Mar 022014

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 2 February to March 1 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.


Apostolic Letter

General Audiences


Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Papal Tweets

  • “Our Lady is always close to us, especially when we feel the weight of life with all its problems.” @pontifex, 24 February 2014
  • “All of us who are baptized are missionary disciples. We are called to become a living Gospel in the world.” @pontifex, 25 February 2014
  • “In a family it is normal to take charge of those who need help. Do not be afraid of frailty!” @pontifex, 27 February 2014
  • The Eucharist is essential for us: it is Christ who wishes to enter our lives and fill us with his grace. @pontifex, 28 February 2014
  • “Let us thank all those who teach in Catholic schools. Educating is an act of love; it is like giving life.” @pontifex, 1 March 2014
Feb 272014

If you own or have heard either of the two albums by “Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles” then all you need to know is that Lent at Ephesus is now available.

Otherwise if you are unaware of their recordings it is certainly time to acquaint yourself with them. At the end of 2012 they released Advent at Ephesus and in 2013 Angels and Saints at Ephesus. These two albums both spent some time at the top of Billboard traditional classical albums chart. They were the first order of nuns to win an award in the history of Billboard magazine.

That gives some background. Their first album Advent at Ephesus became an instant favorite of mine. I am sure I have listened to it over a 100 times during Advent. I had been purposely growing my Advent hymn collection, but this album is the crowning jewel of it despite having access to so much music via a paid streaming service. I just love everything about this album. The song selection, the production quality, and the pureness of the voices. I wish I had the vocabulary and knowledge of the Classical music connoisseur to explain just how good this album is. I love that all this applies to Lent at Ephesus.

What I especially love about their releases it that it fills a void. If you want recordings of high quality Christmas carols you have such a large selection. That their first recording focused on Advent was such a great choice and now Lent gets some attention. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be listening to this album over and over again throughout this Lent and Lent’s to come. This is 1:18:14 minutes of pure beauty and the perfect soundtrack for Lent.

  • Jesus, My Love
  • Christus factus est
  • God of Mercy and Compassion
  • Hosanna to the Son of David
  • Jesu dulcis amor meus
  • Jesu salvator mundi
  • Popule meus
  • On the Way of the Cross
  • Pueri Hebraeorum
  • O Sacred Head Surrounded
  • Adoramus te Christe
  • Stabat Mater
  • Divine Physician
  • Vexilla regis
  • Mother of Sorrows
  • Vere languores nostros
  • Tenebrae factae sunt
  • O Come and Mourn
  • Adoramus te Christe
  • Crux fidelis
  • All Glory, Laud and Honor
  • Ave Regina caelorum
  • My Mercy

Their discography so far:

Feb 262014

So what does the non-photogenic book lover do to have their own fad? Well I suggest they post a #shelfie. This really should be a thing and the world would be a better place.


Feb 252014

Fr. Dwight Logenecker’s new book The Romance of Religion: Fighting for Goodness, Truth, and Beauty is somewhat of a sequel to his previous book Adventures in Orthodoxy. Being that the previous books is one of my favorites I was very happy to see this book.

Fr. Longenecker was kind enough to send me an advance copy of this book last year and I found it quite excellent. Recently I was sent a PDF copy of the final book to review and I had no hesitation regarding a re-read.

Towards the beginning of the book he relates the episode of as a child hearing the story regarding Jesus overturning the moneychanger’s tables.

The righteous religious people told me that Jesus turned over the tables because he disapproved of the merchants selling things in church. …

This, however, never convinced me. I knew the truth. Jesus turned over the tables in the temple because he enjoyed it. He trashed the place. He was angry. He sent the pigeons flying. The sheep and goats went bleating as he gave the thieves a beating. He scattered the proud in their conceit and dashed their little heads against the pavement. The story thrilled me. No longer would I believe only in the gentle Jesus who took little kiddies on his lap and blessed them. …

It is no coincidence that Fr. Longenecker goes on to overturn a bunch of tables himself in this book. Just like his Chestertonian blog name “[Standing on my head][]” reflects viewing things from a different perspective, the landscape of overturned tables also helps you see things for the first time.

Specifically what “The Romance of Religion” successfully does is to view the faith through the eyes of a romantic hero. The type of romantic hero who is seen as a bit of fool from the outside. To take the great stories of just this type of romantic fool and to glimpse the truth that such stories stand upon. We look to articles, newscasts, and other media to fill us with facts while really it is often in the story where we will find the truth of the world. That this adventure in the romance of religion uses Don Quixote, Cyrano de Bergerac, and even Reepicheep to make these points adds to the enjoyment.

For those familiar with Fr. Longenecker you would expect a certain playfulness with words and phrases that both ring out and ring true. The playfulness of his writing with the inherent puns first make you laugh and then make you think. I also enjoyed his looking at the roots of certain words so that you more fully understood them. The title “The Romance of Religion” might seem like an odd choice at first, but he shows how the etymology of “Romance” fits perfectly. If you can’t see your faith as an adventure and a quest then you need a bit of “head standing” to see correctly.

This is a rather sneaky book in that it is the apologetics of the fairy tale. The big questions as seen through the big stories. Really it is surprising how well this technique works in answering some common objections as seen in apologetics.

I found my second reading of this book to be quite worthwhile in that there is just so much to be drawn from both his playfulness with words, but the ideas behind them that reveal the deeper reality.

My previous review of Adventures in Orthodoxy

Mandatory Chesterton quote:

“…If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time.”

- The Napoleon of Notting Hill

Feb 232014

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 16 to 22 February 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.


General Audiences



Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Papal Tweets

Feb 162014

This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 7 to 15 February 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.


General Audiences


Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Papal Tweets

  • “Let us pray for all good and faithful priests who dedicate themselves to their people with generosity and unknown sacrifices.” @pontifex, 10 February 2013
  • “Today I ask you to join me in prayer for His Holiness Benedict XVI, a man of great courage and humility.” @pontifex, 11 February 2013
  • “I greet all those who are sick and suffering. Christ Crucified is with you; cling to him!” @pontifex, 11 February 2013
  • “Let us pray for seminarians, that they may listen to the voice of the Lord and follow it with courage and joy.” @pontifex, 13 February 2013
  • “Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.” @pontifex, 14 February 2013
  • “Let us pray for peace in Africa, especially in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan. #prayforpeace” @pontifex, 15 February 2013
Feb 102014

Roto Reuters – Today the little known federal agency the United States Fisheaters and Worshiplife Service (FWS) acted in accordance with section Sec.3.6, Sec.4.a of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Secretary Mortain announced that male altar servers would now be protected by the ESA. The Secretary said “While sightings of male altar servers continue to be reported that in many parishes they are being overwhelmed by populations of female altar servers.”

The FWS has previously setup safe harbor agreements in some areas. This policy’s main purpose is to promote voluntary management for listed species on non-Federal property while giving assurances to participating diocese that no additional future regulatory restrictions will be imposed. The agreements benefit endangered and threatened species. The safe harbor agreement with Bishop Bruskewitz the previous bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln have been fruitful where male altar servers were in their native habitat and protected from competing populations.

Secretary Mortain noted the previous safe harbor agreements, but said “While there are thriving male altar server populations in some parishes or even some diocese it is also evident that the species is threatened in the large majority of parishes. We must act now so that future generations will not be deprived of this species and the related endangered species the parish priest.”

News of the FWS decision caused an outcry from many groups within an outside the government. The common thread of these complaints is that male altar servers should just be allowed to die out naturally and replaced. A spokesperson for Greenpax protested “Where will this end? If we start to protest such naturally declining populations will we then also have to protect Catholic men because of their declining populations at Mass compared to Catholic women?”

historic picture of altar servers

Historic picture showing a time when male altar servers were not endangered and could be found in any parish.


Photo credit: Gora Gray via photopin cc

Feb 092014

It is sometimes the case that a headline has little or nothing to do with the actual contents of an article. That headlines are crafted for page views not a quick summary of an article. It is also true in many news organizations that the author of the piece is not the one to write the headline.

So I kept all that in mind when I read this headline from the Daily Mail “How a Pope called Pius turned the confessional box into a paradise for paedophiles”.

Unfortunately the article and headline are one and the same. The attack against Pope Pius X is that he decreed in 1910 that children must make their first confession at the age of seven.

The article goes on to state:

Statistics of offences have revealed that the age group most prone to attack was seven to 13 – the precise child cohort admitted to obligatory confession by this papal decree.

Well that is certainly news to me. For example the report commissioned by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice regarding clergy sex abuse would dispute the previous statement and that majority of victims were post-pubescient. Although the fact that roughly 21% of the victims were in the category described is not to be diminished. Still I can’t think of a report that stated what was said in this article.

While there certainly has been in cases a link to a priest using the confessional in such a ghastly manner is this true in the majority of cases of sex abuse? So trying to blame Pius X for the abuse crisis that seem to rise so many decades later is stretching it. The article does not mention at all the reason Pius X in the Decree Quam Singulari lowered the age regarding the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. It was based on discerning the “age of discretion” or the “age of reason” a necessary point to determining when a child should have access to these sacraments.

Just a slimly article that does no favors regarding calling out the sexual abuse that did occur.

Feb 092014

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 26 December 2013 to 8 February 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.


General Audiences




Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Papal Tweets

  • “It is important to have friends we can trust. But it is essential to trust the Lord, who never lets us down.” @pontifex, 3 February 2013
  • “Dear young people, Jesus gives us life, life in abundance. If we are close to him we will have joy in our hearts and a smile on our face.” @pontifex, 4 February 2013
  • “The world makes us look towards ourselves, our possessions, our desires.The Gospel invites us to be open to others, to share with the poor.” @pontifex, 6 February 2013
  • “What zest life acquires when we allow ourselves to be filled by the love of God!” @pontifex, 7 February 2013
  • “The Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist, are privileged places of encountering Christ.” @pontifex, 8 February 2013
Feb 062014

While I was on vacation I was asked to review an an iPad app called “Mass Explained”, with the full title being “The Mass Explained Volume 1: The Introductory Rites & The Liturgy of the Word.” My initial thoughts before getting a chance to download it was that it would be just another Catholic app with some good content, but nothing to rave about.

So I was pleasantly surprised that it is indeed something to rave about. When I saw that the introduction was by Mike Aquilina I knew that I was going to find solid content.

If the majority of the contents of this app had just been printed as an ebook it would have been worthwhile, but maybe not very engaging. I was really stunned by how good the layout is along with all the graphic media found on every page. This is a very beautiful app that is fairly simple to navigate. Swipe horizontally to navigate to chapters and other major sections and swipe vertically to page down through it.

I would go more deeply into reviewing it, but recently Thomas L. McDonald did a comprehensive review that should be read instead.

As an application developer myself looking at this app just from a technical perspective I find this to be a stunning achievement. It combines the best of the old school textbook layout with elements that can only be achieved in an electronic text book such as information in the side bar or other places that can be scrolled through. As someone who works in the field of creating courseware content creation tools along with other training applications again I am extremely impressed with this app.

So what is the Latin for “Let it be published on the App store”? Regardless this app carries both the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur along with being reviewed by ICEL and approved by the USCCB.

In his review Thomas McDonald said:

Here’s where we come to my one reservation: at $25, it’s expensive for an app and even expensive for an App Store book. As they say of big budget movies: it’s all up there on the screen. The production values are top notch and the writer has done a great deal of work producing the text and adding multimedia content. There’s no denying it’s a slick piece of work. I don’t begrudge the creators their price point, but it does limit the audience.

The good news is that, purchased in volume (20 or more copies), it qualifies for Apple’s Volume Purchase Program, which offers a 50% discount.

To which I totally agree, but I would love to have this app seen and used by a larger audience.

Dan Gonzalez is the developer and should be praised for what he has pulled off.

Mass Explained site

iTunes link – App is for the iPad only.