16 May 2009

Heaven thru Mississippi eyes

This is what Heaven looks like to an over-educated, home-sick redneck priest living in Rome!

My thanks to my most generous Book Benefactor, N.M., for making the purchase of this little piece of southern heaven possible. N., if I had a Jack Daniel's and Coke right now, I'd toast you.

Side note: I first heard of my fellow Mississippian, Larry Brown, while teaching English in China. I tuned into V.O.A. one afternoon and heard his beautiful southern accent twanging out over the airwaves and nearly cried. I taught one of his novels, Dirty Work, to my literature students when I got back to the U.S.

Another local boy made good: Barry Hannah. I had the great privilege of taking Barry's first creative writing class at Ole Miss in 1989. What I wouldn't do to be in a creative writing MFA program right now. . .ah well. . .

Using Notre Shame vs. the Obamanation

This is a fantastic idea. . .

"President Obama speaks at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday. What happens on Monday?"

Let's use the publicity of the Notre Shame scandal to raise money for N.D.'s pro-life activities:

The Monday Project!

15 May 2009

Literary Snob Turns Redneck for $7

I'll stand toe-to-toe with the snobbish European elite in a battle of literary tastes. I only read the best poetry and the best fiction. If the author isn't on his/her way to a Pultizer, a PEN/Faulkner, a Man Booker, or a Nobel, I don't read it.

Movies, on the other hand, are an entirely different story. My blue-blood literary elitism turns decidedly Mississippi-redneck when I shuck out $7 at the local Malco.

I have three criteria for movies I will pay to see:

Anything with aliens (the outer-space kind not the illegal kind)
Anything with lots of explosions
Anything with lots of exploding aliens.

I may need to add a fourth criterion: anything with giant octopi fighting giant sharks.

This I can't wait to see!

Mission accomplished

Mission accomplished!

I brought all of the intentions I received before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament this afternoon.

My thanks to all of you who promised to remember me in your prayers. Keep it up! Serious work on the prayer books is underway.

God bless, Fr. Philip, OP

We're becoming more pro-life!

Excellent news for the human race!

Gallup reports that for the first time in years more Americans are identifying themselves as pro-life rather than pro-abortion.

I wonder if the media will report that The Obamessiah is "out of touch with the American mainstream."


It's time for. . .Coffee Bowl Browsing!

Mark Shea spanks Dan Brown anti-Catholic bigotry. . .keep this handy for that blow-hard anti-papist uncle who shows up at summer family reunions

Several jokes about Jebbies, Dominicans, and other religious orders

Interview with an exorcist, Fr. Amorth

An e-breviary

Lay "blessings" at communion are a no-no

Demonic attack!

Darth Vader comes to Hitler's aid

I have no idea what this is. . .but it looks good!

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Answered by philosophers (my fav: "To die. In the rain." --Hemingway)

45 Tips for a happier life

Compendium of Cracked Conspiracy Theories (some R-rated stuff here)

Funny philosopher tee-shirts (warning: lots of "insider" jokes)

Filled with awe at the wonder of the universe

One of my fav poems to teach: "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"

Poetry so bad, it's good!

Obamanomics in action

Why do non-conservatives exist?

Great political cartoon
. . .it's amazing how one picture can explain things so clearly

Anti-terrorist training camp in Texas. . .I think I see some of my family there

14 May 2009

Coulter vs. the Burqa-ed Bobble-heads of MSM Broadom

I love Ann Coulter!

Liberal Taliban Issues Fatwa Against Miss California

[. . .]

From Jean-Paul Sartre, Pablo Picasso and Bertrand Russell, who treated women -- mostly their mistresses -- like dogs, to Teddy Kennedy and Bill Clinton in our own day, liberals are ferocious misogynists. They share Muslims' opinion of women, differing only to the extent that liberals also support a women's right to have an abortion and to perform lap dances.

You'd be better off in a real burqa than under the authority of a liberal American male.

I'm not sure we needed a psychological profile of Prejean to figure out why she holds the same position on gay marriage as: the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards and his mistress, and the vast majority of the American people.

But what is crying out for an explanation is why every bubble-head TV news anchorette from a nice, churchgoing red state ends up adopting the political views of Karl Marx.

From Katie Couric on CBS to Norah O'Donnell on MSNBC, the whole stable of TV anchorettes weirdly have the exact same politics as their liberal masters. It's the ideological burqa women are required to wear to work in the mainstream media. As with a conventional burqa, it enforces conformity and severely restricts the vision.

The only way to protect yourself is to do the liberal male's bidding, as the bubble-head anchorettes do, or stand on the rock of Christianity.

Now, another beautiful Christian has thrown off the liberal burqa, thereby inciting mass hysteria throughout the liberal establishment. Prejean doesn't care. She is blazing across the sky, as impotent nose-pickers jockey for a piece of her reflected light by hurling insults at her.

Watching even a few seconds of the MSM attack Carrie Prejean is an exercise is restraint. All of my old feminist anger rises to the surface in defense of women. The poisonous bile excreted by these people is demonic. How do people who label themselves "progressives" get away with these woman-hating screeds?

When I was in grad school, even the suggestion that a woman could be identifed solely on the basis of her body, her gender, her "role," her choices. . .any kind of parallel drawn between who a woman is and can be and any restriction or limit was attacked as hatred and denounced immediately as violence done to the humanity of women everywhere.

Watching the bobble-heads in the MSM these days--especially the women!--makes me want to dig around for my N.O.W. tee-shirts and charge the battery on my bullhorn. Who's holding these apes accountable?

Normally, that would be the job of the media and Professional Feminists. But they abandoned that duty when it became clear that defending women against the real dominance of men would mean attacking Democrat, President Bill Clinton. Thus, we see the depth and breadth of feminist outrage: as deep as a swift political calculation, as broad as their corrupt agenda to destroy us.

Pics from yesterday's Eucharistic Procession!

(L) Priests in procession. Typically, the OP's didn't know whether or not we should wear our cappas!

(R) Archbishop Burke and deacon

Happy, singing nuns! The Angelicum Choir. . .

Inside the Ss. Dominic and Sisto Church

Pics by Heralds of the Gospel

13 May 2009

Truth-telling is a dangerous business

[NB. For the life of me, I can't finish this homily. Maybe it's b/c I don't feel well. . .for whatever reason. . .it's not complete. . .but I pray it touches someone out there who needs it.]

5th Sunday of Easter: Acts 9.26-31; 1 John 3.18-24; John 15.1-8
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Convento SS Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Truth-telling is a dangerous vocation. If you are called to tell the truth about those in power—to those with some power over you—it can be a deadly vocation. The stark clarity of the undisputed fact, the sharp focus of a truth told with a convicted tongue—these pierce the intended confusion of a lie, slice through the chaotic twists of nuance, obstruction, deceit, and expose the tumorous heart of falsehood: the drive, the compulsion to hate. Such a violent passion, based as it is on the desire to love, is not lightly angered. To stir up hatred with the white light of truth is an act of courage—knowing fear, you tell the truth nonetheless. And like a patient who bucks against the pain of surgery, or an animal caught in a trap that bites at its owner in blind fury, a liar cannot bear for long the furious pain that truth causes. He will bite back. Truth-telling is medicinal, liberating, and ultimately salvific for both the speaker and the hearer. But what must both have in order to benefit from the truth? What must be present in each for the truth to settle, flourish, and bear good fruit?

For the speaker, an honest tongue speaking without pretense. For the hearer, open ears ready to listen and obey. And we can even reverse that: a speaker with ears ready to listen and obey and a hearer ready to speak without pretense. The point being that there is no difference between hearing the truth spoken and speaking it yourself. There is no difference between speaking the truth and hearing it spoken. He Who is present in the hearing and the speaking is the same One who is Truth both spoken and heard. The lie derails the truth when the speaker pretends to speak something else and when the hearer pretends to hear something else. The only reason for derailing the truth is hatred. The hearer, the speaker wills evil for the spoken to and for the one who speaks. The branch is cut from the vine. The vine is cut from the root. The root is pulled from the ground. And the whole plant dies. How is this disaster avoided? The ground in which truth thrives must be firmer than our desire for truth. In other words, that which motivates our love for truth must be stronger than our awareness that truth is necessary. It is not enough that we long for truth. It must be the case that we die without it…and that we know this.

The truth will set you free. Not: the truth will make you happy. Not: the truth will please you. Not: the truth will confirm your prejudices. The truth will liberate you; set you free; release you from the lies of sin; show you the gates of divine obedience and dare you to open them; the truth will set you free and piss you off; you will be freed and angered…for no other reason than that your notion of freedom is so tiny, so limited, so restricted and cramped. Do you think “freedom” is about making choices? Or about “choosing options”? Really? Do you seriously believe that your freedom…your eternal freedom in the Word made Flesh is about picking A, B, or C? And having that choice honored as “just as good as any other”? Really? Is that the gospel? Is that what Christ died for?

Listen again: “You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” A branch cannot bear fruit on its own. How many branches have you seen floating out in space near a fruit tree? You cannot, I cannot, none of us can bear the truth of the faith floating out in space away from the branch, away from the Body. We must have as a core-foundational element of our very being a commitment to the gospel rooted in obedience, the Good News that transforms the world by its very declaration: the proclamation of Truth Himself.

What happens when the Word of Truth rings out over human history, over just one nation, one people, even just one person? A choice is made: live free in the truth, or die chained to a lie. If you choose life, you will flourish even as you are hounded, persecuted, and possibly killed. Your choice will enrage the worshipers of death. The chains they wear sparkle like jewelry in their eyes. They count their freedoms with the chain-links from the stake to the yank of the choke-collar. If you choose life and preach the good news of life in Christ, the death cultists will mark you as an enemy of liberty. And only the right to choose to kill is more sacred to them than the limitless absolutes of moral license. If you choose death, you too will flourish; you will flourish as a minister of death, preaching the gospel of moral rot, diseased reason, extolling death’s greatest act of mercy: the necessity of killing the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly for no other reason than that these bothersome accidents tend to cause the most unfortunate inconveniences to your standard of living. Having accepted that the death of another person is no real problem for your peace of mind, it is a simple thing for you to conclude that it is in fact much better that someone should die than it is for you to risk that even the shortest life might inconvenience you. When killing is the solution, no problem is too small. And since the last killing is much easier than the first one, it is simply better to get on with it.

Paul debated the Hellenists and they tried to kill him. This fact alone bore sufficient witness to the veracity of his ministry that the disciples in Jerusalem accepted him as an equal. The best testimony to Paul’s power as an apostle was given by his enemies.

[. . .]

12 May 2009

Make a choice, people...the time is ripe...

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

10 May 2009

Questions for Those Discerning a Religious Vocation

A couple of commenters and a few emailers have suggested that I write a book or some posts on the Dominican religious vocation.

My upcoming prayer book has a couple of Dominican themed litanies/novenas and a novena for discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

For those who don't want to wait until Sept for the prayer book, here's a post from back in January 2009 about discerning a vocation:

What basic questions should those discerning a religious vocation ask themselves?

I get a lot of questions from younger readers about vocation discernment. For the most part, they want to know how they know whether or not they have a religious vocation. I wish it were as easy as drawing blooding, testing it, and announcing the result. If horse had wings, etc. Here are three cautions and a few questions to ask yourself:

Three Cautions

Suspend any romantic or idealistic notions you might have about religious life. Religious orders are made up of sinful men and women. There is no perfect Order; no perfect monastery; no perfect charism. You WILL be disappointed at some point if you enter religious life. You are going to find folks in religious life who are angry, wounded, bitter, mean-spirited, disobedient, secretive, and just plain hateful. You will also find living saints.

Do your homework. There is no perfect Order, etc. but there is an Order out there that will best use your gifts, strengthen your weaknesses, and challenge you to grow in holiness. Learn everything you can about the Order or monastery you are considering. Use the internet, libraries, "people on the inside," and ask lots and lots of questions. Vocation directors are not salesmen. For the most part, they will not pressure you into a decision. They are looking at you as hard as you are looking them.

Be prepared to do some hard soul-searching. Before you apply to any Order or monastery, be ready to spend a great deal of time in prayer. You will have to go through interviews, psychological evaluations, physicals, credit checks, reference checks, transcript reviews, retreats, and just about anything else the vocations director can think of to make sure he/she knows as much about you as possible. Think of it as penance.

Practical Advice

If you are considering religious life right out of undergraduate school, consider again and again. Get a job. Spend two or three years doing some unpaid volunteer work for one of your favorite Orders. These help you to mature spiritually and will make you a better religious. Most communities these days need folks with practical life-skills like managing money, maintaining cars and equipment, etc.

If you have school loans, start paying them back ASAP! For men, this is not such a huge problem b/c most men's communities will assume loans on a case by case basis when you take solemn vows. For some reason, women's communities do not do this as much. Regardless, paying back your loans shows maturity. I was extremely fortunate and had my grad school loans cancelled after I was ordained! Long story. Don't ask.

Don't make any large, credit-based purchases before joining a community. Cars, houses, boats, etc. will have to be disposed of once you are in vows. Of course, if you are 22 and not thinking of joining an Order until you are 32, well, that's different story. But be aware that you cannot "take it with you" when you come into a community.

Tell family, friends, professors, employers that you thinking about religious life. It helps to hear from others what they think of you becoming a religious. Their perceptions cannot be determinative, but they can be insightful.

Be very open and honest with anyone you may become involve with romantically that you are thinking of religious life. One of the saddest things I have ever seen was a young woman in my office suffering because her fiance broke off their three year engagement to become a monk. She had no idea he was even thinking about it. There is no alternative here: you must tell. Hedging your bet with a boyfriend or girlfriend on the odds that you might not join up is fraudulent and shows a deep immaturity.

Be prepared for denial, scorn, ridicule, and outright opposition from family and friends. I can't tell you how many young men and women I have counseled who have decided not to follow their religious vocations b/c family and friends thought it was a waste of their lives. It's sad to say, but families are often the primary source of opposition. The potential loss of grandchildren is a deep sorrow for many moms and dads. Be ready to hear about it.

Questions to ask yourself:

What is it precisely that makes me think I have a religious vocation?

What gifts do I have that point me to this end?

Can I live continent chaste celibacy for the rest of my life?

Can I be completely dependent on this group of men/women for all my physical needs? For most, if not all, of my emotional and spiritual needs?

Am I willing to work in order to provide resources for my Order/community? Even if my work seems to be more difficult, demanding, time-consuming, etc. than any other member of the community?

Am I willing to surrender my plans for my life and rely on my religious superiors to use my gifts for the mission of the Order? In other words, can I be obedient. . .even and especially when I think my superiors are cracked?

Am I willing to go where I am needed? Anywhere in the world?

Can I listen to those who disagree with me in the community and still live in fraternity? (A hard one!)

Am I willing join the Order/community and learn what I need to learn to be a good friar, monk, or nun? Or, do I see my admission as an opportunity to "straighten these guys out"?

How do I understand "failure" in religious life? I mean, how do I see and cope with brothers/sisters who do not seem to be doing what they vowed to do as religious?

What would count as success for me as a religious? Failure?

How patient am I with others as they grow in holiness? With myself?

I can personally attest to having "failed" to answer just about every single one of these before I became a Dominican. I was extremely fortunate to fall in with a community that has a high tolerance for friars who need to fumble around and start over. In the four years before I took solemn vows, there were three times when I had decided to leave the Order and a few more times when the prospects of becoming an "OP" didn't look too good. I hung on. They hung on. And here I am. For better or worse. Here I am.

Archbishop Burke on the Culture of Death

Archbishop Raymond Burke lays out the Catholic resistance to the Culture of Death!

6. Over the past several months, our nation has chosen a path which more completely denies any legal guarantee of the most fundamental human right, the right to life, to the innocent and defenseless unborn. Our nation, which had its beginning in the commitment to safeguard and promote the inalienable right to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" for all, without boundary, is more and more setting arbitrary limits to her commitment. Those in power now determine who will or will not be accorded the legal protection of the most fundamental right to life. First the legal protection of the right to life is denied to the unborn and, then, to those whose lives have become burdened by advanced years, special needs or serious illness, or whose lives are somehow judged to be unprofitable or unworthy.

7. What is more, those in power propose to force physicians and other health care professionals, in other words, those with a particular responsibility to protect and foster human life, to participate, contrary to what their conscience requires, in the destruction of unborn human lives, from the first or embryonic stage of development to the moment of birth. Our laws may soon force those who have dedicated themselves to the care of the sick and the promotion of good health to give up their noble life work, in order to be true to the most sacred dictate of their consciences. What is more, if our nation continues down the path it has taken, healthcare institutions operating in accord with the natural moral law, which teaches us that innocent human life is to be protected and fostered at all times and that it is always and everywhere evil to destroy an innocent human life, will be forced to close their doors.

8. At the same time, the fundamental society, that is, the family, upon which the life of our nation is founded and depends, is under attack by legislation which redefines marriage to include a relationship between two persons of the same sex and permits them to adopt children. In the same line, it is proposed to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. At the root of the confusion and error about marriage is the contraceptive mentality - which would have us believe that the inherently procreative nature of the conjugal union can, in practice, be mechanically or chemically eliminated, while the marital act remains unitive. It cannot be so. With unparalleled arrogance, our nation is choosing to renounce its foundation upon the faithful, indissoluble, and inherently procreative love of a man and a woman in marriage, and, in violation of what nature itself teaches us, to replace it with a so-called marital relationship, according to the definition of those who exercise the greatest power in our society.

9. The path of violation of the most fundamental human rights and of the integrity of marriage and the family, which our nation is traveling, is not accidental. It is part of the program set forth by those whom we have freely chosen to lead our nation. The part of the program in question was not unknown to us; it was announced to us beforehand and a majority of our fellow citizens, including a majority of our fellow Catholics, chose the leadership which is now implementing it with determination. For example, I refer to our President's declared support of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would make illegal any legislation restricting procured abortion; his repeal of the Mexico City Policy, permitting U.S. funding of procured abortion in other nations, together with the grant of fifty million dollars to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities which, for example, supported the Republic of China's policy of one child per family by means of government-dictated sterilization and abortion; his proposal to rescind the regulations appended to the federal Conscience Clause, which assure that, not only physicians, but also all health-care workers may refuse to provide services, information or counsel to patients regarding medications and procedures which are contrary to their conscience; his removal of limitations on federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research, involving the wholesale destruction of human life at the embryonic stage of development; and his choice of the members of his administration, who are remarkable for the number of major officials, including several Catholics, who favor the denial of the right to life to the unborn and the violation of the integrity of marriage and the family. These are only some examples of a consistent pattern of decisions by the leadership of our nation which is taking our nation down a path which denies the fundamental right to life to the innocent and defenseless unborn and violates the fundamental integrity of the marital union and the family.

10. As Catholics, we cannot fail to note, with the greatest sadness, the number of our fellow Catholics, elected or appointed by our President to public office, who cooperate fully in the advancement of a national agenda was is anti-life and anti-family. Most recently, the appointment of a Catholic as Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has openly and persistently cooperated with the industry of procured abortion in our nation, is necessarily a source of the deepest embarrassment to Catholics and a painful reminder of the most serious responsibility of Catholics to uphold the natural moral law, which is the irreplaceable foundation of just relationships among the citizens of our nation. It grieves me to say that the support of anti-life legislation by Catholics in public office is so common that those who are not Catholic have justifiably questioned whether the Church's teaching regarding the inviolable dignity of innocent human life is firm and unchanging. It gives the impression that the Church herself can change the law which God has written on every human heart from the beginning of time and has declared in the Fifth Commandment of the Decalogue: Thou shalt not kill.

[. . .]

24. In the present situation of our nation, a serious question has arisen about the moral obligation of Catholics to work for the overturning of the Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. There are those who would tell us that such work is futile and, therefore, is to be abandoned, so that we can devote ourselves to help prevent individuals from choosing abortion. As Catholics, we can never cease to work for the correction of gravely unjust laws. Law is a fundamental expression of our culture and implicitly teaches citizens what is morally acceptable. Our efforts to assist those who are tempted to do what is always and everywhere wrong or are suffering from the effects of having committed a gravely immoral act, which are essential expressions of the charity which unites us as citizens of the nation, ultimately make little sense, if we remain idle regarding unjust laws and decisions of the courts regarding the same intrinsic evils. We are never justified in abandoning the work of changing legislation and of reversing decisions of the courts which are anti-life and anti-family.