Saturday, December 30, 2006


The responses to the execution of Saddam has been the major topic on the blogosphere. On the Catholic blogs many comments seems to be centered on the statement by the Vatican Press Office denouncing the execution. Some posters are going back to the Trent Catechism for justification on a traditional pro-capital punishment stand for the Church, while others quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church to illustrate an anti-capital punishment stand.
Well I'm not gonna talk about Capital Punishment, because I'm much more interested in the real core of this discussion. That being: When is something that is said by the Church an immutable, unchanging and undeniable fact, and when is it an opinion, colored by the times and open to change, especially as the centuries pass?

The first one is easy.
In Roman Catholic theology, the Latin phrase ex cathedra, literally meaning "from the chair", refers to a teaching by the Pope that is considered to be infallible when an official statement on behalf of Church doctrine.
Number two is almost as easy:
Roman Catholic theology divides the functions of the teaching office of the Church into two categories: the infallible Sacred Magisterium and the non-infallible Ordinary Magisterium. The infallible Sacred Magisterium includes the teachings of papal infallibility, of Ecumenical Councils (traditionally expressed in conciliar canons and decrees), and of the ordinary and universal Magisterium. (Despite its name, the ordinary and universal Magisterium falls under the infallible Sacred Magisterium.)
As described above teachings which fall under the non-infallible Ordinary Magisterium are not dogmatic. It is a sin to eat meat on Friday is such a teaching. The sin is not to eat the meat, but to ignore the Churches requirement that meat be abstained from on Friday as a penitential act. But you get the idea. There are rules that the Church can change. As it did when it replaced the abstinence from meat with the requirement that some other penitential act be preformed in its place.
The order of the Mass under the Latin rite can be changed, as indeed it was. There are various licit rites for Mass. All are equally valid. In the past rites have been added and rite have been vacated. The Church has the right to make those kinds of decisions.
Now we get the the important part. That is that as Catholics we are bound to adhere to the teachings of the Church, those both dogmatic and non-dogmatic. It is permissible to discuss and even request change of non-dogmatic stands. And the Church can change those stands.
Since any catechism is likely to include information on both dogmatic and non-dogmatic teachings it is a chancy thing to use an old catechism as a source for what is dogmatic in the absence of other sources. More useful is to go to the original source material. The CCC is extensively footnoted, making it easy find original sources for teachings.
Bottom line: Follow the teachings of the Church. Work to know the dogmatic, infallible teachings, so you know where the hard lines are that way when a non-dogmatic teaching changes it won't seem contradictory.

Friday, December 29, 2006

On good wood

I've been fairly busy this holiday week. I put a new floor in the attic to allow use to store even more junk up there. I spent too much time getting a new portable configured so that it will actually work with my home network. I did various other odds and ends around the house to fill in my free time.
Being the pondering sort, with a degree in History and an insatiable curiosity for facts from the past, I can't help but compare my experiences with those of another carpenter some two thousand years ago. I had all sorts of wonderful gizmo's; a table saw to cut the boards, a chop saw to cut studs(that 2 by 4's), a nail gun, two drills (one for drilling holes, one for driving screws), a saber saw, to cut irregular shapes, not to mention things like mass produced nails and screws and the wood itself.
A couple of thousand years ago a carpenter probably made his own tools, or bought the blades and cutting implements from a blacksmith and assembled them into tools. All his work was done by hand, with human muscle, whether he cut his own wood or paid someone to cut it, the cutting was all done by hand, with axe or saw. And with lots a patience, because it takes longer to do work with only human muscle.
That made things made out of wood expensive, because a lot of man-hours went into them. That also made the carpenter a skilled worker, with a decent income, after a fashion.
Was Jesus a carpenter? Well Matthew and Mark both identify Jesus as "the carpenter's son". At the time the scripture describes St. Joseph is already dead it seems, and mentioned are Mary and Jesus other relatives (either cousins, as is believed in the Western Tradition or step siblings as is believed in the Eastern Tradition.) He himself is never described as a carpenter, but in those days most men learned their craft at their father's knee and it would have been highly unusual if Jesus was not at least trained as a carpenter, as a boy and young man.
The Gospels are very silent about Jesus' youth, telling only of the Holy Families trip to the temple when Jesus was just below the age of manhood. We know that the Holy family fled to Egypt, but not the exact year. Herod the Great, who is traditionally thought to be the Herod who ordered the innocents of Bethlehem murdered, died in 3 BC. Caesar Augustus ruled from about 27 BC until 14 AD. Quirinius was governor in Syria from about 1 AD until 12 AD, too late for Herod the Great to be the Herod mentioned in the bible. Josephus, the great Jewish historian tells us that Quirinius did indeed order a census. Not to worry there were several Herods in the area. Herod Archelaus was ethnarch of Samaria, Judea and Idumea, it was his shoddy tax collecting, which caused Quirinius to be appointed. Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, brother of Archelaus, who eventually had John the baptist killed. Herod Agrippa, only a boy in 1 AD, but later king of Judea, and mentioned in the Acts.
The gospel says that the Holy Family returned when it was safe and settled in Nazareth, in Galilee, where presumably Joseph worked as a carpenter.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

On the fourth day of Christmas...

On the fourth day of Christmas...

On the fourth day of Christmas...

Catholics in America, and I expect most countries where they are not the majority are slightly out of step with other Christians. While they celebrate during the few weeks before Christmas, putting up decorations, singing Christmas Carols, and preparing fro the festive day, Catholics are in the season of Advent, preparing not just for celebrating the birth of the Baby Jesus, but also for Jesus' Second Coming. When Christmas day is over, though most Christians don't immediately pull down their Christmas decorations, they are thinking now about celebrating New Year, with Christmas behind them. Catholics are just getting started. They still have the twelve days of Christmas ahead of them,
First there is the feast of St. Steven the first adult martyred in Christ's name. Steven was a deacon and I think that has it's own significance. On the night he was betrayed Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles. then he dies, rose again, and ascended into Heaven. Pentecost came and the next thing you know the Apostles are saying, "We shouldn't ignore the Word of God to wait tables..." So they appoint deacons to do the serving. And God calls upon one of them to be killed while preaching the word of God. I wonder what the Apostles thought of that?
Next there is the feast of St. John, the Apostle and Evangelist. At his crucifixion Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to "the one who he loved." Of all the Apostles John was the only one to die of old age.
Then there is the feast of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. These are all of the children murdered by Herod, as described in the Gospel of Matthew. Though unbaptized, these innocents are the first martyrs and so were baptized in the blood of the Lamb, the first of those souls saved by man-God Jesus, excepting perhaps for his mother, born without the stain of Original Sin, for His sake.
So celebrate on, these are pivotal pieces of our Catholic heritage. Still eight days till the Wise Men come calling.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas update

Really didn't think I'd have time today, but I The 11:30 regular Mass was canceled today, reducing father's Mass load to a mere seven Masses in two days. He's asked a retired priest to cover a few daily Masses this week, so he can take a day off. No one to help with the Christmas Masses though. He was upbeat about it, but I know he'll be tired tomorrow. Being able to celebrate Mass must be wonderful, but father is only a few years away from retirement and is not as healthy as he once was.
Sure enough 9:30 Mass was a little lighter than usual, especially considering there was no 11:30 Mass. I mentioned it to one of our teens, who had also noticed. He knew the difference between Advent and Christmas vigil Mass. Too bad some of his elders are not so knowledgeable.
I'll go to the 9:00 pm Mass for two reasons. One is it is the youth Mass and I expect to see a lot of our teens and their parents there, The second is that the midnight Mass is likely to be full of two Mass a year "Catholics" who will ensure that any regular attendee will have to arrive early just to get a seat. A couple of years ago my son and I ended up having to sit out in the common area because all of the pews were full. I wouldn't mind if I thought it would bring them in every week, but we won't see any of them again until Easter Sunday. Maybe a few prayers would be in order to grant them the grace to return full time.
Well again Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. I expect I won't be posting tomorrow or on Monday. A Monday Christmas means that I get a couple more days off since the national lab I work at is in shutdown. Were Christmas on Tuesday this year I would have had to work through the weekend.
So tomorrow the Advent Wreath gets put away and Baby Jesus joins the rest of the figures in the Nativity set.
It also means that I get to attend Mass on both Sunday morning and Sunday night. What? Thought you could double dip this year? Jimmy Akin explains on his blog.
The Church I attend typically has three evening Masses on Christmas Eve. There is a Children's Mass at 5:00. A Youth Mass at 9:00 pm and typically a Midnight Mass too. I haven't seen this year's schedule yet. I'll check the bulletin at 9:30 am Mass tomorrow. We generally have three Masses on Sunday, and a Saturday evening Mass too. With the Christmas morning Mass this would be eight Masses in less than two days for one priest. Quite apart from the norms, which I believe would prohibit that without permission from the bishop, it would be a fairly grueling schedule for father. I suspect at least one Mass will be canceled, probably the Youth Mass or Midnight Mass.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church was first published in 1992. It was written by a number of individuals, among them Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., known for his own tome The Catholic Catechism, published in the 1980s. The CCC bears the Imprimi Potest of none other than Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
I have a well thumbed paperback edition, but find myself using the online edition posted here on the Vatican's site. The electronic version is very easy to search and I have a version of the CCC on my Palm, which means it's always with me to research those difficult to answer, "why does the Church say that..." questions I always seem to get from teens.
Earlier this year the Church published a kind of primer version of the 900 page CCC, called the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This smaller volume is on my Christmas list which hasn't prevented me from downloading it on my Palm.
The compendium starts with the Apostles Creed. The Creed, which probably originated as early as the second century is used by many Christian denominations. The compendium then discusses the sacraments, starting with the liturgy. next comes life in Christ, and finally Christian Prayer.
The Appendixes includes a list of common prayers, in both Latin and the vernacular, both the United States and Canadian versions in the English translation. They also include what the Compendium calls the Formulas Of Catholic Doctrine, which include things like the Beatitudes and the Seven gifts of the Holy spirit. The printed version also includes some beautiful illustration plates in full color.
Spend some time reading the Compendium. Unlike the CCC itself it is quite possible to read the entire Compendium in just s few hours.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Mass

We all go to Mass regularly (hopefully.) The major revision of the Mass that resulted from Vatican II was probably much more sweeping than the original participants anticipated. While many of the changes were a direct result of the revisions, some were authorized or unauthorized experimentation which was, in my opinion allowed to go for much too long. So how to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the Mass?
The place to start is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GRIM). The fourth edition marked March 27, 1975 is the current document. The GRIM like the Roman Missal is written in Latin. The English translation is prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. Like most Vatican documents it is available on line here.
In the last decade or so the Roman Catholic Church has begun to enforce compliance to the GRIM by Ordinaries, that is bishops, and their priest, especially in the United States, where certain illicit practices had crept into the Mass. Some of the practices were carried out in ignorance, with the best of intentions. Others were not originally illicit, as they were carried out under indults from Rome, which have expired.
Most of these deviations were small in nature, but collectively impact the reverence of the Mass. Most have to do with individuals exceeding the boundaries of their prescribed roles. The GRIM says:

All in the assembly gathered for Mass have an individual right and duty to contribute their participation in ways differing according to the diversity of their order and liturgical function.[45] Thus in carrying out this function, all, whether ministers or laypersons, should do all and only those parts that
belong to them...
That means there are parts of the Mass only a priest can perform. Other parts normally the province of a deacon, if one is present. And other parts relegated to lay ministers.

For example if there is a deacon present it is his role to proclaim the gospel. The priest will not read the gospel if there is a deacon present, that role only relegates to him if there is no deacon.

Likewise the reader(lector) will do the first and second reading and also lead the Psalm, if there is no cantor. The GRIM specifically opens this role to women.

No one questions that only the priest can perform the Consecration. In the same way only an acolyte, deacon or priest can perform certain task in the preparation before and the purification of vessels after Communion.

Since the revision of the Mass there has been more than one translation of the Missale Roma­num into English. This has resulted in what to some seems a never ending tinkering with the Mass. Be advise that the original Latin has not changed. The changes to the English are a result of an effort originally to use a more colloquial translation, which was unsatisfying in its adherence to the specific meaning of the Latin.

One of the results of this was a controversy over the pro multis translation. It is part of the Rite of Consecration of the wine. In Latin the phrase means for many. In the original Latin the priest says: “Qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur.” In the current English translation, the priest says: “It will be shed for you and for all.” "For all" in Latin is pro omnibus.

This is a translation with theological impact because while Jesus died to bring salvation to all mankind, salvation is only granted to those who follow Him. A person can refuse salvation. That is the prerogative of free will. So in truth his blood "will be shed for you and for many," but not "for all."

These changes are not going to happen overnight. The appropriate authorities are determined (finally) to get a proper stable translation that Rome won't second guess them on (again.) So don't expect to see these changes for a few years.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Apostolic Succession

Apostolic Succession: what is it, whose got it and who wants it?
Apostolic Succession is the belief that the Christian Church today is the spiritual successor to the original body of believers in Christ composed of the Apostles. In the Catholic Church this succession is understood to be carried through the sacrament of Holy Orders through the episcopal ordinaries, the bishops. The Pope is the successor of Saint Peter particularly. The Apostolic Succession of the Orthodox Church is recognized by Rome, which is one of the reasons that their sacraments are recognized as valid.
Now to the muddied waters. The Church holds that all bishops have the inherent ability to ordain a baptized male to be a deacon, priest, or bishop. A valid but illicit ordination, as the name suggests, is one where a bishop uses his valid ability to ordain someone whom under canon law or instruction from the pope he was prohibited from ordaining, it therefore being illicit.
However such an ordination is only valid if the properly performed. In the case of ordination this is the laying of hands and the proper charge to priesthood. The Anglican Church, for example is not generally seen to have Apostolic Succession because during the reign of Edward VI the outward forms of ordination in the Anglican Church were changed. Pope Leo XIII wrote a Papal Bull Apostolicae Curae stating that fact. Amazingly some modern Catholic theologians have question this. Further muddying the waters is the fact that in 1922 the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople affirmed that the Orthodox Church does recognize the validity of the Anglican Church's Apostolic Succession and of its Holy Orders. Of course this was before the Anglican Church started ordaining women. Pope Benedict has reaffirmed the Anglican Holy Orders to be “absolutely null and utterly void.”
Another group claiming Apostolic Succession is the Old Catholic Church. The Old Catholic Church stakes its claim on succession though the Apostolic Vicar of Utrecht, the Dutch Archbishop, Cornelius van Steenoven, who had a falling out with Rome. After Vatican I, which the Old Catholic Church refused to recognize, the Church spread to America and other parts of the world. The ordinations of Archbishop van Steenoven are seen by the Roman Catholic Church as valid but illicit.
Can a bishop created by a valid but illicit ordination in his turn perform ordinations? The answer is yes...but the person ordained must be someone who can otherwise by lawfully ordained. For example an unbaptised person could not be validly ordained, nor can a woman. A married man can be validly ordained, and indeed there are married priest in both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.
Unfortunately for the Old Catholics, like the Anglicans, they have taken to ordaining women, which would invalidate any succession in those lines since a woman "bishop" is not a true bishop and has no ability to ordain anyone.
Here's where it get complicated. Many Anglo-Catholics and traditionalist Old Catholics have doubts about the directions of their respective Churches, and care about Apostolic Succession. These members of their respective clergies have personally sought out bishops who, by their lights, might still have true Apostolic Succession via an unbroken line of valid (but illicit) ordinations back to a known Roman Catholic or Orthodox bishop to lay hands upon them and ordain them. Odd isn't it? These break away Christians look to Rome (and our Orthodox brothers) to secure the validity of their priestly orders?
What about Protestants in general? Most don't care about Apostolic Succession at all. I won't even get into the non-Christian Churches, such as the Latter Day Saints.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Today we prayed the rosary outside an abortion clinic with my Middle School Class. The clinic was closed, the idea was not to cause confrontation, but to pray for the victims. Most of these kids do not regularly pray the rosary, so we did a little catechesis after. We talked about how the Apostles Creed can be substituted for the Nicene Creed at a children's Mass. We also discussed how the Fatima Prayer was given by Mary to the children Lucia de Jesus Santos, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. We went over the meaning of the doxology and finished up with where the Hail Mary came from.
This got me thinking about the traditions of Catholic Culture, everything from Saint's feast days to why the priest wears rose vestments on the third Sunday of Advent. There is an incredible depth of culture possessed by the Catholic Church. In the past this culture was passed down from parents, through Catholic education, and many times in the surrounding culture of ethnic neighborhoods.
Today many parents, raised in the post Vatican II period, are themselves disconnected from Catholic culture. In many parts of the country the surrounding culture is secular, sometimes even anti-Catholic. This puts an incredible burden on the catechist to pass on not just dogmatic knowledge of the faith but its cultural norms and traditions too. As always parents are an important support system for this, even if they themselves must be catechized. That is why whole parish catechesis is an important aspect of parish life.

Gaudete Sunday

From Catholic Culture
Today is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, "Rejoice". Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.
This year the Third Sunday of Advent is on December 17. Because of this during the Liturgy of the Hours the readings and Antiphons for the Third Sunday of Advent are replaced with the O Antiphons. For the next eight days, an Octave in the Church calendar the O Antiphons will precede the Magnificant during Evening prayer (Vespers).

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Catechists journey with their charges as teacher and companions. They teach the beliefs and traditions of the Catholic Church, along with their parents, of course. This is an awesome responsibility. It is not something that can be done in two hours a month or even four hours a month. It requires a commitment beyond just a few hours in a classroom.
The catechist should be an example, in prayer life, behavior and piety. We all fail sometimes to follow in the footsteps of Christ, but even in this, the example in the reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation should be there.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Often times things happen in life which are not convenient. A car breaks down or a computer takes a swim and we don't always have funds to deal with these little hiccups of life.
At such times it is important to remember what is vital and central to our lives. Almost any problem of this sort is really one of convenience. A broken car most often means taking the bus or in most American households sharing another car. A cooked computer means a trip to the library or borrowing another computer for vital school related work. The inconvenience is the loss a easy mobility and the ability to play video games. There are people for who such problems are much more serious. Single car families in rural areas, shoestring business who have lost all their records, but for most of us this is not the case.
In all of these cases though, serious or inconvenient the answer is prayer. Prayer brings perspective to the problem. Prayer of help is easy when you have a problem. It is even easier when prayer is a regular part of your life. Sometimes God will decide that the easy answer, the one you are most likely praying for, is not the right answer and there may be a few bumps in the road, but in the long term, on the road to salvation each and every bump is a necessary part of the ride.
I have a friend who if you ask him what he would change about his life will tell you, "Not a thing, because every disappointment, failure and misstep has led me here, to where I am now." This is where God has put him, and he figures this is where he should be.
So when life has bumps, put you faith in God and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Role playing

I am a sometimes Role Playing Gamer and RPG author. That is one of the roles I play in real life, pun intended. But what role do I play in Christ's body, the body of the Church, and what role does this blog play?
I am not a theologian. I leave that role to those who have studied for it. Ex Corde Ecclesiae(from the Heart of the Church) requires that:
those who teach theological disciplines..have mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority.
Now the mandate particularly applies to teachers in Catholic Universities, but anyone who presents himself as a theologian publicly should, in my opinion, tread carefully unless he or she has an ecclesiastic patron, because theology is not a subject like history or math. There are Truths embodied in Church teachings, and while some teachings are open to dialog and discussion other are not and a professional theologian should be able to tell one from the other, but needs a shepherd when they've gone astray.
I am not an apologist. Apologetics is the branch of theology which deals with defense of the faith. A Catholic apologist defends the faith against non-Catholic Christians, pagans and non-believers, as well as our Jewish and Islamic brothers and sisters. Some deal almost exclusively with Protestants, others primarily with non-believers. I write primarily for members of the Catholic faith so I am not an apologist.
If I have a role at all in the Church it is primarily as a catechist. A catechist role is that of a teacher-companion. He or she is to be the voice of the Church, in that they teach what the Church directs. The catechist must be careful to differentiate opinion from Church teaching, and never support deviation from the norms required by the Church. Opinions contrary to Church teachings have no business passing the catechists lips. That does not mean not struggling with any aspect of Church teaching but it does mean leaving it outside the classroom.
It also means lots a prayer. A catechist must pray constantly and study, especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Of patrons

Today is the feast of St. Lucy, that is Lucia of Syracuse, who was from a rich family of Greek ancestry. Her Roman father died when she was young and her mother arranged a marriage for her to the Roman pagan Paschasius.
When she refused to marry him he turned her in to the Roman authorities. The consul of Syracuse sentenced her to force prostitution, but when the brothel guards went to fetch her they could not move her, even with a team of oxen. He then ordered her tortured, but her tormentors could not rape her. When they attempted to burn her at the stake the wood refused to burn. They cut out her eyes but God restored them. Finally she was executed by being stabbed to death by a dagger. Legend says that she did not die until decapitated, but still continued to speak even then prophesying against her persecutors and begging all Christians to remain firm in their faith.
Her mother , Eutychia, was said to suffer from haemorrhagic illness, which God cured in answer to St. Lucy's prayers.
She is the patron saint of oculists and diseases of the eyes, and also of authors,glaziers, and cutlers. Because Lucy means bringer of light she is also the patron of electricians, an honor she shares with St. Barbara (who was killed by lightning), and who is often represented in her company in religious iconography.
As I am a sometimes professional electrician I count St. Lucy as one of my patrons. Another is St. Isadore of Seville, patron saint of the Internet and computer programmers. So how does a Spanish bishop become the patron saint of computers?
So, how does Saint Isidore of Seville become the patron saint for the Internet? The Observation Service for Internet, who drew it's mission from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, researched the Internet and related technologies to select a patron saint that best reflects the concerns and ideals of computer designers, programmers and users. The saint chosen by the Observation Service for Internet was Saint Isidore. "The saint who wrote the well-known 'Etymologies' (a type of dictionary), gave his work a structure akin to that of the database. He began a system of thought known today as 'flashes;' it is very modern, notwithstanding the fact it was discovered in the sixth century. Saint Isidore accomplished his work with great coherence: it is complete and its features are complementary in themselves.
I also pray to Fr. Michael J. McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, who I believe will one day be canonized, and the Servant of God John Paul II, who I know will eventually be officially known as the Great and one of the holiest Popes of the last few centuries.
And, of course, I pray to God, in all of his three persons. The protestants have got it so wrong. They will ask another living person to pray for them, but refuse to ask someone who is already with God to also pray for them. As through asking a saint for intercession means you aren't also going to ask God directly for your blessing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Valid and licit.

Wikipedia has an article on valid but illicit, who knew?
As a matter of fact Wikipedia has quite an extensive collection of articles on the Catholic Church and Christianity. I find that the articles are generally quite good, sometimes even better than the Catholic Encyclopedia. They often include information on the beliefs of other Christian churches and honestly compare the beliefs of various groups, without taking sides. By this I mean they also do not take a secular stand either. I find it a good resource, when properly balanced with other sources.
I find the 'net in it's entirety an amazing resource for an aspiring apologist or catechist.
I've written on the positive effect the Internet can have by exposing groups or individuals who are supporting non-dogmatic stances or performing illicit practices.
Because the Vatican posts just about everything it is a great way to read documents propagated by the Holy See. The Catholic blogosphere passes on news faster than CNN. There are literally hundreds of useful apologetic and catechism sites, which with a little cross checking can ensure that what you teach is the real deal: the Truth as revealed by Mother Church.
It is a much better way to spend your time than "must-see" TV.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, near Mexico City, is one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage in North America. On December 9, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to an Indian convert, Juan Diego, and left with him a picture of herself impressed upon his cloak. As Our Lady of Guadalupe the Blessed Virgin is the Patron of the Americas.

from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Guadalupe is strictly the name of a picture, but was extended to the church containing the picture and to the town that grew up around. The word is Spanish Arabic, but in Mexico it may represent certain Aztec sounds.
This Marian Feast is especially celebrated in Mexico and Latin America, but is also celebrated in the United States and the rest of North America.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Of creeds and men

The Nicene Creed was originally composed as an answer to Arianism. Arianism denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God. The Church's answer was the Creed. In some form the Creed is used by Syrian Orthodox (Jacobite) Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, Anglican, Lutheran, and most other Protestant Churches. I have heard a nondenominational Christian minister of my acquaintance quote almost the whole creed verbatim when explaining what beliefs a Christian must hold to be Christian. His interpretation of "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church" is slightly different than mine, but in the other areas of the Creed we agree almost exactly.
Now one of the reasons that the Creed was created was so that Christians would be able to state what they believed. It was also created so that a priest, bishop or lay person could not finesse the issues. This is what you had to believe. This was the teaching of the Church. This is what you stood up at Mass and said you believed.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a creed of beliefs for the issues of our days? The beliefs are the same as the Church has always held, but what a difference there would be if Catholics had to stand up at Mass and state them. Contraception, abortion, homosexuality. How many would continue to pretend that they didn't understand the Churches teachings, or that they could continue to be Catholic without holding these beliefs in common with the Church?

Friday, December 8, 2006

Immaculate Conception

Mark Shea has a wonderful post on the Immaculate Conception on his blog.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Call to Action

From Amy Welborn's blog

Zinger #2: Cardinal Re, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, has confirmed Bp. Bruskewitz's excommunication of members of Call to Action in his diocese:

"The Vatican has determined that “the activities of ‘Call to Action’ in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint,” Cardinal Re writes. He concludes: “Thus to be a member of this Association or to support it, is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic Faith.” (CWN, via EWTN)

Another whiff of the grape on St. Ambrose day!

Posted by: Angus McWasp at Dec 7, 2006 6:58:00 PM

For those who do not know CTA is a a fairly radical left wing group which supports female ordination, homosexual marriage, and various other stances, including contraception. Here's an example of some of their shenanigans and here.


It's not what you think. The Dale Carnegie course, as it's first principle says that one should not complain, condemn or criticize, I intend to all three.
I have a breviary, that is a book used in praying the Liturgy of the Hours. It cost about $35.00, as opposed to the multi-volume version which runs about $145.00. Now in the interest of full disclosure I must point out that there are paperback versions of the breviary available for <$8.00. There are also online versions. The full Liturgy of the Hours, in both its unrevised pre-Vatican II and revised post Vatican II versions are available for free in Latin. English is another story. Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate has each day available for a subscription fee, equal each year to the cost of my breviary. It is also available for Palms for a stiffer $50.00. Universalis likewise provides a version of the Hours. Their version lacks the Antiphons, and the Palm version cost 30 pounds, which is anywhere from $38 to $60 depending on the exchange rate.
I don't really know who runs the first site. They have a New York address. Universalis is a publishing company and is based in England. I have nothing against companies trying to make money.
My problem is with the Church trying to make money by charging for something like Liturgy of the Hours. Why doesn't the Church post the daily Liturgy readings on line? I can easily afford the cost of my breviary. Having the hours on my handheld is just convenient when I'm not home and prevents me from having to carry my book around, but that's not the real point.
I know a deacon who works at a convalescent home as the spiritual coordinator. He works with chaplains from many denominations. Because of his position he is constantly being sent materials from the various Christian organizations. He tells me that a Protestant group will send him dozens of magazines to be handed out to the residents, by way of evangelization. Catholic magazines send him solicitations for subscriptions, which are not in his meager budget. The LDS sent him free copies of the Book of Mormon. The Baptists King James versions of the Bible. The Catholic publishers pamphlets on ordering Bibles.
By now I think you get my drift. Somebody is paying for all of this stuff, but most groups consider getting the Gospel, or their version of it, out as part of their mission to preach the word. Somehow the Church has bought into the idea that the word should be sold rather than given away.
Now I know that the Knights of Columbus and many other fine Catholic organizations raise money to give away free Bibles. Heck, my parish gives a new youth Bible to every rising sixth grader when they enter middle school catechesis.
That does not explain why, in the age when just about every Vatican document written is posted on the web, why something as universal as the Liturgy of the Hours is only available by paid subscription.

Sugar-Coating God

Got an email from one of the youth ministers I work with. She said:
Hey everyone, check out this article from time magazine. it's talking about the problems with "sugar-coating" religion and how it really doesn't work in the long run. it's pretty interesting: Sugar-Coating God Keep pressing on and teaching the youth the Truth. They need it!
The article doesn't mention Catholic programs specifically, but we've all seen such religion-lite programs. I consider Life Teen to have latched on to this Scripture based method years ago. Every Life Night program I've seen for years is Scripture and Catechism of the Catholic Church based, with enough music and activities around the edges to make it interesting, but with a core talk which is all no holds barred Truth.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Running through the blogosphere

One of the amazing thing about the Internet and the phenom of blogs is that some Church in the Diocese of Orange has a priest say Mass dressed as Barney and all of a sudden every Catholic blog from Rome to Portland is talking about it. Suddenly the Bishop is getting letters from all over the U.S. The Vatican has to have heard of what is going on, and it's hard to believe that Bishop Brown hasn't heard from someone in Rome with at least a little comment on the incident. Of course the parish did it to itself by first posting the video on-line at their web site.
This brings up the real point. The agendas of Groups, organizations, and parishes who seem determined to go outside the belief structure of the Church become very easy to discover. It has become much harder for a local ordinary to turn a blind eye to such practices, as his fellow bishops and Rome become appraised of what is happening not through private letters to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith but through dozens of blogs where hundreds of comments advertise and denounce the abuses.
While the Church has shown amazing resiliency is ignoring the mainstream media it is a little harder to ignore educated laymen and even clergy quoting chapter and verse of Church documents while denouncing practices which are illicit. Let us hope and pray that the hierarchy will start to effectively use this information to respond to curb these abuses.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Religion in a secular world

I was discussing theology classes with a college student of my acquaintance. He was taking classes at a public college. After talking with him for a short while it became quite clear to me that not only did most of his teachers seem extremely liberal, in a theological sense, but they also seemed to have no real belief in God.
I shouldn't be surprised. Become immersed in comparative religion classes, with a concentration on the academic evaluation of theological sources and it's easy to lose focus on the dogmatic truths taught by the infallible Sacred Magisterium.
The problem with such people is that in many cases there is no common ground for a true discussion of faith. A Catholic Apologist can discuss faith with a Lutheran, a Baptist or even a follower of Islam, but they cannot discuss faith with a secularist who denies the basic premises of faith. As Thomas Aquinas said in the Summa Theologiae :
If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections — if he has any — against faith.
I told my young friend not to confuse the accumulation of facts necessary to pass his courses with the understanding of truths which can only be arrived at through the study of theologically sound doctrine. Proper catechesis prior to exposure is, like a vaccination, always better for spiritual health in such situations.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

First Sunday of Advent

So we move on to a new year.
The liturgical color for Advent is violaceo [violet], commonly called purple by most people. There has been a trend in some parishes in the United States toward the wearing of a more bluish violet in Advent and a darker purplish violet in Lent. This is licit as long as the shade is violet. Of course, blue trim for Advent is also allowed. On the third Sunday of Advent, when we light the pink candle the Missale Romanum allows vestments of coloris rosacei [the color rose].
Father wore a new chasuble and stole this morning. It was of violet, but had a very interesting texture which gave it the look of two shades of violet. The stole had gold thread trim, and I seem to recall that it was a present from the parish on the anniversary of his ordination. Last year I believe he wore violet on the third Sunday of Advent, the rose color is optional and few modern priest seem willing to buy a set of vestments which they can only wear one day a year.
We did O Come, O Come Emmanuel as the opening hymn. The Gloria is omitted in Advent.
The author of the Gloria is unknown. It is of ancient origin, going back as far as the first century. It takes its verse from scripture:
Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace among men of good will.-- Luke 2:14.
The Gloria was composed in the East, and probably originally written in Greek, not Latin. It was used in the Morning Office and not the Mass. It is still not used in the Greek Rite. It entered the Roman Rite first as a part of the Christmas Mass, probably in the fifth or sixth century.
The Gloria was not always excluded during Advent either. As late as the twelfth century it was still said during Masses in Advent. At this time the exact wording of the Gloria was not yet constrained and there were many versions, which were song at different Masses. When the Roman Missal was revised at Trent the expansion of the Gloria was prohibited.
Under present usage the Gloria is suppressed during Advent, because it is a penitential season, but the Alleluia is retained, because are still a resurrection people. We are penitent because we look forward to Christ's second coming, with hope and fervor.
But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. --Thessalonians 5.4

Friday, December 1, 2006

Life and death and life

I've got a toothache today. it's not a bad toothache, though it's probably an indication that the tooth will soon have to come out. Its another sign of age, of the rot of that feeble edifice that is my body. Created by God not to last through eternity, but only for a very short human lifetime.
And then what? I can look forward to the slow decline of life, or perhaps the unexpected extinction of life too short. And then death. But if I die in a state of grace, thanks to the salvation given to me by my Lord, given and not earned, for nothing I can do can effect my Salvation except through the Grace of God, I will eventually go to my God.
I will exist only as spirit, but that will not be my final state, because I have a promise:
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; --John 6:54
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. --Rev 21:1
"We believe in the true resurrection of this flesh that we now possess" (Council of Lyons II: DS 854). We sow a corruptible body in the tomb, but he raises up an incorruptible body, a "spiritual body" (cf. 1 Cor 15:42-44). --CCC 1017
So someday I can look forward to a new body, with good teeth.