Mar 262016

So I noticed this series of headlines:

Basically the same basic story appeared in British news sources:

An insider on the tour added: “The band’s team were flabbergasted when the Vatican got in touch via letter and couldn’t believe their eyes.

“As much as they didn’t want to upset the Pope, they had a contract in place to play on the Friday – and in their mind they were going to honour it. They have made a promise to the Cuban people and won’t let them down.”

My spidey-senses are tingling and my first instinct is to call BS on this story (my second and third instincts as well). First off the story is being shaped as “Pope bans”, when at most it might have been someone in the Vatican. Even that seems rather fishy. Where is this letter they received? Seems to me that if The Rolling Stones management ever actually received such a letter it they would make the most of it by posting it online. It makes great publicity.

I really don’t think the Vatican is going to get involved in rock band tour dates.

Although I remember when the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper L’ Osservatore Romano decided to get into music journalism and released a list of the top ten rock and pop albums of all time.

At the time I envisioned their new direction which thankfully didn’t bear out.

Mar 232016

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 7 December 2015 to 23 March 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

  • “… That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments.” @Pontifex 12 March 2016
  • “Pray for me.” @Pontifex 13 March 2016
  • “The Sacrament of Reconciliation allows us to draw near to the Father with trust to have the certainty of his forgiveness.” @Pontifex 14 March 2016
  • “God is truly “rich in mercy” and extends it abundantly upon those who appeal to Him with a sincere heart.” @Pontifex 15 March 2016
  • “As we exit the confessional, we will feel his strength which gives new life and restores ardor to the faith. After confession we are reborn.” @Pontifex 16 March 2016
  • “No one can be excluded from the mercy of God. The Church is the house where everyone is welcomed and no one is rejected.” @Pontifex 17 March 2016
  • “The greater the sin, the greater the love that must be shown by the Church to those who repent.” @Pontifex 18 March 2016
  • “I am beginning a new journey, on Instagram, to walk with you along the path of mercy and the tenderness of God.” @Pontifex 19 March 2016
  • “Let us come to Him and let us not be afraid! Let us come to Him and say from the depths of our hearts: “Jesus, I trust in You!”” @Pontifex 20 March 2016
  • “Let us take our Christian calling seriously and commit to live as believers.” @Pontifex 21 March 2016
  • “I entrust to God’s mercy all those who lost their lives. #Brussels” @Pontifex 22 March 2016
  • “With how much love Jesus looks at us! With how much love He heals our sinful heart! Our sins never scare Him.” @Pontifex 23 March 2016

Papal Instagram

Mar 212016

Once again my plans for a Holy Lent have been dashed by reality.

Sure I had a framework planned out involving more prayer and fasting. Most of that lasted the whole first week of Lent and then I started to find excuses to lighten up. Not that my initial plan was over the top or beyond my reach. Just that once again I tried to brute-force holiness by doing stuff and forgetting to invite God into this. A stoic at prayer.

Not that it was a total failure. I did manage to be very consistent in the course of spiritual reading I set out for each day. With the help of the Strides app I have also managed to pray the Rosary each day when before I was rather less consistent on weekends.

Still I notice the same awful tendencies I have and self-centeredness. Still Lent does help me to be more aware of this and even failing I see myself failing and resorting to prayer. I try to put the Jesus Prayer on continuous loop at these times. Lent can often be a good cure for spiritual pride as you find any spiritual pride to be rather ridiculous in face of the truth. I provide myself comic relief by laughing at myself.

Last night while thinking about my Lenten misadventure I remembered Lent wasn’t over yet.

So I am going to cram for Holy Week. Pick up that dropped framework and carry it out for the rest of Lent and the Triduum before Easter.

Like most crammers I have the expectation that I can make up my lack of progress the night before Easter. I will just pull a Lenten all-nighter figuratively. Yeah that’s the ticket. Besides Jesus paid those late workers in The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. So I’m holding him to that.

Mar 132016

Such a headline:

“Pope imposes financial oversight for saints after abuses”

You would think those saints in Heaven wouldn’t be such spendthrifts. I guess they get giddy with their mansions in our Father’s house.

Still I got to love phrases like:

Vatican’s multimillion-dollar saint-making machine

Although there was very good reason for reform as bureaucracies tend towards corruption. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is not necessarily staffed by saints to say the least.

The books estimated the average cost for each beatification at around 500,000 euros ($550,000), with much of the proceeds going to a few lucky people with contracts to do the often time-consuming investigations into the candidates’ lives. The family of one well-known investigator, for example, also had the Vatican monopoly on printing the documentation for each saintly cause, studies that often amount to dozens of volumes.

While candidates who inspire wealthy donors would sprint ahead, those with less wealthy fans would languish. American saints often cost the most precisely because the most money was donated, and the postulator could spend it on the best researchers to get the cause through, according to the book “Avarice” by journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi.

This shows one reason why I am thinking ahead for my own canonization. I was thinking about running a GoFundMe campaign to make sure I have the necessary bucks to sustain the costs involved. Plus I just can’t rely on large crowds of people chanting “Santo Subito” after I die, especially the people that knew me.

Another phrase I liked in the article was “science-defying miracles” – take that science. That might be a common view of miracles, but an incorrect one. I like this explanation from Catholic Answers

A miracle may be defined as an event that occurs in nature but that has a cause lying outside nature, that is, a supernatural cause. Miracles are not violations of the laws of nature. The way we know if an event is a miracle is by seeing if it could have been caused by natural forces.

The language in this article cracks me up.

Martyrs, or people who were killed for their faith, get a free pass and can be beatified without a miracle.

Martyrs are encourage by that “free pass”, dying for their faith is such a shortcut.

Still it does remind me of that wonderful line in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”:

“She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.”

Still as awkward as this article was at times in how it was worded, it is at least one that tried to do the subject some justice. However clumsily that was.

Mar 132016

In the Gospel of John is today’s reading regarding The Woman caught in adultery.

One aspect of this situation is similar to other instances when the scribes and the Pharisees confronted Jesus with a situation.

“This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him”

Again the Scribes and the Pharisees betray their zeal for the law had nothing to do with the underpinnings of the Mosaic law in the natural law. They were not offended by this rupture of the marital bond or how adultery is so often used in the scriptures to point to our relationship with God and betraying him pursuing idols instead.

Instead they see Jesus as a rival teacher and are willing to set him up for their own purposes. They want Jesus to scandalize his followers by possibly disobeying the Mosiac law.

“Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?”

I would think quite possibly they interpreted the instances when Jesus showed mercy to sinners as a weakness to be exploited. “He ate with sinners.” They were scandalized by mercy, yet were not scandalized by their own lack of justice. Those without mercy often don’t even understand justice.

So while there is so much to draw from this event, there is one aspect I had not considered before.

“And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.”

Looking at this anew I realized just how surprising the scribes and the Pharisees reaction was. They had setup a trap and had no concern with Jesus’ answer other than that it would reflect badly on him regarding his followers. The surprise is that they ended up listening to him and subsequently counting themselves as sinners. I also find it interesting that the eldest among them left first. He had gained enough wisdom to go beyond the myriad rules and still see himself as a sinner. His response probably helped the others to realize the same.

The prideful scribes and the Pharisees were humbled by their own acknowledgment that they were not without sin. Often when we are confronted by our sinfulness we double-down by rejecting the thought or whip up a defensive wall made of excuses and justifications.

So it is pretty awesome that they heard what Jesus had to say and accepted the grace to humble themselves by leaving.

Mar 092016

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 25 February 2016 to 9 March 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

  • “Open your heart to mercy! Divine mercy is stronger than the sins of men” @Pontifex 3 March 2016
  • “Jesus Christ, with his closeness and tenderness, leads sinners into the place of grace and pardon. This is the mercy of God.” @Pontifex 4 March 2016
  • “May the Lord free us from all temptation that separates us from what is essential in our mission and help rediscover the beauty of faith.” @Pontifex 5 March 2016
  • “The Jubilee of Mercy is a propitious occasion to promote in the world ways to respect life and the dignity of each person.” @Pontifex 6 March 2016
  • “My life, my attitude, the way of going through life, must really be a concrete sign of the fact that God is close to us.” @Pontifex 7 March 2016
  • “Small gestures of love, of tenderness, of care, make people feel that the Lord is with us. This is how the door of mercy opens.” @Pontifex 8 March 2016
  • “God has caressed us with his mercy. Let us bring God’s tender caress to others, to those who are in need.” @Pontifex 9 March 2016
Mar 082016

There are not many instances where my headbangin’ tendencies and my Catholic faith cross.

Iron Maiden pay respects at Blessed Oscar Romero’s tomb

Iron Maiden paid tribute to Blessed Oscar Romero during the British heavy metal band’s stop in El Salvador on their current world tour.

During a concert at the Estadio Jorge Magico Gonzalez in San Salvador, El Savador’s capital, a crowd of 9,000 people cheered when the band’s drummer Nicko McBrain put on a t-shirt featuring an image of the murdered priest and the slogan, “Saint Romero of the Americas”.

Before the concert, McBrain and his bandmate, guitarist Janick Gers, visited Blessed Romero’s tomb in the Crypt of San Salvador Metropolitan Cathedral, Associated Press reports.

Now I knew Nicko McBrain joined a Presbyterian church in Florida around 1999, so this is rather interesting.

Mar 082016

Now this is rather odd,

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s main archdiocese has taken the unusual step of publicly saying Pope Francis had been badly advised when he directed harsh words to local bishops during his visit in mid-February.

The pope told a gathering of local bishops in February not to be career-minded clerics, saying, “We do not need ‘princes,’ but rather a community of the Lord’s witnesses.”

The pope also urged them to maintain unity and show more transparency. “If you have to fight, fight. If you have to say things, say them, but do it like men: to the face,” Francis told the bishops.

An editorial published Sunday on a website of the archdiocese of Mexico City also said that some of the pope’s comments had been misinterpreted by “reporters more focused on histrionics than the deep meaning of the words.”

“The Mexican bishops have been accompanying the suffering, downtrodden people, devoting their lives to others and not living like ‘princes,’” the editorial said.

It denies local bishops are out of touch with the people, and says the pope’s comments “might be due to someone near him who gave him bad advice.”

The editorial ends with the question: “Who gave the pope bad advice?” Source

Wow I am going to move to Mexico where apparently they have perfect bishops with no amount of clericalism.

Well, maybe not. It is true the Pope can be a bit of a scold at times like his Christmas speech to the Curia. Still this seems very thin-skinned to me. Say for example the Pope was misinformed, than such bishops unconcerned about a worldly career would not be concerned that they were mischaracterized. That they issued an editorial regarding this is a “Doth protest too much” moment.