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.

Feb 032015

There have been a number of stories regarding bakers and others refusing to materially cooperate with same-sex marriage and the resulting prosecution. When such stories appear we run the mental simulation of reversing the story and wondering what would happen. In this case such as requesting a baker to do some activity contrary to their possible support of same-sex marriage.

DENVER – Azucar Bakery on South Broadway is under investigation for religious discrimination by the Civil Rights division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies stemming from a March 2014 incident.


A customer came into the store and requested a couple of cakes in the shape of Bibles, according to the owner Marjorie Silva.

Silva says the man pulled out a piece of paper with hateful phrases like “God hates gays” and requested her to write them on his cakes. He wouldn’t let employees make a copy of the paper and would not read the words out loud, Silva claims. The bakery owner also says the customer wanted an image of two men holding hands with an “X” on top.

“After I read it, I was like ‘No way,’” Silva said. “‘We’re not doing this. This is just very discriminatory and hateful.’”

Silva then received a complaint from DORA for religious discrimination.

“It’s unfair that he’s accusing me of discriminating when I think he was the one that is discriminating,” Silva said.

My first reaction when I saw this story was “Ha! About time somebody performed this reverse action.”

My second reaction was to repent of my first reaction. This really is evil. This is treating a person as a means to an end.

With all the other cases often it was remarked that the businesses were singled out by same-sex activists and this was certainly a possibility. People rightly decried this aspect. That the women was specifically targeted is quite evident in this case. That is is okay to sick the state on somebody to make an ironic point is totally missing the point of conscience rights and religious freedom. We want others to respect conscience rights while cheering trampling somebody else’s. That because somebody is wrong about their support of something means that you can treat them as somebody with no rights.

This is simply inexcusable, just as the other cases by same-sex activists were.

Feb 022015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 28 October 2014 – 31 January 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