Feb 172015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 2 February 2015 to 16 February 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

Feb 172015

There is one genre that I would like to see grow and then have no need for at all. That is the conversion testimony of those who were once pro-abortion and were involved in the business of providing abortions. There have been some startling conversion stories such as founding member of NARAL the abortion doctor Bernard Nathanson. In recent years it was the story of an ex-Planned Parenthood manager Abby Johnson in her book Unplanned. I enjoy reading conversion stories since while there are commonalties they are as unique as the person who wrote them.

That is certainly true of a new book by Ramona Treviño titled Redeemed by Grace: A Catholic Woman’s Journey to Planned Parenthood and Back. While the late Dr. Nathanson and Abby Johnson were converts to the faith, Ramona was raised in the Church. While she grew in a rather difficult family atmosphere with an alcoholic father, it was one she persevered through. While their Mass attendance was off and on she was attracted to the Church and through the movie The Song of Bernadette was attracted to religious life. A desire to give her self to others. This all went astray with the entering into her life of an older boy who ended up leaving her pregnant and eventually marrying her. This did not go well at all and setup many of the difficulties she later encountered in trying to provide security for her daughter.

Told by a friend about Planned Parenthood hiring people she applied and they were impressed with her enough to put her into a management position of a Planned Parenthood clinic. One that did not do surgical abortion, but nevertheless provided referrals to the Planned Parenthood clinic that did.

What I found very interesting in the relating of her story is regarding how she justified her work as a Catholic. The idea of helping people was what really led her and I saw the same in Abby Johnson’s story. That they really came to believe in the mission that Planned Parenthood pretends it has and that they were really helping people with contraceptives and providing the safe-sex message. Being Catholic and thinking the Church is nuts regarding contraceptives is not exactly a rare-breed of Catholic. The basically uncatechized Catholic who has some idea of what the Church teaches, but lacks any understanding of the cohesive and deeply rational nature of those teachings. Besides anybody that makes any endeavor into self-knowledge quickly realized all the rationalizations we come up with to justify some behavior apprehended as a good. We quickly quiet our conscience like shushing a baby.

Over the period of time she worked for Planned Parenthood there was certainly an awakening of conscience and the awareness of the cognitive dissonance between the upper level management of Planned Parenthood and their supposed concern for women. In her personal encounters with people she was seeing this more and more.

I had suspected this and it is interesting to see corporate Planned Parenthoods response to the Live Action videos. It was not a case of “this is terrible we really need to train our people better”, it was all about suppression and being on the lookout for Lila Rose. The outrage was all regarding being exposed. She describes other instances regarding corporate management that again shows a total lack of concern for women, but just a typical lust for profits.

The work of Catholic media also had a strong influence in her conversion. In this case Catholic radio where she heard what she did not want to hear such as on Barbara McGuigan’s show. Yet it was still something she came to listen to. One aspect of radio was that it was something she could listen to in an atmosphere that was not threatening and could be done in the privacy of her commute. EWTN’s offering of content to small but continuously growing Catholic radio has got to be the greatest human tool for conversion currently. It was greatly influential for me and I have heard this repeated many times by others on their call in shows. Catholic Answers fairly new series “Why Are You Pro-Choice?” also played a role for her.

A wonderful part of her story is all the people that helped her out. From a priest in the confessional who did not try to tell her contraception was a personal issue to the number of people in the pro-life cause. She was met by love and help at every turn. Whether it was members of 40 days for life or the one women she first met that was gentle and had words of God’s love for her even after she told her she was the manager of the clinic. Such a valuable lesson to remember when helping others escape sin.

My review only gives a thumbnails view of this book, how she tells her full story and the wisdom she has gained is what really makes this worth reading. The struggles and the continuing struggle to stay true to her convictions and putting problems into God’s hands.

Feb 162015

Once again Lent is coming around again in it’s a annual cycle. Yet with Easter being a movable feast we still are always a bit surprised by the start of Lent regardless of whether Ash Wednesday starts earlier or later than average. Lent is almost something you can look forward to. We know we need that spring cleaning of the soul and that we have some work to do to get our spiritual lives untangled. Still if we think of an upcoming Lent at all we also know that we want to make good use of it.

Yet once Lent starts we can hardly wait for it to be over. The saying “no plan survives contact with the enemy” is often true of Lenten plans and we do have an enemy that would disrupt any plan towards growing in holiness. So exactly how do you maintain a good Lent? No doubt there are plenty of strategies to do so that we learn to adapt to our own personalities.

I’ve always found spiritual reading greatly helpful in this, but our moving inward must help us also move outward in the world. Fasting is very useful, but it also has to move into the dimensions of the spiritual works.

So I was presently surprised to find an excellent book with all this in mind. Marcellino D’ambrosio sent me a couple of his recent books including 40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent. While there is a treasury of books with daily meditations during Lent, this book has that solid core while also being filled with practical suggestions. These suggestions help with concrete examples of how to live the faith. To externalize what you are learning. To take us out of ourselves.

His personable style brings what he has learned in his own life through examples easy to relate to. This book is something to help challenge you through Lent and to make of Lent what you always intended but still fell away like a New Year’s resolution. Two to three pages a day makes reading this through Lent quite doable.

I especially liked this points at the end of the book regarding Easter and the Easter season. Lent gets all the attention, yet it is the joy of Easter we are striving towards

After reading it I now look at the reviews and see that my own opinion was matched by many others whose opinions I trust, including my previous bishop.

Marcellino D’Ambrosio offers the neophyte as well as the seasoned Catholic a potpourri of Lenten reflections that are as engaging as they are practical. If you want to fall more in love with Jesus, then nourish yourself with 40 Days, 40 Ways!

Victor Galeone, Bishop Emeritus of St. Augustine, Florida

Feb 102015

VATICAN CITY – Last Wednesday during the Pope Francis’ weekly General Audience he touched on the issue of corporal punishment within a family when he said:

A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: he is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself. Once I heard a father at a meeting on marriage say: “Sometimes I have to strike the children lightly… but never in the face so as not to humiliate them”. How beautiful! He has a sense of dignity. He must punish, but he does it in a just way, and moves on.

The resultant outcry has covered the gamut from groups advocating for the protection of children to even members of the Vatican sex abuse commission.

The Vatican commission, comprised of 17-members, affirmed that it would make recommendations to the papacy about protecting children from corporal punishment.

Dr. Krysten Winter-Green, another commission member from New Zealand, urged parents to use different methods when disciplining children:

“There has to be positive parenting, in a different way,” she said.

There have been leaked reports that Pope Francis in his continued catechesis on the family will again bring up this topic. This time in regards to how children should be obedient in the face of such punishment done withing the context their dignity. One translation of the leaked text says:

Children you should always honor your mother and father as the commandment says. When you have transgressed against them and deserve punishment receive that light spank in a spirit of humility and contrition and even as Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.” (cf. Luke 6:39)

Feb 092015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 31 January 2015 – 08 February 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

Feb 082015

An excerpt from a very good article in the Star Tribune.

Today, almost 140 young men are discerning the priesthood at St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas. The St. Paul Seminary has nearly 100 seminarians, who flock here from dioceses around the country.

In many ways, today’s young priests resemble their peers in the millennial generation. They play Ultimate Frisbee, jog, or play the drums. Originally, many aspired to become professionals, such as architects or accountants. But in the end they chose not an occupation but a vocation — a comprehensive way of life. Their wholehearted desire to challenge the prevailing culture, and their vow of celibacy, mark them as cultural radicals.

Howe — with a wry smile — puts it this way. “I’m a walking contradiction, a walking perplexity. I’m living a life that the larger society says isn’t possible.”

“Many Minnesota Catholics think they know what to expect from clergy — a now-familiar mix of soft social criticism and gentle moral encouragement,” says Robert Kennedy, chair of the Department of Catholic Studies at St. Thomas. “But many of the younger clergy take a very different approach. Their voices will not be soothing and predictable, but challenging and supported by personal witness. They are out for souls, not social change.”

Well the priesthood has always been a sign of contradiction.

Although I would quibble with the last sentence in this excerpt. When the concern is for souls there is also corresponding social change starting at the smallest level outward.

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce)so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Lk 2:34)

Feb 052015

Another thing I love about the Church is the humor of the faithful. You just have to look at any list of patron saints and find the ironic funny bone of the Body of Christ.

I find this information regarding the reason for the naming of a Catholic parish hilarious.

Though Nevada was the last of the continental 48 states to establish its own diocese, between 85% and 95% of the state’s Catholics live in the Diocese of Las Vegas. The city’s Catholic roots extend as far back as 1908, when its oldest Church, St. Joan of Arc, was built for a town of just 700 people — only 70 of whom were Catholic.

“When it was founded, Las Vegas was a railroad town,” explained Father Timothy Wehn, a 47-year resident of Las Vegas and pastor of the diocese’s Guardian Angel Cathedral, “and one of the Catholics living there had purchased a plot of land specifically for a church.”

Though Joan of Arc hadn’t yet been canonized in 1908, Bishop Lawrence Scanlan of Salt Lake City — the diocese overseeing Las Vegas at the time — insisted the church be named for her. Among the bishop’s reasons for the name was Las Vegas’ blistering summer temperatures.

The rest of the article Sin City’s Secret: Catholicism Is Booming by Chris Kudialis is also interesting.“ ”

Well “Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”. (Romans 5:20)

Still it must be difficult for Catholic parishes to raise funds in Las Vegas, I mean can Bingo really compete?

There is one aspect of Las Vegas that mirrors a sacrament. That is the Sacrament of Confession in that “What happens in confession, stays in confession.”

Feb 052015

One of my absolute favorite books I read last year was the Manual for Spiritual Warfare by Paul Thigpen, which I reviewed here.

I see today via Brandon Voght that the Kindle version is on sale.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been carrying the beautiful leather bound edition of Manual for Spiritual Warfare with me to Mass, reading a few passages afterward. It’s loaded with spiritual advice from the saints and Church fathers on how to overcome temptation and defeat those nagging sins.

TAN Books, the publisher, told me it “destroyed our projections” by selling thousands of copies in the first month, which means the leather bound edition is now out of print. They said it should be back in stock in about 10 days.

But in the meantime they’ve decided to significantly drop the price of the Kindle version. Instead of $29.95, you can now now get it for just $4.99:

If you’re looking for some powerful daily reflections to lift your soul and equip you to resist the Devil’s attacks, this is a really great deal.

I am very happy that this book is doing so well. The leather bound edition is exellent, but I am thrilled to own it along with an ebook version.

Make sure you sign up for Brandon’s book deals newsletter at CatholicBookDeals.com. It has notified me regarding lots of sales I have taken advantage of.

Feb 032015

I knew I was in for some trouble when I heard the opening lines of a homily on Sunday. It was one of those using the Super Bowl as an extended metaphor and framework for the homily. So yes bad metaphor alert. It was just as cheesy as you might imagine. The two teams rivaling each other were the “Holy Ones” and “Satan’s Team” (which apparently was not a reference to the Patriots).

The eternal battle between these two teams lead by the Quarterback Jesus. Yes that was the words actually used. It was quite awkward as intentional laughter was threatening to break out over the unintentional humor of the bad metaphors. Maybe the worst part is that a fairly decent homily could have been salvaged without the football comparisons. He didn’t even go for the cheap laugh over the “Hail Mary” reference. Really it was delivered very deadpan which made the delivery deeply serious. This extended football metaphor might just possible had been pulled off to good effort if delivered with some humor.

So I thought I had it bad until I saw this the following day.


Parish: St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Marysville, WA.

Deacon Greg Kandra said “Out of bounds? Yeah. I’d say so.”

Or to extend the joke, the priest should be sacked over this. Well at least the colors were Ordinary Timish. Still if you watch the video it gets worse.

While not his diocese, Cardinal Dolan could not be reached for comment.

Feb 032015

Entropy Academy a book by Alison Bernhof.

Entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, happens. It steals our time, brings chaos into our homes, and spreads the myth that chaos and education are mutually exclusive. Far from it!

Entropy Academy reveals how you can train your home (even a messy one) to do half your teaching, while much of the other half can be taught “Entropy style”—in the natural process of everyday life.

Marvel at the specialization of birds’ feet through your kitchen window. Recognize the musical eras as you drive. Watch logic and Venn diagrams become crystal clear in a box of random buttons. Use raisins to introduce your kindergartener to algebra. Let the pages of Entropy Academy show how, with a minimal outlay of time and money, you can leave much of the teaching to the house while you relax with a cup of tea.

Those who are currently homeschooling, considering it, or simply wish to be more involved in their child’s (or grandchild’s) education will find much to encourage, amuse, and inspire them in this account of the inner life of a highly unusual, unabashedly idiosyncratic family. Building on “Entropy style” foundations, the Bernhoft children’s successes have ranged from Stanford Phi Beta Kappa, Ivy League and aspiring Ph.D., to the son with Down’s Syndrome who is one of the best-known and most popular residents of Ojai, California, the small town the author calls home.

New video from Ascension Press for young men considering the priesthood

Along with a preview of their upcoming video Altaration: The Myster of the Mass Revealed

Here is an interview of Dawn Eden from Matt C. Abbott. Dawn has recently released a Catholic version of her book “Thrill of the Chaste.”

An excerpt:

Dawn Eden: For several years, I had been wanting to revise The Thrill of the Chaste, because my understanding of chastity – especially its relationship to Christian joy – had deepened since I became a Catholic. I especially wanted to make the book accessible to men, as the first edition was directed at women, and many male readers had told me they needed a book like it for them.

When I wrote the original edition of The Thrill of the Chaste in 2005, I was Protestant – having converted as an adult from Judaism – and was preparing to enter the Church. My life before my conversion to Christianity was pretty typical for an unmarried rock journalist from New York City, so my new walk forced me to make some serious changes.

Initially, it was hard for me to discern how living chastely could be compatible with Christian joy. I looked for a book to guide me, but all I could find were books on teen purity – which were not exactly relevant for a 31-year-old woman.

That is why, after a few years of learning how to find meaning and happiness in my new way of life, I wrote The Thrill of the Chaste. It is the kind of book I wished had been there when I needed it.

Today, having been Catholic for nine years, I can hardly believe that I managed to be joyfully chaste without the benefit of Confirmation, the Eucharist, Confession, and the whole life of the Church.

Being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and receiving Jesus’ own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, has given me a deeper understanding of the meaning of being embodied. I see more clearly how chastity enables one to love fully in each relationship, in the way that is appropriate to the type of relationship and to one’s state of life.

Chastity is not just for singles; in marriage, it enables couples to grow together in freely willed, total, faithful, and fruitful love. For that reason, I wanted to make the new Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste relevant for men and women, whether they are discerning marriage or a celibate vocation, and that is what I have done.