Feb 282015
 

I pretty much never comment on deaths of celebrities other than just a personal prayer for them. Mainly because such comments would be more talking about myself and the celebrities impact than the person who has died. Kind of like a Obama’s White House photo in tribute that of course was a picture of himself and not Leonard Nimoy.

Still this time I have to indulge. Looking back I had two childhood heroes that I wanted to imitate. Sherlock Holmes and Spock. Not a big surprise they were both fictional characters and why they appealed to me as an atheist with stoical tendencies. I mentioned this fact to a coworker who is an atheist after the news and he admitted the same two heroes.

At least in the case of Spock there was a real person behind the character whose skills brought the character to life. I follow hardly any “celebrities” on Twitter, but Leonard Nimoy was one of them. It is nice to watch a career of an actor and never have the reveal that in their personal life they were a jerk. That in reality they were a class act. His personal life was not without flaws, but they were ones he mostly overcame. Still it is easy to love someone who wrote two biographies I am not Spock and I am Spock.

As both now a Catholic and someone who believe in eternal life I can say LLAP to Leonard Nimoy and mean it. I do find it odd that many people who don’t believe in eternal life are using LLAP in regards to his death, seems rather ironic.

Another interesting aspect is the reaction to his death by such a large segment of people. As a geek it is pretty awesome to see that an actor who is mostly known for playing a character in a SF series has had such a profound response. The mainstreaming of SF via Star Trek and Star Wars goes beyond the commercialization and has opened new generations to my lifetime favorite genre.

I am also reminded of SF author John C. Wright’s quote “If Vulcans had a church, they’d be Catholics.”

This appeals to me as someone who aspired to be a Vulcan, but is much happier as a Catholic.

So Requiescat in Pace and Live and Prosper Leonard Nimoy.

LLAP (Live Love Avoid Purgatory)

Feb 262015
 

Another narative tale disquised as a news story.

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. – A local couple is sharing their story after what some are calling the first ever Catholic wedding of a transgender couple.

Every time the newlyweds look at the photos from their wedding on a beach in Imperial Beach, they get a rush of joy and faith.

“It was so exciting, ”said 35-year-old Angel Adrian Estrada. “It seemed like a dream come true.”

After Estrada, a transgender man and lifelong Catholic, first proposed to Fina – also Catholic – the two found Dermot Rodgers, a consecrated bishop who agreed to perform the ceremony, even though it runs counter to church doctrine: people are viewed by their gender at birth.

Months before the wedding, Estrada’s certificates of baptism, communion and confirmation were recorded by Rodgers under Estrada’s new name and gender.

Those are all apparent firsts in the Catholic faith. Then came the big day.

The question now being raised is was the wedding truly a Catholic wedding?

The Diocese of San Diego points out Rodgers voluntarily separated himself from the Franciscan order and lost his ability to function as a priest. Rodgers concedes he voluntarily separated from the order because he disagreed with teachers on divorce and other issues.

According to Rodgers’ points, longstanding religious tradition says he remains a priest.

Since he has not been ex-communicated, he contends the wedding was a Catholic one.

The other day in equally bad reporting.

SAN DIEGO — A local Roman Catholic bishop is using Pope Francis as an example and creating an all-inclusive Catholic parish that will serve everyone, including divorced people and the LGBTQ community.

Local Roman Catholic bishop? A man once a Capuchin priest proclaims himself a bishop and the news organization goes along with that? Especially since he was actually incardinated into the American Catholic Church. Hey but Google searches are hard.

His reasoning that this was a valid marriage is laughable in so many ways and his status within the Church does not affect that at all. At least this was held at a beach and not some actual Catholic parish.

Now of course the articles I have seen regarding this “bishop” all have him appealing to Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge.” Funny he doesn’t quote a what the Pope had to say recently about gender theory and how it doesn’t recognize the order of creation. Although cherry pickers really don’t want to search far to justify their own bias.

Feb 252015
 

I’ve seen some news here and there about a Vatican official suing a Catholic blogger.

I really like this post from Diane Korzeniewski at Te Deum laudamus. which succinctly gets to the point about why this is wrong and that this goes beyond any dispute between this priest and a blogger.

Father Rosica, drop this embarrassing threat of litigation – it is really making you look bad…. really bad.   What kind of priest, much less an official in the Vatican, uses litigation against a Catholic blogger over his reputation?  Reputation?

Without judging whether any part of what the blogger said is right or wrong, and whether I agree with how he chose to express his concerns or not, bearing patiently with injury, or long-suffering, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. From a discernment stand point, I don’t see the Holy Spirit’s involvement in threats of litigation or lawsuits against bloggers. While you are concerned with your own reputation, what harm are you bringing to the reputation of the priesthood with litigation?

My headline is plucked from her last paragraph.

In related new Fr. Timothy Scott Removed as Basilian Spokesperson After Hurling Obscenity Toward Cardinal Burke which must be read to believe.

Feb 252015
 

There has been a lot of noise recently regarding Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco new contract for teachers working for the Archdiocese.

First a little history.

SAN FRANCISCO — Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has approved language for a new high-school teachers’ contract and handbook that calls on faculty to avoid publicly challenging the Church’s position on issues like same-sex “marriage” and abortion.

The existing teachers’ contract expires on July 31. The new one has not been finalized and is under negotiation with the local Catholic teachers’ union, the San Francisco Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers, Local 2240.

In contrast, the faculty handbook is not subject to negotiation and is developed by the archdiocese.

Now, those handbooks will be updated for the 2015–16 school year with descriptions of key points of Catholic doctrine. The new language that will be incorporated into the handbook was presented in a “Statement of the High Schools of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Regarding the Teachings and Practice of the Catholic Church.”

Archdiocesan officials said the statement represents the religious beliefs formally affirmed by the schools, but individual teachers will not be required to sign documents that attest to their own beliefs in these doctrinal teachings. Source

Subsequently:

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Students and parents from schools controlled by the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco protested at Saint Mary’s Cathedral on Ash Wednesday, saying the church should stay out of teachers’ bedrooms and drop proposed morality clauses in teacher contracts.

On Ash Wednesday, one of the holiest days on the Catholic calendar, the students and parents are hoping Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone will change his mind on the clauses, as the church heads into 40 days of Lenten reflection.

First off the new contract has no statements regarding a teacher’s private life and much less there sex life. Specifically this applies to publicly contradicting Church’s teachings. I wonder how many of these protesters would protest the Hatch Act? As a veteran I certainly was aware of the Hatch Act and some restrictions placed on me regarding the political realm.

Still what I find ironic about the Lenten protest is that it is a heck of way to start Lent implying you are doing something in the bedroom contrary to Church teaching.

Then some California lawmakers stepped in:

A group of California lawmakers asked Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco to remove “morality clauses” from a proposed contract for teachers in high schools under his jurisdiction, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The new language in the contracts direct teachers in four archdiocesan high schools to avoid public statements or actions that oppose Church teaching on contraception, pre-marital sex or homosexual relationships. My story on the proposed change in contract language is here.

In their letter to the archbishop, the California lawmakers argued that the morality clauses “conflict with settled areas of law and foment a discriminatory environment in the communities we serve.”

To which the Archbishop replied in part:

“Would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general?” he wrote in his reply to eight state legislators who had criticized Catholic standards for school employees.

The archbishop suggested a hypothetical situation in which Democratic politicians employ a “brilliant campaign manager,” though a Republican, who is willing to work for them and not speak or act contrary to his employers or his employers’ political party.

“Now, let’s say that this campaign manager you hired, despite promises to the contrary, starts speaking critically of your party and favorably of your running opponent, and so you decide to fire the person,” the archbishop continued in a Feb. 19 letter. He suggested this firing would be done not for hatred of Republicans, but because the employee “violated the trust given to you and acted contrary to your mission.” Source

Not that using logic with lawmakers is  a fruitful game. Still it is a good analogy. There have also been complaints about designating the teachers as ministers which is really a result of U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 free exercise case, Hosanna Tabor, which ruled in favor of a Lutheran school in an employment dispute.

One story today said the Archbishop was now backtracking. Joan Desmond continues her excellent reporting on the story with this piece of information.

The Archbishop has not repealed anything. He is adding explanations, clarifications, and material on Catholic social teaching, via a committee of religion teachers he is establishing. The committee is to expand some areas of the material to be included in the faculty handbook, and clarify other areas by adding material. Nothing already planned to go in is being removed or retracted or withdrawn.

With respect to the use of the word “ministers,” the Archbishop only said that “ministers” is no longer being considered. That is all the Archbishop said. The word currently being used is “ministry.” Nonetheless, the Archbishop did say that he would work hard to find language that satisfies two needs. One is the need to protect the rights of the teachers in the Catholic high schools to have complaints fairly treated. The other is the right of the Archdiocese to run Catholic schools that are faithful to their mission. Language must be identified that meets both needs. Even if a substitute for “ministry” is found, the substitute must guarantee that the teachers in the Catholic archdiocesan high schools promote the Catholic mission of the institutions.

Her story also includes information on the lengths the Archbishop is going in working with the teachers in clarifying the language of the contract.

And of course the typical reaction of Democrat politicians “That’s a nice school system you have there, it would be a shame if something happened to it.”

On Monday, Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) urged an assembly committee to investigate working conditions at the high schools administered by the San Francisco archdiocese,” reported the CBS local news.

Feb 242015
 

The Weekly Francis – Volume 91 – 24 February 2015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 23 January 2015 to 21 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.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

Feb 232015
 

So when I saw the headline that a new Doctor of the Church was named by Pope Francis and then that it was Saint Gregory of Narek, my first reaction was who? Never heard of him. Although the gaps in my knowledge are large and numerous.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has declared Armenian poet and monk, Saint Gregory of Narek, a Doctor of the Universal Church. Meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints on Saturday ahead of his departure for Aricca on Lenten retreat, the Pope confirmed the proposal put forward by the Plenary Session of the Congregation to confer the title of Doctor of the Universal Church on the 10th century saint.

St. Gregory of Narek is widely revered as one of the greatest figures of medieval Armenian religious thought and literature. Born in the city of Narek in about 950 A.D., St. Gregory came from a line of scholars and churchmen.

St. Gregory received his education under the guidance of his father, Bishop Khosrov, author of the earliest commentary on the Divine Liturgy, and from Anania Vartabed, abbess of Narek Monastery. He and his two brothers entered monastic life at an early age, and St. Gregory soon began to excel in music, astronomy, geometry, mathematics, literature, and theology.

He became a priest at the age of 25 and dedicated himself to God. He lived most of his life in the monastery of Narek, where he taught at the monastic school. St. Gregory began his writings with a commentary on the “Song of Songs,” which was commissioned by an Armenian prince. Despite his reservations that he was too young for the task, the commentary became famous for its clarity of thought and language and its excellence of theological presentation.

He also wrote a number of famous letters, sharagans, treasures, odes, melodies, and discourses. Many of his prayers are included in the Divine Liturgy celebrated each Sunday in Armenian Churches around the world.

St. Gregory’s masterpiece is considered to be his Book of Lamentations. Also known as Narek, it is comprised of 95 prayers, each of which is titled “Conversation with God from the depth of the heart.” A central theme is man’s separation from God, and his quest to reunite with Him. St. Gregory described the work this way: “Its letters like my body, its message like my soul.” He called his book an “encyclopedia of prayer for all nations.” It was his hope that it would serve as a guide to prayer for people all over the world. After the advent of movable type, the book was published in Marseille in 1673, and has been translated into at least 30 languages. Source

From Catholic Culture

St. Gregory’s prayers are still used in the liturgy of the Armenian Catholic Church. The monastery where he lived and worked survived for several hundred years, until it was destroyed in the Armenian holocaust.

So I wanted to learn more about this new Doctor of the Universal Church and to read his writings. Couldn’t really find anything on the U.S. version of Amazon or elsewhere in English. Hopefully somebody will rectify that eventually.

Feb 212015
 

For a while on my book wish list sat one called Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon. It finally landed on my actively reading list. I was pretty much totally caught unaware by the talent of this author, although somehow it made it to my wish list. Reading Swan Song I kept drawing comparison to Stephen King’s The Stand my favorite of King’s books. There are comparisons to draw, but they are also very different stories and I found Swan Song]swan to be even superior in parts. Heresy to my mind considering how much I have loved The Stand. So I was soon book binging on some other books recommended to me and found repeated great storytelling in a genre I so enjoy.

Recently I read his Boy’s Life and once again was absorbed in this time a Ray Bradberry-esque story combined with McCommon’s own gifts. At the end there was a set of acknowledgements. These I often don’t read, but this one caught my attention. So I was already enthused with this author, but wow I so love his acknowledgements which I can so relate to.

My thanks to Forrest J. Ackermann; Roger Corman; Boris Karloff; Vincent Price; Lon Chaney Senior and Junior; Jungle Jim; Sky King and Penny; Screen Thrills Illustrated; Ian Fleming and Bond, James Bond; Eudora Welty; Bob Kane; Barbara Steele; Big Daddy Roth; the Boys from Hawthorne though a young man is gone; Clutch Cargo; Space Angels; Super Car; the Captain and Tom Terrrrific; Yancy Derringer; Famous Monsters of Filmland; Gordon Scott ; Vic Morrow and the Combat squad; Jim Warren (sorry, Forry!); Boston Blackie; Zorro; Cisco Kid and Pancho; the Whistler; Kirk Douglas in Spartacus; the Rolling Stones; Thriller and those pigeons from hell; the Hammer Films bunch; Peter Cushing, the ultimate Van Helsing; Christopher Lee; Edgar Rice Burroughs; Red Skelton and the passing parade; Creepy and Eerie; Ray Harryhausen and the Ymir; Mr. Television , Milton Berle; It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad (Did I miss one?) World; Edgar Allan Poe; Lester Dent or Kenneth Robeson or whoever cranked out all those great Doc Savages; Three Dog Night (hello, Cory!); Clayton Moore, the one and only Lone Ranger, Richard Matheson; Roy Rogers and Trigger, X-Men; Buffalo Bob and Howdy; the Brothers Grimm; Bela Lugosi; Paladin; The Outer Limits; Brigitte Bardot (I didn’t spend all my time with Geographics!); Basil Rathbone; Mister Dillon! Mister Dillon!; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Invaders from Mars; Gene Autry; Steve Reeves; Aunt Bea; Dr. Richard Kimble; the Who; Hans Christian Andersen; 13 Ghosts and those weird glasses; Sergeant Preston of the Yukon; Mr. and Mrs. North; the Thin Man; Peter Lorre; Alfred Hitchcock; Here, Lassie!; Errol Flynn, the perfect Robin Hood; a man named Jed; the Aquanauts; Steve Roper and Mike Nomad; Clint Walker, Kookie, my hair’s falling out!; Gorgo; Rodan; Reptilicus; Charles Laughton; Oral Roberts heal thyself; The Gallant Men; Victor Mature swinging that jawbone; Walt Disney; Mr. Lucky; Burt Lancaster, Through the Looking Glass; Bronco and Sugarfoot; the Mavericks, wild as the wind in Or-e-gon; Joe and Frank; Fantasia; that house on haunted hill; Guy Madison and Andy Devine; The Mysterians; Dementia 13 (Yikes!); Captain America and Bucky; Harper Lee; Steve McQueen (Cooler!) on that motorcycle, jumping the barbed wire; Tom Swift and His; and so many, many more whom I will think of as soon as I believe I’ve finished writing this.

To two very special influences on this boy’s life and writing: Mr. Rod Selling, for his talent and imagination that continues on far beyond the Zone; and to Mr. Ray Bradbury. Your lake will always be deeper and sweeter than mine, your jar hold greater mysteries, your rockets travel truer to the heart. Thank you so very, very much.

McCammon, Robert R. Boy’s Life (p. 610). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.

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.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Speeches

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.