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.

May 152016
 

So I saw an article at Slashdot regarding a list of the longest featured articles on Wikipedia. First here is a definition of what Wikipedia considers a featured article to mean.

Featured articles are considered to be the best articles Wikipedia has to offer, as determined by Wikipedia’s editors. They are used by editors as examples for writing other articles. Before being listed here, articles are reviewed as featured article candidates for accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style according to our featured article criteria.

The top ten longest featured articles is a rather eclectic list while also containing topics you would expect to be there.

1. Elvis Presley
7. Michael Jackson

The interesting mix contains:

History of Poland (1945–89), Manhattan Project, Military history of Puerto Rico, Byzantine navy, Maya civilization, Spanish conquest of Petén, Air raids on Japan.

The summary Slashdot article referenced that one of the articles concerned a pope. At first I expected it to be on Saint John Paul II, but was not really surprised it concerned Pope Pius XII – coming in at #5.

What surprised me though is that the article really fit the definition of featured within the metrics Wikipedia described. This article is well worth reading and I loved the picture of Eugenio Pacelli at six. There is a wealth of information regarding his career in the Church before becoming pope along with his close to 20 years as pope. I already knew the date he died, as it was one day before I was born.

I certainly found it interesting that he was consecrated Bishop on the on May 13th, 1917 the exact date of the first Marian apparition at Fátima and was buried on Feast Day of Our Lady of Fátima, 13 October 1958.

While this article did address various controversies from critics, this was done in a balanced way and the counter-view to the critics was aptly presented. The book “Hitler’s Pope” was mentioned, but was not given much credence in the larger context. Plus there is mention of Josef Müller of the German resistance who Venerable Pope Pius XII worked with extensively in moving against Hitler. The excellent and fascinating book Church of Spies details the Pope’s attempts to have Hitler removed.

Just a very good article all-around with many highlights concerning Venerable Pius XII contributions to the Church and interesting details. For example I found out that he was the first Pope to move away from the predominance of Italian Cardinals and making selection from around the world. Considering that he was born in Rome adds to this.

May 152016
 

While it is well known that Pentecost is often referred to as the birthday of the Church. So the idea of a Pentecost Cake seems like a natural idea.

♫Happy Birthday Catholic Church, Happy Birthday to you♫

Online you can find pictures of attempts of a Pentecost Cake.

But I couldn’t find what I think would be the obvious example of the ultimate example of a Pentecost Cake.

Really there should be wax candles in the shape of the Apostles and disciples that you can light up on a Pentecost Cake.

Pentecost tongues of fire

May 112016
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 29 April 2016 to 11 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

Letters

Regina Cæli

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “There is the grave problem of labour, because of the high rate of young adults unemployed, but also for the issue of the dignity of work.” @Pontifex 2 May 2016
  • “Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God’s mercy, out of love for us, died on the cross, and out of love he rose again from the dead.” @Pontifex 3 May 2016
  • “May the challenges in the ecumenical journey encourage us to know each other better, pray together and unite in works of charity.” @Pontifex 4 May 2016
  • “Christ is our greatest joy; he is always at our side and will never let us down.” @Pontifex 6 May 2016
  • “Love, by its nature, is communication; it leads to openness and sharing. #ComMisericordia50” @Pontifex 7 May 2016
  • Tweet is picture of letter. @Pontifex 8 May 2016
  • “Jesus, ascended into heaven, is now in the lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each one of us.” @Pontifex 9 May 2016
  • “May today’s challenges become forces for unity to overcome our fears and build together a better future for Europe and the world.” @Pontifex 10 May 2016
  • “What we say and how we say it, our every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all.” @Pontifex 11 May 2016

Papal Instagram

May 102016
 

animal-wilderness-zoo-camel

““You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (Matthew 23:24)

It has always been the case that people will support somebody who personally violates or goes against one of their deeply held beliefs as long as they support another one. That they will go to great extent to suppress that there is any tension at all in their support.

With ex-President Bill Clinton back in the news cycle it is easy to remember his scandalous personal activity as President and before that. Also easy to remember that it was an extremely rare feminist who called him out on his behavior. This certainly did not happen with national feminist groups. Patricia Ireland, then President of NOW, had much harsher words to say about the impeachment proceedings than about Bill Clinton’s scummy actions. Rape victims must be believed unless they are Juanita Broadwick.

If Bill Clinton had ever wavered on abortion, it would have been a totally different story.

I point this history out not as something unique, but as an obvious example of how the support of the “ONE THING” excuses everything else.

Self-deception is also nothing new and anybody who has done any examination-of-self will find obvious examples in our own lives. I don’t have to search far myself to wonder “What the hell was I thinking” and why was I so willing to suppress the obvious (“Shut up conscience”).

The pro-life community is also often capable of this “ONE THING” thinking. Voting for people not because we think they are actually pro-life, but that they promise they will vote pro-life. We believe the panderer when we want to believe the panderer. Being a Floridian Charlie Crist comes to mind.

We also often get “ONE THING” thinking where Supreme Court vacancies become among reason to suck it up and vote for the awful candidate. Not that this aspect isn’t a valid consideration. Voting for the greater good when there are two bad candidates and it is possible to discern this, is perfectly valid. But let us not minimize for a second the evil there is. Maintain your caveats and don’t gloss over them. Advance the greater good by doing good yourself and work to not ever explain away or trivialize evil.

In the spiritual life it is important to do a daily examination of conscience to be able to grow in holiness. Our political lives should certainly be a part of this examination especially as it is one area especially prone to Self-deception. At least I find this true for myself.

This election cycle I have found this more so. There are so many people who will excuse anything for the “ONE THING”. Trump supporters see him achieving for them the “ONE THING” whatever that might be. No facts of his past actions or his constantly changing opinions will put a dent into their support. Trump support is a projection of what they think he will successfully achieve. It just isn’t falsifiable since it was never based on evidence – really despite all evidence to the contrary.

Although I could have written the last paragraph using Hillary’s name instead of Trump and it would have been just a true. They share much in common. Really this election is like an old episode of Mission Impossible. At the end Hillary rips off her mask and it’s Trump, and Trump rips off his mask and he’s Hillary. The major difference is that Hillary in public has more self-control. Hillary is much more coldly calculating.

So this election I will be going full Cervantes and tilting at the voting booth with a write in. I think I dislike Trump all the more since I have to take arguments seriously that Hillary would do more for the common good than Trump. In conscience I can not vote for either of them – ever.

I deeply relate with Mrs Darwin.

… But thanks to Trump virtually clinching the nomination by winning Indiana, I’m freed from the tyranny of the party. I don’t have to identify as a Republican anymore. When someone asks me if I’m a Democrat or a Republican, I can say neither! And for the first time, I can vote for someone I like for president. Who gets my write-in vote? Which person do I actually think would be best suited to run the country? It’s almost overwhelming.

Free, free, I’m free at last.

Picture licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.

May 082016
 

An entry from Paul Thigpen’s A Year With the Saints: Daily Meditations with the Holy Ones of God.

We must understand that even though God does not always give us what we want, he gives us what we need for our salvation. Suppose you ask your physician for something that would be harmful, and he knows it would be harmful. What should he do?

Let’s say that you ask for a cup of cold water. If it would do you good, and he gives it to you right away, then surely you can’t say that he hasn’t heard you. On the other hand, if it would do you harm, and so he doesn’t give it to you, you still can’t say that he hasn’t heard you, just because he contradicted your will. Instead, he’s heard you according to what your health requires.

So learn to pray to God in such a way that you’re trusting him as your Physician to do what he knows is best. Confess to him the disease, and let him choose the remedy. Then hold tight to love, for what he does will cut and sting you.

You may cry out, and your cries may not stop the cutting, the burning, and the pain. Yet he knows how deep the festering flesh lies. While you want him to take his hands off you, in his treatment he must consider not your cries, but the extent of the infection. He knows how far he must go. He’s not listening to you according to what you want, but according to what will heal you.

— St. Augustine, Sixth Homily on 1 John, 8

Reading this I realized how much I am like that person who goes to WebMD before going to the Doctor’s office. Ready to tell the doctor what the problem is and what to proscribe to me. Not a lot of listening to the Divine Physician is involved.

May 052016
 

Medical book and a skull model for studying medicine
Not surprised, but still horrified to see this story today For first time, scientists grow two-week-old human embryos in lab.

Scientists have for the first time grown human embryos outside of the mother for almost two full weeks into development, giving unique insight into what they say is the most mysterious stage of early human life.

Scientists had previously only been able to study human embryos as a culture in a lab dish until the seventh day of development when they had to implant them into the mother’s uterus to survive and develop further.

But using a culture method previously tested to grow mouse embryos outside of a mother, the teams were able to conduct almost hour by hour observations of human embryo development to see how they develop and organize themselves up to day 13.

“This it the most enigmatic and mysterious stage of human development,” said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, a University of Cambridge professor who co-led the work. “It is a time when the basic body shape is determined.”

The following would have pleased Doctor Josef Mengele.

But the research also raises the issue of an international law banning scientists from developing human embryos beyond 14 days, and suggests this limit may have to be reviewed.

Zernicka-Goetz, who spoke to reporters in London, said a wealth of new information could be discovered if human embryos could be grown in a lab dish for just a few days more.

What can we discover is the imperative to such research. The Culture of Death has it claws into everything. From corrupting motherhood to corrupting science. Dr. Frankenstein at least had the decency to make a dead thing alive not make a live person dead.

Not surprising this Reuters article does not question at all the evil involved. That this is the direct murder of a human person. They throw a sop to “ethics”

Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust, a charity which campaigns for people affected by infertility and genetic conditions, agreed that the research raised questions around the 14-day limit and said the international scientific community should “decide whether it is necessary and desirable” to extend it, and if so, by how much.

“A public discussion of the rights and wrongs of this would need to follow before any change in law could be contemplated,” she told Reuters.

Worse is that this story will not even make a bump in the Culture of Death. It will be totally lost in the wave of non-substantial news stories that matter not in the least. Scientist creating human persons and bragging about how long they live until they kill them will pass almost unnoticed.

May 032016
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 19 March 2016 to 1 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

Letters

Messages

Regina Cæli

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity today, and the response requires the solidarity of all.” @Pontifex 21 April 2016
  • “A true ecological approach knows how to safeguard the environment and justice, hearing the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” @Pontifex 22 April 2016
  • “Dear Young Friends, your names are written in heaven in the merciful heart of the Father. Be brave and go against the tide!” @Pontifex 23 April 2016
  • “Dear Young People, with the grace of God you can become authentic and courageous Christians, witnesses to love and peace.” @Pontifex 24 April 2016
  • “All are called to love and cherish family life, for families are not a problem; they are first
    and foremost an opportunity.” @Pontifex 25 April 2016
  • “Let us break open our sealed tombs to the Lord – each of us knows what they are – so that he may enter and grant us life.” @Pontifex 26 April 2016
  • “Christian hope is a gift that God gives us if we come out of ourselves and open our hearts to him.” @Pontifex 27 April 2016
  • “Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, only God’s infinite mercy can bring us salvation.” @Pontifex 28 April 2016
  • “Jesus conquered evil at the root: he is the Door of Salvation, open wide so that each person may find mercy.” @Pontifex 29 April 2016
  • “Work is proper to the human person and expresses the dignity of being created in the image of God.” @Pontifex 30 April 2016
  • “I address a cordial greeting to the faithful of the Eastern Churches who are celebrating Holy Pascha today. Χριστὸς ἀνέστη!” @Pontifex 1 May 2016