Nov 302016
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 10 November 2016 to 30 November 2016.

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

General Audiences

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “So many women are overwhelmed with the burdens of life and the drama of violence! The Lord wants them to be free and their dignity respected” @Pontifex 25 November 2016
  • “With the close of the Jubilee, we look ahead at how to continue to experience with joy, fidelity and enthusiasm the richness of God’s mercy.” @Pontifex 26 November 2016
  • “Advent is a time when we journey towards Jesus and his Kingdom of justice and peace.” @Pontifex 27 November 2016
  • “Mercy is not a parenthesis in the life of the Church; it constitutes her very existence, making tangible the profound truths of the Gospel.” @Pontifex 28 November 2016
  • “Jesus calls us to be bearers of joy and consolation as his merciful witnesses.” @Pontifex 29 November 2016
  • “On this feast of Saint Andrew, with fraternal affection I am close to Patriarch Bartholomew and pray for him and the Church entrusted to him” @Pontifex 30 November 2016

Papal Instagram

Nov 262016
 

Eleven years ago I decided to create my own Advent Wreath graphic instead of just using the normal animated gif that I had used previously. If you would like it for your own blog you can use the html code below. I will replace the graphic each week so that it correctly shows the number of candles that should be lit. On Christmas I will change it to another graphic I created for Christmastide.

<img src="http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/wp-content/uploads/Advent/curtjester_advent.gif" width="170" height="189" />
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Nov 242016
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from
5 November 2016 to 24 November 2016.

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

Apostolic Letter

General Audiences

Homilies

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “It is not enough to experience God’s mercy in one’s life; whoever receives it must also become a sign and instrument for others.” @Pontifex 17 November 2016
  • “If you want a heart full of love, be merciful!” @Pontifex 18 November 2016
  • “God’s mercy toward us is linked to our mercy toward our neighbour.” @Pontifex 19 November 2016
  • “May the Jubilee of Mercy, which concludes today, continue to bear fruit in the hearts and works of believers.” @Pontifex 20 November 2016
  • “Today we close the Holy Door thanking God for having granted us this extraordinary time of grace.” @Pontifex 20 November 2016
  • “May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!” @Pontifex 20 November 2016
  • “We entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lord, asking him to pour out his mercy upon us.” @Pontifex 20 November 2016
  • “Let us remember with gratitude the cloistered and monastic religious who pray for the Church and the world.” @Pontifex 21 November 2016
  • “How much I desire that the years to come will be full of mercy, so that every person can experience the goodness and tenderness of God!” @Pontifex 22 November 2016
  • “May the Holy Spirit help us to be patient when enduring, and to be humble and simple when advising.” @Pontifex 23 November 2016
  • “We have to break out of ourselves to encounter others. If we don’t, even we Christians can suffer from division.” @Pontifex 24 November 2016
Nov 242016
 

While Chesterton has been tagged as being the Apostle of Common Sense, I would add also a the Apostle of Gratitude and Thanksgiving. Nothing makes me see the actual wonder of our lives as much as GKC does.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” (A Short History of England » Ch. 6: The Age of the Crusades)

“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”

This one described much of my life as an atheist to a T (there is a Tau joke in there no doubt).

“The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.”

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” (early notebook, mid 1890s)

And lastly:

“The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England.” (Chesterton in America “And What about the Quakers?”)

Nov 222016
 

Just in time for Advent is Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations by Heidi Hess Saxton. With St. Teresa of Calcutta’s recent canonization, timely indeed.

This devotional is similar to many daily’s. An introductory snippet of scripture, a mediation for the day, a moment to reflect, and a closing prayer. The meditation is centered around an aspect of St. Teresa’s history, quotes, or both. I found the mediations worthwhile considering they are limited to a page or page and a half.

The number of days in Advent changes each year as to how much of a full four weeks of Advent there are in relation to Christmas. This book is able to cover a full four weeks along with Feast Days and Solemnities that occur. So it is pretty easy to follow.

  • Caveat: Review copy provider by publisher.
Nov 162016
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 27 October 2016 to 16 November 2016.

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

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “We should never forget about beauty, which humanity needs so much!” @Pontifex 10 November 2016
  • “Dear Friends, never forget that in our encounter with people in need we meet Jesus himself.” @Pontifex 11 November 2016
  • “I am before the Holy Door and I ask: “Lord, help me to thrust open the door of my heart!”.” @Pontifex 12 November 2016
  • “If you want to find God, seek him where he is hidden: in the neediest, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned.” @Pontifex 13 November 2016
  • “In a world which has been damaged by the virus of indifference, the works of mercy are the best antidote.” @Pontifex 14 November 2016
  • “If every one of us, every day, does a work of mercy, there will be a revolution in the world!” @Pontifex 15 November 2016
  • “We don’t have to go far or come up with grand projects to be charitable. Often the people closest to us could use our help.” @Pontifex 16 November 2016

Papal Instagram

Nov 142016
 

Jimmy Akin’s latest release from Catholic Answers Press is A Daily Defense: 365 Days ( plus one) to Becoming a Better Apologist.

I have become quite found of books in the format of reading a short page a day. In Catholic circles these usually involve the writings of a specific saint, saints in general, or other spiritual topics. This is a good format that you can always make time for and I have found them to be quite worthwhile.

Still I have never seen this format used for a specifically apologetics work. I have been taking A Daily Defense a day at a time for the review instead of just rush-reading the whole. Now I more than suspected that this would contains clear and concise summaries on typical apologetic topics as is Jimmy Akin’s style. What I had not quite expected was how often they were presented in a fresh way. As an avid reader and listener of Catholic radio I suspect I have heard the vast majority of questions and answers on these topics. Yet the daily topic on Sola Scriptura was quite different than the usual objections. Just cut to the quick regarding what it would mean in application for much of the life of the Church.

Even the presentation of common arguments was enjoyable just for their precision and deft use of analogies. Plus no surprise that even Star Trek gets referenced and put to use.

So while this is a daily format book, it is also intended as a resource. At the end of the book is an Alphabetical Index where you can quickly look up topics you might be interested in. Plus throughout when topics are linked in some way to another topic, this is referenced with the related topic number.

Just excellent.

Another recent release by Jimmy Akin is Justification by Faith and Works?: What the Catholic Church Really Teaches (A Quick Read Book 1). I believe this is self-published on Amazon. The format as the title says is a Quick Read book, 17 pages for this entry. This format dives into a topic more in-depth than a typical tract.

The issue of justification has long been a divide for Catholics and Protestants. But there is not just confusion regarding what Protestants in general think Catholic believe about justification. Really many Catholics themselves have a confused idea regarding faith and works. He cuts through these confusions to show where there is actually convergence on this topic and what is actually divergent. Part of the problem is terminology differences and another is what aspect of justification is being talked about. The distinctions made are very helpful so that dialog is not just talking past each other.

I hope he is able to do more of these quick reads. His full length book The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Delivers You to Eternal Life goes into this topic in a fuller way – bite size chunks regarding specific aspects could have their own audience.

Caveats:

  • A Daily Defense was provided for review by Catholic Answers Press.
  • Justification by Faith and Works? was provided for review by the author.
Nov 102016
 

I was not a Donald Trump supporter. For the first time since I started voting I not only voted third party, but wrote in a name Michael A. Maturen of the American Solidarity Party. A totally Don Quixote gesture tilting at a ballot box. Still I wasn’t railing over people who were supporting Trump. I have a hard enough time following my own conscience without dictating other people’s consciences.

Still I did feel much relief that Hillary Clinton did not win. That was certainly an upside. My disdain for her and her policies had developed over a much longer time. Still this does not wipe out the reasons I had for opposing now President-Elect Trump.

Still I am giving myself a Trump Reset.

“I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my President, and I hope he does a good job.” — John Wayne

So I am going to attempt to not let what has gone before color everything about a President Trump. To let events unfold and judge them on their merits. To support the good and the true and to call out error (not that my opinions have any consequence). No doubt I will have temptations towards I told you so!. It is not as if people are transformed as they step into being president.

The reality is that like everything we take the hand dealt and make the best of it. I have seen many cries of this being a pro-life win. No doubt Trump’s policies will be more generally pro-life than Hillary’s would be. Not exactly a high bar to exceed, but not something to ignore. I will let events unfold to see if there is actually merit in this. At a minimum the Hyde Amendment will continue. I doubt his priorities regarding pro-life causes will match what pro-lifers want. But like most elections I really want to be wrong.

The biggest thing people have talked about is his possible Supreme Court nominations. I hold this as very important for the most part. But I won’t be fooled again as so many disastrous appointments have come at the hands of Republican presidents. Democrats have the knack to pick justices that if they change at all it is in a more liberal direction. So only time will tell if even a well thought of pick actually stays that way. The Supreme Court like everything in the Federal government has grown more powerful than ever intended. Still I think supporting 40 Days for Life, And Then There Were None, and other direct pro-life groups will bear more fruit than any vote for President because of Supreme Court nominations. We have done this time and time again, yet these groups are helping to convert people and to actually close down clinics. As a both/and kind of guy both avenues are important.

I will be greatly interested in how he directs Religious Freedom issues. It has been quite an awful eight years in this regard on multiple fronts from the government. Trying to transform Religious Freedom into Freedom of Worship as a diminishment. So we will see how quickly he overturns the Obamacare Mandate that is affecting religious institutions right now. This mandate was not required by the law, but was a shameful edict that can be quickly removed.

There were certainly things that candidate Trump found the pulse on regarding his supporters. He tapped into some general problems that do need to be addressed. The economic climate is nowhere near what it should be and the media has maintained a rose-colored glasses filter on it. No doubt the media will find lots of problems in the country after he takes office.

“The Reformer is always right about what’s wrong. However, he’s often wrong about what is right.” G.K. Chesterton

So will he provide actual solutions to what he criticized? Time will tell. I would restate Chesterton’s quip in that also “The Reformer is always right about what’s wrong. Yet rarely right on how to fix it.”

I am certainly not optimistic regarding foreign policy. We have been blundering along for decades, if not more. We have been the literary Bull in the China shop when it comes to the Middle East. Making decisions from our cultural perspective as if you could rubber stamp the same assumptions on other cultures. So much arrogance there and failing to understand the differences and the forces at work along with all the nuances. Give them Democracy and everything is fixed. Still just perhaps Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has at least some grasp of this and the extent of our blunders.

I will also not be fooled again regarding for example a removal of a government program such as so-called “Obamacare”. Exactly what government programs or parts of government promised to be removed that were. I score zero. Could Obamacare be reduced back to the reforms that were actually needed? I’ll believe it when I see it.

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.” – Illustrated London News (1924) G.K. Chesterton

I see Chesterton quip as pretty much an iron law verified by everything. Still I want to be wrong, very wrong.

So yeah I remain highly skeptical, but I hope not a pig-headed skepticism where evidence to the contrary is rejected out of hand. The Trump Reset I am attempting is to evaluate events as they occur and not to prejudge everything. So I certainly hope him and Mike Pence well and will pray for them as I try to do for any President.

Still I am also reminded how unhealthy the power of the Presidency has become and how much we invest in it emotionally. Instead of acting in our communities we try to put our hope in a person who is going to fix things and get things done. We always want to take the Federal government shortcut to fix everything everywhere.

I found this spelled out very well in Amy Welborn’s post today #NotMyCityCommissioner. Just exceptional writing and not just because I fully agree with it.

Nov 092016
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 27 September 2016 to 9 November 2016.

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)

General Audiences

Homilies

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Let us try always to be united with Jesus, following him especially on the way of the cross.” @Pontifex 20 October 2016
  • “The sick, the poor, as well as the unborn, are all made in the image of God and worthy of the highest respect.” @Pontifex 21 October 2016
  • ““Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!” – Saint John Paul II, 22 October 1978” @Pontifex 22 October 2016
  • “We are disciples, but also missionaries, bringing Christ wherever he asks us to be present.” @Pontifex 23 October 2016
  • “Today there is an urgent need for politics and economics to be centered on the service of life.” @Pontifex 25 October 2016
  • “Love is a patient effort by persons who dedicate themselves to listening and drawing closer to others.” @Pontifex 26 October 2016
  • “The logic behind charity is to be willing to give up everything so that unity and love prevail.” @Pontifex 27 October 2016
  • “Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who encounter discrimination and pay a personal price for their fidelity to the Gospel.” @Pontifex 28 October 2016
  • “Let us abbandon a language of condemnation and embrace one of mercy.” @Pontifex 29 October 2016
  • “I ask you to please pray that my journey to Sweden might contribute to the unity of all Christians.” @Pontifex 30 October 2016
  • “Let us ask the Lord that his word, source of light and life, may help Christians be ever more united.” @Pontifex 31 October 2016
  • “Christian unity is a priority, because we realize that much more unites us than separates us.” @Pontifex 31 October 2016
  • “The saints have found the secret of authentic happiness, which lies deep within the soul and has its source in the love of God.” @Pontifex 1 November 2016
  • “The Father watches over us, and his gaze of love inspires us to purify our past and to journey towards unity.” @Pontifex 1 November 2016
  • “With faith we visit the graves of our loved ones, where we can also pray for those who no one remembers.” @Pontifex 2 November 2016
  • “Christian life is a journey, but not a sorrowful journey; it is joyful.” @Pontifex 3 November 2016
  • “Let us be moved by God’s watchful gaze. The one thing he desires is for us to abide like living branches in his Son Jesus.” @Pontifex 4 November 2016
  • “Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them.” @Pontifex 5 November 2016
  • “No cell is so isolated that it is shut to the Lord. His love reaches everywhere. I pray that each one may open his heart to this love.” @Pontifex 6 November 2016
  • “Prophecy is saying that there is something truer, more beautiful, greater, of greater good to which we are all called.” @Pontifex 7 November 2016
  • “May we make God’s merciful love ever more evident in our world through dialogue, mutual acceptance and fraternal cooperation.” @Pontifex 9 November 2016

Papal Instagram

Nov 082016
 

Hostile Witnesses: How the Historic Enemies of the Church Prove Christianity is one of the latest books from Catholic Answers Press and continue their excellence in offerings. I had previously read Gary G. Michuta’s book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger and was impressed by his thoroughness.

This book takes a very interesting tack. It is sort of a compilation of back-handed compliments to the Church. How the assumptions made by her attackers in fact gave credibility to what the Church proclaims.

I had assumed that the book would take up the common extra-biblical sources of earlier non-Christian historians that I was somewhat familiar with. Instead it starts with the New Testament itself as the apt historical source for how people reacted to Jesus. For example assigning the source of Jesus’ miracles to demons, shows that they admit hew was a miracle worker. Time and time again he takes the New Testament critiques of Jesus and his disciples and shows what it affirms. Surprising how much information he was able to cull from this.

Later he does move on to Pagan and Jewish sources concerning what we can find from those hostile witnesses. Again the detective work he engages in confirm so many of Christianity’s claims from those who would deny them. There is a good deal more of this from sources than I expected. One detail concerning a change in law regarding the Holy Land I found quite surprising in that I had never run across it before. Not that I am such a scholar or expert – it is just that this piece of information would be one you would think would be more well-known.

He covers information in this period from the 2nd century to the time of Julian the Apostate. Besides the previous mentioned Pagans and Jewish writers, there is also information to be retrieved from Christian heretics of historical value.

Interestingly later chapters involve Islam, the Inquisition, the Protestant “Reformation”, Lourdes and Fatima, up to WWII. Once again there is a surprising amount of information to be gleamed from the Church’s enemies that actually validates the Church and her teachings.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book and not dry reading at all. He addresses various controversies regarding some historical sources fairly and makes sure to spell out where there are disputes regarding historical writings.