Aug 282014
 

While the #TacoBeerChallenge started as an ironic Twitter joke, the straightforward message resonated and pictures of carne asada wrapped in a corn tortilla are proliferating on the web–though members of the pro-life movement have tried to hijack the hashtag to harness the attention for their cause.

“What do ice buckets have to do with ALS? I don’t know. What do tacos and beer have to do with abortion? I don’t know that either,” Grimes writes for RH Reality Check. “What I do know is that eating tacos and drinking beer is more pleasurable than getting doused with ice water, and that lawmakers around the country are passing increasingly restrictive anti-abortion access laws.” Via Time Magazine

It is quite true there is no relationship in this abortion funding challenge and the acts purposed. Tacos and beer matches the abortion support rhetoric where language is obtuse hiding behind phrases with no mention of the reality. Really if they wanted a challenge in line with abortion values with a more signifying act. Perhaps the Pigs Blood Bucket Challenge makes a more accurate correlation visually.

Really for abortion supporters the bucket challenge is for unborn children to kick the bucket.

Aug 272014
 

From a post by John C. Wright where he responds to one of his readers.

I’m fairly certain, if God is indeed maximally good and therefore would do everything he could to draw people, free agents, towards him, the greatest good, that logically, the best option would be to reveal himself not just occasionally, but always so that there can be no doubt as to his existence.

For though the heart of the atheist and other non-believers may be hard, and their minds closed off, I’m fairly certain even Dawkins and Osama Bin-Laden would have gotten on their knees and prayed for forgiveness and most likely would NOT have even needed to do so if God was always undeniably present.

What deficiencies, if any, are there on this option

Have you ever been an atheist? I was. I would have defied God to his face, and blasphemed the Holy Spirit. I solemnly assure you that I would have. The coyness of God is the only thing that saved from the one thing the Bible clearly says is an unforgivable sin. …

Now I can certainly identify with that. The idea that even if you see a miracle that you will instantly accept God really does not necessarily follow. It is a common complaint among atheists that both deny God and demand that he reveal himself to them. It is a nice idea that when we are provided by evidence that our philosophies will instantly change to take this new information in in. A nice idea absolutely refuted by human nature.

I know from my only life that what Mr. Wright says about defying God to his face is not just hyperbole. I know this since I have done such. Once when returning from an pre-deployment workup at sea my wife had told me about a miracle, one that she and our kids witnessed and that she had the benefit of. I have never had any reason to doubt the testimony of my wife or my children, but in this case I could do nothing but doubt. My philosophy as an atheist did not allow miracles and such they could not exist. So I was quite willing to totally ignore their testimony and come up with alternate theories to explain it.

Years later I was to experience an aspect of what they witnessed. This happened as I had started to believe in God. I accepted that there were miracles, but still I tested what I experienced to see if there was a natural explanation. I realized later how this was juxtaposed in relation to the testimony of my family. As a believer I could accept miracles, but deny or question specific ones and subject them to reason. “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) As an atheist I could only deny them with no need to question further.

A nice antidote to this idea of God revealing himself to remove all doubt need only to read the Book of Exodus. God continuously revealed himself to them and yet they disobeyed him at every corner. They witness countless miracles and did nothing but whine and build idols. Now even for those who do not accept the events in the Book of Exodus, still you can read this as literature and find nothing contrary to human nature. I have a hard time for even a skeptical reader to read the story and then say “There is no way they would act such after seeing such miracles and the constant presence of the pillar of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.” You could reject this as a story, but not reject that is was an accurate portrayal of human nature.

Another interesting example is the story of Nobel laureate Alexis Carrel who witnessed two miracles at Lourdes and still could not bring himself to believe it was anything more than natural forces at work. For details see this article by the late Rev. Stanley L. Jaki.

Note: Post title is lifted from Mr. Wright’s post title.

Aug 262014
 

doctor performing surgery on kneeThe World Health Organization (WHO) has been tracking a disturbing trend in chronic inflammation of knee joints. Currently it is not known if this is a vector-borne disease or is spread in another manner. While currently not an epidemic world-wide, it has surprisingly confined itself to only Catholics and its effects can be easily observed. In a long-awaited report that will be debated by member states at a meeting in October in Moscow, the United Nations health agency also voiced concern about chronic inflammation of knee joints in various Catholic communities.

Dr. Peter Capaldi (WHO), has been voicing concerns about Genuflectitis since he first started noticing the effects in Catholic parishes as he traveled worldwide. “I started noticing the number of people not genuflecting when entering the vestibule. First I thought this was simple irreverence, then I noticed that many people instead of kneeling during the Consecration were leaning forward instead of kneeling. I felt the most charitable explanation was a serious knee inflammation preventing proper kneeling. This might also be connected to spinal cord injuries since I also noticed people unable to make a profound bow, but just a head-nod instead.” It has also been noted by many other orthopedic surgeons that this inflammation comes and goes. For example during Mass knee-bending is painful, but this usually does not effect motion when sprinting to their car as soon as the concluding rite is finished.

While the method of transmission of Genuflectitis is not currently known, it does seem to strike 100 percent of some populations. Dr. Capaldi informed us that choir members are especially prone since he almost never sees them kneeling during the Consecration. Even in people who are able to kneel this inflammation is still having an effect. With Genuflectitis kneeling can be so painful that the congregation eagerly waits for the priest to sit down after cleansing the sacred vessels. Immediately upon the priest sitting you can hear the effect as everybody also promptly sits down.

There has been controversy within the Catholic community as to how this is actually spread. Traditional Catholics point to the fact that Genuflectitis is virtually unknown at a Traditional Latin Mass. Even going so far as to suggest it is spread via the vigorous and extended hand-shaking that goes on during the Sign of Peace. Eastern Rite Catholics also seem to have immunity. Other Catholics counter that there are areas where the Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated with reverence that are also immune to this crippling disease.

While some doctors suggest exercise such as Deep Knee Bends, Standing Knee Lifts,or Hamstring Contractions, other have found the best rehabilitation is a deeper understanding of Eucharistic theology along with a prescription of John Chapter 6 and Philippians 2:10.

* Parody caveat: For those who actually suffer from knee ailments, this post is only aimed at those who are able to kneel and don’t.

Photo credit: Zdenko Zivkovic via photopin, Creative Commons

Aug 252014
 

I first ran across Mission Statement’s while in the Navy. They were trying to adapt Dr. Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) into their own program called Total Quality Leadership (TQL). I wasn’t much impressed by the idea of mission and vision statements since I figured they were just another element in bureaucratic paperwork and were just another exercise in time wasted. There hasn’t been anything since then to change my mind.

So when I started seeing these in parishes it seemed to me they didn’t have much vision or knew their mission other than promulgating buzzwords and being inclusive/welcoming/vibrant/caring.

My exacts thoughts were that if you had a Mission Statement and it didn’t directly quote the Gospel imperative or another passage from the Gospel You’re doing it wrong (if you’re going to do it in the first place).

So today I found myself nodding-my-head in total agreement as I read this post by Diane Harris on Cleansing Fire. She provides examples of these statements from her diocese and they are representative of what I have seen. It is not that they are really awful or without any merit. Just that they look like statements from a committee without the urgency of the Gospels.

Now if you were going to have a personal Mission Statement what would it be?

I kind of like Catholic Answer’s Patrick Coffin’s tag line in this regard.

“Be a saint! What else is there?”

Aug 212014
 

I have complained in the past just how aesthetically awful so many Catholic websites are. There has certainly been progress, but most parish websites seem to have a design ethic older than the Church.

So it is with some pleasure to point out a site that is beautiful, easy to navigate, and renders nicely in multiple resolutions.

So thumbs way up for the new Word on Fire site.

Now maybe we should have a prayer campaign for the Vatican’s web designer(s).

Aug 212014
 

Via Rich at  Over the Rhine and Into the Tiber with “Kick the Bucket”

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is discouraging its employees from taking the ice bucket challenge for the ALS Association over the group’s embrace of embryonic stem cell research. Instead, would-be bucketeers should send donations to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. Here’s a snippet from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s story:

“We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in this,” Andriacco said. “But it’s a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit.”

An embryo must be destroyed to harvest its stem cells, Andriacco said. Many Catholics relate that to abortion.

The Archdiocese asks that any money raised is sent instead to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, where the research is only conducted using adult stem cells.

Rigg and Tom Otten, principal of Elder High School, plan to take the ice-bucket challenge — for the research institute — Thursday morning at Elder, Andriacco said.

The idea behind this campaign is rather brilliant. Appeal first to the vanity of celebrities to get the ball rolling and than the vanity of others as they post their own YouTube videos of this. This is selfie charity.

So much for not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing, since that can never go viral. Add a bit of shaming to get others to follow and you have a nicely crafted campaign that so far has raised over 40 million dollars. Even if the ALS Association supported totally ethical research, selfie charity is still unfortunate. The mixture of imposed penance, doing something good, broadcasting your penance for the cause, and then the chain-letter aspect of getting others to join in is perfect in a Madison Avenue sense, but otherwise unfortunate. Just wonder how this will escalate with other charitable causes? We have already seen the Fire Challenge, what’s next?

John Paul II Medical Research Institute, Donation page

On the funny side of this:

Barren, Minnesota: Inspired by a viral charity challenge that involves achieving a monetary goal and ice buckets, the St. Bartholomew youth group issued a “boiling bucket of glop” challenge: donate or collect donations of $100 to their Fall mission trip to Appalachia, and one of the youth group members will get dunked with a boiling bucket of glop. They earned $3.27. …

You’ve seen all the USCCB Sword Swallowing Challenge videos by now. Everyone from Catholic celebrities like The Curt Jester writer Jeff Miller, Fr. Robert Barron, and Jeff Cavins, to your friends have posted videos of themselves slowly dropping swords down their throats to help raise money for the USCCB. …

Thanks Eye of the Tiber, if I am a Catholic celebrity I am suddenly being tempted towards selfie charity. Where is my web cam and YouTube account?

Aug 192014
 

“Pope Calls For New Crusade”

Thomas L. McDonald’s reply to this Vox headline is all you need to know about the strong amount of idiocy condenced down to a headline and spilled into a story.

As for Vox I already knew to avoid it like the plague, but to make sure I went and got a Voxcination so I can be totally immune to their anti-Catholic link-bait headlines.

Aug 182014
 

I have sometimes heard the comment from various priests that they can not remember the confessions they hear and very quickly forget them. Now whether this is a genuine charism of the priesthood or something more akin to hearing the same things over and over and tuning it out I don’t know.

I do have personal experience with something related, but certainly not a charism. That is within minutes of hearing a homily I pretty much have forgotten it. If there was a pop quiz at the end of the Mass I would almost certainly fail it. It is really quite annoying to try to recall what was said and to experience liturgical amnesia. No doubt much of it is my fault as my mind wanders during Mass moving from distraction to distraction. Although I also suspect I seek distractions during homilies because what is being said is not thought-provoking, but distraction-provoking. Sometimes a homily will momentarily grab my attention such as like yesterday when the Gospel concerned the Canaanite woman. Unfortunately in cases such as this it is because of the numerous ways the preaching about this can go wrong and it seems all those ways are explored. There are riches in the Church Fathers regarding this passage, especially Augustine, but instead the explanation was rather confusing. Maybe it is a blessing that most homilies in my experience are easily forgotten.

I also hope they never have a pop quiz about all three readings for the Sunday Mass. I could probably get the Gospel correct as I have other sources such as podcast homilies, blog posts, and Church news to help reinforce what the Gospel was for that date in the Liturgical Year. But if called to reference the Old Testament reading I would be very hard-pressed to recall what it was. That also goes for the New Testament letters. This is really embarrassing as I really do want to be able to reflect on these passages and to discern the reason the Church picked out the three readings in some connected theme.

So I am not very happy with having liturgical amnesia regarding the readings and the homily. Now if only I could have liturgical amnesia regarding most of the hymns used.

Aug 182014
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 9 to 17 August 2014.

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

Homilies

Letters

Speeches

Papal Tweets