Jul 072015
 

I had recently positively reviewed Fr. Mike Driscol’s Demons, Deliverance, Discernment : Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World. So when I found that he also recently released a novel I was intrigued. The book is a collection of short stories called The Father Capranica Mysteries: Stories of the Strange and Supernatural.

As the author wrote:

“The Fr. Capranica Mysteries are my attempt to imitate both G.K. Chesterton’s Fr. Brown Stories and the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night feel of Alice Cooper.”

Overall I did enjoy this collection of stories. This collection starts out pretty strong with a story called “Storm Sirens”, and then “Walk Through Walls”. This promise at the start is mostly kept throughout the collection with plenty of solid stories.

The main character Fr. Capranica is a time traveling priest, but with certain limitations. He will travel through time, but only forward. He and pilgrims like him jump through time guided by divine providence to be where they are needed. This limitation reminded me that we are all sequential time travelers always moving forward in time and with cooperation with grace can be where God wants us to be.

These stories are more X-Files than Alice Cooper, although Alice Cooper is a prominent character in the last story. It is obvious the author is a fan of him as I am. The reason I saw X-Files is that often the stories involve obscure folklore from multiple cultures. From pagan to Christian. Fr. Capranica besides his priestly duties is often called upon to investigate strange going ons. Just this aspect of the storytelling is satisfying. Included is a spiritual depth that adds to the stories. They often make a serious point spiritually without hitting you in the head providing a Fr. Brown aspect. This provides a layer to the story without sacrificing the story itself. Fr. Driscoll did lots of research on possession and exorcism in his Ph.D. program for counseling. The start of his book on exorcism includes information worldwide across cultures and history regarding exorcism and you can see that all this served well in providing information for these stories. It is nice to be able to read stories of this type without all the bad theology you often get.

The stories are not told in a time sequential manner so you have stories mixed in of Fr. Capranica in early times of Church history. So you have some stories involve famous saints while being coy about who they are until close to the end of the story. Some of these specific stories were I think the weaker of the collection, although probably because I am put off by talking about a famous person with the slow reveal. Still even the lesser stories held my attention and this collection as a whole was worthwhile for me. I could easily see my self going back to it at a later date.

The story involving Vincent Furnier (Alice Cooper) revolved around the origin of his stage name which actually makes for a pretty good story of this type. After his Christian conversion something happens that causes his family to bring in Fr. Capranica. Although it is an urban legend that he got his name from a Ouija board, it does provide a good basis for the story told as if it was fact and what the consequences could be.

On another note while it is true that “You can’t just a book by its cover”, it’s also true that we do so anyway. Can’t say I am a fan of the cover and it makes the book look unprofessional. The book is published by Bezalel Books, a Catholic publishing company. Looking through their books I saw a similar problem in that many of their book covers were rather amateurish. They look like something that I could splice together and that is not an endorsement.

Jul 072015
 

Yes that was a totally link bait headline. Yet their is truth to it. Specifically the Vatican has lent the Diocese of St. Augustine a relic of one of his fingers. So for a Diocese patron saint that counts as “the finger”.

A relic dating back to 430 A.D. isn’t something that’s easy to acquire.

So when the Diocese of St. Augustine was loaned a first-class relic of St. Augustine of Hippo late last month, it was considered a blessing and the culmination of many years of effort.

“One of my dreams was to find a way to get the relics of Saint Augustine here for the 450th to finally say the man for whom this city is named, his relics came here,” said the Rev. Tom Willis of Cathedral Basilica.

The relic is the finger of St. Augustine of Hippo – and it’s never before left Italy where it is part of the Vatican Treasury.

Kathleen Bagg, director of communications for the diocese, has done extensive research on the relic.

“This is a first-class relic because it is an actual piece – body part – of the saint,” she said. “It’s just taken a really long time because [officials in Italy and at the Vatican] didn’t want to let go of it.”

Encased in what is known as a reliquary – a container for holy relics – it is on loan to the diocese in celebration of St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary and the founding of America’s first Catholic parish. (Source)

Jun 302015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 23 June 2015 to 30 June 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Homilies

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “In Confession, Jesus welcomes us with all our sinfulness, to give us a new heart, capable of loving as he loves.” @Pontifex 25 June 2015
  • “The Church is a mother with an open heart, ready to help all people, especially those who try the hardest” @Pontifex 27 June 2015
  • “How wonderful it is to proclaim to everyone the love of God which saves us and gives meaning to our lives!” @Pontifex 30 June 2015
Jun 292015
 

Part of my daily devotional reading includes Paul Thigpen’s A Year With the Saints: Daily Meditations with the Holy Ones of God. He finds and frames a wide variety of quotes from the saints. Including the more well known and the more obscure quotes that should be more well known. Just rich spiritual reading.

Now another book of his is also part of my daily devotional reading. A Year with Mary: Daily Meditations on the Mother of God. Again a plethora of quotes framed with a short introduction and a very short reflection and prayer follow up.

I really have to give kudos to not only the quality of work being published by Tan and St. Benedict Press, but also the aesthetic quality of their books. A Year With Mary is no exception. The ad copy states “Premium Ultrasoft with two-tone sewn binding, ribbon marker and gold edges”, which really does not describe the aesthetic beauty of the cover and the feel of it, the quality of the paper used, and the edge gilding. I just love holding it my hands when reading it. I might have pretty much totally moved over to ebooks, but prayer books require a more sacramental feeling. There is such craftsmanship and attention to detail down to the color of the paper and the rounded edges.

aYearWithMary

This picture only gives you a vague idea of the quality.

aYearWithMaryKirara

My cat Kirara even likes the feel of the soft cover.

Jun 232015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 24 May 2015 to 23 June 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Encylical

General Audiences

Homilies

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “We know how unsustainable is the behaviour of those who constantly consume and destroy.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “A decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “What is at stake is our own dignity.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The world we have received also belongs to who will follow us. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Having a home has much to do with a sense of personal dignity and the growth of families. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “For indigenous communities, land is not a commodity, but a gift from God, a sacred space.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We need an integrated approach to combating poverty and protecting nature.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The culture of relativism drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is an urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “By itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “It is possible that we don’t grasp the gravity of the challenges before us. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Each age tends to have only a meagre awareness of its own limitations.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “For believers, this becomes a question of fidelity to the Creator.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “At times more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the equal dignity of human beings.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “A fragile world challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing and limiting our power.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Every creature is the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “”Creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”; it has to do with God’s loving plan. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Each community has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We need only to take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The alliance between economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Economic interests easily end up trumping the common good.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is no room for the globalization of indifference. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Developed countries ought to help pay this debt by limiting their consumption of nonrenewable energy.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “To blame population growth, and not an extreme consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We have to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The deterioration of the environment and of society affect the most vulnerable people on the planet.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “”To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God.” (Patriarch Bartholomew)” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The throwaway culture of today calls for a new lifestyle. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is a value proper to each creature.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is a need to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is an intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We need a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “I invite all to pause to think about the challenges we face regarding care for our common home. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “An integral ecology includes taking time to reflect on our lifestyle and our ideals. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life.” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is not a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “The teachings of the Gospel have direct consequences for our way of thinking, feeling and living. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs to buy, own and consume. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Believers must feel challenged to live in a way consonant with their faith. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “God’s love is free. He asks for nothing in return; all he wants is for his love to be accepted.” @Pontifex 23 June 2015
Jun 212015
 

When we are away from home and need to find a place to go to Mass, MassTimes.org by phone is my normal method. Often this is because we are on a day trip around Orlando and just want to find the closest parish to wherever we happen to be. I named this “Mass Roulette” since you just have no idea what parish you might wind up with.

Yesterday Mass Roulette provided another interesting example that was even mostly positive.

This one like so many parishes built since the 70’s is the auditorium style clamshell. Certainly not my favorite style as it to me shouts secular and not sacred. The art is typical of seventies abstract trends, but there was also a very large wooden crucifix in the sanctuary. Unfortunately I had to play Where’s Waldo with the Tabernacle and I did not win. I now suspect it was possibly in the windowed-off chapel area. Still this is the first parish of this style that I’ve encountered that actually had a pipe organ and that the pipe organ was used. Mostly I was also pretty happy with the hymn selection. I was especially joyful with the selection of the recessional hymn which was appropriately – Faith of our Fathers. A hymn that I have heard only one other time during Mass in the last 15 years. Kind of a slam dunk for Father’s Day, but political correctness has probably censored it from most parishes or the lyrics have been modified (hich I have heard anectoctal evidence of). Not that I think any hymn is particullarly mandated for feast days or nods to the secular calendar such as Father’s Day. Contrary to popular understanding Ashes is not mandatory for Ash Wednesday, and for me not even welcomed in the slightest. Regardless I was thrilled and even a little choked up to be singing this hymn.

One trend I have noticed in the limited amount of Orlando area parishes I have been to is the use of projectors onto screens on either side of the sanctuary. A practice I have not been thrilled about generally and in one parish during Mass the screen fell back to the Powerpoint program. What surprised me is that I found that this parish incorporated this in a way that to me seemed more organic. Usually when I see this it is an afterthought with projections onto blank walls ending up looking rather tacky. Here there were two screens on either side suspended from the walls. The effect was rather clever visually. What also was done differently is that the screens were used throughout the Mass, while at time defaulting to a more generic view of landscape.

During the readings a graphic depicting the book of the Bible was used, plus of course the various texts were displayed of the Gloria, Nicene Creed, etc. The part in the Nicene Creed where you are suppose to bow was even annotated for that liturgical posture. Their use of these screens were rather thoughtful and the information presented rather tastefully. This does not mean that I believe this practice in general should be adopted. There are so many ways this can go wrong and I have seen some of them. For one you really need someone with solid design sense to make the slides. Imagine slides during Mass using Comic Sans? (Yeah I know the Vatican used that font for the ebook commemoration of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI). Can you imagine what horrific Powerpoint animations someone might think appropriate via the consecration? Still I found that this parish did manage to find a balance that was that had me not reacting negatively as I have in the past.

Still I find it interesting that they had done all this work visually, yet did not ring the bells during the consecration.

There was one aspect of using screens that really threw me. The clamshell architecture had included a windowed off section separate from the main church. Probably meant for dual use as a chapel and cry room. Because of the placement of the pews in this chapel it would be difficult to view the sanctuary. So they had a video screen playing back the video of the sanctuary. This was really strange to be at Mass and to look over and see people with their attention on the screen in another area instead of towards the altar. Like it was a Mass Multiplex. Kind of like being at a professional sports game and watching the game on your phone instead. I can imagine opening up this chapel to increase seating, but the church was about half-full.

One thing I really loved was the way the Mass was said by the priest. So often you get the feeling as if this is just another recital of Mass. That the Mass had just been set on automatic. The way this priest said Mass really moved me and helped me to concentrate on the realities of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Deacons’s homily similarly moved me with its aspect of personal witness and love of Christ. I also got the feeling by the words he used that he had read Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples.

I already mentioned that the church was about half-full, so of course they had 20 Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC). Yes I counted them since it was rather easy since they were in a double row of people. I could jest that it almost took longer for the EMHCs to receive Communion as it was for them to distribute it. Still it did remind me of a parody I did on the subject.

Something else I found interesting is that they passed out a survey to be completed by the men. It is apparent they are also looking to better reach out to men as one of their outreaches. They even have an online version.

Jun 162015
 

Via Jimmy Akin:

With just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet.

Here are 12 things to know and share

The document was leaked by well-known Italian journalist Sandro Magister on the web page of his newspaper, L’Espresso. Subsequently he has had press credentials for the Vatican lifted.

I have seen multiple reports of somebody in the Vatican calling this a “heinous act”, although have not seen a actual source for this. If accurate this is pure hyperbole. Yes reprisal against Magister is appropriate for violating the embargo, “heinous act”? — not really. As if this Encyclical needed more drama involved.

Contrary to some reports the name of the Encyclical “Laudato Si” is not Latin for “People heads blow up.” I’ve been taking a rather novel approach to the whole thing. That is actually waiting to read it before forming an opinion in any way.

I would recommend Larry D’s 10 Things That Won’t Be In Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘Laudato Sii’ for both the humorous list and the sage advice.

Still it will be an interesting upside down week when progressive Catholics tell us how we must obey the Pope’s teachings and conservative Catholics tell us how we don’t have to. Sure, broad generalization with lots of caveats — but hey this is a blog after all.

memejoker_encylical

Jun 162015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 4 June 2015 to 13 June 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Regina Caeli

Speeches

Papal Tweets

Jun 112015
 

Matthew Coffin at Big C Catholics interviews Julie Davis of Happy Catholic for his June’s Blog of Note. Been a fan of all of Julie’s endeavors and so am always happy to see interviews such as this.

With the great Christopher Lee’s passing last Sunday I point to Thomas L. McDonald’s post Christopher Lee’s Best Movie. He echoes my own feelings as another kid raised on monster movies and related fandom.

Steven D. Greydanus IKEA Church and “The Godfather” is well-worth reading. His take is especially interesting as someone who does not identify as a liturgical traditionalist.

Jun 092015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 28 May 2015 to 9 June 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Regina Caeli

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “We need to build up society in the light of the Beatitudes, walking towards the Kingdom with the least among us.” @Pontifex 4 June 2015
  • “In the Sacrament of the Eucharist we find God who gives himself.” @Pontifex 9 June 2015