can only speculate what some of them were, but probably Martha worried over the things we worry over: over financial issues, personal health issues, perhaps she was worried about past or present sins she struggled with, perhaps she worried that she was worrying too much!

Martha certainly got anxiety over family matters. It is rather revealing that Martha asks Jesus to tell her sister to help her. Were the two not talking to each other?

We also find out later that Martha’s brother Lazarus has some serious health issues, which also must have caused Martha much anxiety.

And probably most of all, Martha was anxious and worried about her friend and Lord Jesus and his mission. She worried about how cold and dark and loveless this world was, she worried about how Jesus’ enemies were plotting to kill Him just two miles up the road in Jerusalem, she worried that all the good that Jesus was doing would be in vain.

And all of these anxieties come to a head and come bursting out of the extrovert Martha: Lord, do you not care? She asks Jesus.

“Do you not care that my family life’s a wreck, that my sister and I aren’t talking to each other? Do you not care that my brother could fall ill at any time leaving us financially strapped? Do you not care that I keep falling into the same sins over and over again? Do you not care that tonight’s supper is going to be ruined, and that it very well might be your Last Supper if the Pharisees finally succeed in bringing you down? Do you not care what’s to become of us disciples if that happens?”

To which Jesus replies “Martha, Martha, only one thing is necessary, and Mary your sister has chosen it.”

“Mary has all the same many anxieties and worries that you have Martha, and she even has a few others you don’t have, but Mary has brought those worries to me in prayer; Mary has taken time out each day to sit at my feet and let my Words permeate and transform her heart.

“In doing so, Mary still has the same problems, but she is not longer anxious and worried over them, she knows there’s no problem too big that God and her cannot handle.

“Mary has chosen the better part Martha, and the peace and serenity her daily prayer has given her shall not be taken from her. Nor will it be taken from you Martha, if you would but sit at my feet a while and learn from me.”

It appears that Martha took Jesus up on his offer that day, for the next time we meet her it is when Jesus visits her at the death of her brother Lazarus.

And that day, Martha says to Jesus “even now in the midst of this crisis, I know, that whatever you ask of God, Jesus, God will give you, for I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the One who has come into the world.”

May us Marthas who are anxious and worried over many things bring our cares each day to the feet of Jesus, that we like Martha may learn to choose the better part and come to believe more firmly in Christ.

Why Am I Catholic?

This video explains some of the reasons to be Catholic, among them the Eucharist and the Church.

July 25, 2010

Answering Those Who Are Only "Personally Pro-Life"

Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

Fr. Frank Pavone

On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, which means, “Of Human Life.” In that relatively short document, which you can find at priestsforlife.org, he outlines the Church’s vision of human life, marriage, and the connection between human love and the creative action of God.

Love and life are two very simple and very similar words, and they represent two gifts that go together. Love leads to life; it does not close it off. Love welcomes life, it is not afraid of it. Love and life go together because ultimately, they are simply two aspects of the one God.

One of the best ways you can observe this anniversary of Humanae Vitae is to read it. Go to priestsforlife.org and you will find the text along with helpful commentary.

Evangelizing Atheists

H/T Patrick Madrid

Ella - The New Abortion Drug

Have you heard about the new abortion pill, "ella"? If you haven't, you will soon.

While being billed as merely a contraceptive, "ella" actually goes a lot further than preventing contraception from occuring as it can actually terminate the life of an existing human embryo, an abortion!

Women can take the drug up to 5 days after intercourse, well after a new human life has been created. Because "ella" blocks the progesterone receptors needed for the continued development of the human embryo, the pill causes an abortion if taken after conception occurs.

This makes "ella" an abortion not a contraceptive drug, plain and simple. Two weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs approved "ella" for sale within the United States, calling it a contraceptive. The drug now goes before the FDA for final approval in a few short weeks.

In order to help spread the word about "ella", the new abortion drug, SFLA has launched a new website, www.ellacausesabortions.com, in an effort to let President Obama know that pro-life Americans won't be fooled by the FDA and their mislabeling of drugs.

Go to http://www.ellacausesabortions.com/ right now and sign our petition!

H/T Students For Life

How to Listen to a Homily, Part 4

Fr. Phillip Neri Powell

The following is the last excerpt from the article “Put Down the Missalette! Listening to a Homily” by Fr. Philip Neri Powell, O.P., Ph.D. Visit his website here.

5. Pray!

The proclamation and preaching of the Word is an extension of the Word into this time and this place. When we hear the Word proclaimed and preached, we are made larger to better receive God’s blessing; we are strengthened to labor in holiness; we are deepened to be fresher sources of living water for others; and we are excited, electrified to be bearers of the Word, apostles to our world. Pray constantly for our preachers. Ask God to set them on fire for His truth, to open their hearts and minds to His Word, to loosen their tongues, to free their gifts, and make them true workers in sowing the seed of faith. Since we know from the Tradition that the first beneficiary of prayer is the Prayer himself, praying for our preachers grows the capacity of the Prayer to hear, bear, and spread the Word he/she hears in a homily. Ears settled charitably in prayer will hear clearly the voice of God spoken by the preacher.

Well, those are my (somewhat cranky) suggestions for listening to and benefiting from a liturgical homily.

Anybody want to add anything?

July 24, 2010

John Paul II on Love

Catholic Theology 101: Thomism

(This is by no means an adequate representation of St. Thomas Aquinas' contribution to Catholic theology. His masterwork, the Summa, is something to which entire blogs are dedicated. This is only as an introduction to his methodology in keeping with the spirit of the current series.)

In the thirteenth century, when better translations of Aristotle’s works came to the attention of European scholars, new questions emerged. The dissemination of these works along with doctrinal disagreements threatened to divide the Church between traditionalists, those adhering rigidly to the letter of Church law at the expense of the spirit of the law, and modernists, those embracing a theology based on novelty, often at the expense of Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

St. Thomas Aquinas answered these questions and in the process prevented a rift between traditionalists and modernists. His theology, Thomism, is a synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Revelation. Like his predecessors, Aquinas’s theology is objective, deductive, and principled.

For all the centuries between Augustine and Aquinas, the accepted worldview stayed largely intact. Thought and theology remained grounded in objective principles and deductive arguments.

For more information on the life and work of Saint Thomas Aquinas go here.

Review: Arise From Darkness - What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, well-known priest and psychologist, draws on his years of dealing with people's problems and tragedies to provide practical and spiritual help to anyone burdened by the hardships of life. Whether you are troubled by death, loss, tragedy, hardship, or dspair Fr. Groeschel's unique insights combining the wisdom of scripture with his life experience will help you persevere and prevail. The last chapter of the book contains prayers and reflections for times in life that are especially challenging. In addition, there is a prayer at the end of each chapter relating to that chapters subject matter.

I found Arise From Darkness: What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sense to be personally rewarding. Fr. Groeschel urges us to keep life in perspective with eternity. Death is a human experience none are spared. Suffering is inevitable for everyone. Even Christ suffered and died, but in so doing He made those experiences holy. Death and suffering are mysteries we do not fully understand. This lack of understanding should not lead to fear however. Rather, we should view death as a birth into eternal life.

To order this book go here or visit the Catholic Company for similar items.

Twelve Ways to Know God - By Peter Kreeft

Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God (Jn 17:3). What are the ways? In how many different ways can we know God, and thus know eternal life? When I take an inventory, I find twelve.
  1. The final, complete, definitive way, of course, is Christ, God himself in human flesh.

  2. His church is his body, so we know God also through the church.

  3. The Scriptures are the church's book. This book, like Christ himself, is called The "Word of God."

  4. Scripture also says we can know God in nature see Romans 1. This is an innate, spontaneous, natural knowledge. I think no one who lives by the sea, or by a little river, can be an atheist.

  5. Art also reveals God. I know three ex-atheists who say, "There is the music of Bach, therefore there must be a God." This too is immediate.

  6. Conscience is the voice of God. It speaks absolutely, with no ifs, ands, or buts. This too is immediate. [The last three ways of knowing God (4-6) are natural, while the first three are supernatural. The last three reveal three attributes of God, the three things the human spirit wants most: truth, beauty, and goodness. God has filled his creation with these three things. Here are six more ways in which we can and do know God.]

  7. Reason, reflecting on nature, art, or conscience, can know God by good philosophical arguments.

  8. Experience, life, your story, can also reveal God. You can see the hand of Providence there.

  9. The collective experience of the race, embodied in history and tradition, expressed in literature, also reveals God.You can know God through others' stories, through great literature.

  10. The saints reveal God. They are advertisements, mirrors, little Christs. They are perhaps the most effective of all means of convincing and converting people.

  11. Our ordinary daily experience of doing God's will will reveal God. God becomes clearer to see when the eye of the heart is purified: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."

  12. Prayer meets God—ordinary prayer. You learn more of God from a few minutes of prayerful repentance than through a lifetime in a library.
Unfortunately, Christians sometimes have family fights about these ways, and treat them as either/or instead of both/and. They all support each other, and nothing could be more foolish than treating them as rivals—for example, finding God in the church versus finding God in nature, or reason versus experience, or Christ versus art.

If you have neglected any of these ways, it would be an excellent idea to explore them. For instance, pray using great music. Or take an hour to review your life some time to see God's role in your past. Read a great book to better meet and know and glorify God. Pray about it first. Add to this list, if you can. There are more ways of finding and knowing God than any one essay can contain. Or any one world.

July 21, 2010

Catholic Theology 101: Saint Augustine

Prior to the thirteenth century, the dominant school of thought in Catholic theology was that of St. Augustine. Early in the fifth century, Augustine refuted the heresy of Pelagianism. Pelagius taught that Adam’s original sin did not taint human nature. For that reason, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was neither necessary nor redemptive. A neo-Platonist, Augustine uses the philosophy of Plato, together with the deposit of faith, to oppose Pelagianism and create a new way of looking at everything.

The resulting synthesis, Augustinianism, is objective. It acknowledges truth, including moral truth, as outside of us, not a matter of personal opinion, therefore, universal, not particular to individuals, cultures, or circumstances. According to Augustine, we can know truth through Revelation, right reason, and the Church.

Augustine’s theology is also deductive. Deductive reasoning begins with a general idea and ends with a specific one. Father Richard Hogan describes this approach (later used by scholastics, especially Thomas Aquinas):
One started with a "given" which was accepted, e.g., God is a pure spirit, and added what was called the minor term, e.g., a pure spirit does not have a body… (then) drew a conclusion, e.g., God does not have a body.

Finally, Augustinian theology is principled. Principles flow from objective truth and deductive reasoning. The opposite of principled is experimental. Experimental knowledge comes from personal experience.

When We Are Our Own Worst Enemies

This is an excerpt from the book Arise From Darkness: What To Do When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R.

Just think of some of the ways a person can mess up things for himself. The most obvious is precipitous behavior – going ahead and doing something and not considering the implications, all of the things that are going to be consequential from it. Many devout people say, “I can’t figure it out, so I’m going to take the great leap of faith and jump . . . into an empty swimming pool.” I hear people saying, “I’m going to step out in faith!” Why don’t they step out in common sense at the same time? Don’t blame God if you walk off the end of the dock.

The opposite mistake is thinking things out so carefully and being so cautious that we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. As Christians we are supposed to step out in faith, but we often sit down in confusion. Many, not knowing what to do, simply don’t do anything. I call this dangerous trait the Titanic phenomenon. On the Titanic that mild winter’s night when the sea was very calm and the great ship had struck an iceberg, many prudent people didn’t get into the lifeboats. They said to themselves, “This is a great ship, it can’t possibly sink.” Although there were not enough lifeboats for all, there were nonetheless two hundred empty seats in the lifeboats when the Titanic went down. I suppose some who got into the lifeboats must have said to themselves, “I’m going to look terribly stupid when they pull this lifeboat back up onto the ship in about six hours, and I’ve been out here in the sea.” But these people watched as the great ship went down. It’s hard to know what to do. You can pray very fervently and still make big mistakes. What is more mysterious is that when we make big mistakes good things happen anyway. It’s not easy to be a responsible human being. The forgotten reason for all this is original sin.

When the Church Lets Us Down

This is an excerpt from the book Arise From Darkness: What To Do When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R.

Perhaps the Church has hurt you. The Church has hurt me. It has hurt most people near it for any length of time – not the whole Church, but part of it. I assure you that you and I will know, at the end of our days, that great Church which is the Mystical Body of Christ when it comes to its full reality. That is what eternal life is – when all who are saved from every nation and race and people will be gathered into the Mystical Body of Christ. We are preparing now for the heavenly Church, but our own spiritual life will be very weak and very narrow indeed if we do not loyally struggle for the Church in this world and try to be faithful to her even when others are not faithful. On Judgment Day no one is going to ask you about what anybody else did for the Church, only about what you and I did as individuals, as members of the Church of Christ in this wounded world. St. Paul, who loved the Church and suffered for her, writes to us:

I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints (Col 1:24-28).

Let us be faithful to that Church which our Lord Jesus Christ sent down through the ages, and let us find our spiritual fulfillment in being what St. Francis, St. Catherine, St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, St. Pius X, Padre Pio, Father Solanus, Cardinal Cooke, Pope John Paul II, and Mother Teresa all were in their lives – faithful, humble, generous, self-effacing members of the Church of Christ.

July 20, 2010

The Essential Difference Between Marriage And Same Sex Unions

Sexual difference is not like any other kind of difference. It’s a primordial difference. It allows for and opens the entire human person to a true and authentic communion of persons.

The heart of marriage, the good that marriage consists of, is the bond that arises from the vows of husband and wife to give one’s self in love fully to the other who is similar yet different. The sexual difference between man and woman, that is, husband and wife, opens love to an utterly unique reciprocity and communion. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I want to make him a help similar to himself” (cf. Gn 2:18).25 Because marriage is a union that essentially includes the gift of the entire “body-person,” it inherently and necessarily is a union of male and female, of husband and wife. 

The Church has always and everywhere taught that sexual relationships between people of the same sex, as well as any sexual relationships or activity outside of marriage, are morally wrong, contrary to the true good of the human person. For one thing, such activity harms the persons involved, ignoring the true meaning of one’s sexuality. There are greater consequences for society as well. This is no secret. Sex has public consequences. Both the Church and societies across the ages have acknowledged this.

But same-sex “marriage” is not merely wrong; it is impossible. When a government claims that two people of the same sex can be “married,” it is founding the law on a lie. Civil authorities have an obligation to protect marriage because it is so central to the common good, but no one has a right to redefine it. Rights exist because of truth and MARRIAGE: UNIQUE FOR A REASON 12 corresponding responsibilities. Truth matters. 

For example, if a government — by a legislative decision, court ruling, or even by a people’s vote — were to pass a law saying that a cat is a dog, that would not make it true. But it would make it very difficult, once the government assumed control over the very word, to teach the truth about cats to the next generation. Cultural power is the power to “name reality.” With same-sex “marriage,” civil authorities and others are proposing to change the very nature, meaning and purpose of marriage in the public square. 

Let’s make sure we’re clear: Friendship is a great good, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex (see CCC, no. 2347). The Church calls persons who experience same-sex attraction, as she does all people, to a life of holy fulfillment, that is, to a deeper and fuller union with Jesus Christ. As support along the way in a life of chastity and virtue, the Church speaks to the importance and great good of healthy and holy friendships, family and community support, prayer and sacramental grace. 

Unlike two persons of the same sex, only a man and a woman can commit to a true marital bond as husband and wife and create a one-flesh union. A man and a woman’s “body-persons” (their whole person) are ordered to one another. A husband and a wife are able to speak a unique and authentic language of love through their bodies (i.e., through the “language of the body” 26). A current false assumption is that one has a personal, autonomous “right” to decide the meaning and purpose of one’s body, of the sexual act, to separate deliberately sex from procreation and procreation from sex, as well as the child from a mother and a father. It’s falsely presumed that there is a “right” to separate sex from the only context in which it can be truly unitive as well as procreative, hence the only context where it can be a true expression of love. 

Marriage is not merely an appearance of union. It is not a temporary joining of the affections that can be withdrawn, or a partial 50/50 commitment. Nor is it simply friendship — as great a good as healthy and holy friendships are. Marriage involves the unique sharing of the whole person, man to woman and woman to man—not just the heart and the mind, but body and soul as well.

On the Impossibility of Homosexual "Marriage"

The human reproductive system is the one system that is never individual. It is a system — an impulse, appetite, longing, and physical and personal reality — that can be completed only by going “outside” of one’s own body — by joining with the body of another.

Think for a minute about the body. By their sexual acts a man and woman become a single procreative unity. The two become “one flesh.” Only in marriage does this physical act constitute a true joining of persons, one where, in a human fashion, husband and wife commit not just physical organs but heart, mind, body, and soul to one another. This is why sex is intrinsically ordered to be a conjugal act, which is to say an act of true union.

Children are the “ultimate crown” of marriage, one that the husband and wife promise to be open to, and, as mother and father, to care for and educate together. Marriage is deeply and intrinsically oriented towards the good of children — the good that is the creation of new life and also the care and connection of those children to their mothers and fathers. But marriage is good in itself even if the gift of a child is not granted to the husband and wife. In both cases, openness to the child, openness to “the other,” is intrinsic to what marriage and conjugal love are about, and this depends on sexual difference.

Sexual difference is the way to life-giving love and union. In discussions of marriage today, love and commitment are often emphasized as the most important qualities. There’s something true to this, but a vital key is to help people understand what lies at the basis of this love and commitment. What makes the love and commitment of marriage possible? Love and commitment are ingredients to many relationships that we have with family and friends.

Marriage involves a unique love and commitment, however, that only a man and a woman can make to each other — a commitment of exclusive, permanent, and total union. This union finds its consummation and renewal in the total sharing of the spouses’ bodily selves in the conjugal act. Only a husband and a wife can make such a personal gift of themselves to the other. This gift of self in marriage is not an isolated act but is part and parcel of the whole of married life, which itself calls for a love that is total and unique — the love between husband and wife. This gift of self in marriage has distinctive consequences and responsibilities which the state has rightly promoted and protected for millennia.
Dumb Ox


Why suffering can be purposeful as well as painful.

The existence of suffering has turned many hearts away from God. It is a question as old as man; "Why would a loving God allow us to suffer - especially children and innocents?" To begin to answer this question we must think of evil as the lack or absence of good.

When Adam sinned his communion with God, the very source of life, was diminished. Everything in creation was thrown out of balance. The Genesis account makes one thing clear. Evil entered the heart of man, not blotting out love of God but diminishing it.

Following Adam's rejection of God's love, God didn't abandon us. Barely did man sin when God promised to send a Redeemer to defeat evil once and for all. God addresses the serpent who successfully tempted Adam and Eve. In so doing, God divulges the plan of salvation: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15)

The "woman" is Mary. This is why Catholics call Mary the new Eve. In her all things are made new. The woman's seed is of course Jesus Christ.

Jesus was the son of God and without sin. Everything He did was holy. When He healed it was holy. When He taught it was holy. All Christ did as God incarnate was holy. When Christ suffered it was holy. Even now, as members of the Body of Christ, our suffering is holy. More on this in my next post.

Aristotle's Four Causes, Part 2


In Aristotle's Metaphysics, there are four main causes of change in nature: the material cause, the formal cause, the efficient cause, and the final cause.

Each of these "causes" was a different sense of the Greek word aition, which Aristotle thought was ambiguous and needed to be clarified. The distinction between them can be understood using a wooden table as an example. The material cause is the wood out of which the table is made; the formal cause is the form or shape of the table; the efficient cause is the carpenter who creates the table; and the final cause is the purpose for which the table will be used, e.g. a desk, an altar, a decorative console, etc.

1.) The material cause is the substance or material out of which something is composed. Thus the material cause of a table is wood, and the material cause of a statue might be bronze or marble.

2.) The formal cause is the thing or being into which the substance or material becomes. A leather worker turns leather into shoes for example.

3.) The efficient cause is the person or thing that effects change in a substance or material

4.) The Final cause, or telos, is defined as the purpose, the good, or the goal of something. For example, the final cause of a pen is writing. Aristotle believed that the final cause is the most important of the four causes - determining the three other causes

For another explanation of Aristotle's four causes go here.

Helping Women Choose Life

July 19, 2010

The Devil and Madison Avenue

According to Wikipedia, "Madison Avenue is a north-south avenue in the borough of Manhattan in New York City that carries northbound one-way traffic. It runs from Madison Square (at 23rd Street) to the Madison Avenue Bridge at 138th Street. In doing so, it passes through Midtown, the Upper East Side (including Carnegie Hill), Spanish Harlem, and Harlem. It is named after and arises from Madison Square, which is itself named after James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. Since the 1920s, the street's name has been synonymous with the American advertising industry."

It is the last part of this description that concerns us. For nearly a hundred years Madison Avenue has shaped the mass communications media, influencing everything from advertisements to movies. Sexual messages are thrust upon us everywhere. The sexual content of most television programs are a negative influence especially on the young. They portray contraception, active homosexuality, lying, theft, and revenge as morally neutral or good. Sacred Scripture teaches and the teaching authority of the Church affirm that they are contrary to the will of God.

To combat this negative influence, strong fanilies are needed; families that mirror the love of God. This is essential if we are to transform the culture in which we live.

July 18, 2010

Apple iPone Ad Big News

I'm calling this a pro-life ad since it celebrates the arrival of a little one.

July 17, 2010

St. Athanasius

Thought of the Day

Devils take great delight in fullness, and drunkeness, and bodily comfort.
Fasting possesses great power and it works glorious things.
To fast is to banquet with angels.

-- St. Athanasius.

New Cardinals to be Appointed Soon

July 15, 2010

The Pass This On For Me Campaign

This is the inspiring story of Bryce Daniel. As an unborn child, doctors urged Bryce's parents to abort. This video is part of the Pass This On For Me Campaign, one in a series of true life stories with a pro-life message. Special thanks to Lifesitenews and Robert at Love Undefiled for spreading word of this project.

July 13, 2010

Thought of the Day

Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul, except sin. God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.

-- St. Francis de Sales

July 12, 2010

Catholicism: A sales pitch

Most people cringe when they think of televangelists mixing faith with marketing and money. But if I was an advertising consultant, how would I promote Catholicism?

One 2,000 year old faith.

Benefits include:
Eternal life: courtesy with the grace of God.
Free spiritual advice: at your local parish
Sin anniliation service: through confession
Purgatory insurance cover: for those who aren't completely perfect
Excommunication: disposal of heretics for doctrinal clarity.
Free baby wash service upon birth of new family members: total remission of all sins included.
Free top quality worldwide television service with EWTN.
Spiritual communion with new family of 1 billion members.
Largest healthcare provider in the world promoting the dignity of the human person.
Outstanding education service - schools and universities included.
Great travel holidays- Lourdes, Fatima, Rome all included.
Extra mother provided free: intercession possible.
A historical, cultural, architectural, artistic and spiritual heritage beyond measure.
Papacy: Rock of the greatest civilization known to man.

H/T Love Undefiled

July 10, 2010

Beatitudes for Parents

Blessed are those parents who make their peace with spilled milk and with mud, for of such is the kingdom of childhood.

Blessed is the parent who engages not in the comparison of his child with others, for precious unto each is the rhythm of his own growth.

Blessed are the fathers and mothers who have learned laughter, for it is the music of the child’s world.

Blessed and wise are those parents who understand the goodness of time, for they make it not a sword that kills growth but a shield to protect.

Blessed and mature are they who without anger can say "no", for comforting to the child is the security of firm decisions.

Blessed is the gift of consistency, for it is heart’s-ease in childhood.

Blessed are they who accept the awkwardness of growth, for they are aware of the choice between marred furnishings and damaged personalities.

Blessed are the teachable, for knowledge brings understanding, and understanding brings love.

Blessed are the men and women who in the midst of the unpromising mundane, give love, for they bestow the greatest of all gifts to each other, to their children, and—in an ever-widening circle—to their fellow men.

The Beatitudes for Parents were written by Marion E. Kinneman (1895-1985) about 40-45 years ago. Marion wrote this piece specifically for her two daughters to assist them in the raising of her six grandsons. They were first published in Family Circle magazine, and have been reprinted numerous times since.

July 8, 2010

Thought of the Day

The affairs of God are accomplished little by little and almost imperceptibly. The Spirit of God is neither violent nor hasty. He does all things in His time.

-- St. Vincent de Paul

St. Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

July 7, 2010

Thought of the Day
Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him....He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me to strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me; still He knows what He is about.
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

July 6, 2010

Parenting and Sexual Difference

Parenting, that is, fathering and mothering, is uniquely tied to sexual difference. For example, the importance of the father is shown to us when we see the spouses’ mutual relationship with their child, the fruit of their union. The mother is entrusted from the beginning with the child’s presence, which accompanies her during the time of pregnancy; the father, for his part, remains initially “at a distance.” In this way, the mother represents the initial embrace that receives the child into existence, giving him or her the affirmation of love he or she needs. What is the role of the father? He lovingly affirms and identifies the distinction of the child within the embrace of the mother. Thus, the mother and the father, each in their own way, provide a loving space for the child, one by accenting union, the other by accenting distinction.

Lila Rose - Rise Up and Defend Human Life

This video is reposted by popular demand. It features Lila Rose, the president and founder of Live Action, a group dedicated to ending abortion. In the video Lila discusses the power of images in shaping and propelling social movements. She cites several historical examples to illustrate the point.

The Negative Effects Of Modern Feminism On The Family

Marlori Fuchs

First of all, what is feminism? According to my iMac dictionary, it is: “the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” However, this definition just scratches the surface of what is a very complicated issue with a long history.

The “Woman’s Suffrage” movement, and its primary founder, Susan B. Anthony, had a noble aim and achieved much to give women their proper political and social respect. What many don’t know is that these early feminists were actually very pro-life and pro-motherhood.

But as time progressed, feminism became more extreme and more angry, especially with the “Women’s Liberation” movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Women of this movement have the mindset of Margaret Sanger, who was the founder of Planned Parenthood. They believe, among other things, that sexual activity outside of marriage is fine, and even should be encouraged as a means of “liberation”. They hold that unlimited access to abortion and artificial birth control is a fundamental “right” and that women should be identical to men in every way.

Don’t get me wrong: I am completely in favor of treating all human beings with equal respect, no matter our gender, race, or color. I believe that it is right for a woman to vote, to be involved in politics, to hold positions of authority in the workplace, to choose her own husband, to be paid the same as a man doing the same job, etc. These are just common sense rules that must be met for justice to be upheld.

Although feminism began with noble goals, in its modern form, it is a dangerous and negative mindset. In reality, it scorns womanhood by implying that as a woman, I’m not good enough – I must become like a man in order to be equal to him. What a lie! The truth is that man and woman have equal dignity, but different design. Modern feminists have the attitude that they can be everything a man is, which is physiologically and biologically impossible. In pursuing things that men have characteristically done, they have gone too far and utterly shunned their innate qualities. They view the traditional woman as inferior to man, and the role of a stay-at-home mother as inferior. When a woman no longer understands herself and her unique role, the breakdown of the family results.

In marriage, husband and wife are partners in a sacred covenant, to help each other be everything God is calling them to be. Man is made to be the protector and leader, and woman to be the bearer and nurturer of life. These innate qualities complement each other so perfectly. Working together, husband and wife create a stable and loving environment. However, if one partner rejects his or her natural role, the marriage will begin to fall apart.

Thanks to the lies and confusions of modern feminism, women have been undermining our inherent role. Since the sexual revolution, many have clung to the ideals of Margaret Sanger, who advocated promiscuity, contraception, and abortion-on-demand. By accepting this anti-life mentality and lifestyle, a woman literally severs that special bond with her child. Consequently, if the man and woman are married, she weakens her relationship with her husband by deliberately killing a life that they created together.

Read more here...

July 3, 2010

Thought of the Day
Trust the past to the Mercy of God, the present to His Love, and the future to His Providence
-- St. Augustine

What is Marriage?

The meaning of marriage is both timely and timeless. Marriage is the lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman . . . the font of love, life, and communion . . . the natural foundation of the family and society. Marriage is a fundamental institution, but as we know, various challenges and questions are raised today about the meaning of marriage. The most pointed of these questions arises in the context of the contemporary proposal to redefine marriage to include two persons of the same sex. This proposal involves many issues which deserve careful attention. Consideration of the inviolable dignity of every human person, including persons who experience same-sex attraction, is essential when approaching this topic. The topic can indeed be emotional and difficult, but at the heart is a radical question about the most basic and original of all institutions.

The video “Made for Each Other” focuses on the topic of sexual difference and the complementarity of man and woman. Why start here? At first sight, this topic might appear to miss the core issues and questions at stake. For example, you might hear that everyone knows about sexual difference already and that the real concern is about rights, equality, and non-discrimination. For sure, this concern about rights, equality, and non-discrimination involves important principles and receives most of the attention today. However, popular misconceptions regarding rights, equality, and non-discrimination easily shift the attention from the central question at stake, which is marriage.

It is necessary to begin at the proper starting point. Without a proper understanding of the meaning of marriage, the topic of rights, equality, and non-discrimination cannot be dealt with adequately. In fact, the topic will remain at a superficial level and be misconstrued. Only when marriage is understood can its preservation be grasped as fundamental for the protection of basic human rights and the common good. Similar to Jesus’ invitation to return to “the beginning” (Mt 19:4; Mk 10:6), this first video and materials do the same.

The crucial starting point is sexual difference. While sexual difference alone doesn’t say everything there is to say about marriage, it’s indispensable for understanding marriage’s meaning. In fact, sexual difference provides the essential foundation for recognizing why marriage is exclusive to one man and one woman. The difference is the difference.

As Pope John Paul II taught, marriage is grounded in creation itself, willed by God in the very act of creation. Jesus himself showed us this when, in his teaching on marriage, he went back to the beginning, back to Genesis, back to the very creation of the human person (see Mt 19:4-6 and Mk 10:6-7).12 Marriage is not “created” by a religious institution or human government. Religion and government confirm what was already present from the beginning: marriage based on the sexual difference between man and woman. Marriage is grounded in human nature as created by God. As such, the call to marriage depends upon the sexual difference between a man and a woman.

Marriage: Unique for a Reason

The family is at the heart of the parish and should be the focus of all ministries as the Church seeks to grow, evangelize and build the kingdom of God. Realizing that the most basic aspects of the family are being challenged and denigrated, the U.S. bishops have formed the Ad Hoc Committee in Defense of Marriage, headed by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville (Kentucky).

Watch a new 12-minute video that explains why marriage is uniquely between a man and a woman, from the US bishops. The video provides natural and common sense reasons for upholding marriage as a union between one man and one woman, as well as some basic theological conclusions drawn from the Bible. The message is given by a married couple (actors named Josh and Carrie) who exhibit the virtues they speak about. The DVD comes with a study/discussion guide for parish or small group use. It is well worth your time to view the video through the link given above.

H/T Catholic Fire

The Rosary: Our Weapon

The Weapon of the Rosary

"Hail Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing." Our Lady to Saint Mechtilde.

"Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil." Saint Louis de Montfort.

"Recite your rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence and with perseverance." Saint Louis de Montfort.

"One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world." Saint Dominic.

"The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary." Saint Francis de Sales.

"Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world." Blessed Pius IX.

"The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin." Pope Pius XI

"The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life." Pope Leo XIII.

"When people love and recite the Rosary they find it makes them better." Saint Antony Mary Claret.

"Hold on tightly to the Rosary. Be very grateful to the Madonna because it was she who gave us Jesus." Padre Pio.

"When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer." Saint Louis de Montfort.

"How beautiful is the family that recites the Rosary every evening." Pope John Paul II.

"The Rosary is the compendium of the entire Gospel." Pope Pius XII.

"Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been so favoured by so many miracles than the Most Holy Rosary." Pope Pius IX.

"Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world." Our Lady of Fatima.

"There is no surer means of calling down God's blessings upon the family than the daily recitation of the rosary." Pope Pius XII

"No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they'll give up sin or they'll give up t.he Rosary." Bishop Hugh Doyle.

"The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world." Pope John XXII.

"The Rosary is a priceless treasure inspired by God." St Louis de Montfort.

"The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you'll be amazed at the results." Saint Josemaria Escriva.

"The rosary is my weapon." Padre Pio.

July 2, 2010

Explanation of the Mass, Part 4

IV Concluding Rite

Immediately after the Communion Rite, should there be any announcements, these are made, but should be kept brief. Then just as the people were greeted at the beginning of the Mass, so now the presider greets the people again and blesses them in one of three forms, the simple one, or at his discretion a more solemn Blessing, particularly at various seasons or on specific feast days, or a Prayers over the people. Includes the following:

Blessing and Dismissal

The Priest says again "The Lord be with you." The ritual phrase now serves as a farewell, followed by a blessing. The blessing prays that the grace God has given us in this part of our lives will benefit us because this is what we sacrificed with Christ in the Eucharist to the Father through the Holy Spirit.

July 1, 2010

Catholic Converts

This video shows notable catholic converts past and present.

H/T A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

Explanation of the Mass, Part 3

III Liturgy of the Eucharist

The major part of the Mass after the Liturgy of the Word and ending before the Concluding Rite. This part corresponds to the words and actions of Christ at the Last Supper. Christ took bread and the cup, gave thanks, broke, and gave them to His disciples saying: "Take and eat; this is My Body. Take and drink; This is the cup of My Blood. Do this in memory of Me."

Preparation of the Gifts (Presentation) - The priest prepares the altar and the gifts, prays over the bread and wine, and helps the assembly get ready for the tremendous Sacrifice that will take place in an unbloody manner. Includes the following:

Offertory Song Preparation of the Altar Preparation of the Bread Preparation of the Wine Washing of Hands Invitation to Prayer Prayer over the Gifts

Eucharistic Prayer - The center and high point of the Mass that makes Christ present for us in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. During it, the entire assembly joins Christ in acknowledging the works of God and in the offering of Sacrifice. Includes the following:

Introductory Dialogue Preface Sanctus Eucharistic Prayer Thanksgiving Acclamation Epiclesis - Ask God to consecrate the Host & Wine Institution - Narrative and Consecration Anamnesis - Command of Christ through the Apostles Offering Intercessions Final Doxology Memorial Acclamation Great Amen

Communion Rite - It is part when God gives a gift to Him. In both cases the gift is the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world. Includes the following:

The Lord's Prayer Rite of Peace (Sign of Peace) Fraction Rite Breaking of the Bread Commingling Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) Personal Prayer Communion Silent Prayer Prayer after Communion