24 April 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Interview with dissident priest about the new archbishop of L.A. brings joy to the hearts of faithful Catholics everywhere!

Labour gov't expresses predictable elitist-lefty contempt for the Holy Father:  proposes in a planning document for the pope's UK visit that BXVI bless a SSM and launch a papal brand of condoms.

A quick look at the new AZ anti-illegal immigration law. . .no, it doesn't require everyone to carry proof of legal status; no, it doesn't legalize racial profiling; no, it doesn't create a police state.  What it does do is empower state police to enforce existing federal immigration law. . .something the current occupant of the White House seems loathe to do.

Law prof speculates on why Crdl. Mahony opposed the AZ law using terms like "Nazi" and "Communist."

Fascinating article on how the Nazi regime (the actual Nazi's) in Germany fabricated a pedophile-priest scandal in order to silence Church opposition to the demonic agenda.  I don't see any parallels at all to the current media frenzy. . .nope, none at all. 

"So long as boomers make decisions in the media, we'll be stuck with documentaries extolling the 1960s counterculture. . ." and the sad manifestos of dinosaur dissidents sinking in the tar pits of their failed ecclesial revolution.

On the inherent dangers of yard-work in an alternative universe.

A story in pics:  a plane, a bear, and some duct tape.  Redneck engineering my father would be proud to claim as his own.

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Life's little ironies. . .

 Oh, the irony. . .

I just an email from the Liguori marketing folks informing me that my second prayer book is featured in a magazine ad.

The magazine?


Follow HancAquam ------------>

What I Learned on the Psych Ward

One of the early lessons I learned as the Team Leader of an adolescent psych unit is that teenagers crave limits.  They hate limits.  They push and push and push. . .but, in the end, they want to know what's right and what's wrong.

My first shift staff and I could always tell when another shift had been lax in enforcing the milieu's routine.  The kids would be hyperactive, demanding, and making frequent visits to the time-out room at the staff's direction.  A few questions here and there and we would discover that a new staff member on another shift had bent the rules, or a PRN nurse had tried to undermine the authority of the staff, etc.  

Like clockwork, one of the kids would "go off."  A fight would break out, or someone would start beating the wall of his/her room, etc.   When verbal re-direction didn't contain the acting out, staff would physically intervene with a "take-down" and remove the kid to the special care unit to cool off.  In order to discourage other episodes of acting out, additional staff from the adult unit would arrive and help us to settle things down.  In a very short time, the unit was back on track and all was well.

In our Team Leader meetings we would discuss this phenomenon at length and all agree that the maintenance of milieu routine was vital for unit safety.  Despite this, some staff--nurses and therapists mostly--continued to bend the rules, disrupt routines, and reveal treatment team plans for discharge and visits.  In other words, they were the parents who could not say "no" and mean it.  Their inability to stand up to the limits-pushing by the kids endangered the unit and our patients' successful treatment. 

Another lesson I learned early on:  do not hire education, psychology, sociology, or social work majors for milieu staff positions.  They tended to see themselves as Messiah figures who would save the kids by just listening to them and trying to understand them.  Of course, the kids manipulated the living daylights out of these suckers.  Instead of hiring self-anointed saviors, I hired business majors and athletes--people who understood the need for rules and discipline but who also encouraged the kids to do their best given their circumstances.  It also helped to have four or five 300 lbs. football players around when our gang members decided to "get buck."

Follow HancAquam ------------>

23 April 2010

Liturgical Abuse, or Let the Church say, "Make it new!"

In the early 20th century, the American crypto-fascist ex-pat poet, Ezra Pound, issued a three word manifesto that came to define the modernist movement in poetics:  "Make it new."  Reacting to what he saw as the calcified conservativism of formal verse in the West, Pound urged poets to strike out into unexplored poetical territories and bring to the art of the image and line the perpetual revolution of novelty for novelty's sake.

Pound's orders were faithfully followed by his loyal troops and the hydra-headed monster of modernist poetry laid waste to traditional versification.  The influence of his revolution of novelty was not limited to the arcane practices of poets.  Novelists, dramatists, artists, musicians, dancers, architects, all heard the call of "make it new" and went about deconstructing centuries of subtle, complex beauty with the fierce simplicity of the single, powerful image. 

As any Catholic who has witnessed the dissolution of our faith's liturgical heritage can attest, Pound's revolution had no respect for the Church or her treasures.  The central document outlining the Second Vatican Council's plan for liturgical renewal, Sacrosanctum concilium, was snatched by Poundian revolutionaries in the Church and used to dismantle the 500 year old tradition of worship in the Catholic faith.  Pope John Paul II, and to a much greater degree, Pope Benedict XVI, have mitigated, if not yet entirely reversed, the lasting damage done to the liturgical heritage of the Church by insisting on the organic development of liturgy and the need to read the Council documents with a hermeneutic of continuity.   What remains of the Novelty Revolution lies mostly in the misplaced creative efforts of priests and religious who, for whatever reason, see it as their vocation to make sure that the Church's worship remains "relevant" and "up to date." 

By placing relevance and novelty above organic development and continuity, liturgical Poundians ignore the historical and ecclesial nature of the liturgy and privilege their subjective cultural assessments above the real spiritual needs of their charges.  The widespread phenomenon of liturgical abuse is an insidious form of clericalism that encourages those with clerical power to use that power to inflict their private preferences, political agendas, and ideological quirks on congregations powerless to stop them.  Though Catholics have seen a dramatic decline in liturgical abuse in the last twenty-years, abuses still occur, and in some places, abuses are the norm.

Liturgical abuse comes in three varieties:

1).  a misplaced emphasis on the immanent at the expense of the transcendent
2).  the elevation of the purely intellectual at the expense of the affective/experiential
3).  an emphasis on the local at the expense of the universal

(NB.  there is absolutely nothing wrong with the liturgy expressing the immanent, the intellectual, or the local.  The problem is an emphasis on these aspects at the expense of their balancing opposites.)

Immanent vs. transcendent

In reaction to the over-clericalization of the medieval liturgy, Poundians worked hard to redirect our liturgical attention to the presence of the divine among us.  Initially a necessary reform, this redirection quickly became a foil for all-things-transcendent.  The most notable example of this abuse is the almost-disappearance of the notion of the Mass as a sacrifice.  In order to displace the over-hyped role of the priest, Poundians turned the Mass into a communal meal, distributing the larger portion of the priest's role to the community and making Mass all about bringing the community together.  We still see this happening in the unnecessary use of communion ministers; the priest refusing to use to presider's chair; folksy language used to replace liturgical language; and the illicit use of gender-inclusive language.

Intellectual vs. affective

Many older Catholics lament the demise of traditional devotions after Vatican Two.  In an effort to bring our undivided attention back to the celebration of the Mass, Poundians waged war against devotional practices.  Seen as private, affective luxuries, devotions were railed against as willful acts of rebellion against the need to build community through individual "active participation" in the Mass.  Modernist innovations in the secular arts always required some knowledge of the theory that produced the art.  Pollock's paintings only make sense if you understand what he is trying to do in the context of traditional painting techniques.  Poundian liturgical revolutionaries were quick to dismiss criticisms of their innovations with ringing calls for more catechesis--more education would somehow diffuse the overwhelming discomfort most Catholics felt when confronted with disruptive, alien liturgical practices.  We still see the intellectual being privileged over the affective in abuses like monologues on the meanings of liturgical symbols; an insistence on equating stark, barren sanctuaries with "noble simplicity"; the deconstruction of traditional church architecture as a way of embodying ideas about the nature of community; and the dumbing down of liturgical language so that immediate cognitive understanding trumps the more profound experiences to be found in elevated language and ritual.

Local vs. universal

As part of the effort to undermine a universally told story about the faith, Poundians began emphasizing the need for more and more local options in the celebration of the liturgy.  Citing the Council's call for inculturation, the "Make it new" crowd attacked the notion that our liturgical worship connects us to a historically-bound narrative of God's Self-revelation; in other words, their novelty revolution would not tolerate a liturgy that privileged tradition as the clearest lens through which the Church understands her historical relationship with God.  Building on the growth and spread of subjectivity and relativism, the Poundians latched onto a rarefied notion of the local church ("this church-community") and opposed it to the universal Church as the most authentic expression of catholic identity.  This move allowed them to argue for more and more specificity, more and more idiosyncratic innovations in how the liturgy was celebrated at the parish level.  It quickly became commonplace for parishes to be identified by their "worship-style," and even Masses celebrated at different times within the same parish were described in terms of style.  This abuse is most clearly seen in so-called ethnic parishes where attempts are made to accommodate the dominant culture of the parishioners (Latino, African-American, Vietnamese) at the expense of the universal story of our faith. (NB. not all cultural accommodation is necessarily an abuse; abuses are always perversions of allowable uses.)

Liturgical Poundians are on the decline.  Like their counterparts in literature, the excesses of novelty for novelty's sake have proven that the revolution has no underlying principle of restraint, no intrinsic limits.  What counts as "new" is itself subject to the whims of those deemed avant-garde enough to define the term.  Poundians have been rightly criticized for becoming staid, predictable, and highly orthodox in their privileging of a late-20th century liturgical aesthetic. Anyone who has clashed with a professional liturgist knows that the principles they espouse are as plastic as they need to be to justify the preferred worldview of the liturgist.  Rubrics, magisterial documents, liturgical law, tradition, all form a  repugnant canon to those who see it as their sacred ministry to shape the liturgical lives of the less enlightened.

Though it is not entirely clear that young Catholics will embrace the ancient liturgical tradition of the Church in large numbers, what is clear is that the age of experimentation is over.  Novelty for the sake of novelty is an exhausted project.  Deo gratis!

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Atheist-turned-theist, Anthony Flew: RIP

One of the most prominent atheists-turned-theists in the 20th century, Anthony Flew, has died.

Prof. Flew was an exemplary philosophical critic of theism during his decades of intellectual toil.  He was widely respected by theists for his charitable argumentation and willingness to debate w/o the P.R. fireworks of rabble-rousers like Dawkins and Hitchens.  Like most British philosophers of his generation, he wrote with startling clarity, precision, and careful attention to the ideas of his opponents--again, in stark contrast to the New Atheists.

Late in life he came to embrace the existence of God based on the so-called "fine-tuning argument."  Though he did not espouse any particular form of sectarian theism, he noted in his last book, There Is a God:  How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind,* that, if pressed, he would be comfortable with a deistic understanding of Christianity (something like 19h century Anglican-Unitarianism, perhaps?).

Young theistic philosophers and theologians should be encouraged to study his early atheistic work with an eye toward honing their skills in answering sensible objections to basic theistic arguments.  
May he rest in peace. 

* Be sure to read the review comments on the Amazon site.  You will get a taste of the venom spewed by atheists who felt betrayed by Flew's conversion.  The god of reason that atheists claim to honor is little in evidence.

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Being a woman is no guarantee. . .

"If only women could be priests, we wouldn't have all this abuse and these cover-ups!"

Well, women can be priests in the Episcopal Church. . .and, sorry, but it appears that being a woman doesn't magically guarantee moral certitude or intestinal fortitude:

According to the Miami New Times, “When parents discovered the man’s criminal record, [the Rev.] Allen-Faiella failed to take immediate action, so the school’s principal, Carol Shabe, forcefully confronted the pastor, demanding that the man’s school access be revoked at once….” According to the report, the school principal had to ask Allen-Faiella two more times to take Sypnieski’s keys away from him before Allen-Faiella would take action. Parents and donors withdrew support for the school in reaction to the pastor’s behavior; and Pastor Allen-Faiella fired the school principal Carol Shabe later that year for “divisiveness.”

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Abortionists covering for rapist

Two undercover videos exposing workers at a National Abortion Federation clinic in Kentucky conspiring to cover up statutory rape and giving out medical misinformation.  Since the MSM has shown so much compassionate of late toward children and teens abused by Catholic clergy, we can no doubt expect widespread and detailed coverage of these videos.  It's "For the Children," after all.

Follow HancAquam ------------>

22 April 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Icelandic volcano jokes:  "It was the last wish of the Icelandic economy that its ashes be spread over Europe."

It may be time for informal logic textbooks to remove "the slippery slope" from their fallacies list. 

The voice of GEICO's Gecko gets fired for being a jerk. 

"This report isn't bad news for the Democrats. It's Armageddon." 

Blago goes BOOM! all over B.O.  Blacked-out portions of a subpoena request issued to B.O. reveal some interesting allegations.

Child sex slavery among Muslim Afghan warlords. . .will the MSM coordinate an effort to expose this criminal activity for the sake of the children?  No.  Muslim Afghan warlords aren't Catholic clergy, so the NYT/CNN/etc. don't care.

What a history of the American progressive movement leaves out

Uncle Jack, lead singer of the death metal band, Satan Spew, lovingly cradles his nephew.  I think someone needs to take him out into the yard with a box of Tide and a tire brush and hose him off.

The epic battle of the Squirrelasauruses!

When art and nature collide. . .let the wailing begin.

Collective nouns for mythical creatures:  "An opulence of succubi"

Analogies and metaphors from high school Shakespeares:  "She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef."
Follow HancAquam ------------>

File Under: If You Tell a Big Lie Long Enough. . .

 A catalog of errors/retractions/hidden declines in the on-going deconstruction of the Global Warming myth:

H/T:  Hot Air

Follow HancAquam ------------>

A guest post: why not communicate babies at baptism?

A guest post from a former student, Jason Surmiller:

There has been a lot of talk recently about retracting the indult that allows Catholics to receive in the hand. This I believe is a good idea and if it ever happened it would re-enforce the fact that we are being fed as if we were babes in the woods. This brings me to the point that I would like to explore, why not when we baptize our babies, also commune and confirm them. There is no real good theological reason to stagger them out like we do now.

I would submit that babies like adults have no real conception of the Real Presence and how the sacrament works; it is beyond our ability to comprehend. The sacrament is a mystery to us. We may grasp at its meaning but like taking communion in the hand, we reach for something that is beyond us. So if we give ignorant adults access why not babies. Additional in their state of innocence they are far better prepared to receive than an adult is on most Sunday’s.

Don’t we want the best for our babies that best being the Lord in the Eucharist? We would be feeding them the Bread of Life. Like the old adage says, we are what we eat. Remember by doing this we would be returning to an ancient custom, which is retained by the Greek Catholics in Union with Rome . Would the first communion gift industry go kaput? Yes it would. Would Sunday Schools suddenly be left with no students? Probably not but if kids were only showing up to get the magic cookie (which I do not think is necessarily the case, one has to remember parents like to go to IHOP in peace on Sunday) then what are we offering at Sunday School that parents think the end goal is just communion or confirmation preparation .

Babies receiving the Eucharist would remind us that nothing we have done merits our reception of the Sacrament but the Grace of God. Just because we are a certain age does not make us worthy. Just because we can recite the Our Father and Hail Mary does not make us prepared.

Since babies after baptism are closer to a state of original justice then an adult why not receive like a baby. But if a baptized baby does not receive then we do not have to imitate this most pure of God’s creation. Just to mention Confirmation, why do we put this off, are we trying to create a Catholic bar mitzvah. Why not give the new bundle of joy that Grace of God also. It would seem we would be well served to Baptize, Commune and Confirm our babies. They need all the help they can get as they live in this world. We give all three sacraments to converts and a lot of the converts go through RCIA programs that give less than an orthodox understanding of the Sacraments. Why not babies? 

Follow HancAquam ------------>

21 April 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Re-design for the $100 bill. . .one of the stranger monetary practices in Italy is the tendency of clerks to round down your bill in order to avoid having to make "small change."  For example, a package arrives with a 7.83 euro customs charge.  I give the postal clerk 8.00 euro; he gives me .20 euro change.  The Italians don't like to sweat the pennies!  

Just great!  That Klingon volcano in Iceland is rumbling again.  It's looking like it will take the airlines here in Europe 'til mid-June to clear their backlogged flights.  I wonder if there's a Miami-bound cruise ship leaving from Naples anytime soon.

When it comes to trusting the government, the phrase nullius in verba--"take nobody's word for it"--makes a great philosophical statement:  "It's a solid maxim for any free-thinking people. So let's not treat some nutritious doubt as if it were a bad thing."

At the opening of the most recently aired episode of American Idol, the show's host, Ryan Seacrest, said, "Every time you vote on American Idol, you change lives."  True.  You help to change living children into dead children.

George Weigel spanks Hans "Look At Me" Kung: "You are an obviously intelligent man; you once did groundbreaking work in ecumenical theology. What has happened to you? What has happened, I suggest, is that you have lost the argument over the meaning and the proper hermeneutics of Vatican II. That explains why you relentlessly pursue your fifty-year quest for a liberal Protestant Catholicism, at precisely the moment when the liberal Protestant project is collapsing from its inherent theological incoherence."  Ouch.

Laxist vs. Rigorist heresies in the history of the Church. . .nothing new under the nave.

"Crowded elevators smell different to midgets."  Best comedy one-liners.  NB.  some of these are R-rated. 

Inglorious Grammar B*stards!

"I was thrown from my car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows."  A site for all the stupid things that people say.

A slightly different description of Christianity.  Yes, words matter.

"A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France resulted in Linoleum Blownapart."  Puns, wordplay, malapropisms:  lexophilia.

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Dealing with Doubt

How can I overcome doubt?

Why do I doubt?

Is doubt dangerous for my spiritual health?

The answers to these question are, in order:  Yes, Depends, and Not Necessarily.

There's not a soul on the planet who hasn't entertained a doubt or two about his/her faith.  The apostles, great saints, popes, theologians, philosophers, even ordinary folks have had and have doubts about the most basic insights of our faith.  In some ways, being a Christian is the easiest thing on earth to be.  But when it comes to truly understanding what it means to follow Christ is all about, the doubts can rack up fast.

Let's start by defining "doubt."  Here's the definition from the Cambridge Dictionary of American English"a feeling of not knowing what to believe or what to do, or the condition of being uncertain."  Good basic definition.  Let's leave alone for now what it means "to feel that one doesn't know."  The key here is that there is some sort of confusion about the correctness of a belief, or some uncertainty about what one ought to do in a given situation.  We could add to the defintion: a lack of faith, an absence of conviction, a spirit or habit of questioning.  Synonyms would include: ambiguity, disbelief, distrust, dubiety, faithlessness, hesitancy, incertitude, incredulity, indecision, irresolution, perplexity, qualm, reluctance, skepticism, suspicion, and wavering. You get the idea.  

With these definitions and synonyms it is easy to see why most of us think that doubt opposes faith and why doubting would be dangerous to one's faith.  But not all doubt is created equally.  Not all doubt is a foil to faith.  The Catechism is clear on this point:  "Voluntary doubt [VD] about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt [ID] refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness"(n. 2088).  VD is the willful act of rejecting a truth of the faith.  ID arises out of intellectual dissatisfaction with how the truth of the faith is taught and defended.  ID can become VD if it is "deliberately cultivated."  Notice the two essential qualifiers that make doubt sinful:  voluntary and deliberately.  In order for doubt to lead to "spiritual blindness," your uncertainty about a truth of the faith must be chosen as a result of deliberation. 

To reinforce this distinction the CCC goes on to define incredulity "Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it"(n. 2089).  Incredulity has three ugly children:  heresy, apostasy, schism.  These three are what happens when you choose VD and act on it:  you knowingly and willfully believe/teach error; renounce the faith; and separate yourself from the Body of Christ.  Obviously, for a Catholic, VD is serious business.  Most of us do not entertain this level of doubt.  If we did, we wouldn't be all that worried about how to overcome the temptations to doubt the faith.

Most of our anxieties about doubting the faith arise involuntarily.  A family member sends a link to an anti-Catholic website that lists the gross sins of the Roman papacy.  A friend reports on a book that reveals the occult origins of the Mass.  A pamphlet left on the windshield at church interprets the Book of Revelation in a way that demonstrates that the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon.  The circumstances of our involuntary doubt are probably more personal than this. I don't feel the presence of God.  Do I really believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass?  Why did God allow my child to commit suicide?  My son is gay and I'm told that I should reject him, but I can't.  My sins are so bad that not even God can forgive them.  These are all doubts I've heard expressed before.  Real doubts that real Catholics experience and threaten to undermine their faith.

So, what can be done?  

First, don't panic!  Having a doubt about the faith is something akin to suffering from acne.  Even when you are past the worst of it, it will occasionally pop up again.  Don't do anything drastic as a cure.   Put your heart and mind in prayer and wait.  Just wait. 

Second, separate your emotions from our thinking.  Emotions are pretty fine, perfectly natural.  But in times of crisis, emotions can lead to imprudent action.  What you need immediately is a clear picture of exactly what it is that you are doubting.  How we think and feel are intimately bound together.  Anxious feelings lead to anxious thinking and vice-versa.  The process of teasing out how you feel from how you think is helped along by a spiritual director, friend, pastor, etc.  

Third, try to get a clear idea of what it is that you are doubting.  It helps to distinguish between intellectual doubts and emotional doubts.  Intellectual doubts arise when the logic or reasoning of your faith is challenged.  For example, an atheist friend points out a flaw in how you understand the power of prayer.  Or, you discover the often unpleasant history of the Church.  Emotional doubts arise when you encounter rejection, abuse, or some other distressing event in your faith life.  For example, a priest refuses you communion b/c you are divorced.  Or, you are angry at your bishop for his confessed role in covering up your pastor's history of sexual abuse.  Doubts arising out of strong emotions are the most difficult to deal with b/c they do not readily submit themselves to rational evaluation and treatment.  

Fourth, once you are certain about the nature of your doubt, take action to address it with the best tools you have available.  If your doubt is intellectual in nature, assume that you are misunderstanding the teaching you are having doubts about and begin to do some research.  Check facts.  Make the proper distinctions.  Consult those who may know more.  Suspend judgment for as long as possible. If you are too quick to accept as true the objections made to the faith, you might want to evaluate your motivations for doing this.  Has your friend given you an easy out, and you're taking it because you find the teaching too difficult to live with?  Sometimes it is just more convenient to move into voluntary doubt and incredulity than it is to seek out the truth.  If you doubt is emotional in nature, sit down with someone and talk it out.  Be as angry as you need to be.  God is a big boy and he knows your heart.  The Psalms are not exactly free of angry outbursts directed at God!  Get to the bottom of your feelings by being honest.  Most of the time, I've found that people who are angry with the Church over some issue are really angry about something else entirely.  The event that they claim to be angry about turns out to have been a trigger.  The woman who is angry about the way the Church treats divorced Catholics is really angry about her family's rejection of her new husband.  It's just less complicated to cuss at the Church.  This doesn't mean that your emotion response is always about displacement; it means that your doubt cannot be overcome if you cannot be honest about what it is that's bugging you.

Fifth, all of the steps above assume that you are committed to resolving your doubts, regardless of their cause and nature.   If, even in the face of the worst possible doubt, you remain committed to resolving the problem, then you can be at peace b/c that commitment alone speaks volumes to the strength of your faith.  If you are not committed to resolving your doubts, then you won't do any of the above steps and your doubt won out long before you gave it much thought.  So, what happens if you are absolutely committed but cannot resolve the doubt?  I will answer that question with a question:  what is motivating your commitment even though you have failed to resolve your doubt?  

Probably the most important thing to remember about the faith is this:  we believe in order to understand.  Modernist culture has flipped this and made understanding a prerequisite for belief.  If you wait around for absolute understanding before believing, you will be waiting long past your funeral.  Faith is the good habit of trust.  Trust is a risk.  For us, to believe, to trust, to have faith are all gambles.  We trust our kids to daycare.  We believe that our CPA won't steal us blind.  But we know that the daycare could hire a molester and that the CPA could be an embezzler.   Fortunately, our faith is given to One Who has never failed, never lied, and will always keep His promises.  There is no gambling here, no risk.  We may feel that we are risking everything and we may think that we are gambling everything, but where there is no chance of failure, there is no danger of losing. 

Follow HancAquam ------------>

20 April 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

On conflating anti-government political movements:  anti-democracy vs. anti-Big government, or "Timothy McVeigh was no Tea Partier"

Rhode Island's bishop, Rt. Rev. Thomas Tobin orders his hospital to withdraw its membership from the pro-ObamaCare Catholic Hospital Association. 

Bishop Brant of Greensburg, PA refuses to allow dissenting sisters a place in his upcoming diocesan vocations promotional material.  The Sisters of St Joseph in his diocese were signatories on the pro-ObamaCare letter NETWORK. 

Yes, it is still dangerous to be TOO Catholic in some seminaries. . .no worries, though. . .the clock is ticking on the Burlap Vestments & Felt Banners Hegemony.

Mahony throws the Nazi Card when describing the recently passed immigration reform law in AZ.  Yea, that helps. 

Unable to find any anti-Tea Party protesters at a T.P. rally, the local "news" station creates a few

A very weird way to die. . .

Follow HancAquam ------------>


My summer plans have blown up in my face.

Starting from scratch. . .@#$%!

UPDATE:  looks like a solution is in the works. . .

Follow HancAquam ------------>

19 April 2010

On the dangers of telling the truth

3rd Week of Easter (T)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma


Stephen stands accused of blasphemy before the Sanhedrin. He faces conviction and execution. Rather than backtrack on his earlier remarks, Stephen goes for broke and tells the truth: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit [. . .] You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.” Like most people who are told an uncomfortable truth, the crowd is none too happy; “they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him.” At this point in the confrontation, Stephen's lawyer should have objected and called for a recess. His publicist should have released a statement to the media clarifying his remarks and calling for calm. Then Stephen could have called a press conference a few days later and apologized for his apparent intolerance, announcing that he was checking into into rehab for substance abuse treatment. All would have been forgiven. But b/c Stephen is filled with Holy Spirit and unable to lie, he says, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” And b/c the crowd hates the truth and will not hear it, “they cry out in a loud voice, cover their ears, and rush upon him together.” Stephen is stoned to death, dying with the name of Christ on his lips, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. . .do not hold this sin against them.” Had his executioners been paying attention, they would have understood Stephen's death as a sign of God's presence; they would have received his dying words as a gift freely given. 

On a day sometime before Stephen faces his own hostile crowd, another group confronts Jesus with a demand: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?” It's important to understand what they are asking for here. They aren't interested in words of wisdom, or profound teaching. They don't want a clever exegesis of the Law. The crowd is demanding a miracle, a performance that can only be explained as an act of God. And not just any old miracle but one that benefits them immediately. They note that God gave them manna in the desert. So, they want Jesus to do the same. They want concrete, irrefutable—and dare I say it, edible—proof that Jesus is who he says he is. Rather than promising them additional farm subsidies, or a new government food program, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” Eat this bread and never hunger; believe in me and never thirst. This is not the miracle they were hoping for.

Stephen, somewhere along the way, heard and believed. He ate the bread of life and drank from the cup of salvation. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and went out to preach the Good News. The crowd clamoring for his blood didn't see Stephen as a miracle, as a sign of God's presence. They saw a blasphemer, a condemned heretic. They wanted humble contrition from him, but they got the truth. Like the crowd that demanded a concrete sign from Jesus, they wanted a sign from Stephen that their lives were not about to be turned upside down. They wanted consolation, assurance, a guarantee that they everything they thought they knew about God was just right. Stephen disappointed them, so did Jesus. They got the truth, and it set their teeth on edge.

The crowds that gather before the Church now haven't changed in 2,000 years. Neither has the truth. Stephen didn't apologize nor did he clarify his remarks. Jesus didn't do any magic tricks nor did he argue a thesis. Confronted by demanding mobs, Jesus and Stephen do exactly what they were sent to do: they spoke the word of truth for all to hear. Stephen forgave his killers even as he died, revealing the way of mercy. Jesus reveals the way to salvation, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

*I've had one report that this file hosting site tried to upload a virus.  Please let me know if this happens to you.  Monday's homily has been d/l'ed 46 times and there's only been one report so far.

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Coffee Bowl Browsing

U.S. reputation on the rise in the rest of the world. . .given the state of the rest of the world, this is not news to celebrate.  I wonder if the rest of the world realizes that the American foreign aid goodie baskets they are addicted to will disappear when the U.S. economy collapses.  

The Left needs racism. . .here's why.  This is not to suggest that there are no genuine racists out there; there are.  But no one takes these yahoo's seriously, so they don't serve the Left's purpose in smearing your average conservative American voter as a racist.

I haven't commented on the latest circus antics of Chicago's Fr. Hollywood b/c there's little doubt I could manage to keep from cussing. 

HA!  Great letter to the editor. . .from a drunken sailor.  (H/T:  Chris Johnson)

Folks, please, be very, VERY careful with stuff like this.  Remember:  Jesus himself said that he doesn't know the day or time of his return.  If Jesus doesn't know, we don't either.

In Malta, the Holy Father calls the Church a "wounded sinner."  For those who know nothing about the Church (e.g. the media), this sounds like a monumental confession.  Those of us in the Church know that this a long-standing and perfectly accurate description.  

B.O. tells California voters that Barbara Boxer might lose her Senate seat in 2010.  Ah, that's a shame.  Frankly, I think Babs needs a break.

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Posting suggestions

A mille grazie to all those HancAquam readers who requested post-topics.  

Of the topics requested, there were six that I feel qualify to post something about. 

Some will require a bit more research than others, so I will tackle the more familiar topics first.

This week look for a post on "Dealing with Doubt."  If time permits, I will also put up a post on the limits of clerical creativity while celebrating the Mass.
Again, merci beaucomp!

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Novice of the SDP. . .Congrats Rudy!

Congratulations to Mr. Rudy Barba of El Paso, TX!  Rudy was admitted to the Southern Dominican Province's novice class of 2011 over the weekend.  He and his novice classmates will begin their novitiate in Irving, TX sometime in August.  I will post a pic of the full class once one is available from our vocations promoter.

Rudy is a former student of mine from U.D.  He was given the arduous task of being my campus ministry intern, i.e. "the one who made sure my over-caffeinated squirrel brain was focused just enough to get something done."  Rudy is a good friend, and now he will be a great brother!

Please pray for him and his novitiate brothers. . .

As you can see from this pic, Rudy possesses the most telling characteristic of any Dominican friar. . .he likes to eat!  However, he is too skinny to be entirely trusted.  ;-)
Follow HancAquam ------------>

In Government We Do NOT Trust

A chart for my non-U.S. readers. . .this is why the Tea Party Movement is growing. . .this is why ObamaCare is so unpopular:

Public confidence in government is at one of the lowest points in a half century, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they don't trust the federal government and have little faith it can solve America's ills, the survey found.

[. . .]

The survey found that just 22 percent of those questioned say they can trust Washington almost always or most of the time and just 19 percent say they are basically content with it. Nearly half say the government negatively effects their daily lives, a sentiment that's grown over the past dozen years.

Follow HancAquam ------------>

Podcasting is back!

Back by popular demand. . .Podcasting!  Or, something very similar. 

I found a free audio hosting site for my homilies.

We'll see how it goes!

Follow HancAquam ------------>

18 April 2010

Working for food that endures

3rd Week of Easter (M)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma


When an organization loses sight of its purpose, its leadership will come together and hammer out a mission statement, a declaration of the institution's goals, a description of its overall reason for being. More often than not, these statements are packed full of vague verbiage, lofty rhetoric, and completely unrealistic, if not outright unachievable, objectives. If the mission statement isn't simply ignored by the worker-bees of the organization, it is usually mocked or only quoted in the breach. Human resource trainers take it very seriously, but not many others do. The lesson for all involved is that refocusing the machinery of any organization to achieve its basic mission is tough work. The Easter season is not only a time for the Church to celebrate our Risen Lord, it is also a time for us to reconsider our mission as the Body of Christ and focus again on essentials. The crowd surrounding Jesus asks him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” That's our mission: to believe in the One God sent to us.

All that we do, say, think, feel, everything that we are flows out of our belief in Christ Jesus as the One sent by God to grace us with eternal life. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in their teaching on divine revelation, Dei verbum, tell us that God reveals Himself to us in scripture, through created realities, and, perfectly, in the words and deeds of Christ. They also tell us why He revealed Himself. Our Father unveils Himself for us in order to proclaim to us that "[He] is with us to free us from the darkness of sin and death, and to raise us up to life eternal”(4). To put this another way: the purpose of scripture, of creation, and of Christ himself is to show us, uncover for us, our Creator's mission among us: our freedom from sin and our lives with Him for eternity. Our mission is to believe His revelation and carry on doing the good works of God according to His will.

How do we do this? How do we carry on with God's work? Jesus says first we must believe in him. Why? How does believing in him first change the character of our good works? Good works are good works, right? Yes and no. Good works are good works. True. But note what Jesus says to the crowd: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life. . .” So, what distinguishes between “working for food that perishes” and “working for food that endures”? The distinction is made real when we believe that the work we do enacts God's revelation to His creation; when we think, act, feel in ways that show that God is working out our redemption through Christ Jesus. This is how we know and all who see and hear us know that the food we work for is food that endures, food given to us by the Son of Man for our eternal lives. If our good works are done for prestige, political advantage, public reputation, or money; if our good works are done out of any motivation but the working-out of God's revelation to us, then we work for food that perishes. 

Luke tells us in his Acts that “Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.” Those who opposed his work could not withstand his wisdom b/c the Spirit was with him. When they brought him before the men of the Sanhedrin on charges of blasphemy, the men “saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” Stephen did not work great wonders and signs on his own. He didn't perform tricks to impress the gullible, or to build a profitable reputation for himself as a prophet. He worked as one who embodied divine revelation; he showed out God's holy purpose for His creation. Like Stephen, our mission, our goal is straightforwardly simple: show everyone that God is with us to free us from sin and death and to bring us all to eternal life. This is food that endures.

Follow HancAquam ------------>