Jul 202015

I recently saw this picture on Facebook.


Well if you don’t have an automatic, possibly they could do an “Anointing of the Stick” or some form of “Last Rides” for ailing engines.

Soon after this headline caught my attention San Francisco techies are hiring this Wiccan witch to protect their computers from viruses and offices from evil spirits.

Talley is one of those mystics, a Marin County witch boasting three master’s degrees and over 40 years of experience. Though tech problems are not the only ones Talley tackles, she is routinely called upon to debug people’s tech woes with spiritual energy.

“Most people want me to protect their computers from viruses and hacks,” she told SF Weekly. “So I’ll make charms for them. I like to use flora.” And when there are problems in office hardware, Talley turns to “Jet,” a black stone that serves to block energy. In extreme cases, she casts protection spells of her own over the entire company.

Talley recounts one particular tale to SF Weekly, when a startup’s office alarm would blare at all hours of the day, and no one knew why. After multiple electricians (the “rational” choice) completely failed to solve the problem, the company called in Talley.

“I got the spirit out,” she told SF Weekly.

Talley’s website says she welcomes issues too unusual or dangerous to take the the straight world of Western helpers. But she also says no problem is too big or small, even, perhaps, your printer malfunctioning. However before you jump on the phone, you should be aware that Talley’s services do not come cheap. She charges $200 an hour (though a phone consultation is free).

Well judging by her outfit shown in the article she is a “Black Hat” hacker.

Jokes aside, this is great if you want to open up your company to a zero day spiritual attack.

I’ll stick with sacramentals, although dousing equipment with holy water is probably not a good idea.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has a Prayer for Computer Users.

Bless again this day the mysterious computer

which awaits your power and my human effort.

Grant wisdom, knowledge and a clear memory to my mind

as I sit before this new creature of your infinite power.

Bless my heart with endless patience whenever needed.

Guide my hands that I may be your faithful servant in every key I press.

Enable my limited efforts to bring glory to your Name

and blessings to your people everywhere.

Delete me not from your Kingdom

and save me from all fear and from all error of sin and ignorance.

I whisper this prayer, mindful of the needs of all with whom and for whom I work,

through the power of your Word and the life-giving energy of your Spirit.


Although I have to admit that the wording of this prayer tickles my funny bone inadvertently. Seriously “Delete me not from your Kingdom”?

Jul 162015

I admit to be a total fanboy when it comes to author John C. Wright. Read and enjoyed all his books including short story collections along with being an admirer of his blog. So when a new book of his comes out I buy it on the first day.

His newest book is Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm. The opening paragraph from his publisher says:

SOMEWHITHER is the first part of A TALE OF THE UNWITHERING REALM, a new science fantasy series from science fiction master John C. Wright. It is an adventure, it is a romance, and it is a coming of age story of a young man who is not a man, in a world that is only one among many. It is a tale of a greater and darker evil with longer reach than anything he could imagine, of despair without bounds, of pain beyond measure, and of the faith required to surmount all three. It is a story of inexorable destiny written in the stars and the stubborn courage that is required to defy it.

This takes some fantasy tropes and expands them. The young man who doesn’t really fit in and whose family seems different from the surrounding. A father who disappears one trips for an expanded period of time who job is really not known. So from the start you know the main character Ilya Muromets is going to find out who he really is and go on some epic adventure. What follows though could only come from the mind of John C. Wright and of course there is a Space Princess involved.

Trying to pin a genre on this novel is rather difficult. His science fiction has a pagan mythos and his fantasy has scientific aspects. So there is often a blend of these genre informed by mythic elements. Finely blended so that it seems natural. Especially true here where there are many worlds and travel between them, but also a full range of mythical creatures.

There was so much I like about this story. There is a certain playfulness in his characters such as lya Muromets here or Montrose and del Azarchel in the Count to the Eschaton Sequence. Perhaps my only criticism of this book is that these two characters are reminiscent of each other with the bravado and inventive cursing. At first another aspect of this book was putting me off regarding an extended sequence involving escape. Later I realized how necessary this sequence of this book was to the plot involving a Calvinistic world that is a deterministic nightmare. Again I am amazed by how inventive he is with plot ideas. There are several here where a competent author could take just one of them to make a good book.

As a lover of SF and Fantasy, along with being both a geek and a Catholic, there are not many books that bring satisfaction on the geeky Catholic level. There are tons of geeky references in the book and I think I caught on to most of them, but doubt I caught them all. This was part of the playfulness of the book. Still it was a pleasure regarding all the Catholic aspects. Ilya Muromets as a hero is a Catholic and one that prays and calls to saints whenever he is in danger. He has to appeal to saints a lot. Even better it is an appeal to an appropriate patron saint regarding the situation. So I enjoyed how this was weaved into the story and was a natural part of it and really added to the character.

There is so much to discuss about this book, but too hard to move into spoiler territory in any discussion. So I will leave it at that. I enjoyed this book immensely and like every start in a new series eagerly await the next book.

Still I feel kind of like I had shoplifted this book since the Kindle price was only $4.99. Just doesn’t seem right considering how much enjoyment I got.

Jul 142015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 7 July 2015 to 12 July 2015.

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.




Jul 072015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 15 June 2015 to 6 July 2015.

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




Papal Tweets

  • “A great challenge: stop ruining the garden which God has entrusted to us so that all may enjoy it.” @Pontifex 2 July 2015
  • “That which gives us true freedom and true happiness is the compassionate love of Christ.” @Pontifex 4 July 2015
Jul 072015

I had recently positively reviewed Fr. Mike Driscol’s Demons, Deliverance, Discernment : Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World. So when I found that he also recently released a novel I was intrigued. The book is a collection of short stories called The Father Capranica Mysteries: Stories of the Strange and Supernatural.

As the author wrote:

“The Fr. Capranica Mysteries are my attempt to imitate both G.K. Chesterton’s Fr. Brown Stories and the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night feel of Alice Cooper.”

Overall I did enjoy this collection of stories. This collection starts out pretty strong with a story called “Storm Sirens”, and then “Walk Through Walls”. This promise at the start is mostly kept throughout the collection with plenty of solid stories.

The main character Fr. Capranica is a time traveling priest, but with certain limitations. He will travel through time, but only forward. He and pilgrims like him jump through time guided by divine providence to be where they are needed. This limitation reminded me that we are all sequential time travelers always moving forward in time and with cooperation with grace can be where God wants us to be.

These stories are more X-Files than Alice Cooper, although Alice Cooper is a prominent character in the last story. It is obvious the author is a fan of him as I am. The reason I saw X-Files is that often the stories involve obscure folklore from multiple cultures. From pagan to Christian. Fr. Capranica besides his priestly duties is often called upon to investigate strange going ons. Just this aspect of the storytelling is satisfying. Included is a spiritual depth that adds to the stories. They often make a serious point spiritually without hitting you in the head providing a Fr. Brown aspect. This provides a layer to the story without sacrificing the story itself. Fr. Driscoll did lots of research on possession and exorcism in his Ph.D. program for counseling. The start of his book on exorcism includes information worldwide across cultures and history regarding exorcism and you can see that all this served well in providing information for these stories. It is nice to be able to read stories of this type without all the bad theology you often get.

The stories are not told in a time sequential manner so you have stories mixed in of Fr. Capranica in early times of Church history. So you have some stories involve famous saints while being coy about who they are until close to the end of the story. Some of these specific stories were I think the weaker of the collection, although probably because I am put off by talking about a famous person with the slow reveal. Still even the lesser stories held my attention and this collection as a whole was worthwhile for me. I could easily see my self going back to it at a later date.

The story involving Vincent Furnier (Alice Cooper) revolved around the origin of his stage name which actually makes for a pretty good story of this type. After his Christian conversion something happens that causes his family to bring in Fr. Capranica. Although it is an urban legend that he got his name from a Ouija board, it does provide a good basis for the story told as if it was fact and what the consequences could be.

On another note while it is true that “You can’t just a book by its cover”, it’s also true that we do so anyway. Can’t say I am a fan of the cover and it makes the book look unprofessional. The book is published by Bezalel Books, a Catholic publishing company. Looking through their books I saw a similar problem in that many of their book covers were rather amateurish. They look like something that I could splice together and that is not an endorsement.

Jul 072015

Yes that was a totally link bait headline. Yet their is truth to it. Specifically the Vatican has lent the Diocese of St. Augustine a relic of one of his fingers. So for a Diocese patron saint that counts as “the finger”.

A relic dating back to 430 A.D. isn’t something that’s easy to acquire.

So when the Diocese of St. Augustine was loaned a first-class relic of St. Augustine of Hippo late last month, it was considered a blessing and the culmination of many years of effort.

“One of my dreams was to find a way to get the relics of Saint Augustine here for the 450th to finally say the man for whom this city is named, his relics came here,” said the Rev. Tom Willis of Cathedral Basilica.

The relic is the finger of St. Augustine of Hippo – and it’s never before left Italy where it is part of the Vatican Treasury.

Kathleen Bagg, director of communications for the diocese, has done extensive research on the relic.

“This is a first-class relic because it is an actual piece – body part – of the saint,” she said. “It’s just taken a really long time because [officials in Italy and at the Vatican] didn’t want to let go of it.”

Encased in what is known as a reliquary – a container for holy relics – it is on loan to the diocese in celebration of St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary and the founding of America’s first Catholic parish. (Source)

Jun 302015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 23 June 2015 to 30 June 2015.

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.




Papal Tweets

  • “In Confession, Jesus welcomes us with all our sinfulness, to give us a new heart, capable of loving as he loves.” @Pontifex 25 June 2015
  • “The Church is a mother with an open heart, ready to help all people, especially those who try the hardest” @Pontifex 27 June 2015
  • “How wonderful it is to proclaim to everyone the love of God which saves us and gives meaning to our lives!” @Pontifex 30 June 2015
Jun 292015

Part of my daily devotional reading includes Paul Thigpen’s A Year With the Saints: Daily Meditations with the Holy Ones of God. He finds and frames a wide variety of quotes from the saints. Including the more well known and the more obscure quotes that should be more well known. Just rich spiritual reading.

Now another book of his is also part of my daily devotional reading. A Year with Mary: Daily Meditations on the Mother of God. Again a plethora of quotes framed with a short introduction and a very short reflection and prayer follow up.

I really have to give kudos to not only the quality of work being published by Tan and St. Benedict Press, but also the aesthetic quality of their books. A Year With Mary is no exception. The ad copy states “Premium Ultrasoft with two-tone sewn binding, ribbon marker and gold edges”, which really does not describe the aesthetic beauty of the cover and the feel of it, the quality of the paper used, and the edge gilding. I just love holding it my hands when reading it. I might have pretty much totally moved over to ebooks, but prayer books require a more sacramental feeling. There is such craftsmanship and attention to detail down to the color of the paper and the rounded edges.


This picture only gives you a vague idea of the quality.


My cat Kirara even likes the feel of the soft cover.

Jun 232015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 24 May 2015 to 23 June 2015.

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



Papal Tweets

  • “We know how unsustainable is the behaviour of those who constantly consume and destroy.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “A decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “What is at stake is our own dignity.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The world we have received also belongs to who will follow us. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Having a home has much to do with a sense of personal dignity and the growth of families. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “For indigenous communities, land is not a commodity, but a gift from God, a sacred space.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We need an integrated approach to combating poverty and protecting nature.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The culture of relativism drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is an urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “By itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “It is possible that we don’t grasp the gravity of the challenges before us. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Each age tends to have only a meagre awareness of its own limitations.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “For believers, this becomes a question of fidelity to the Creator.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “At times more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the equal dignity of human beings.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “A fragile world challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing and limiting our power.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Every creature is the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “”Creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”; it has to do with God’s loving plan. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Each community has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We need only to take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The alliance between economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Economic interests easily end up trumping the common good.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is no room for the globalization of indifference. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Developed countries ought to help pay this debt by limiting their consumption of nonrenewable energy.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “To blame population growth, and not an extreme consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We have to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The deterioration of the environment and of society affect the most vulnerable people on the planet.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “”To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God.” (Patriarch Bartholomew)” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “The throwaway culture of today calls for a new lifestyle. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is a value proper to each creature.” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is a need to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “There is an intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “We need a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “I invite all to pause to think about the challenges we face regarding care for our common home. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 18 June 2015
  • “Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “An integral ecology includes taking time to reflect on our lifestyle and our ideals. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life.” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is not a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “The teachings of the Gospel have direct consequences for our way of thinking, feeling and living. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs to buy, own and consume. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “Believers must feel challenged to live in a way consonant with their faith. #LaudatoSi” @Pontifex 19 June 2015
  • “God’s love is free. He asks for nothing in return; all he wants is for his love to be accepted.” @Pontifex 23 June 2015
Jun 212015

When we are away from home and need to find a place to go to Mass, MassTimes.org by phone is my normal method. Often this is because we are on a day trip around Orlando and just want to find the closest parish to wherever we happen to be. I named this “Mass Roulette” since you just have no idea what parish you might wind up with.

Yesterday Mass Roulette provided another interesting example that was even mostly positive.

This one like so many parishes built since the 70’s is the auditorium style clamshell. Certainly not my favorite style as it to me shouts secular and not sacred. The art is typical of seventies abstract trends, but there was also a very large wooden crucifix in the sanctuary. Unfortunately I had to play Where’s Waldo with the Tabernacle and I did not win. I now suspect it was possibly in the windowed-off chapel area. Still this is the first parish of this style that I’ve encountered that actually had a pipe organ and that the pipe organ was used. Mostly I was also pretty happy with the hymn selection. I was especially joyful with the selection of the recessional hymn which was appropriately – Faith of our Fathers. A hymn that I have heard only one other time during Mass in the last 15 years. Kind of a slam dunk for Father’s Day, but political correctness has probably censored it from most parishes or the lyrics have been modified (hich I have heard anectoctal evidence of). Not that I think any hymn is particullarly mandated for feast days or nods to the secular calendar such as Father’s Day. Contrary to popular understanding Ashes is not mandatory for Ash Wednesday, and for me not even welcomed in the slightest. Regardless I was thrilled and even a little choked up to be singing this hymn.

One trend I have noticed in the limited amount of Orlando area parishes I have been to is the use of projectors onto screens on either side of the sanctuary. A practice I have not been thrilled about generally and in one parish during Mass the screen fell back to the Powerpoint program. What surprised me is that I found that this parish incorporated this in a way that to me seemed more organic. Usually when I see this it is an afterthought with projections onto blank walls ending up looking rather tacky. Here there were two screens on either side suspended from the walls. The effect was rather clever visually. What also was done differently is that the screens were used throughout the Mass, while at time defaulting to a more generic view of landscape.

During the readings a graphic depicting the book of the Bible was used, plus of course the various texts were displayed of the Gloria, Nicene Creed, etc. The part in the Nicene Creed where you are suppose to bow was even annotated for that liturgical posture. Their use of these screens were rather thoughtful and the information presented rather tastefully. This does not mean that I believe this practice in general should be adopted. There are so many ways this can go wrong and I have seen some of them. For one you really need someone with solid design sense to make the slides. Imagine slides during Mass using Comic Sans? (Yeah I know the Vatican used that font for the ebook commemoration of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI). Can you imagine what horrific Powerpoint animations someone might think appropriate via the consecration? Still I found that this parish did manage to find a balance that was that had me not reacting negatively as I have in the past.

Still I find it interesting that they had done all this work visually, yet did not ring the bells during the consecration.

There was one aspect of using screens that really threw me. The clamshell architecture had included a windowed off section separate from the main church. Probably meant for dual use as a chapel and cry room. Because of the placement of the pews in this chapel it would be difficult to view the sanctuary. So they had a video screen playing back the video of the sanctuary. This was really strange to be at Mass and to look over and see people with their attention on the screen in another area instead of towards the altar. Like it was a Mass Multiplex. Kind of like being at a professional sports game and watching the game on your phone instead. I can imagine opening up this chapel to increase seating, but the church was about half-full.

One thing I really loved was the way the Mass was said by the priest. So often you get the feeling as if this is just another recital of Mass. That the Mass had just been set on automatic. The way this priest said Mass really moved me and helped me to concentrate on the realities of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Deacons’s homily similarly moved me with its aspect of personal witness and love of Christ. I also got the feeling by the words he used that he had read Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples.

I already mentioned that the church was about half-full, so of course they had 20 Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC). Yes I counted them since it was rather easy since they were in a double row of people. I could jest that it almost took longer for the EMHCs to receive Communion as it was for them to distribute it. Still it did remind me of a parody I did on the subject.

Something else I found interesting is that they passed out a survey to be completed by the men. It is apparent they are also looking to better reach out to men as one of their outreaches. They even have an online version.