Feb 112016
  1. Complain that in the Latin Rite, fasting norms are rather wimpy when compared to Eastern Rite Catholics.
  2. Someone reminds you that you can personally adopt their Lenten fast yourself.
  3. Never mind.
Feb 092016

This my be my most audacious post on my blog. One in which I offer prayer advice. When it comes to praying badly I am quite an expert at it. Really though this post is how to help to develop the habit of prayer for some personality types. Plus with Lent starting, just possibly what I offer might be useful to someone.

I really put the pro in procrastinating and so even things I prioritize gets put off for later and then don’t get done at all for that day. Why put off something today you can put off tomorrow? Really I have been thinking about doing this post for a couple of weeks.

Last year I got an Apple Watch and I soon found that the activity tracker was very helpful for me. For one the three-ring activity indicator was a constant reminder I was failing in one of those areas. So I started to prioritize exercising each day and looking for opportunities to walk. I soon found I was doing this every single day, even on days when I could have found tons of reasons not to do it that day. I have maintained this for over six months now and went down some pant sizes and have made this a habit every day of the week.

During this I was observing myself and wondering why this visual indicator was so important to me? Part of it was maintaining a streak and continuously hitting the goals. A visual indicator of an accomplishment. But I also found that even when I was unable to exercise because of sickness or travel, that when able to do so again – did so. So it got me into the habit to the point where it was a habit.

Still as much as physical health is important, I wanted to prioritize my prayer life even more. So I figured that if the activity rings provided me the motivation I needed, then maybe something could help me likewise in my prayer life. Around the same time I had been thinking about this I had seen various app reviews about goal oriented apps where you could set daily goals to check off each day with various options.

One of the prayers I have continued in since even before I officially entered the Church was the Liturgy of the Hours. Really I had been pretty good starting my day with the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer, but Evening and Night Prayer would often fall away – especially on weekends. The same for the Rosary – I normally would pray it towards the end of the day during the first part of the week, but weekends rarely.

So I wanted to set two goals. One to pray those hours in the Liturgy of the Hours that I sometimes didn’t get to and to be much more consistent in praying the Rosary.

So around the beginning of the year I bought an an iOS app called Strides: Goals & Habits Tracker + SMART Goal Setting and set these two daily goals. I was also able to set the time where it would show an indicator that one of my goals needed attention. So now for over a month I have not failed to meet these two goals daily.

So for whatever reason my personality quirks found this method useful in meeting goals and actually planning a head of time to make sure I provide the time for this. When it comes to exercise and prayer it certainly does take a significant block of time each day – but what I would fill that block with otherwise would be less helpful for me. I also found that more consistency in praying the Rosary was actually helpful in praying the Rosary for me. There was another prayer hack that I added in praying the Rosary, but I will discuss that on another day.

No doubt this technique will not work for everybody. You have to care about some indicator badge on an app and it has to annoy you enough to meet the goal.

The app I used – Strides has been getting the job done for me. It is fairly easy to setup and to interact with daily. Although based on this review I would probably have bought Streaks instead as it seems to be the better designed app. Momentum Habit Tracker is another possible consideration for much more tracking. I admit the main reason I haven’t switched over to Streaks is that I already have a months worth of data in Strides and while losing it would really mean nothing, there is psychological momentum connected with it.

No doubt there are equivalent apps on Android, although the one they have called Streaks is a habit reminder, but is is not from the same creators as the iOS app of that name.

Feb 072016

In the “any stick will do category”, Tina Beattie at CruxNews gives us a total crap article which misrepresents the Church’s theology along with what Pope Benedict XVI previously said. Plus of course includes an appeal to surveys regarding Catholics as if they mattered beyond unfortunately illustrating the ignorance of many Catholics.

This only exposes the weakness in those who can’t grasp that you can’t do evil to do good. What she calls weakness is actually a consistent moral ethic.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1750 The morality of human acts depends on:

  • the object chosen;
  • the end in view or the intention;
  • the circumstances of the action.

The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the “sources,” or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts.

This is an example of the new eugenics where it is better to kill a person or prevent them from every becoming a person than to exist with illnesses and disabilities.

The Catholic tradition has always allowed for some flexibility in the interpretation of Church teaching in particular circumstances — a practice known as casuistry. When the denial of contraception exposes adults or the children they conceive to life-threatening illnesses and disabilities — and when the criminalization of abortion condemns women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term or risk their lives through illegal abortions — we need to navigate a path of careful ethical reasoning through contested areas of human vulnerability, rights, and responsibilities.

Funny how abortion is a cure for “life-threatening illnesses and disabilities”. The new eugenics has been busy wiping out birth defects by eliminating the person who has them. They have done a bang up job with Down Syndrome with 90 percent being aborted and are looking for continued success in other areas.

She sees casuistry as loopholes to help ignore the morality of human acts.

From the Catholic Dictionary.

… casuistry is an integral part of the Church’s moral tradition. Its purpose is to adapt the unchangeable norms of Christian morality to the changing and variable circumstances of human life. (Etym. Latin casus, case, problem to be solved.)

It is not a term that describes changing unchangeable norms to adapt to the situation like she thinks.

As a partial remedy to this article is one surprisingly in the Washington Post “What this amazing mom of two girls with microcephaly has to say about Zika scare”.

“This is the baby I’m supposed to be a mom to,” she said. “I would be missing out on a gift that had been given to me.”

Note: Post title alludes to G.K. Chesterton’s comment in Orthodoxy.

“They burned their own corn to set fire to the church; they smashed their own tools to smash it; any stick was good enough to beat it with, though it were the last stick of their own dismembered furniture.”

Feb 032016

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 1 January 2016 to 2 February 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




Papal Tweets

  • “As Christians, we cannot be self-centred, but must always be open to others and for others.” @Pontifex 28 January 2016
  • “Mary, Mother of Jesus, help us to share the wonders of the Lord with all whom we meet on the way.” @Pontifex 2 February 2016
Feb 022016

(Vatican Radio) The Prefect of the recently established Secretariat for Communications, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, has refuted press reports claiming Pope Francis “will play himself” in an upcoming film.

The film production company ENVI Pictures issued a statement on Monday saying Pope Francis will appear in the film “Beyond the Sun.”

“The Pope is not an actor,” Msgr. Viganò said.

He added that no scenes for the movie were filmed “for purpose,” although he does not exclude “as has happened before, video clips of the Pope could appear in the film.”

Any profits from the film are being used to support two Argentinian charities for children Source

“The Pope is not an actor” not that there is any thing wrong with that says Saint Pope John Paul II.

Jan 272016

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 3 September 2015 to 24 January 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



Papal Tweets

Jan 242016

This is pretty funny – TrumpScript is a programming language that thinks and acts like Donald.

Warning: Programming geek humor ahead.


  • All numbers must be strictly greater than 1 million. The small stuff is inconsequential to us.
  • There are no import statements allowed. All code has to be home-grown and American made.
  • Instead of True and False, we have fact and lie.
  • Only the most popular English words, Trump’s favorite words, and current politician names can be used as variable names.
  • Error messages are mostly quotes directly taken from Trump himself.
  • All programs must end with America is great.
  • Our language will automatically correct Forbes’ $4.5B to $10B.
  • In its raw form, TrumpScript is not compatible with Windows, because Trump isn’t the type of guy to believe in PC.
  • The language is completely case insensitive.

To which I would add:

  • Has localization where text can change based on location such as Iowa. This feature is found in all standards politican-based languages.
  • TrumpScript does have inheritance, since your business logic needs an eight figure inheritance to start off just like Donald.
  • Also includes interfaces, but it is pronounced “In your faces”.
  • All items are objects since TrumpScript has no class.
  • In addition to Windows, TrumpScript also can not be compiled on Macs until Apple ‘start building their damn computers and things’ in the US.
  • TrumpScript is built for security. It’s sandboxing is a walled-garden and he is making the Mexicans pay for it.
  • While TrumpScript only uses integers this is despite them being rational numbers. Just that he is ratioally insensitive.
  • There is no decrementing such as — since TrumpScript makes everything great again and there is alway incremental progress.
  • All comments must be written in caps and exclamation marks are required at the end of all comments.
  • Compiler warnings are phrased in terms of insults regarding how crappy of a programmer you are.
  • You should use interfaces, properties, methods, and events in a programming model since Trump married three models.
  • TrumpScript is totally object-oriented and women are always objectified.
  • The language is especially suite for generating comments on blogs and other web sites.
  • Best practices for TrumpScript encourages lots and lots of properties and the acquisition thereof, which must be named starting with Trump.
Jan 212016

The major snow storm last year affected the March for Life where some groups had to cancel busses of people who had planned to attend. Despite the awful weather conditions people still turned out to protest and pray to end abortion. Really an amazing turnout despite the weather.

Still most were not exactly thrilled with the cold conditions and the snow. Last year we talked to Karon Braswell from South Carolina who paraphrased St. Teresa of Avila “If this is how you treat your friends, no longer you have so few of them.”

This year due to an enterprising pro-life business many of these problems will be minimized despite the weather. During the 2016 march Aaron Horton started thinking about what could be done to increase participation.

“While each year there is a significant turn out, there are still people who don’t participate with the weather being one of the factors. Plus there are many who would love to march to end the scourge of abortion, but just can’t get here. My day job involves helping businesses to facilitate remote working conditions and to provide maximum virtual interaction through the use of telepresence robots. These robots can be remotely driven and display a picture of the face of the person operating it. I realized that this would be perfect for those unable to attend.”

Aaron Horton made available a large fleet of telepresence robots that he ironically calls Roe-Bots. While Roe V. Wade was the landmark decision by the Supreme Court regarding abortion, the anonymous Jane Roe in the decision (Norma McCorvey) never had an abortion and has been active in pro-life demonstrations. His Roe-Bots have been equipped with snow treads for the typical climate conditions in Washington D.C. in January.

Some of this years marchers have wondered if this large number of telepresence robots marching along with the other marchers would be reported negatively by the Press. Some joked that telepresence robots representing reporters would be sent to cover the event. As events unrolled though it was obvious that this years March for Life would once again get the media’s undivided neglect. After this year’s march Perry J. Lambert from Los Angeles, Ca remarked about the media’s refusal to cover this event. “They are like the Eye of Sauron, they are looking everywhere with unblinking intensity except where Sam and Frodo are in their attempt to destroy the evil ring. Hopefully we will one day provide the Mt. Doom to abortion.”

A group of Telepresence Marchers

Jan 212016

Usually reading history I feel rather detached from it. The skill of the writer can bring it more to life to me or at least make me interested in the people and events. The usual detachment is not what I felt at all reading The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam by Geoffrey Shaw. While the events detailed in this book happened when I was a young kid, the after effects of the Vietnam war were front and center as I was growing up.

One of the things I have heard the most is that it was not our military that lost the war, but our politicians. This might even be true, but not in the context usually meant. This book I think fairly well shows that our government effectively lost the war even before the major involvement of our troops. Another common thing you hear is how the American media undermined our effort there. This also appears to be true to some extent, but that this also happened very early on. The book gives some quite egregious examples of this.

This book relays a kind of history that can break your heart in more than the usual “what might have been” way. Projecting what might have happened is always fraught with problems. Especially since we rarely project what does happen.

The story of Ngo Dinh Diem along with his brother is pure tragedy. Raised in an affluent Catholic family as one of six sons along with three sisters. He slowly rose in his bureaucratic career and was known for his incorruptibility and his support of nationalism. His career might have grown even faster, but he would not be used by the French as he continually supported the cause of Vietnam as its own country. This aim for a time led him to live in the United States after he got some advice on how best to put forward this cause. While living at a Maryknoll Mission Society seminaries he developed political ties with Cardinal Spellman, various senators, then-Congressman John F. Kennedy, and others. While at the same time performing the same menial household chores as the seminarians. He obviously impressed many with his firm stand against both French Colonialism and Communism. He had studied both Marxism and Communism and what it meant for Vietnam.

Throughout you get the portrait of a man who was a devout Catholic and a man who saw himself as a servant with his involvement in government as a means to serve others. That he did indeed have leadership abilities and was resistant to falling to the pursuit of power over others. In a later crisis that precipitated the coup against him his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu shouted that he should have been a monk and not a president.

His time as president of South Vietnam was fraught with difficulties as he tried to steer his country towards democracy in the midst of Communist insurrections and every attempt to undermine any advancements. This was going on along with the sniping of some elites in Saigon. A very unstable political situation and one devastating to a fledgling democracy trying to find its way forward.

As bad as this situation was, American involvement pretty much made it worse. Having to deflect the charges of just being a puppet government to the U.S. along with getting the support it needed. This included the pressure for democratic reforms at a very quick pace as if nothing else was going on.

The real heartbreaking part of the book is what was going on in the Kennedy administration along with the various factions in the state department. So many competing plans were put into operation with no understanding of the Vietnamese culture and no real attempt to understand the situation on the ground for the most part. Although there were certainly people in the government, including the State Department, that were really trying to learn. Frederick Nolting who became an Ambassador to South Vietnam was certainly one of them, but he was later betrayed himself (in one of histories ironies by a man named Trueheart).

The factions in the State Department especially as led by ambassador-at-large W. Averell Harriman make for some frustrating reading. Administrations often have groups running with their own agenda and there were several cases here where they were in direct opposition to President Kennedy’s wishes. Still Averell plans for negotiating an agreement for neutrality with Laos was supported. This agreement as Frederick Nolting predicted was totally worthless other than to help the Communists continue to use Laos. This group was certainly responsible for the betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem and the setting up of a coup where he and his brother were savagely murdered. This was pretty much the intended outcome of supporting a coup and working with a general who had a grudge against Diem.

Also detailed in the book was how the American press undermined President Ngo Dinh Diem. Not surprisingly they had little understanding of the actual situation and were jumping on stories later discredited. The pinnacle event leading up to the eventual coup was the Buddhist crisis of 1963 and the iconic photos of monks immolating themselves. This book really sets the record straight regarding Ngo Dinh Diem and his actual record regarding religious freedom. Still the reporting in the U.S. put the blame totally on him especially after a battle between Buddhists and policeman that turned bloody. The United Nations eventually investigated whether the government was at fault, but as is usually with them by the time the report was completed the President had already been murdered. They did not find the Ngo Dinh Diem adminstration at fault, but since he was already dead – did not publish the report.

I could probably go on and on about this book, but this summary only scratches the surface. Mostly the lessons learned is that we never learn our lessons. Still as difficult as this book was to read from an emotional standpoint, I am really glad I did. Just learning about the man Ngo Dinh Diem was a good enough reason. Despite some of the villains of the story there are also some real heroes. The book makes the case that Ngo Dinh Diem plans did have a very good chance of succeeding and in fact were making progress. That the extent of the American military involvement would have been much smaller and there was a true path forward for Vietnam.

Interesting to me was a story when Ngo Dinh Diem was captured by Ho Chi Minh, who tried to convert him to the cause of Communism. He refused, but must have impressed Ho Chi Minh with his courage that he was released. This story was more interesting to me since after reading Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler regarding Josef Müller who had also been captured by a top Nazi official and released after showing his courage in resisting him.

Jan 202016

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 29 November 2015 to 19 January 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



Papal Tweets

  • “Every Christian community should be an oasis of charity and warmth in the midst of a desert of solitude and indifference.” @Pontifex 15 January 2016
  • “The Gospel calls us to be close to the poor and forgotten, and to give them real hope.” @Pontifex 19 January 2016