May 232016
 

What is called the 4-hymn sandwich seems to be the common format I run into for Mass. Although I am also finding that number increasing to six or seven hymns to make sure that not one second of silence is available. In the radio broadcasting medium dead air is to be prevented at all cost. So wall-to-wall hymns seem to have the same philosophy.

I was thinking about this at Mass this weekend as yet another hymn was started during Communion. I was hoping for some sacred silence after receiving Communion. Well I got my wish sort of. The hymn was called “Sacred Silence”, I found this rather hilarious that there is a hymn called “Sacred Silence”.

Sacred silence, Holy ocean
Gentle water, washing over me
Help me listen, Holy Spirit
Come and speak to me

How about instead of singing about “Sacred Silence” that we actually have some? Especially during Communion. Out of several parishes I attend there is only one where there is any understanding of sacred silence. I have been very impressed by this one young man who is the organist there. That he understands that he doesn’t have to fill every part of the Mass where music is allowed with music. That silences are allowed and can feed contemplation.

I especially notice the difference between Sunday Masses and Daily Mass where usually there is sacred silence and not just the rollout of hymn after hymn. I can appreciate Church musicians both for when they play, and when they purposely choose not to play. I am a both/and kind of guy and love both sacred music and sacred silences as they both nourish me. I love to sing, but post receiving Communion I want to concentrate on reflecting of this great gift.

Maybe one reason I crave sacred silence at Mass is that I fill my life up with noise. Most of the day I have headphones on listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. Even in the shower I make sure I have Bluetooth speakers available. About the only part of my day when I am not listening to something is during the periods of prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. So no doubt I need to nurture some sacred silence in my own life. Although I did keep the irony down by writing this blog post with no music in the background.

May 232016
 

thecatholicsun_2016-May-20

These Dominican nuns still rib the Cardinal about the time he mixed his zucchetto in their laundry.


Well actually these are Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries based in the Archdiocese of Cebu in the Philippines, along with Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.

You can read about them here along with the source of this photo.

May 222016
 

You never know what kind of homily you will get on Trinity Sunday or as I call it Bad Analogy Sunday. Still this time around my pessimism was not rewarded and I was treated to a rather good homily. One that started “Thomas Aquinas says.” He used the Analogy of the Family to good effect, which is also the analogy the Catechism uses (CCC 2205).

Being in the Diocese of St. Augustine, not surprisingly over the years, I have often been treated to the story of St, Augustine, the boy, and the seashell. As a Middle Ages legend it serves it purposes as a reminder that the Trinity is a mystery, but not anything beyond that.

I would rather hear St. Augustine’s analogy of the Trinity he used in his book Confessions.”

I speak of these three: to be, to know, and to will. For I am, and I know, and I will: I am a knowing and a willing being, and I know that I am and that I will, and I will to be and to know. Therefore, in these three, let him who can do so perceive how inseparable a life there is, one life and one mind and one essence, and finally how inseparable a distinction there is, and yet there is a distinction. Surely a man stands face to face with himself. Let him take heed of himself, and look there, and tell me. But when he has discovered any of these and is ready to speak, let him not think that he has found that immutable being which is above all these, which is immutably, and knows immutably, and wills immutably.

Just as long as you remember all analogies limp, and they are downright crippled when it comes to The Most Holy Trinity.

Although I find Frank Sheed’s explanation providing the most light as laid out in Theology and Sanity and Theology for Beginners.

The Lutheran Satire bit on St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies is pretty funny as a vehicle to go over common bad analogies. Although there is no evidence that St. Patrick ever actually used the Shamrock as an analogy for the Trinity.

May 202016
 

From an article in the Washington Post ‘Exorcist’ director William Friedkin says Vatican invited him to document the real thing.

William Friedkin, acclaimed director of “The Exorcist,” says he’s now seen the real thing — and filmed it.

Talking to an audience at the Cannes Film Festival in France on Thursday, the 80-year-old filmmaker said that the Vatican invited him to film an exorcism earlier in May. The version he constructed for the 1973 supernatural horror film, Friedkin added, was not that far from the actual rite he recently documented.

“I don’t think I will ever be the same having seen this astonishing thing,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse. “I am not talking about some cult, I am talking about an exorcism by the Catholic Church in Rome.”

A representative for the Vatican countered the claim that it had invited Friedkin, noting that it currently does not have an official exorcist. However, the spokesman told the AFP that it is possible Friedkin was confusing another Catholic initiative with the Vatican.

It does make you wonder who did invite him to film an exorcism if that is actually what happened.

Now some might ask “Isn’t Father Gabriele Amorth the Vatican Chief Exorcist?” Well there is no such position and Fr. Amorth is just one of the exorcists for the Diocese of Rome. There is no hierarchy of exorcists.

The question does come up from time to time about why doesn’t the Church film exorcisms as a sort of proof of Demonic activity. No doubt the main reason is the privacy of the people involved. Plus unlike the movies where Exorcism is mostly one grueling session – in real life they can go on for a considerable amount of time. I think there are quite a lot of good reasons why the Church doesn’t publicize exorcisms and I surely doubt filming one would change anybodies mind about the existence of Demons. People can witness miracles and remain skeptical afterwards.

This whole report seems pretty dodgy to me.

May 182016
 

Robyn Lee, a former Managing Editor of the CatholicMatch, posts her story about what led her to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist

Now the jokes kind of write themselves. “When the dating scene is tough there is always Jesus”. Forget blind dates, Jesus cured the blind.

Still it does get me thinking about what people do when they discern a religious vocation and try to determine what charism of an order attracts them.

Really there should be a “Catholic Religious Order Match”. There is a lot of commonality between seeking a religious order and seeking a spouse via a dating site.

Filling out a questionnaire, an online, profile, etc. Both the aspirant and the religious order are looking for a good match. A “come and see” period to help discern compatibility. Whether it is concerning a vocation for marriage or the religious life there is the question “What is God calling you to”. With hundreds of religious orders out there having matching online profiles in one place could be useful.

May 182016
 

While news always trends towards the depressing, it seems like it is just one damned thing after another this year. A presidential election gone insane, a President issuing PC diktats, people trying to get on the right side of history instead of the right side of truth. There is just so much that is unnerving and the pace of the insanity seems unmatched.

Yet as an optimistic-pessimist I can see the bad and the good. The political craziness dissuades me from any utopian vision of politics. If only such-and-such is elected, if only some party has the majority, all the empty lies that sustain the status quo of government bloat and inefficiency. Put no trust in princes.

So much to grip about, and yet to realize that there is no environment where we can not grow in holiness. So these thoughts have been churning away in me and Fr. Dwight Longenecker crystalized these feelings for me.

Why blame the world for being corrupt and venal when I also am too concerned about money and material possessions? Let me simplify my life and seek detachment. Let me live more by faith, be more generous with my money and be happier. Why blame the world for immorality and lust? God grant me the grace to live chastely, to seek purity of heart and innocence of mind, and let Sodom and Gomorrah go where it will. Why blame the world for being duplicitous, manipulative, power hungry and cruel? Instead let me look to my own life and seek always to be transparent in all my doings, concerned only for others and not myself and to never stoop to being manipulative or cruel.

In other words, I want to live local and love local. Let the politicians do their worst. I have a job to do, a life to lead, a Lord to worship and a people to serve. I do not ask of the courage to stand up to the evil in Washington or the world. I simply ask for the courage to stand against the evil in my own life, in my family, my parish and my community. As a citizen I will be involved and vote where I can for local politicians who share my values and principles. As a priest I will seek to serve those who God has given me as my flock and family.

If we seek perfection in the world, first imitate Jesus and grow in perfection via grace – sheer grace. I find it easy to complain about the corruption of government, but want to find another topic to discuss when it comes to my own corruption and moral laziness.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33

So if such tribulations make me ponder my own cross and my own need for Jesus – then Lord help me pick up that cross.

May 182016
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from From 3 May 2016 to 18 May 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.

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Regina Cæli

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Dear Religious: wake up the world! Be witnesses to a different way of thinking, acting and living!” @Pontifex 12 May 2016
  • “If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity, by divine love, then our communication will be touched by God’s own power.” @Pontifex 13 May 2016
  • “To communicate with mercy means to help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness among the children of God.” @Pontifex 14 May 2016
  • “Come, Holy Spirit! Free us from being closed in on ourselves and instill in us the joy of proclaiming the Gospel.” @Pontifex 15 May 2016
  • “The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed in abundance so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity.” @Pontifex 16 May 2016
  • “The world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers.” @Pontifex 17 May 2016
  • “The Jubilee is the party to which Jesus invites us all, without excluding anyone.” @Pontifex 18 May 2016

Papal Instagram

May 172016
 

A couple of weeks I listened to an episode of Catholic Answers Focus where Patrick Coffin interviewed Father Douglas Joseph Shimshon Al-Bazi, a Syriac-Catholic Priest who was captured and tortured by Islamic State terrorists. Quite a harrowing story. What got to me most about the interview is how Fr. Al-Bazi described what happened to him in such a calm manner. He mentioned having his teeth knocked out by a hammer as I would talk about falling and skinning my knees. While he is raising a rallying cry about the situation in the Middle East, he talks with zero malice towards his captures.

From a new article in the National Catholic Register about him:

“I don’t speak out now to complain or look for pity, but, rather, to confront the world, which has turned a blind eye to the violence that is meant to wipe us out completely,” explained Father Al-Bazi by phone on May 2.

“Look at what has happened with ISIS to my people. We must discuss this. We cannot ignore it. We must put an end to this before it destroys us,” the priest explained of the atrocities.

“It is obvious to anyone who will look at the facts that ISIS and other Muslim terrorists are specifically targeting and killing Christians. They attack others, certainly, but 80% of their efforts are against us. They want us out or dead.”

Listen to or download Catholic Answer’s Focus interview


In other news, yesterday the Same-Sex Attracted pastor who had accused Whole Foods of baking a cake with an anti-gay slur apologized – kind of.

Today I am dismissing my lawsuit against Whole Foods Market. The company did nothing wrong. I was wrong to pursue this matter and use the media to perpetuate this story. I want to apologize to Whole Foods and its team members for questioning the company’s commitment to its values, and especially the bakery associate who I understand was put in a terrible position because of my actions. I apologize to the LGBT community for diverting attention from real issues. I also want to apologize to my partner, my family, my church family, and my attorney.

I remember when this story first broke and pretty much everyone on my Twitter feed nailed this as another hate crime hoax. Soon after Whole Foods said they would countersue him and they had video to back them up.

The psychology of hate crime hoaxers is hard to understand. When you have to gin up your own hate crime to illustrate discrimination you kind of miss the point. It is easy to psychoanalyze these acts as attention getting, especially as center of attention getting. But people are complicated and guessing at motives is just guessing.

Still this particular case is odd on several levels. First off if you are creating a hate crime hoax, an Austin Whole Foods has to be the dumbest target ever.

What gets me is that a Christian pastor decides to order a “Love Wins” cake and then adds a slur himself. Wow love really won there. Bearing false witness is such a great idea as long as it is for a cause. He had so much love for the staff at the bakery and other employees. Well if you are going to falsely accuse bakers, you have to break a few eggs as the saying goes.

In this case “Self Love Wins” as he demonstrates the art of the non-apology without the slightest hint of contrition, besides being caught. Still while he actions pretty much aggravate me, I still have managed to pray for him. It is easy to fall in to the same trap of demonizing others who disagree with you.


With the Supreme Court sending the case involving The Little Sisters of the Poor back to the lower courts, I saw lots of people calling this a win. Perhaps it is, but I will wait to see what “accommodation” is made. After all the Obamacare mandate has going through several “accommodations” without ever actually being accommodating. Still the government undermined it case in statements made to the court to such an extent EWTN asked for a rehearing based on it.

So while this is not exactly a win yet, it is certainly not a loss and it was a unanimous decision to return it to the lower courts. The whole thing has been in bad faith from the get go since those involved in the government tightly focused the mandate in the first place to target Catholic institutions. Administration targeted Catholic groups for contraceptive mandate. So we shall see what actually happens with The Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic institutions.

May 162016
 

I haven’t done a podcast spotlight in a while and there really are some excellent new entries. I am always looking for intelligent Catholic podcasts that I have some heft to them. Something that goes beyond just the apologetics that I can get from other quality shows.

Father Spitzer’s Universe

Fr. Spitzer answers viewer questions on a wide range of subjects, including: Reason, Faith, Suffering, Virtue, and the Existence of God.

I loved his book New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy and Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts (Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence) and how well his navigates and integrates science, theology, and philosophy. These tendencies are also evident in this podcast that goes deep on various subjects while also answering viewer questions.

Unfortunately I could not find an RSS feed to subscribe to for this show other than the EWTN podcast feed that includes all of their shows. This page lists feeds for individual shows.

The Word on Fire Show

Bishop Robert Barron’s longtime homily podcast “Word on Fire” has been a long time favorite of mine. Added to this is a new show where show host Brandon Vogt and Bishop Barron discuss a wealth of topics along with answering a viewer’s question. This roughly 30 minute format makes for great conversations that often lead me to adding books to my wish list.

Catholic Production Podcast

As a podcast name, this one would be easy to pass over. Appears to be named after the Catholic Productions site which seems mainly to be maintained by Scripture Scholar and Theologian Dr. Brant Pitre.

The focus of this podcast is an examination of the Sunday readings at Mass. Shows average from roughly 20 to 30 minutes and give tons of insight into the readings on multiple levels. I so look forward to this show weekly as Dr. Pitre’s palpable excitement in discussing scripture and theology is inspiring. I so hope this show never pod-fades as I find it indispensable now.

Laudet Dominum

This is a homily podcast from Fr. Cory Sticha. A pastor of several parishes in Montana who I got acquainted with via social media and his appearances on podcasts for SQPN.

I have been known to complain about the quality of homilies I often hear. But instead of just complaining I found it better to subscribe to the good homily podcasts out there. I totally enjoy Fr. Sticha’s homilies as they are filled with the spiritual wealth from the Church. I also like that in fairly short homilies that he can pack in so much. Another bonus is that these homilies are often available in a very short turnaround after he has recorded them. So whether it is Sunday or a Solemnity you can count on them being available. I can’t say the same for EWTN’s homily podcast.