Apr 242017
 

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has played quite a few roles as a gifted person who is also very arrogant. His Sherlock Holmes portrayal in the excellent BBC series, playing Kahn in Star Trek Into Darkness, and more recently Doctor Strange in the movie of the same title. Add to that as the voice of Smaug in the Hobbit “Trilogy”. He pulls of these roles quite well portraying someone deeply intelligent, but flawed with a arrogance that mocks those who can’t keep up.

In most of these roles there has not been a character arc where the character comes to grips with this flaw, much less acknowledge it. Well at least until Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange is a brilliant surgeon, and he knows it. Until an accident renders his hands incapable at the surgery he was so adept at. His desperate search leads him to the Ancient One hidden in the Himalayas. Where after much struggle eventually he learns to overcome his pride and to learn to serve others.

There has been much discussion regarding Rod Dreher’s series of posts regarding The Benedict Option, and his recent book “The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation”. I am waiting to actually read the book, which I have on hold to comment on what he has to say.

I titled this post “The Benedict Cumberbatch Option” partly as a joke on Rod Dreher’s title. Well actually the title came to me as a joke first, and then I started to think about it as it regards to Doctor Strange. Last year I read through some of the major story arcs of the original Doctor Strange comics and some of the later ones. I especially enjoyed the original as done by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko. Often I just enjoyed the whole tension of his being a “Sorcerer Supreme” using dark magic and invoking all sorts of creatures while being good and doing good. I feel this was all done as a gag as this tension is never explained or explained away.

Still I think there is a “Benedict Cumberbatch Option”, that is you admit and then repent of your flaws and work to overcome them as in the story arc of Doctor Strange. How we do this might take us to Nursia or for that matter the Himalayas. It might also just take us to deeper prayer in our homes, serving others, or all of the above.

G.K. Chesterton is famous for having replied:

“Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,”

Although he did go on to write a book of essays with that title that wasn’t about “I am”. Still we live in an age of reformers who never think about reforming themselves first. Although that is really not new. It is so much easier to opine than to actually take up the harder work of repentance. Really writing this blog post suggesting what you should do is pretty easy. Still my “preaching” in writing is mainly towards myself. We do live in a toxic culture where living the faith is not easy. It is almost as if Jesus telling us that we would have to pick up our crosses was not just rhetorical.

So I am putting the “The Benedict Cumberbatch Option” out there as my hopeful character arc of acknowledging my sins and repenting of them.

Apr 192017
 

pope-francis2-300x187

This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 3 March 2017 to 19 April 2017.

Note: There are several General Audiences that have not yet been translated into English.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s blog.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Letters

Messages

Prayers

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Hope helps believers to be open to the surprises God has in store for us.” @Pontifex 6 April 2017
  • “Lent is a period of repentance aimed at enabling ourselves to rise with Christ, to renew our baptismal identity.” @Pontifex 7 April 2017
  • “Dear young friends, don’t be afraid to say “yes” to Jesus with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him!” @Pontifex 8 April 2017
  • “O Cross of Christ, inspire in us a desire for God, for goodness and for light.” @Pontifex 9 April 2017
  • “During this Holy Week let us focus our gaze on Jesus and ask for the grace to better understand the mystery of his sacrifice for our sake.” @Pontifex 10 April 2017
  • “Jesus comes to save us; we are called to choose his way: the way of service, of giving, of forgetfulness of ourselves.” @Pontifex 11 April 2017
  • “While the mystery of evil is profound, the reality of God’s Love poured out through Jesus is infinite and victorious.” @Pontifex 12 April 2017
  • “It is good for us to break out of our set ways, because it is proper to the Heart of God to overflow with tenderness, with ever more to give” @Pontifex 13 April 2017
  • “O Cross of Christ, teach us that the rising of the sun is more powerful than the darkness of night, and God’s eternal love wins always.” @Pontifex 14 April 2017
  • “Today is the celebration of our hope, the celebration of this truth: nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from God’s love.” @Pontifex 15 April 2017
  • “Happy Easter! May you bring to all the joy and hope of the Risen Christ!” @Pontifex 16 April 2017
  • “Yes, we are sure of it: Christ indeed from death is risen!” @Pontifex 17 April 2017
  • “During this week of Easter it would do us good every day to read a passage from the Gospel which speaks of the Resurrection of Christ.” @Pontifex 18 April 2017
  • “Let us meditate with wonder and gratitude on the great mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection.” @Pontifex 19 April 2017

Papal Instagram

Apr 172017
 

In what started as a friendly competition between parishes in Archdiocese of San Antonio has quickly spiraled out of control. Each year the size of the Pascal Candle was getting taller and wider requiring more and more effort in processing the candle to the sanctuary during the Easter Vigil. John Wick a parishioner of St Antonio in Elmendorf joked “Everything is bigger in Texas!”

Still the parish councils of St. Antonio was shocked to see the bill from a mastercrafter in the art of candlemaking for a MOAC (Mother of all Candles). This Pascal Candle delivers the equivalent of ten thousand lumens from 9,800 kg of pure beeswax.

Complaints to the bishop soon followed as a special crew was flown in to help to deploy the MOAC through the roof of St. Antonio’s in preparation for the Easter Vigil. The start of the Easter Vigil was spectacular and will be long remembered, at least positively by those who did not experience flash blindness at the lighting of the candle.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

“That was one heckuva pillar of fire we got this year” said sometime parishioner Bryce S. Thomas. If they keep up these pyrotechnics I might show up next Sunday.

Apr 162017
 

While Catholics don’t believe in a rapture as expounded by a segment of Protestants, there is indeed a seeming Catholic rapture.

You can observe this on Sundays when the Mass is longer than an hour. Catholics can be very literal about the scriptures. When Jesus asks us if “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Catholics will grudgingly allow one hour, but don’t expect any more.

I observed the Catholic rapture today. Coming back to the pew I was sitting in after Communion I found that the pews around me were mostly empty and stayed empty. Previously the church was packed. Apparently some Catholics after receiving Communion are so enraptured that apparently they are taken up there and then. Amazing to be around such holy people. In fact even there cars are holy as I find that the parking lot is also emptied out after I wait for the priest to process.

Now I know Scott Hahn calls it the Judas Shuffle when Catholics leave early. I prefer the more charitable explanation of the Catholic Rapture.

Apr 112017
 

Since I started attending the Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays I thought it was time to get a good 1962 Missal to use. I had considered buying the one from [Baronius Press][press]. For one I have other of their books and they are super high quality so I knew I could not go wrong. Still I took the question to social media and got several suggestions including Baronius Press’s offering.

One suggestion surprised me, using an app called iMass. This was suggested by several TLM goers of whom I have respect for. Now I am pretty geekly and use technology a lot, but did I want to use it during Mass? Plus there was the dichotomy of using a phone app during the TLM. Are you allowed to only use technology developed up to 1962?

Plus there is a vanity in me that doesn’t want to stick out. I figured if I started using a phone app during Mass the other Mass goers would be all like this:

Still I have noticed that more and more people are using phone apps during Mass for the readings. Something not confined to just younger people, but something I have observed across age groups. Still my first reaction when I see somebody holding a phone during Mass is:

Couldn’t they wait to text later on! Oh wait they have a app with the Mass readings.

So I decided to give the iMass app a tryout.

Now this app contains a full Missal along with the Breviary in multiple languages including Latin. You can even view live streams of Latin Masses and Liturgies.

So previously while attending the Latin Mass I used the booklet they hand out that helps you to follow along to an extent. The iMass app lets you fully follow along.

The app is used in landscape mode so that you can see both the Latin and the English text. I have an iPhone 7 Plus so the screen size is pretty much perfect for this. Mostly you just scroll along as you coordinate what the priest is saying to where you are in the Missal. Mostly I was able to do this despite the priest being soft spoken. I also found that I was able to read the English text as I was doing this and stay in place. The rubrics also help you to identify where you are in the Mass based on what the priest is doing. Besides just using the scrolling there is also quick navigation to the top or next section.

So I was pretty impressed with how useful this was since if I was using a Missal I would have been skipping around more. So mostly I was able to stay focused on the Mass and to see the translation.

This app is on both iOS and Android.

So when it comes to using technology for prayer I have a simple test. Does it actually help me pray or is it a distraction? Or a distraction to others. The iMass app passes this test for me.

I once suggested the iHALO a visual indicator showing you are using a Mass appropriate app.

Speaking of Mass related technologies. Recently Apple came out with Theater Mode on the Apple Watch. This is different than just the mute button. In addition to muting, the watch would not light up when you moved your wrist.

So I now call this Mass mode and I now always put my watch in this mode before entering the church along with muting my phone. I wish the watch could mute both. Now I am pretty good about remembering to mute my phone before entering the church, I just usually forget to un-mute it later on. The “Mass Mode” provides me a reminder that I am muted and to remember to turn off “Mass Mode” and to un-mute my phone.

Apr 062017
 

As a long time fan of Julie Davis I was delighted to receive a review copy of her latest book – which is released today. Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life: Prayers and Reflections for Getting Closer.

I have become more an more of a fan regarding the genre of daily meditations. Usually I like the format of a quote or two, short reflection, and a closing prayer/reflection. I usually like the conciseness of such books which get right to the point.

I have been taking a leisurely stroll through this new book using it as intended. Reading a single or a couple of pages daily. I really enjoy the variety of quote sources and how she reflects on them. She has a Chestertonian ability to see things afresh and to illustrate that freshness to you. There is gratitude and wonder in her reflections that inspire me to want to imitate that viewpoint more consistently.

Sometimes even from the best of writers I usually find the closing prayer/reflection more as something tagged on than integral. More as an expected part of the format than something useful. Not true here where even a single sentence is the exclamation point to what goes before.

So yeah – highly recommended.

To see an excerpt go to Niggle Publishing.

Oh and Niggle Publishing is hers. A Tolkien fan, such as myself, just loves that name.

You can also find Julie at: (lifted from her Publishing page)

Apr 052017
 

pope-francis2-300x187

This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 23 March 2017 to 5 April 2017.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s blog.

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “May the certainty of faith be the engine of our lives.” @Pontifex 23 March 2017
  • “Fasting is fruitful when accompanied by concrete expressions of love towards our neigbors, especially those in difficulty.” @Pontifex 24 March 2017
  • “Let us remember our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution for their faith. May we be united with them.” @Pontifex 24 March 2017
  • “The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of bringing about the conversion of hearts.” @Pontifex 25 March 2017
  • “Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through fasting, prayer and almsgiving.” @Pontifex 26 March 2017
  • “Caring for the sacred gift of all human life, from conception to death, is the best way of preventing every type of violence.” @Pontifex 27 March 2017
  • “If we learn to read everything in the light of the Holy Spirit, we realize that everything is grace!” @Pontifex 28 March 2017
  • “The peace that springs from faith is a gift: it is the grace of feeling that God loves us and that he is always beside us.” @Pontifex 29 March 2017
  • “Prayer is powerful. Prayer conquers evil. Prayer brings peace.” @Pontifex 30 March 2017
  • “Fasting with a proud heart does more harm than good. The first fast is for humility.” @Pontifex 31 March 2017
  • “Even in the hardest and most disturbing moments, the Lord’s mercy and goodness are greater than every thing.” @Pontifex 1 April 2017
  • “https://twitter.com/Pontifex/status/848965834865233920” @Pontifex 3 April 2017
  • “Today is the International Day of Mine Awareness. Let us please renew the commitment for a world without mines!” @Pontifex 4 April 2017
  • “Let us follow in the footsteps of Christ, especially by dedicating ourselves to our brothers and sisters in need.” @Pontifex 5 April 2017

Papal Instagram

Apr 042017
 

I had previously mentioned that I joined a local group of St Paul Street Evangelization. On April 1st our first outing as a group was to Jacksonville Beach, Fl.

The parish sponsoring us is St Paul’s and is only two blocks from the public access to the beach. This can be confusing referring to St. Paul’s St Paul Street Evangelization. Our local team though is made up of a variety of people from multiple parishes in the Diocese of St. Augustine.

The things I do for Christ, like spending part of the day at the beach on an absolutely beautiful and sunny afternoon.

I compare this to the travails of St. Paul (that name is coming up a lot).

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea.

So as an introvert I certainly had trepidations about evangelizing in the way of St Paul Street Evangelization, although their approach makes it easier. People there were actually very decent about getting offers for a free Rosary. Even the ones not interested at all were polite about it. I think a saw a rather confused face from one man wearing an obviously Evangelical t-shirt, but he was still pleasant in his refusal.

We should have had EMT’s out with us for anybody fainting from seeing Catholics evangelizing. For the most part I hung back while more extroverted members of the team approached people. Giving me a change to pray for those being interacted with. Plus I could enter conversations at times regarding areas I was confident talking about. Having listened to thousands of hours of Catholic radio I can finally make use of that. It was all very enjoyable and even relaxing. Time went pretty quick for the three hours we were out there.

It was great getting to know some of the other members of the team. Quite varied in experience and thankfully many of them are very outgoing approaching people with seeming ease. Especially impressed with Deacon Ed who leads the team. It is just great seeing Catholics out there doing this and I can hardly believe I am one of them.

If you are thinking you want to do more to evangelize in a non-pressure way – I highly recommend St Paul Street Evangelization. In the five short years they have been around they have really grown.

First outing

(I’m the guy second over from the left)

There are additional pictures at the Jacksonville Beach St Paul Street Evangelization blog for our team.

By the way, today is my anniversary as a Catholic. Where have those 18 years gone? So when do I start the part about growing in holiness?

“You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.” – Evelyn Waugh