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Today Is The Day
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Okay Then, That Was Unexpected...
Church Art Shouldn't Make You Say "Blech!"
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Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons
I got some ideas...
New Translation Objections Are Becoming More Ridiculous
Grasping at straws...
This Comes As No Surprise
Up with the ex-communicated!
Things A Catholic Ought Never Say
Watch your mouth!
Sister Patricia: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday
Catching up with Sr Pat.
Just Thought You'd Like To Know...
A public service announcement.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday Caption Contest

My first caption contest! The prizes are honor, prestige and a Good Feeling (not necessarily in that order). Winner will be announced next Wednesday.

source: Newsday #22

Previously unseen photo, from a break during the filming of "Blues Brothers".


Puff the Magic Dragon wrote: "Diving Scores: 5.9 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 5.9"

Grab yer Brooms!!

The Red Wings prevailed in Game 3, winning by a score of 4-3, and can sweep the series on Thursday night in Colorado. Chris Osgood made several spectacular saves down the stretch to preserve the victory, powered by Pavel Datsyuk's (above) two goals and one assist.

Thank goodness the game didn't go to overtime - these western state start times are a killer, and OT would mean less sleep. Although it could be worse - they could be playing a California team, meaning a one-hour later start. Oh the crosses I bear for hockey....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saints For All Times

The wisdom of the Church never ceases to amaze me. By declaring saints, blesseds and venerables, She gives us examples of people who have lived exemplar Christian lives. Whether they lived during the first years of the Church, or as recently as the last century, and every century in between - their lives, and even the manner of their deaths, presents us with timeless paradigms to follow.

Declaring saints and such is only part of the wisdom. It occurred to me that more than a small dose of wisdom was used in placing the feast of St. Catherine of Siena (above, left) the day after St. Joanna (Gianna) Beretta Molla (right). These women were separated by nearly 600 years of time, but now spend eternity in heaven. The Church has given us, back to back, a woman of history and a woman of modernity to guide us, intercede for us, and eventually welcome us to eternal joy.

When people say that the Church is anti-woman, their lack of knowledge of history, their failure to appreciate Her true teachings and their unwillingness to accept the basic facts are on full display. What is even more frustrating is when the complainers are Catholics, and even more so when they're Catholic (or so-called Catholic) women. Efforts to demand equality (when there is no inequality), and freedom from so-called sexual oppression (when clear teaching provides true sexual expression) pale in comparison to the heroic lives of these two authentic women of faith.

One has been declared a Doctor of the Church; the other lived as a doctor in the Church. One challenged the politics of the time; the other challenged the Culture of Death. One was practically uneducated; the other had degrees in Medicine and Surgery. One was married to Christ; the other had a husband and bore four children. One died struggling to bring life to a fractured Church; the other died in sacrifice to bring life to her family. In both cases, the Church holds up strong, courageous, faithful women who lived with conviction and hope. Who needs Oprah or Angelina Jolie or Sr. Joan Chittister as role models when there are women such as St. Catherine and St. Joanna? Why would anyone sell themselves short? Could it be that the saints set standards that seem difficult to achieve? Well, that's true - those standards are impossible to reach without grace, without a constant reliance upon God.

I've heard it said that to fail to become a saint is to have failed life. It is our universal calling - a call to holiness. These two saints, placed side by side in our calendar of saints, continue to stand by our sides until we reach our goal of everlasting life with them, the whole host of saints, Mary our mother and Jesus our Savior. With so many for us, we ought to have great hope for success.

"Citizen journalism" is unfair!!

That's right - bloggers, the average American, Joe Q. Public - anyone who has helped change the media landscape, from the stranglehold the major news outlets once maintained on the consumers, to the explosion of differing opinions, viewpoints and stories that appear on the Internet - we are not playing by the traditional rules. Instead of elitist editors deciding what stories to produce and how to slant it, or deciding what to publish and how to skew the story, the public is having a greater influence on the news that is being reported. And according to a former executive of Planned Parenthood, that is not fair, and she wants it to stop.

According to a story posted on Life Site News, ex-VP for communications Elizabeth Toledo is throwing a temper tantrum. She is complaining that the standard of news reporting has changed. There used to be no competition before - the willing accomplices of the Culture of Death in the mainstream media would just print the lies of PP without compunction or fear of being contradicted, while pro-life groups were forced to use more traditional means of getting their side heard, by issuing press releases or holding events with the prayer that someone would notice. And when pro-life stories were reported upon in The Good Ol' Days, it involved national politics or a violent epsiode outside an abortuary.

But due to the Internet, pro-life advocacy groups have an alternative way to get their stories published, and subsequently, public interest and relevance is increasing to where it having a greater influence on what is being reported.

Toledo preferred the old model, of course. No competition, no backlash, no facts and figures to show that abortion is a truly evil thing and that it does have extremely negative consequences. The old model worked, she complained, because "an editor or columnist determined what was 'newsworthy.'" Newsworthy, of course, meaning anything supportive of the Culture of Death. Not stories on the abortion-breast cancer link, or Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome, or the effect of abortion on the women, men and families.

She goes on, stomping her feet: "In the new world of media advocacy, the editor's role shrinks while the role of the 'citizen journalist' grows." Well, hooray for our side!!

"'Leading news sites will invite the public to submit their own stories and (sob! sob!) through a combination of popularity and relevance (wahhh!!!), the public will drive which stories make it through the firewall onto the evening news,' she explained, (crying uncontrollably)." Gasp! Is she blaming her accomplices for this change? Is she also admitting that the evening news has a firewall (read: truth detector) that prevents real news from getting on air? She sounds like a spoiled kid, who tries to shift the blame to her sibling when caught in the act. My kids do this all the time: "It's not MY fault! I only took the cookie because Joey dared me to!"

The story goes on:

"With polls showing most Americans reject the Planned Parenthood mantra of unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy, having a pro-life public drive the news is bad news.

"Planned Parenthood has relied on the mainstream media, Hollywood, and massive government funding to prop itself up without the grassroots support pro-life groups enjoy. With news moving to a grassroots-driven format, Toledo admits Planned Parenthood can't win."

Good news for Life is bad news for Planned Parenthood. So the effort to promote Life and the teachings of the Church has to continue. Let's keep working hard as "citizen journalists" to make sure Planned Parenthood loses.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Orders

Within a ten mile radius from my house are three Catholic parishes (one which is my 'home' parish), a Benedictine monastery and a Dominican convent/motherhouse. It's a blessing to have flexibility - "Well, we can either go to the 9 AM at St Joe's, the 9:30 at the monastery, the 10 AM at Immaculate Conception or the 11 at the Motherhouse chapel."

For the most part, my family attends Mass at the Motherhouse chapel, for several reasons. One, it's the closest. Most Sundays from Spring through Fall, we can walk to Mass, and not because we're trying to reduce our carbon footprint. Spare me, please! Two, the Mass invariably is over within an hour. That's more important to my sons than to me. The length of a Mass has never affected me, as long as it's done right. And three, I tend to get 'distracted' during Mass at my home parish by the minor liturgical abuses, poor music choices and weak homilies. I shouldn't let those kinds of things bother me, I know.

Lately, though, I've noticed that Mass at the Dominican chapel has its abuses too, and it's primarily in the area of inclusive language. It's not as blatant as substituting "Our Father/Mother" in the Lord's Prayer. And they don't say "In the name of the Creator, the Savior and Sophia". Even still, the changes in wording, as subtle as they are, are beginning to upset me. For instance, during the Gloria, instead of singing "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on Earth", they'll sing "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God's people on Earth". This also happens during the responses at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer, where the priest says "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God", and the congregation responds "It is right to give God thanks and praise" instead of "It is right to give Him thanks and praise". While the nuns and a handful of the congregation say "God", I say "Him" as loudly as possible without being too arrogant, and I hear many others use the correct word too.

I don't know if this is enough to cease worshipping there and start attending at the Benedictine monastery. But it got me thinking about the connection between obedience and God's blessings.

The Dominican order at the Motherhouse, according to their website, operates a nursing home, a retreat house and they lease space for a Montessori center. Their mission as proclaimed on their site is "to continue the mission of Jesus Christ by creatively preaching the Word of God." Hmmm, not so sure about the word 'creatively' there - I think 'faithfully' would be a far better choice. Their "Corporate Stances" - the "What We Stand For" section of their site - reads like a laundry list of progressive and liberal ideals, except for the very last item, which is Sacredness of Human Life. But shouldn't that be first? And using a word like "Corporate" - what spiritual connotation can be derived from that?

Most of the nuns, including the Mother Superior, do not wear a habit. The average age, I would guess, is over 50. One of the intercessory prayers at each and every Mass is for an increase in vocations, and yet, I doubt they've had a new member in quite some time. And that's where it comes down to obedience. Perhaps if they were faithful in the small things - like saying the prayers at Mass as they are written - God would bless them in the big things, like additional vocations. Perhaps if there was more activity in the spiritual realm, to set them apart from the countless other organizations dealing with the issues they've established as their Corporate Stances, who knows? They might be increasing in numbers. Instead, they're aging and sadly, not making as profound a difference in the world for Christ as they could be. As they ought to be.

Contrast this group of Dominicans with another Dominican order, the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. This order, its Motherhouse in Ann Arbor, MI, does not have enough room for all the incoming novitiates. Since their founding in 1997, they have added more than 80 women. The average age of the novitiates is 25. They proudly wear their habits. And most importantly, they are totally faithful to the Magisterium. Perhaps you've seen them on EWTN with their Truth in the Heart series. They are very active in the pro-life movement. Their apostolate mission is to catechize and evangelize, teaching in Catholic schools and establishing new mission houses. They are in the midst of a massive construction project in order to house the additional members. God is most definitely blessing this order, and I believe it's because they are completely faithful to His Church in every way.
Below are some photos of this order. There is hope for religious orders in the world. Pray for all of them, that God continues to bless them, and pray especially for the orders that have strayed that they return to the fold.

I included that last one because I just found it delightful. "Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, nun out." Feel free to add your own captions in the combox!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Up 2-0!!

Thanks to Johan Franzen's (above) hat trick, the Red Wings downed Colorado 5-1 in the second game of the Western Conference Semi-finals, and lead 2-0 in the best of 7 series. No heart-in-the-throat end of the game moments here as the Wings played a balanced game start to finish.

Now it's off to Denver for Game 3, Tuesday night 10:00 PM EST. Late night Tuesday.

"Total Recall" meets Total Stupidity

In the movie "Total Recall", directed by Paul Verhoeven, people could go on "vacations" or live out fantasies by being hooked up to a Virtual Image machine that tricked the mind into believing that the computer-generated visions were real.

Apparently, Paul Verhoeven is hooked up to such a contraption, and is trapped in his created version of Christianity he has accepted as reality.

According to a story in the Hollywood Reporter, Verhoeven will be publishing his own version on the life of Christ, complete with alien bugs, Las Vegas showgirls, a half-man, half-machine police officer and a beautiful sadistic murderer.

OK, I made up the stuff about bugs, Robocop and the like, but if you think about it, Verhoeven's story will be just as fictional and make-believe. Some of the elements he's adding are that Mary was raped by a Roman centurion, and that Judas Iscariot did not betray Christ. In his mind, though, those aren't fictions. His more than 20 years of research with the Jesus Seminar bunch (which is so much more reliable than the eyewitness accounts of the apostles, after all) has enlightened him to the truth. He actually believes this stuff, and the reason is simple. It's because he has hooked himself up to a Virtual Theology machine.

This isn't the first time Verhoeven's espoused these beliefs. Ten years ago, he participated in a panel discussion along with fellows of the Jesus Seminar, talking about the issues of filming the life of Christ. Here's a link to an article from the Sonoma County Independent from 1998 that reports on the event. According to the article, Verhoeven was raised a Catholic, but after listening to the Jesus Seminar (and getting hooked up to the VT machine), he now believes that "the Crucifixion seems more like a ghastly mistake on behalf of three parties: the Romans, the Jews, and Jesus himself." And then there's this quote: "The message of Jesus is the way he lived. That he ultimately was killed was something that just happened." Yep, Jesus' death was just an unfortunate circumstance. Just like the movie "Showgirls", only with better acting.

So he's publishing the book in order to generate interest in the project, which I interpret as, if people buy the book, he'll go on and make a film. The book is going to be released in the Netherlands, and the publisher is negotiating to have it translated into English. I think they just need to look at the inside cover of "The da Vinci Code" to find their partner, unfortunately.

Verhoeven should have learned from "Total Recall" and "Starship Troopers", that when a film is adapted from a book, it's best to stick to the story and not try and "improve" it (although I did like the line from TR when "Ahl-nold" tells Sharon Stone just before he shoots her - "Consider this a di-worce."). The same can be said on doing a film on the life of Christ - stick with the Book.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Random Thoughts

If you're using anything but a Catholic Bible, then you're not praying with a full deck.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Game 1: Red Wings 4, Avalanche 3. Red Wings lead 1-0.
Tough game for the Wings that came down to the wire - up 4-1 early in the second, but the Avs scored twice before the end of the period. Play went back and forth throughout the third period, and with a minute left, the Avs pulled their goalie. With 8.4 seconds left, Chris Osgood stoned John-Michael Liles from in close. A BIG sigh of relief!!
Game Two Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM.

The Sound of Music

To mark his third anniversary as Pontiff, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano arranged for a concert to be held in his honor. Zenit News has a story on the concert, along comments the Holy Father gave, such as the "kinship between music and hope, between song and eternal life." I wonder if he was referring to some of the music used at the Washington DC Mass - like, it seemed to go on forever, and he was hoping it would end.

One thing the Holy Father and I share in common is our love for classical music and the ability to play piano. I'm quite sure he is a much more accomplished pianist, regardless of my 11 years of lessons. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Clementi, even some Gershwin. Didn't stick with the lessons long enough to tackle Rachmaninoff or Chopin (I don't think my teacher liked them), and it there's one regret in my life, it was quitting while still in high school - ever hear of teenage "know-it-all-ism"? Well, I had it pretty bad in high school. I never stopped playing, though. About 15 years ago, my wife and I purchased a Sojin baby grand, and about 5 years ago, I started teaching, and I currently have 10 students.

My reason to teach was to share with others the talent God has given me and pass on my knowledge to others. Through teaching, I've helped to instill in my students a love for classical music, a desire to create and be creative, and discover within themselves a talent that God has placed deep inside them. Teaching others has taught me that talents not shared are talents wasted. And God has blessed me through teaching these kids - I've learned to become more patient and it's even helped me in my own ability to play. In a way, I've seen in my life a fulfillment of Jesus' parable of the talents - to he who has much, even more will be given.

So Happy Anniversary, Pope Benedict XVI, and in honor of this day, I'll play "Moonlight Sonata".

Good New, Bad News (parts I and II), More Bad News, But We End With Good News

Three stories on pro-life developments in Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota:

From In Iowa, the House legislature approved a measure that would remove tax-payer funding of PlannedParenthood. That's the good news. However, the bad news is (and it comes in two parts) is that state funding will also end for pregnancy centers and maternity homes (that's part I); also, when the House and Senate convene in conference committees, the funding could be reinstated because the committee will be comprised of 6 Democrats and 4 Republicans (part II). The article urges residents to contact their law makers, especially since PP "is working overtime" to restore their funding.

From Bad News once more. CINO Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill restricing late-term abortions. There is a slight glimmer of hope, though. There are plenty of votes in the House to override the veto, but the Senate is two votes short of a veto, based on final voting came to pass the bill. So Pro-life advocates in Kansas have some work to do. The most telling part in the story, besides the governor's claim that "her Catholic faith taught the sanctity of human life and that she was personally opposed to abortion", are the last lines in the story: "Noting the political corruption that may have influenced Sebelius's voting record, Archbishop Naumann wrote, 'Her vetoes of these clinic regulation bills were even more troubling in light of her history of accepting campaign contributions from George Tiller, the Wichita abortionist, who has gained a national reputation for performing late term abortions.' Tiller has donated over $38,000 in political funding to Sebelius since 1994." Talk about blood money.

But we'll end this story with some good news, again from In Minnesota, St Thomas Law School dean Thomas M. Mengler rejected a proposal allowing volunteer work at Planned Parenthood to count towards students' public service graduation requirements. In his statement, Dean Mengler wrote: "Volunteer service at Planned Parenthood, whatever the nature of that service, advances the mission of Planned Parenthood, an organization whose mission is fundamentally at odds with a core value of the Catholic Church. Such service does not constitute 'qualifying public service' for purposes of satisfying the School of Law's graduation requirement of 50 hours of public service." It's premature to say that the papal visit and speech to Catholic University officials influenced his decision, since the University President had issued a similar statement in 1999, and Mengler cited that as precedent. Nonetheless, this is good news, seeing a Catholic university uphold and promote its Catholic identity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Break Out The Boca Burgers, It's Party Time!

by Izzy Lion


“Saving the Earth, in my mind, is just as critical as saving souls.”

So says Rev Byron Marigold, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt, located in Ferndale, MI. With Earth Day fast approaching, celebrated nationally on Tuesday April 22, he was having difficulty containing his glee. His excitement was so palpable that even some of his parishioners took notice, commenting that they hadn’t seen him so ebullient since….well, since last Earth Day.

“He absolutely loves this holiday,” said Agnes Boondrawl, a parishioner since the mid 1950’s. “To him, it’s like Christmas, Easter and the Fourth of July all rolled into one.” She paused for a moment, then added with a wink, “Without the consumerism and pollution, of course.”

“This is going to be the biggest and best Earth Day event at this parish ever,” Rev Marigold said, and he has a strong message to deliver. “In this day and age of global warming and environmental irresponsibility, which I’ve come to term “greenicide”, it’s become critically important to shepherd my flock prudently, not just into greener pastures, but into recycled, environmentally friendly greener pastures.”

Reverend Marigold, along with several dozen volunteers, were hastily converting their worship space from where they traditionally celebrate their Mass, into an area where even Al Gore might be humbled. Incandescent light fixtures had been replaced with motion-sensitive compact fluorescent bulbs. Solar panels were installed on the roof this past fall, and were already helping the small parish reduce its dependence on electricity. The air conditioning was removed, replaced with three rows of fans. And rezoning hearings were already scheduled with the city board, to allow the parish to have a windmill installed on their property, hopefully by the fall of 2009.

Hanging on the walls on each side of the church were banners – six feet in length, brightly colored, outlined in green Some showed horrific scenes of lush rainforest being razed, or schools of tuna being netted, along with dewy-eyed helpless dolphins. Others displayed images of hope, such as a mother and father playing with their single child in a field that seemed to stretch into infinity.

“All made using naturally-grown products,” said Melvin Jumkins, another long-time parishioner. “The banners are all made from hemp, using soy-based paint and non-toxic adhesives.” He went on to explain that each one was handmade by a group of itinerant undeclared immigrants. “They couldn’t speak any English,” he said, “but boy could they make banners! And they were always so hungry, too."

But the most impressive decoration was The Globe. Made of colored glass, it was suspended above the sanctuary, six feet in diameter, that, according to Rev Marigold, would slowly rotate during the Earth Day Service the next morning.

“It was a gift from Greenpeace,” he said. “When the globe rotates, the glaciers actually appear to recede, and you’ll swear that the coastlines begin to shrink. It’s really quite amazing.”

Away from the hustle and bustle of the volunteers, Rev Marigold took a seat in one of the back pews, a mug of fair trade organic coffee in his hand. He looked around him and smiled. “This looks so nice, I just might leave it up all year. Well, maybe until the bishop comes in the fall for Confirmation.”

For years, Rev Marigold has been involved in environmental activism, from protecting harp seal pups, to even housing a pair of endangered spotted owls when he pastored a parish in Washington. “That was hard,” he said. “I hardly slept for three years, but on the plus side, I didn’t have any mice in the rectory!”

“God made us stewards of the Earth,” he went on, “and frankly, we’re screwing it up. We have to make amends for the problems we’ve caused , and I hope that services like the one we’re having tomorrow will open people’s eyes and put them on the narrow path.”

He seemed equally excited about the Vatican’s proclamation of seven new deadly sins. “It’s about time, too. Ever since that list came out, I’ve had more and more penitents confessing that they've been polluters. That’s got to be the biggest one of them all.”

As he stood up to resume his work, he placed the now-empty coffee mug in a rack - “No more Styrofoam.” – and looked around, apparently very pleased at the ongoing preparations. “Yep, tomorrow’s going to be a great day. Our guest homilist is Paul Watson, an original founder of Greenpeace. The host and wine we’ll be using is GMO-certified. And who knows, we may just have a few more surprises in store for the congregation. My only disappointment is that this comes only once a year."

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Mind Of A Kid

What follows is a conversation between by older son and me the other afternoon while listening to the Detroit Tigers baseball game on the radio:

(Game announcer) - "Toronto pitcher BJ Ryan is entering the game, this being his third appearance of the season since recovering from Tommy John surgery...etc etc etc."

After a couple mintues, my older son asks: "Dad?"

Me: "Yeah?"

Older son: "Where's your Tommy John located?"

Me: "What?"

O.S.: "They said that pitcher had Tommy John surgery? Where is that?"

Oh, the literal mind of the young.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Who Are They Trying To Kid (Besides Themselves, Of Course)?

Only one thing to say about this idiotic ad at the Wandering Tribe site for Catholics For (Living In Sin Is My) Choice:

But faithful Catholics don't

I suppose it depends on their interpretation of "good". It's not the same as Jesus', that's fer sure.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

2008 Men's Conference, Detroit

I had intended to post on this earlier in the week, but with the Holy Father arriving in the states this past week, it kind of slipped to the back burner. On Saturday April 12, the Archdiocese of Detroit sponsored the 6th Annual Conference for Men, "Put Out Into The Deep VI". The theme this year was titled "Brothers in Christ, Standing Together". I was unable to attend this year because my family was returning from Myrtle Beach that day, but I had attended two previous conferences, and let me tell you, those events were deeply spiritual and uplifting. It's quite an experience to be with over 3,000 men praying, worshipping, praising and being filled by the Holy Spirit.

The format includes a roster of local and national speakers, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, numerous priests on hand for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and a place reserved for adoration of the Exposed Blessed Sacrament. This year's speakers included Fr John Riccardo, Kenneth Henderson (president of True Knights, an apostolate dedicated to helping men addicted to pornography), actor/director Leonardo Difilippis, Michael Timmis, and Richard Lane, son of former Detroit Lions football great Dick "Night Train" Lane. The Mass was presided by Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of the AoD.

Click here to read an article in The Michigan Catholic about this year's event.

Click here to learn more about Men's Fellowships, at Christ's Chosen.

I've belonged to a small men's prayer group for the past 9 years. A half dozen of us or so meet on most Thursday evenings, and we discuss current issues, or watch talks given by Catholic speakers, like Fr John Corapi and Fr Benedict Groeschel, or study Scripture (we recently studied the Gospel of John using the "Come and See" Catholic Bible study program), or even watch a film. Once everyone arrives, we invite the Holy Spirit into our midst and from there, we let Him guide us. I miss it when I don't get to go, and am always refreshed when I do. Another good thing about our group is that what happens at prayer group, stays at prayer group. Confidentiality is a big plus, and anyone who belongs to such a prayer group can appreciate that, especially if the focus of the group is Accountability.

This past summer, our parish initiated a more formal Men's Group, which we've named Bravehearts, and it's formation came as a result of the annual Men's Conferences. I'm very priveleged to be a member of the Leadership Team. We recognized that the involvement of men at our parish was pretty dismal. There were very few programs....well, actually there weren't any...that catered specifically to men. There were a couple women's groups, and some programs for couples, for divorcees, for recently widowed, and for the youth. But nothing just for men. Studies have shown that when husbands lead their families in the faith, there is greater probability that their family will grow and stay in the faith. And strong men are needed today to help counter the feminization that has afflicted the Church in recent decades, especially in America. So Bravehearts was started, with the goals of strengthening men's faith, increasing their involvement in the parish and developing a broad network to foster additional small men's groups. We also wanted to reach the guys who weren't attending Mass. We initiated monthly Breakfast and Speaker events, where we bring in quality speakers to talk for about an hour after a continental breakfast. A variety of four-to-six week study programs were developed, covering Scripture and Church teaching. And small groups were given greater visibility; it's pretty difficult to join or start a small group if they stay below the radar, or invitations aren't offered.

So how have things changed? The Monthly Breakfast Speaker Events average 125 attendees. We've had great speakers, such as Dr Ray Guarendi, Bishop Daniel Flores of the AoD, and Michael Voris of St Michael's Media, to name a few. When Bravehearts was founded, there were three small men's groups; now there are four with two more under development; each group has seen the addition of new members, too. And the study programs have generated interest and enjoyed modest attendance. The Holy Spirit has been clearly active, as I've met several men who told me that their faith has deepened (as well as my own).
And it has to be the Holy Spirit, because so much is being accomplished without the help of any women (and that's a compliment, believe me!). We handle all the advertising for the Breakfast Events, all the set-up, including getting food (and we remember to have napkins and utensils, too), all the audio and video production (we've got CD's and DVD's of several of our talks). The results have surpassed all our expectations, and have even generated some interest at nearby parishes.

The Scripture verse we've adopted for our motto is "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Prov 27:17). It's been spiritually rewarding being a part of this group, helping to bring Christ to men. Accountability (and a good deal of humor, too!) keeps us focused, that it's not about us, but about Jesus, and it's not about being a member of a group, but about belonging to His Church.

Here's the logo a parishoner developed:

Friday, April 18, 2008

How To Do It Right And Well

The folks at CatholicsComeHome have put together an awesome evangelization resource for everybody - and I mean everybody. Catholics who have fallen away, Catholics who need encouragement, and non-Catholics who are honestly seeking the Truth. They've produced three excellent ads that are worth your time viewing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

If Don Imus, Why Not This Guy?

Heard on Ave Maria Radio this afternoon, in an interview with Judie Brown of the American Life League, that an effort has been launched to urge Time-Warner to fire Bill Maher regarding his comments made on April 11 on HBO.

Click here to see Judie Brown's blog.

Click here to read a transcipt of Bill Maher's insults of Pope Benedict XVI.

I have to wonder why only lay people like Judie, Bill Donohue at The Catholic League, and several others are speaking out on this. It's very disappointing that the president of the USCCB hasn't come out with guns a-blazin', to say the least.

addendum to post:

Click here to read and sign petition to have Bill Maher fired. RWCP to discomike2000 for the heads-up!

This Comes As No Surprise...Unfortunately

Article posted at detailing how some "brave and courageous" politicians, notably Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry, will be receiving communion at Mass today in Washington DC. They, and all other pro-abortion politicians, need a LOT of prayers.

Here's a telling quote from the article: "None of the Catholic lawmakers interviewed Wednesday said they hesitated to attend Thursday's celebration of Mass. This event, they said, is about bigger themes and values, such as hope and compassion."

The Sacrifice of the Mass is the Sacrifice of the Mass, irrespective of the venue or the celebrity of the celebrant. This Mass is the re-presentation of Christ's salvific action of dying on the cross for the sins of the world, just like every other Mass celebrated throughout the world. This isn't the "Hope and Compassion Mass". Ironically, if these politicians truly believed in compassion, they wouldn't be in favor of abortion in the first place. But, this is how they rationalize their position, by redefining words and events that have objective meanings, and then accusing those who don't accept their new definitions as being intolerant.

Even if that includes the leader of the Catholic Church. Shameful.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Everyone Wants To Be Pope

Here's a story I found on giving way too much press to the Wandering Tribes, with their collective shorts in a twist over Pope Benedict's visit to the U.S. I only mention it because of the awesome final quote of Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's envoy to the U.S.: "Even in the Catholic church, nobody has the right to instrumentalize the visit of the pope to serve their personal interests," Sambi told the National Catholic Reporter. "The problem is that there are too many people here who would like to be the pope ... and who attribute to themselves a strong sense of their own infallibility."

Oh yeah!!

This Is One Birthday Gift That'll Be Returned

Happy 81st Birthday, Pope Benedict! I didn't send him a card or gift, but if I had, it certainly would have been better than this: Women's Ordination Conference Gives The Gift Of Women In Honor Of Pope Benedict's Visit To The USA And 81st Birthday. First of all, the press release statement itself sounds stupid, on the face of it. Could it have possibly been worded any worse? Secondly, do they really think that the Holy Father would waste a second thought to even consider reading the press release? I realize that that isn't their intent - they're begging for attention and hoping for validation. But then, why send a gift when there's no possibility of it being opened, even if they did include a picture:I have to believe that the woman in the back with the red scarf has to be the stewardess from the flight that flew the bunch of them out to Washington. She's waaaaaay too young to be a member of the WOC.

It got me thinking, though - there are undoubtedly millions of Catholics in America who are genuinely excited and happy that Pope Benedict XVI is visiting our nation, and probably 73,218 Catholics (or so-called Catholics) who aren't. So I did a little checking of some Wandering Tribes' sites to see what they were saying. I chose only three more, because I didn't want to waste any more time in posting their selfish, immature, "holier-than-thou" pontifications.

Voice Of The Faithless has a petition for members to sign, calling for a transformation of the Church. Too bad they're not sending around a petition for a personal transformation....

InDignity USA was planning protests and had issued statements.

Catholics For Living In Mortal Sin issued an Action Alert back on April 3, in which they ask the question: "If you had 5 minutes with Pope Benedict during his trip, what would you tell him?" What followed were responses that, if they weren't so pitiable, they'd be funny. I sent them a response, in which I said I would ask him to hear my confession - somehow I doubt it'll ever make it to their page of replies.

But that sparked an idea - if you had the chance to sit down with the Holy Father, what would you talk about? What questions would you ask? What would you say? Feel free to answer away in the combox!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Welcome, Papa!!

The Holy Father has arrived in the US! Pope Benedict XVI landed at Andrews Air Force base to the cheers of thousands, and was greeted by President and Mrs. Bush.
Catholic news sites are providing great coverage of the papal visit, such as Zenit, and EWTN. And numerous blogs, such as American Papist, Whispers in the Loggia, and What Does The Prayer Really Say are doing a fantastic job as well. Stick with these sites, and others like them, for accurate coverage of the Holy Father's visit, and stay away from the MSM. You'll be better off for it.

Dr Who on Sci-Fi Starting This Friday

Needless to say, I'm psyched! I thought the Sci-Fi Channel was going to air Season Four episodes of Doctor Who as a summer replacement series, and lo and behold, I discover that this Friday, April 18, they're starting to air the show.

Click here to get details and see a clip of Friday's 90-minute episode.

Click here to get details and trailers for Season Four.

So now my Friday nights are set, with my two sons, a big bowl of popcorn and a time-travelling Time Lord. Cue the theme music!!

The Final Straw Follow-up

Way back when, I posted about how The Serpents in the Grass (the Wandering Tribe formerly known as The Elephants) improperly usurped the name of a Great Priest (Fr. John Riccardo) in the Archdiocese of Detroit. I thought I'd give a quick update as to what's happened since.

Unfortunately, the link on the Serpents' site hasn't been obliterated. However, I did receive an email from Fr. Riccardo that he would look into the matter. And he will. According to another priest friend of mine, he told me that rather than direct confrontation (which is what these Wandering Tribes want anyway, typically), what normally happens is that a record of the incident is "put into the file" at the Chancery, and after awhile, as the file gets thicker, the whole package will eventually make its way to Rome, where everything will be investigated and a decision will be rendered.

Being relatively impatient, I would rather burn a couple of the members at the stake to send a message to the rest of them and just be done with it. However, I realize that in today's politically correct culture, that just isn't possible. More importantly, it's the least charitable option. And besides, Wandering Tribes such as this one are fading away due to attrition (in other words, they're dying away into non-existence). It's best to just ignore their actions, and better still to pray for their conversion.

And to whack 'em with the Truth stick when they slither over the line. That can work too.

Good Shepherd Sunday In Action

Saw this article in the Winona Daily News from this past Sunday, and also posted at The Cafeteria Is Closed.

Some quotes from the article:

When Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington talks about Kathy Redig, he speaks of her great heart. He regards her as a “great Christian person.” Harrington praises her work as a chaplain at Community Memorial Hospital.

And when he thinks of her upcoming ordination in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement — a largely excommunicated group of women ordaining other women to the priesthood — his mood changes. He calls the situation “very, very sad.”

And pauses momentarily.

“She has chosen to make this decision, and I have to respond,” Harrington said. “My responsibility is as a shepherd and to uphold the faith and ensure that the souls are not misled. I have to do what I have to do to act responsibly.”

Before becoming a bishop, Harrington at one time was pastor of St Rene Goupil in the Archdiocese of Detroit. It's wonderful to see him act like a bishop, while at the same time, expressing sadness for this woman's poor decision. I'm sure he's praying for her around the clock, to recognize her sin and return in full communion with the Church.

Later in the article, Bishop Harrington says: “I have to let the Catholic community of this area know what is proper and true . . . This is not a proper ordination by Catholic teaching and tradition. The Catholic community needs to know they need a validly ordained priest."

It seems that the diocese of Winona is in very good hands.

Addendum to the post:

The above article is a follow-up to this one published in the Winona Daily News on Saturday April 13. This woman is in need of a lot of prayers!! Here's one incredible quote: “Take a look around the Mass and those who received the Eucharist — there are probably a lot of Catholics who shouldn’t be there — those who’ve remarried, are gay or voted for John Kerry. If you actually followed all the injunctions of the church, there’d be no one worthy of Mass.”

Actually, none of us are truly worthy to receive Communion. It's only by God's grace that we can receive - and if we're in communion with the Church. Those who are in a state of mortal sin cannot and should not receive communion, dear lady. And unfortunately, you will soon be in that state yourself.

Her last sentence reminds me of the answer given by the Archbishop of Sacramento, when asked by a spokesman of then-Governor Davis of California, who would be in the Church if only those who followed all the Church's teachings attended Mass? The Archbishop responded: "Faithful Catholics." Not perfect Catholics, just faithful ones.

Monday, April 14, 2008

On the Nightstand

I suffer from the habit of reading several books simultaneously, and as I get older, the quality of books I select increases, which is just a way of saying they're getting deeper and more intelligent. I've been focusing on Catholic books for the past several years, including lives of the saints, or devotional, or thelogical. My collection has been growing, and includes many great books. The problem is, there are so many great Catholic books left to read, that every time I enter a Catholic bookstore, I'm tempted to purchase several more, and the stack of unread books grows and grows.

I say I suffer from this habit because it's getting more and more difficult to remember which book said what, or was written by so-and-so, or I'll jumble up quotations. It can be quite embarassing, for instance, when in the course of a conversation, I'll recall a great quote, but can't recall which book it was in, or who said it, or even remember the entire quote. It's not all that effective to say to someone, "You know, that brings to mind a great quote I just read in this book I'm was it The Great Heresies or was it Trojan Horse in the City of God? Maybe it was The Sinner's Guide. Anyway, the quote goes something like this..." and then I proceed to botch the whole thing and lose any credibility and end up looking foolish. So I've been trying to end this bad habit of reading four or five books at once, by limiting myself to two. So right now, I'm reading Triumph - The Power and Glory of the Catholic Church by HW Crocker III and Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton.

I started Triumph while on vacation, and have made it through the chapter on the Crusades. I've never had a strong grasp on Church history, and while this book is not in depth, Crocker manages to cram a lot of names, places and dates in this 400+ page volume, and I'm getting a broad overview of the crises and hurdles the Church had to engage and overcome while never wavering in proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel. He uses extensive footnotes, and includes a Bibliography that'll give me plenty more resources to look into once I finish reading. It's been an enjoyable read thus far, and I'm looking forward to wading through the remaining pages.

Orthodoxy is the first Chesterton work I've started. I'm midway through Chapter IV "The Ethics of Elfland", and there are so many phenomenal quotations and statements, that I've been rereading chapters just to get beneath the skin of their meaning, and just barely that. I may just restart this one with a high-lighter in hand. I had always been aware of Chesterton's wit and turn of phrase, but not his depth of philosophy and keen explanation of theology. I watched the first season of "The Apostle of Common Sense" on EWTN, and that is where my interest was piqued. Much of what Chesterton had to say in the early 20th century still applies in 2008; in many ways, he was quite prophetic. He was a sharp observer of human behavior, whose observations still apply in our so-called modern age. Once I finish this book (and who knows how long that will take!), I'm looking forward to tackling another Chesterton classic. Haven't picked one out yet, so I'm open to anyone's suggestions.

The pile on my nightstand still stands tall, with Your Life in the Holy Spirit by Alan Schreck, St Teresa of Avila's The Interior Castle, and several others. If I stick to my new plan, it'll take me longer to get through all of them, but I'll at least remember what I read!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Home Again

My family and I returned from our week-long relaxing vacation in Myrtle Beach. Plenty of sun and surf, some sight-seeing, some shopping and eating out. We stayed at a nice resort right on the beach with great amenities (indoor/outdoor pools, lazy river, hot tubs, condo-style accomodations with full kitchen, two bathrooms, etc.). No one got injured, or lost anything valuable, or spent too much on ticky-tacky souvenirs, or suffered from excessive sunburn. Driving to and from was uneventful - thanks be to God and St Christopher!

It was wonderful to be in a place where Spring was actually taking place, and not just a tease as it has been in Michigan the past three weeks or so. When we left Myrtle Beach Friday, it was 80 degrees. When we hit home yesterday afternoon, it was barely 40, and this morning, there was about a half inch of snow on the ground - which melted away by noon. Even still, it's good to be back home, snoring in my own bed.

So give me a some time to discover what's been happening in my little corner of Catholicism, and look for new posts in the coming days.

Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, April 4, 2008

South Carolina Bound

Leaving Saturday morning with the family for a week of Southern sunshine in Myrtle Beach.
Prayers for safe travel are greatly appreciated.
This is the first time we've been to Myrtle Beach. If anyone has tips/suggestions/experiences they'd like to share, I'm interested to hear them!

I'll be posting again in a week! Peace and God's blessings to everyone!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Not Your Typical Cow-Boy

By now, I'm sure most of you have heard of the cow-human embryo created in Britain. Through the use of computer-modelling and advanced technological methods, researchers have developed what such a creature may resemble:

Dr Who may have been prophetic in a way, from an episode in Season Three:

Job Opening in Michigan

Despite the rough economy, it's encouraging to see that there are still job opportunities in Michigan. The Dominican Sisters in Adrian, MI, a Wandering Tribe par excellence has an opening for a Director of Worship.

Applicant must also be familiar with the following examples of worship elements:
Colorful decorations

....and active participation....

....and interactive liturgies

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pennsylvania Pinhead's Policy Brings Bishop's Boycott

Archbishop Fulton Sheen allegedly once said: "If you want your children to lose their faith, send them to a Catholic school." Here's another example that fulfills his prophesy: Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, a so-called Catholic institution, invited Hillary Clinton to their campus for a campaign rally yesterday. Being located in Erie, AoftheA wonders if Sr Joan Chittister and her Wandering Tribe was somehow involved....

Thank God for Bishop Trautman and his courage to withdraw from the commencement ceremony this May. And hopefully the school president will grow a pair before the next election cycle. Very disappointing, such as where the article reports that "President Gamble had invited all major party presidential hopefuls to speak on campus, following the request of the Mercyhurst Student Government." Are the lunatics running the asylum? If the students are so eager to hear political candidates give a speech, hand them the remote and a bag of microwave popcorn.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dr Who returns to BBC for Season 4

OK, I know this is not keeping with the spirit of the blog, but from time to time, I'll post on other topics to show that my whole life is not about keeping eyes and ears open for the wolves in sheep's clothing. There has to be a balance, you know? And if Jimmy Akin can wax poetic on Battlestar Galactica, then who says I can't look forward to some brain candy of my own (I'm not comparing myself to Mr Akin, by the way. Just as an example....)

Well, anyways, Dr Who has been my favorite Science Fiction show (make that TV show) since the mid 80's when I stumbled across it on the local PBS station one Saturday evening, an episode featuring Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor. I was instantly hooked - and subsequently videotaped every episode that was aired, which included ones from Jon Pertwee (the 3rd Doctor) all the way to the final episode starring Sylvester McCoy (the 7th Doctor), originally aired in 1989.

For years there were rumors that the BBC, or maybe even an American production company, would revive the series. There was one rumor that mentioned Steven Spielberg would be the producer! But, they were only rumors.

Fox TV produced a (horrible!) movie for the small screen in the mid-90's, starring Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor. It garnered no interest, and all hope seemed lost.

Then, the BBC launched the series in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor, and it was a runaway hit, winning numerous British TV awards. Then, in the 1st season finale, the Doctor regenerated, and David Tennant assumed the role, as the 10th Doctor, and he returns for his third season, starting this Saturday, April 5th.
So, yeah, I'm pretty pumped the next season is about to start, even if it will only be shown in England on BBC, and won't air in the US until Sci-Fi picks it up for the summer. But that's okay - gives me an opportunity to practice patience and delay gratification. And the trailers at the website are pretty cool!

For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, click here.

I have to go now. There's a wheezing and groaning noise coming from the other room, sounding awfully like a time-machine....

It's all about the O...not!!

This story posted yesterday at CNA, revealing how some Catholics are way too enamored with the charisma of Barack Obama and are too willing to overlook and downright ignore his pro-abortion stance. Having the Rev Wright speak at the church isn't the overly offensive part. No, it's the absolute fawning over of the Democratic nominee-hopeful, and that activated my HADAR (see sidebar). Not once does the journalist ask Fr Michael Pfleger, the pastor of St Sabina's in South Chicago, how he can justify his support for The O given his record on abortion issues - instead the priest pontificates on how he's "...concerned by issues of poverty and issues of justice and equal access and opportunity especially when dealing with children and education and healthcare. Also, the war in Iraq is non-negotiable: end it! The faith community has to be a prophetic voice to bring us to where we ought to be as a country. Its voice should call every individual to be their best and not assimilate into anything less. Obama is calling back those who have given up and lost hope in the political system both young and old in the belief that we can fix it. He has the intellect for the job and I haven’t heard anyone since Robert F. Kennedy who is causing such an emotional and spiritual awakening to the political possibilities.”

The war in Iraq is "non-negotiable"? Hmmm, that doesn't show up on my list of non-negotiables. I see abortion, euthanasia, so-called gay marriage, embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning - all the things The O supports. But no war in Iraq.

Sounds as if this priest is bucking for a speech-writing job. If so, I hope Cardinal George reminds him that he has a job already, one that's quite a bit more important.