Category: Featured

For the featured section of the blog.

Prayer Request for a Dear Friend

I know my readership isn’t what it used to be, but I know that there are many devoted companions in this spiritual journey we call life. That is why I want to ask all of you to pray especially for a dear friend.

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

St. Michael, Defend us in battle...
St. Michael, Defend us in battle…

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Suspended

Duck Dynasty family: The Robertsons
Duck Dynasty family: The Robertsons

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson has been suspened by TV network A&E for his recent comments in a GQ interview.

A&E says the following to industry-mag Entertainment Weekly:

 “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the seriesDuck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Legal analysis aside, what is interesting is that A&E is suspending a man from a show about him and his family for – being himself.

Here is what he said that is being quoted everywhere as the “hateful” and “anti-gay” comments:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

People can interpret things in many ways, so I leave you the reader to interpret that how you will. Phil said it and really he believes it.

The question is: is it “anti-gay” or “hateful”?

But the big quote that is getting Phil in all the turmoil here is this one:

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The accusation is that Phil is being hateful for believing, and then stating, that homosexuality is a sin.

So at what point does belief and expression of those beliefs turn to “hate”? I do believe there is a line somewhere that this happens, but what is it exactly?

Here is a quote from the same article that not as many folks are quoting:

“You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

 

 UPDATE: 

Rod Dreher has a take that makes some decent points.

 

A trial run

Since I re-booted the blog over a year ago, my intention was to go to a much more minimal style blog look.

The change to the Dominican (i.e. Black & White) theme was a first step, I still have felt like TOO much was going on with the blog design still.

So I am going to try this for a while. I know that my readership is down but I would love feedback if you still visit.1

  1. I know that I may need to add some features, especially my social media links, but this is a start and I can always ADD. []

Pope Francis: TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’

Pope Francis, Time's 'Person of the Year'
Pope Francis, Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

From Time:

When, on March 13, Bergoglio inherited the throne of St. Peter—keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven—he made the same request of the world. Pray for me. His letter of retirement, a requirement of all bishops 75 and older, was already on file in a Vatican office, awaiting approval. Friends in Argentina had perceived him to be slowing down, like a spent force. In an instant, he was a new man, calling himself Francis after the humble saint from Assisi. As Pope, he was suddenly the sovereign of Vatican City and head of an institution so ­sprawling—with about enough followers to populate China—so steeped in order, so snarled by bureaucracy, so vast in its charity, so weighted by its scandals, so polarizing to those who study its teachings, so mysterious to those who don’t, that the gap between him and the daily miseries of the world’s poor might finally have seemed unbridgeable. Until the 266th Supreme Pontiff walked off in those clunky shoes to pay his hotel bill.

Read more: TIME’s Person of the Year 2013 Pope Francis, The People’s Pope | TIME.com http://poy.time.com/2013/12/11/person-of-the-year-pope-francis-the-peoples-pope/#ixzz2nBKUSPCu

 

There is a lot that can be said about this selection. I wanted to write a, “Why I believe Pope Francis will be the POY” post yesterday, but I have had a horrible stomach thing. Regardless, this places even more media attention on the Vatican. I will save the, “What does this mean…” commentary to those better suited for it.

 

Ross Douthat, Conservative Catholics, and Pope Francis

Ross Douthat, conservative and Catholic columnist for the New York Times, labeled his Sunday

Ross Douthat, NYTimes
Ross Douthat, NYTimes

piece this week: “The Pope and the Right.” Now before you go off, read it, and come back either elated or steaming mad, let’s remember one important thing: columnists get paid to make people read them. The more novel, inflamatory, aggressive, or shocking something is – often the better.1

Douthat though isn’t being too much of anything, instead he is simply stating the obvious. He is addressing the elephant in the room, or in some cases, the uncomfortable conversation that many Catholics are having.2 The topic he addresses is one that strikes close to home – how do conservatives (either politically or theological ones, if that is possible) reconcile the pontificate – so far – of Pope Francis?

His most interesting points though, in my opinion, are made when he attempts to give three arguments for why a seemingly “liberal” Pope can actually be reconciled with American conservative principles. His three premises are (in my own summarized form):

  1. Capitalism, or free market ideals, has a better track record than socialist societies at lifting the poor and marginalized out of poverty and maintaining free society.
  2. Solidarity and Subsidiarity are key components to Catholic social teaching – a la the philosophical pillars of such teaching.
  3. Welfare states (i.e. socialist and liberal states) have produced rather toxic social and cultural policies that fly in the face of Catholic doctrine and social teaching. (e.g. low birth rates, charitable roadblocks, and religious persecution.)

The money paragraph though isn’t one where Douthat doubles-down on American conservative principles, or attempts to contort the Pope’s actions and most recent Exhortation to fit the GOP platform. Instead he challenges “conservative” Catholics, such as myself, to reexamine how we interact with the world – socially and politically – and find a way to fit our politics to our faith, and not the other way around. 

As Douthat puts it:

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Flannery O'Connor on Ayn Rand.
Flannery O’Connor on Ayn Rand.

Now, I dont want to spend a lot of time in this post on it, but the link talking about ‘compassionate conservatism’ is interesting and ultimately goes to the larger issue I plan to discuss. Yet, I intend to set that discussion up with this post. So for now, I will leave it at this: Douthat seems to say that what is important for Catholics -specifically American conservative Catholics, in light of Pope Francis, is that we find a way to push for policies that cling to Catholic teaching, but hold fast to conservative principles. The latter not for their own sake, but because our faith animates those principles in our culture.

Pope Francis, love manifested in action.
Pope Francis, love manifested in action.

We should not spend the time of Pope Francis hidden away in Mass3 praying for patience and that God’s will be done. While we want those things, of course, it is that there is so much more we can do – and should do.

While many liberal Catholics4 made plenty of fuss during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI about the direction of the Church, the cry for conservatives to “do what they did” or “follow our own advice” is a false premise. Douthat calls this the “Loyal Opposition” argument. He rejects it, and so do I. It is instead our time to continue with vigilance and fortitude. We spent formative years solidifying our faith, now it is time to solidify the world around us – to animate the social teachings and political policies with our hearts grounded in the teachings of the Church.

  1. Case in point, a recent NYT shocking front picture. []
  2. Some of these conversations are private and dare not reach the narthexes and church basements of our parishes. []
  3. in the usus antiquior of course… []
  4. For the record, I am not a fan of using political terminology to explain theological philosophy, it makes sense in this post. []

Advent 2013 – “Prepare”

adventpurpWhile at Mass last evening the idea of preparation really came over me. I know that blogging can be a good and bad thing, for both bloggers and readers, but I know that sometimes being completely immersed in the faith is a helpful thing.

As an Advent preparation, I am going to attempt to blog once a day. Sometimes they will be short, and other times they will be a bit longer, but my hope is to once again have my faith in Christ be central to my family, and my own, journey through life.

Here is to a hopeful and fruitful ADVENT.

#IStandWithThomasPeters

I Stand With Thomas Peters
I Stand With Thomas Peters

Thomas Peters, best known as “The American Papist” from his blog and his work with CatholicVote.org, was injured in a swimming accident months back. His long road to recovery has taken him and his family along the full spectrum of human emotion and spiritual battles.

Tomorrow, the Catholic Blogosphere will do a full social media assault in support of Thomas: You can find out more at the blog set up to chronicle his recovery: #IStandWithThomasPeters Day

Whether you can help with prayer, financial support, or just through spreading the word – every little bit will help.

 

 

War on Religion

Reports say that the U.S. spied on Pope Francis and others during the most recent Papal Conclave.
Reports say that the U.S. spied on Pope Francis and others during the most recent Papal Conclave.

Is nothing sacred?

From the UK Telegraph:

The National Security Agency spied on the future Pope Francis before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI, it was claimed on Wednesday.

The American spy agency monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.

The claims were made by Panorama, an Italian weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.

The information gleaned was then reportedly divided into four categories — “leadership intentions”, “threats to financial system”, “foreign policy objectives” and “human rights”.

At that time, Benedict XVI was Pope, suggesting that the Vatican may also have been monitored during the last few weeks of his papacy.

There are so many things to say about this. Things are out of control in our country, that is for certain, but this takes things to a whole new level and actually prompts more questions than there are good answers.

Just remember, we battle not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.

St. Michael, defend us in battle.

Believing in the Devil: Justice Antonin Scalia & Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson

Recently two articles came out where the person being interviewed affirms the belief in spiritual warfare. In fact both men boldly declare their belief that the devil is real, and that what we battle against isn’t simply the human condition but evil.

The first, an interview of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the New York Magazine. Justice Scalia is known for being one of the more approachable members of the Court, but this interview is quite candid even for his standards. The interview is long, but a worthwhile read.1

Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the devil.
Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the devil.

Here is the section on the Devil. [BOLD is writer Jennifer Senior; regular typeface is Justice Scalia]

You believe in heaven and hell?
Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?

No.
Oh, my.

Does that mean I’m not going?
[Laughing.] Unfortunately not!

Wait, to heaven or hell? 
It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.

But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it? 
Of course not!

Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, “Who am I to judge?” He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?

Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

No.
It’s because he’s smart.

So what’s he doing now?
What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the ­Devil’s work?
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

Well, you’re saying the Devil is ­persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

Right.
What happened to him?

He just got wilier.
He got wilier.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.
I was offended by that. I really was.

I’m sorry to have offended you! 
Have you read The Screwtape Letters?

Yes, I have.
So, there you are. That’s a great book. It really is, just as a study of human nature.

This conversation is such a summation of truth and reality, as it relates to this issue and our culture. When Justice Scalia points out that the Devil is smart, by making people disbelieve in him and in God it reminds me of the saying, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

Then, when he explains that throughout most of history, even some of the smartest and most learned people believed in the existence of the devil, you can sense his dismay and disbelief that the author is, as he puts it, “so out of touch” that she is surprised by his belief. In fact, it “offends” him.

Similarly, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty shares the belief that the devil does indeed exist and that we are wrapped up in a battle of good and evil.

Phil Robertson, of Duck  Dynasty, believes in the devil and spiritual warfare.
Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, believes in the devil and spiritual warfare.

In a recent interview, Phil says:

You gotta remember, it’s spiritual warfare. I mean, you’ve got people with no moral compass. It ain’t there. So what I tell people is be patient.

They’re the ones, they own the network and we’re filming the show.

We signed the contract with them, ok, and it’s a workhouse, but what people have to understand is, the people of God have to understand, you’ve just got to be patient. You don’t turn that ship quickly. It’s a big ship. A lot of depravity and a lot of heathen and a lot of the evil one. He is entrenched in the United States.

He speaks about it in a very matter-of-fact way. To him, the idea that this is a battle not of flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities is a reality. Just like it is for Justice Scalia.

Two very different men, in very distant parts of culture and society, but they share a common set of core beliefs about good and evil, and the reality of the devil.

  1. There is also a section where the Justice addresses the most recent comments by the pope. []

An Interview with Pope Francis – READ IT!

 

"A Big Heart Open to God" - September 30, 2013 Antonio Spadaro, S.J. The exclusive interview with Pope Francis in American Magazine.
“A Big Heart Open to God” –
September 30, 2013
Antonio Spadaro, S.J.
The exclusive interview with Pope Francis in American Magazine.

So much is being said in the media right now about Pope Francis, and truly much of it is some distortion of what he said or didn’t say.

The best thing we can all do is take the time to read the actual interview. Then, at least we will be starting from fact and not conjecture.

From there we can discuss what it means and if necessary how to apply it to our lives.

But let’s first actually read the interview.

America Magazine – Interview with Pope Francis

Light Of Love – “Imagine Sisters” Movie [WATCH IT HERE!]

The Imagine Sisters project has just released their movie “LIGHT OF LOVE“…

Imagine Sisters present: "Light of Love"
Imagine Sisters present: “Light of Love”

Go watch it! I will have a review later after I do the same!

UPDATE: Watch it right here!

Light of Love from Imagine Sisters on Vimeo.

World Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria

Pope Francis has asked the universal Church to spend today in prayer and fasting in the hopes that the hearts of men and women will be transformed and that we will not engage in mutual destruction that comes with war and conflict.

While sometimes War is just for some, if it can be avoided all of humanity benefits.

christian-just-war-popePrayer for Peace to Mary, the Light of Hope

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily takes root
in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects already
weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.

From famine and war, deliver us.
 From nuclear war, from incalculable self destruction,
from every kind of war, deliver us.
 From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity
of the children of God, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments
of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil,
deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit,
deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ,
 this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings, laden with the sufferings
of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all
sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed once more in the history of the
world the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of the merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart
 reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.
– Pope John Paul II

 

Peace is the proper effect of charity

“PEACE implies a twofold union, as stated above (A. 1). The first is the result of one’s own appetites being directed to one object; while the other results from one’s own appetite being united with the appetite of another: and each of these unions is effected by charity–the first, in so far as man loves God with his whole heart, by referring all things to Him, so that all his desires tend to one object–the second, in so far as we love our neighbor as ourselves, the result being that we wish to fulfil our neighbor’s will as though it were ours: hence it is reckoned a sign of friendship if people “make choice of the same things” (Ethic. ix, 4), and Tully says (De Amicitia) that friends “like and dislike the same things” (Sallust, Catilin.)”

~St. Thomas Aquinas: ST, II-II, q. 29, a. 3.