22 December 2010

Amongst the squirrels again. . .

I made it home.  Only four hours late.  The trip here was. . .interesting. . .I'll tell the whole story once things are settled in Louisiana.

A piece of travelers' advice:  never, never, never accept a voucher from an American airline in exchange for changing your reservations to fly on an Italian airline.  Never.  Ever.

Merry Christmas!

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17 December 2010

Last Coffee Bowl Browsing of 2010

OK. . .one more CBB!

No royal wedding invitation for B.O.

Hmmmm. . .Cuba banned Micheal Moore's "documentary" on its health care system.  Apparently, there are some leftists with a little shame left.

"Sustainability" on the campus. . .BIG waste o'tax dollars.

Mao is the greatest mass murderer in human history.

BXVI on the limits of the historical-critical method in Biblical interpretation.  H-C has its uses, but it can't be the only method used.  I prefer the more literary Patristic methods of interpretation.

The Manslator!  Using a patented FemLogic chip this device translates FemSpeak into ManSpeak.

Feline jihad. . .

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Winging my way home. . .

Venturing out into the cold, wet Roman morning. . .headed to Fiumicino.  Three hour layover in Atlanta and then on to Memphis!  

Travel reports from N. Europe aren't good.  Looks like the U.K. is getting snowed in.  Glad I'm not changing flights at Heathrow.

Mom and Pop tell me that the squirrels miss me reading to them.  Ahhh. 

Homilies, Coffee Bowl Browsing, etc. will pick back up again after Jan. 15, 2011.


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Snow in Rome!

Frs. Rick, Dominic, and Philip Neri

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Being members of the family of God

NB.  I laid around in bed 'til 6.00 this morning, so this homily is a little more muddled than usual.

3rd Week Advent (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

My paternal grandmother was a genealogy machine. Give her a name and a basic family relationship—aunt, cousin, sister-in-law—and she could calculate exactly how that person was related to everyone else in the family. On occasion, I would try to trick her by making up a complicated relationship to see if she was really as good as she seemed. She never missed. It was an amazing talent nourished by the great southern tradition of knowing “who your people are.” Of course, American southerners aren't the only ones who cherish this tradition. Knowing your family, your tribe, the history of your house is as old as creation. The most basic decisions in one's life can be made based on who you are within a family, within a nation. Who inherits the property? Who gets married? Who takes care of the children if the mother of a family dies? Who is expected to serve in the temple, the Church? We are who we are largely because of who our family is and who we are in that family. Genealogy is more than just a science of calculating familial relationships; it's the art of picking yourself out of the crowd so that you can be part of the crowd without losing your unique place among those you love and those who love you. When we hear Jesus' genealogy read aloud at Mass every December 17th, we are reminded again that he was and is a member of a family, an extraordinary individual who belongs to history, a man who is deeply rooted in the long, long story of Jewish people's history with God. And because we are heirs to His kingdom, Jesus' family history is our family history. Quite literally, we are the sons and daughters of the Father.

Knowing our family roots in the generations that precede us is vitally important to knowing who we are right now. But the work of the Church is not done in the past. We are not charged with spending our time and energy looking back to Achim, to Eleazar, to Ahaz. Our work is done today and tomorrow. We have the roots of the Jewish people firmly grounding us in the story of God's creation. We have the sturdy trunk of Jesus' preaching and teaching to support us when the Enemy comes against us. We have the thriving branches of our Church family to spread out and grow, reaching out and up to declare the Good News. And we have each one of us—the leaf, the flower, the seed—taking in the graces our Lord gives us, feeding the whole tree and bearing witness to His abundance. Our work as members of God's family is to flourish in His mercy and love and to make Him known to every tribe, every nation and people. With roots growing back to the day of creation, we are to spread out and plants the world's fields with the seeds of the Word. This is who we are in God's family. This is what we do as His sons and daughters. And our inheritance is nothing less than eternal life.

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16 December 2010

Updates, etc.

Many thanks for the prayers for my father.  He will likely have surgery before Christmas.  Nothing life-threatening.  Please, keep storming heaven anyway!

Add my maternal grandfather, Clyde, to your prayer list.  He was born the year the Titanic sunk.  Over the weekend, he suffered a mild heart attack.  I will see him and my grandmother for the first time in about five years over Christmas.

I leave for the U.S. on Saturday (18th).  Long Christmas vacation in MS before heading south to LA to be a parish priest for the first time in my life. Pray that the rioting students and strikers stay home.

Several HancAquam readers have asked me what I need for Christmas.  Honestly, nothing. . .other than the prayers requested above.  If you are so moved to send me something more material, the Wish List is always full.  :-)

I've embarked on a serious attempt to trim down.  At 46 and 320lbs., I am WAY too fat.  Being in the U.S. will only make this untenable situation worse.  No tricks, gimmicks, etc.  Just plain ole calorie counting and increased exercise.

There will be one more homily post before I leave Rome.  I have the English Mass in the morning.  After this, no more homilies 'til things get started in LA in mid-Jan 2011.  Internet access in MS is very limited, so comments, emails, etc. will be received but probably not answered for at least a month.  

As always, I appreciate my readers and pray for you everyday at Mass! 

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15 December 2010

More Roman rioting from Tuesday

The poster of the video below claims that the gov't infiltrated the protesters and started the riots in order to give the police an excuse to crack some heads. Entirely possible, even probable. Of course, it could be the case that the "gov't agents" are really communist agents pretending to be policemen so that the protesters can later claim that it was the police who started the riot. 

[Insert infinite regress. . .]

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Rome is burning! (again. . .)

It's good to see that the Pretty Boys of the Carabinieri got a little dirty. . .

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14 December 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Rome riots!  If you know anything about Rome's almost 3,000 year history, you know that rioting here is a fine art.

A short BBC vid of the rioting.

Why does the Church need a new English translation of the Missal?  'Nuff said.

Atheists are doing believers a huge favor in Ft. Worth.  

Lame Duck Dems offer a 1,924 pg. $1,100,000,000,000 budget. . .no review, no debate.

Manufacturing "hate crimes" at Harvard.  NB.  Christians were blamed for this.

". . .at opposite ends of Europe, Islamist radicals continue to probe for weak spots where they may carry out their atrocious acts."  And all of Europe is a weak spot.

The CIA, the LAPD, and the FBI go rabbit hunting. . .

Harry Potter. . .ermmmm, I mean hairy potter.

Kids tell us the naked truth about dating and marriage.

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Chant: Benedicamus Domino

Roman Catholic chant sung by an Orthodox master. . .

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Old Roman Catholic Chant: Popule meus

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13 December 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Great!  VA federal judge declares the individual mandate of ObamaCare unconstitutional.  The link includes the 42 pg. decision.  It is well worth the read--clear, concise, and persuasive.  

Key points of the judge's decision summarized.  Bottomline:  Congress cannot regulate commericial inactivity.  Duh.

Euro debt crisis caused "accidentally on-purpose" in order to expand E.U. political control?  I wouldn't be surprised at all.

A lefty HuffPo blogger/ColumbiaU prof was recently arrested for having an incestuous relationship with his adult daughter.  Given the Supreme Court's decisions on same-sex relationships and current litigation around SSM, this question was inevitable:  should incestuous adult relationships be illegal?  (Fair warning:  this article is not obscene but it deals frankly with the legal issues of the question.)

". . .report details the rise of a secularist attitude in European societies that increasingly leads to intolerance against Christian beliefs."
10 Manly Christmas gifts for the men in your life.

Is the Church skeptical of Marian apparitions?  Yes, she is. . .and she should be.  Everything necessary for salvation is contained within scripture and taught by the Tradition of the Church.  Apparitions are "extra" and never necessary.

Good vs. Evil comic:  Zombie Jesus!  Not sure what to think about this.  It combines two of my fav subjects--Jesus and zombies. 

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Are you ready to die for that answer?

3rd Week of Advent (M)/St Lucy
Fr. Philip Neri Powell
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

The chief priests and the elders are growing more and more frustrated with Jesus. At every turn, he manages to spoil their efforts to discredit him. He beats them at their legal game. He outperforms them at their religious game. He's certainly more politically popular among the common people. All of these defeats at the hands of a disreputable preacher from a backwater town are really starting to sting! Finding him teaching to a large crowd in the temple area, the priests and elders decide to go for the gold medal and ask a very basic question, a question that should either establish Jesus' credentials or expose him as a fraud: “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” You can almost hear the frustration in these questions. What exactly are these men after? What answers are they hoping for? Of course, Jesus is too smart by half to answer them directly. He already knows that the question is a trap, so he answers with his own question, “Was John's baptism of heavenly or human origin?” Now they are stuck! If they say that John's baptism was heavenly in origin, then his preaching about Jesus is true. If they say that he baptism was human in origin, then these men face an angry mob of John's supporters. Given these options, the priests and elders say, “We don't know.” Since they don't know the answer or won't give an answer, Jesus refuses to address their question about his authority to teach and perform miracles. In other words, he refuses to reveal himself as the Word made flesh, the Word authored by the Father and sent with His authority to preach the Good News.

Now, no doubt the priests and elders are just a little curious about this reckless prophet who's going around upsetting the rules of their playground. They are certainly frustrated by their failed attempts to expose Jesus as a fraud. But it is telling that they willing to confront him directly about the origins of his authority. They risk an outright public declaration from Jesus that he is the long-promised Messiah. Once spoken, such a claim is explosive; it cannot be unspoken. Once revealed—true or false—the claim will have to be addressed. The religious and political rulers will either have to accept Jesus' authority and see their world turned upside-down, or reject his authority and risk a violent reaction from the mobs that follow this preacher around. They opt for the predictable politicians' response: do nothing and hope to keep their jobs and their lives. It should go without saying that this sort of response is not what God demands of us. Hedging our bets for and against the Christ is no hedge at all. We either accept his authority, or we reject it. We follow, or we walk away. 

Half-measures, hedged bets, lukewarm hearts will not get us any closer to Christ. In fact, standing on the sidelines of the Way, watching from a safe distance, will get us nothing more than left behind. If the priests and elders were to ask you, “By what authority does Jesus do these things? And who gave him this authority?”—how would you answer? Are you ready to die for that answer? Because regardless of how you answer, you will be called upon to defend yourself. . .to death or all the way to eternal life.

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10 December 2010

Prayer Request

Please add my dad, Glenn, to your prayer list. . .

He got some bad health news yesterday.  Nothing fatal but nothing good either.


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Coffee Bowl Browsing

The number of waivers from the insurance mandates of ObamaCare is doubled in just two weeks.   Lesson:  if you have to free businesses from your mandates in order to avoid disaster, then your mandates are probably inherently disastrous.

More "unintended consequences" of ObamaCare:  Orphan drug discounts canceled.

The "science" is settled!  Global Warming fundamentalists partying in Cancun sign petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide. . .that's water (H2O).   Meanwhile, Paris receives its largest snowfall since 1987.

Speaking of the Church of Global Warming:  BXVI on the "new polytheism" and the dangers of paganism.

Louisiana school board (rightly) rejects an attempt to have creationism included in biology textbooks.  Religion is not science.  Thanks be to God!

Lots of student rioting in London. . .apparently, asking them to pay for part of their education is riot-worthy.

B.O.'s bud in Venezuela allows Iran to place missiles within range of the U.S.  Fortunately, the Iranians will only allow Chavez to use in the missiles "in case of emergency."  Whew.

Just how radical is Pope BXVI?  Pretty radical, dude!

The next generation plots its fiscal revenge

Calvin & Hobbes pit their wits against the raging elements

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Listen, follow, act

2nd Week Advent (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

To the prophet Isiah the Lord says, “I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.” The Psalmist echoes this truth when he writes, “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.” Developing the idea even further, Jesus says to the crowds, “. . .wisdom is vindicated by her works.” The Lord leads. We follow. And wisdom is upheld in His deeds. If there's a formula to living in Christ, this is it: Go where the Lord leads; do what He asks; and the truth of His Word will manifest in the fruit of our works. This sounds so easy, so straightforward. But we all know how often things go so horribly wrong. Jesus gives us a good reason for our frequent failures. Instead of listening to the Lord and following Him, we prefer to do the talking; we prefer to lead Him where we want Him to go. Needless to say, this is the formula for spiritual disaster.

Speaking to the crowds, Jesus compares his generation to children in the marketplace who complain that no one dances to their music, no one mourns when they sing. The people of this generation accuse John the Baptist of being possessed by a demon b/c he neither eats nor drinks. When Jesus eats and drinks with sinners, they accuse him of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors. Like the children in the marketplace who whine b/c no one dances to their tunes, those who hear John and Jesus preach reject what they hear b/c it's not what they want to hear. Perhaps we shouldn't be too quick in condemning the crowds. John and Jesus are preaching some difficult truths: repentance, humility, charity, and obedience. There's little here to soothe a sinners' mind, almost nothing attractive to a heart steeped in sin. Regardless, let's not miss out on Jesus' principal concern. By accusing both John and Jesus of the same crimes for different reasons, the people of this evil generation expose a deeply seated unwillingness to listen to, follow after, and uphold the wisdom of God. John and Jesus are preaching a consistent message of repentance and salvation. The stubborn crowds are living lives of destructive contradiction. In other words, when the heart and mind are divided against themselves, truth cannot take hold and thrive. 

If you hope to be a follower of Christ and not just a fan, you will unite your mind around the light of life; you will close your heart around the radical openness of God's love. When we listen to, follow after, and act on the Father's wisdom, we will not only be made whole, we will be vindicated—upheld and glorified as Christ himself is glorified.

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07 December 2010

Mary: most noble resting place of the Holy Trinity

The following bit of meditative history on the I.C. is from the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy:

8th December
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Hail Mary, full of grace’. For thousands of centuries, millions of times per day the Virgin Mary is greeted by the faithful with the greeting of the Archangel, that we hear resonating a new in today’s Gospel. The sons of the Church learn from the words of the Archangel Gabriel that the fullness of the mystery of God’s grace was realised in Holy Mary. St Paul, the Apostle teaches us that the Father made all fullness dwell in His Incarnate Son (c.f. Col 1:12-20), which overflows from Christ’s head and spills out on His Mystical Body that is the Church. Before descending in Body, Christ’s fullness was spread in a unique and unrepeatable way on Mary, predestined from eternity to be the Mother of God.

Significantly in the first reading, the liturgy recalls the figure of Eve, the mother of all the living. The Father’s of the Church saw in Mary, the new Eve that unties the knot bound by the first woman. The knot of disobedience tied by Eve, was untied by the obedience of Mary. As Eve was created in purity and integrity, also the new Eve was miraculously preserved from the contamination of original sin because she had to give humanity the Word, who was incarnated for our ransom.

Saint Irenaeus compares the virginity of the pure earth from which Adam was drawn to the virginity of the immaculate humanity of Mary from which the Second Adam was drawn. ‘And as the protoplast himself Adam, had his substance from untilled and as yet virgin soil (for God had not yet sent rain, and man had not tilled the ground (Genesis2:5)) so did He who is the Word, recapitulating Adam in Himself, rightly receive a birth, enabling Him to gather up Adam [into Himself], from Mary, who was as yet a virgin’. (Adversus hereses III, 21:10 http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/index3.htm)

Blessed Pope Pius IX on the 8th December 1854 proclaimed the Dogma of the faith revealed by God that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin" (Denz. – Schonm, 2083). If the official proclamation of the dogma is relatively recent, the profession of faith by Christians and the liturgy is very ancient in this regard. Furthermore, four years later the same Virgin Mary, appearing in Lourdes to St Bernadette, confirmed the truth of the doctrine by presenting herself with the title ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’.

Mary’s predestination to this singular grace – consistent with the suspension of the universal degree by which every man, from the moment of his conception is contaminated with original sin – leads us to ponder in the deepest depths the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity’s salvific plan. God, One and Triune had foreseen from the very beginning the future incarnation of the Word cumulating in the redemption of human nature that had fallen into sin. He therefore predestined pure Mary, so that He could draw from her uncontaminated humanity, which the Son could adopt in order to re-establish in Himself the original purity of creation and reorientate it to eternal glory.

For this reason, in the second reading of today’s liturgy, St Paul reminds us that God wants to see us holy and immaculate before Him. The purity of our origins seamed to be irredeemably lost. However, in Immaculate Mary, God found the perfect solution to reverse the disaster made from the misuse of our liberty, and returned humanity to the original purity that seamed hopelessly lost.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception is a direct consequence of her Divine Maternity. St Anslem of Aosla wrote: ‘Assuredly, it was fitting that the Virgin be beautified with a purity than which a greater cannot be conceived, except for God's. For, toward her, God the Father was so disposed to give His only Son was naturally one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Virgin.’ (De conceptu virginali et originali peccato, XVIII)

This link between the privilege of Divine Maternity and Mary’s Immaculate Conception results also in her superiority with respect to us. She is a perfect image of the Church in heaven, the new triumphant Jerusalem, that won’t have any marks nor will there be pain and death. This is why today’s preface recites: …she was to be a worthy mother of your Son, your sign of favour to the church at its beginning, and the promise of its perfection as the bride of Christ, radiant in beauty’. Also in heaven Mary isn’t or will ever be only a disciple, but her Son’s most exalted. She is and will always be the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of the Angels and Saints. Therefore, the preface of the Mass adds: ‘…You chose her from all creatures to be our advocate with you and our pattern of holiness.’

Mary was Immaculate because she had to be the Mother of God. She, herself has received the original grace of purity and the final state of the blessed life that we also, by collaborating with Divine Grace, hope one day to receive.

Immaculate Mary is full of grace. She is not only Christ’s disciple, that with the help of grace has overcome the chains of sin, but she is totius Trinitatis nobile triclinium, the noble resting place of the Holy Trinity (St Thomas Acuinas, Exposito Salutatioris Angelicae, I). The Immaculate, full of grace will always be Mother and Queen for that elect part of the Church that we hope one day to join, that will one day will joyfully sing in front of the Almighty.

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06 December 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Everything you've always wanted to know about the forensics of Zombie Headshots.  

Life imitating art:  man is decapitated at a chicken factory. . .this was an episode of Bones a few years back.

Tolerant, freedom-loving leftists in Spain pitch a hissy fit b/c a Cardinal of the Church is invited to speak at a university in Madrid.  Apparently, "dialogue" and "free expression" are only available to those who agree with these petulant adolescents.

Science vs. religion. . .someone doesn't know their history.  Science gave us nuclear weapons.  Religion gave us Mother Theresa.

Sometimes "science" makes ya stupid.  Or rather, the ideological usurpation of science makes you stupid.

Best headline of the day:  "No Country for Burly Men"

Survival Guide:  tracks you need to know

Understanding the engineer in your life 

"The easiest way is always mined."  Army quotes for everyday life

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Because of you they will be healed

2nd Week of Advent (M)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

A paralyzed man is brought to Jesus for healing. The man's friends, unable to get through the crowd surrounding Jesus, lower him from the roof through the ceiling. Seeing an opportunity to not only reconcile a sinner to God but to teach the Pharisees a lesson, Jesus does what no one but God Himself can do: he forgives the poor man's sins. Predictably, the Pharisees start murmuring among themselves and quietly accusing Jesus of blasphemy. In answer to these accusations, Jesus says to the man, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” And he does. Just like that. His sins are forgiven and his disability is healed. Luke reports that those who witness this miracle are seized with astonishment and glorify God, saying, “We have seen incredible things today.” Now, this event may not seem so incredible to us b/c we've been reading about it for some 2,000 years. That Jesus healed the sick as part of his ministry is hardly astonishing to us. That sin is part and parcel of physical illness is not really all that shocking anymore either. What might get missed in the telling of this miraculous story is the fact that Jesus forgives the man's sin not b/c the man himself has faith sufficient to justify absolution but b/c the man's friends show their faith in the authority of the Son of Man to forgive. When Jesus sees the faith of the man's friends, he says, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” 

While we are focused on the miraculous healing and the public rebuke of the Pharisees' disbelief, we might miss one of the more theologically significant points in this story: forgiveness of sins can be obtained by someone other than the one forgiven. Unlike the blind man who was healed when he professed his faith in the Lordship of Christ, the paralyzed man never utters a word. We have no indication of his faith, no way of knowing whether or not he believed that Jesus was capable of restoring his legs to good use. All we know is that his friends believed and their belief was strong enough to compel them to go to great lengths to get their disabled friend in front of Jesus. For all we know, the disabled man did not believe. He have may even been actively disbelieving! It makes no difference. Jesus heals him because—that is, in virtue of—the astonishing faith of those who love him. 

This miracle tells us a lot about the nature of faith and the power of intercessory prayer. First, faith is contagious. Its benefits are not immediately limited to believers alone. Second, interceding on behalf of a loved one, even an unbelieving loved one, can work miracles. Third, the authority of the Son of Man to forgive sins extends over all, believers, non-believers, and those who actively disbelieve. And finally, knowing all of this to be true, those of us who follow Christ are charged with putting our faith to work for those who do not believe. Knowing that our faith can merit the forgiveness of another person's sins, how can we fail to intercede on their behalf? How can we fail to share the fruits of the faith we ourselves have been given?

Who in your life is paralyzed by sin? Who needs the healing touch of Christ's forgiveness? Use your faith to intercede for them. Lower them through the ceiling to rest in front of Christ and allow those whom you love to be infected by your divine gift of trusting in God. Christ will see them, and because of you, they will be healed.

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04 December 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Italian deacon commits suicide after he is denied priestly ordination.  I think the fact that he kills himself is a sure indication that he was emotionally/spiritually unfit for ordination.  Please pray for the repose of this young man's soul!

UN "Global Warming" conference in Cancun opens with a prayer to the Mayan moon goddess.  While these neo-pagan globalists are partying in the tropics, northern Europe is buried under record snowfall. It's 30 degrees in Rome this morning.

Quick!  Someone tell Arnie. . .Skynet is born!

WOW.  A rather scathing report on the bishops' conference in England & Wales. 

FCC power grab over the internet.  I'm not really worried about this.  The second these regulations become inconvenient for web surfers there will be a tsunami of protests.   Prepare the lawyers for deployment!

Some very smart, very thought-provoking commentary on the Repeal Amendment

A blog of blogs (religion, philosophy, psychology). . .NB.  Some of the blogs linked are not Catholic-friendly.

Were combat troops adequately represented?  Casting serious doubts on the Pentagon's troop survey about repealing DADT. 

Remember when Bush and the GOP were the "enemies of science"

Methinks Kitty sees Zombies sneaking up on you

How to make sure that the seat next to you remains empty

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Dominican Snowball Fight!

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03 December 2010

Faith for all the blind to see

St. Francis Xavier
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

In this age of instant celebrity, it seems more than a little strange to us that Jesus would perform a healing miracle and order those whom he healed to keep the event quiet. These days, the miraculous restoration of the sight of two blind men would attract an incredible amount of media attention, skeptical commentary, and calls for scientific verification. We'd watch theologians, philosophers, and physicians endlessly debate the healing, while Jesus fought off attempts by the government to charge him with medical malpractice and fraud. Of course, none of this would have happened in first century Israel. At the most, Jesus could expect some unwanted attention from the religious authorities and a dramatic increase in the size of the crowds that followed him around. Since his ministry among the poor, blind, lame, and possessed was already drawing attention and the crowds growing daily, it seems more than a little strange that Jesus would command the healed men to be silent about their healing. Isn't the whole point of Jesus' healing miracles to provide evidence of the divine nature of his preaching mission? No, that's not the point at all. In fact, the healing miracles have little to do with providing evidence for Jesus' ministry. 

If Jesus' healing of the blind men was meant to provide evidence for the truth of his claims to be the Son of God, then the events of the gospel story this morning would have been very different. The men would have approached Jesus asking for proof of his divine powers. Jesus would have healed them and then asked, “Do you believe that I healed you?” The newly sighted men would have replied, “Yes, we believe!” And then Jesus would have sent them off to spread the news of his healing ministry. Instead, we get just the opposite. First, the men approach Jesus, addressing him as “Son of David,” begging him to show them compassion by curing their blindness. Then Jesus confirms their faith by asking if they they believe he can heal him. They answer, “Yes, Lord.” Yes. Lord. Before Jesus ever touches the men, they acknowledge his identity as the promised Messiah, giving him his due as their Lord. Only after this profession of faith does Jesus lay hands on them, saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Faith first, then healing.

Jesus “warns them sternly” to be silent about this miracle. Why? It's possible that our Lord wants to keep his identity a secret for a while longer. He might want a little more time to establish himself as a serious preacher before rumors start flying that he is just another one of the many crank magicians or street prophets clogging the cities of Israel. The more likely explanation is that Jesus understands better than we ever can that the most profound healing that can occur to any sinful creature is the healing of our fallen relationship with the Father. From a righteous relationship with God flows all other forms of “rightness,” including physical health. By definition there can be no evidence that compels faith. Good evidence—miracles, for example—might weaken skepticism about God but trust in God comes entirely from His gift of faith and our conscious decision to practice this virtue. Jesus' order to these men to be silent about their healing is his way of saying to them, to the crowds, and to us that faith must precede righteousness. When we say, “Yes, Lord,” we must say it in the absence of compelling evidence and sometimes despite the evidence. Faith based on experience is not faith at all; it's simply a good bet, a gamble that one good experience will likely lead to another. 

First comes faith, then righteousness. This is the order of salvation in Christ Jesus. Our lives in Christ will be a witness to this proper ordering. And that will be miracle enough to bring all the blind to sight.

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01 December 2010

Misbehavin' in the college classroom

Professor Bainbridge has an interesting post up about how profs should manage classroom misbehavior in a college setting.

I remember one philosophy prof of mine flinging an eraser at a frat boy when he popped open a copy of the newspaper (ca. 1983).  And I remember another philosophy prof demanding that all the guys in class remove their caps.  

I started teaching undergrad English in 1987, long before laptops and wireless internet access became university entitlements.  The daily campus newspaper often made an appearance on desktops (the non-cyber kind), but my classes were always heavy on reading and discussion.  Also, I was rather free and eager in calling on students to answer questions.  

During summer sessions at U.D., facebooking, etc. became a problem, so I started calling on the miscreants to read aloud and explicate passages from the assigned readings.  After being called on for the third time in a row, the offenders usually got the point and stopped the nonsense.  

Any war stories from profs/students on bad classroom behavior?

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

An assessment of the WikiLeaks leaks.  A German friar here told me yesterday that the leaks--especially the frank descriptions of E.U. leaders--are embarrassing precisely b/c they are true!  Ah, the truth shall set you free.

And here are just a few of the more frank assessments. . .wouldn't we all love to read what world leaders think of our national leadership?

As a classical political liberal, this sort of thing doesn't bother me at all.  As a Catholic and a Dominican, my response is:  "Celebrate Faith & Reason.  The Best God Has To Offer!"  When atheists argue that religious belief is "irrational," what they mean is that religious belief fails to satisfy the methodological demands of materialist science. 

Americans want and expect ObamaCare to be repealed

A new website for all your Catholic punditry needs:  The Pulpit.

Classical Rhetoric 101. . ."rhetoric" means something very different in the postmodern world.  Generally, when you read or hear someone use the word "rhetoric" they mean "the way in which an idea is framed using language to disguise their intent." 

The retard with the flamethrower. . .

Who shot the couch?  Bad 70's fashions

Redneck home improvement ideas

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29 November 2010

Good News/Great News: a new preaching project

The student friars of St Dominic's Priory in St. Louis, MO are launching a website dedicated to preaching!

Preaching Friars

Several of the more recent General Chapters of the Order have urged the friars to make better use of the internet to spread the Good News. 

Please, take a few minutes to visit the brothers and express your support for this fledgling project.  As I have noted many, many times:  Catholic preaching will only get better if Catholics demand better preaching.

Also, check out this article on the new building that will house the joint studium* of the Central and Southern Provinces. 

* "Studium" is Dominicanese for "seminary."

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28 November 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Excellent vid of E.U. Parliament member, Nigel Farage blasting the E.U.'s power-grabbing impulses.  British politicians are some of the best debaters and public speakers in the world!

Teenage girl is arrested in the U.K. for allegedly burning a copy of the Koran.  You have to wonder if she would have been arrested for burning the Bible. 

DHS seizes domain names. . .yes, these sites were promoting illegal activities but my guess is that this all thing is really about getting us used to the idea that gov't agencies can use police powers to shut down dissenting websites.  Paranoid much, Father?  Hey. . .just 'cause I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me!  :-)

"Human rights" commission in Mexico uses its investigative powers to intimidate those who dare express Wrong-Thought during an "ex-gay" conference

Great story about the transformation of a moribund parish in Brooklyn.

NFL player drops the ball, loses the game, and blames God.  Methinks he needs a theology class or two.

Update on the Repeal Amendment. . .I still that this is an excellent idea.  Imagine a Congress where legislation is thought through with an eye toward the possibility that any power-grabbing by the federal gov't could be voided by a supermajority of the states!

Wikileaks completes B.O.'s transformation into Jimmy Carter.  I disagree.  Carter was weak and incompetent in the Oval Office.  B.O. makes Carter look like Reagan.

This kid must be visiting Rome.  Pick a piazza.  Any piazza.

Months later. . .and this is STILL hilarious.  

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27 November 2010

Cell Phone Recommendations

Since I will be in the U.S. for almost a year and half of that in parish ministry, I will need a cell phone. . .

Any suggestions for a phone using the following criteria:

Inexpensive flip phone (I am clumsy!)
No contract with a provider
Pay as you go
No data/no frills

Just a simple phone.

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26 November 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

12 Myths Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer. . .these are more misconceptions about Catholicism than they are myths.

Secret meeting of a secret group of theologians giving the Holy Father secret advice!  The Rector of the Angelicum, Fr. Charles Morerod OP serves as the general secretary for the ITC.

Palin gets dumped on for an on-air gaffe. . .but she gets her revenge!

Yet another reason to hope for the quick demise of the E.U. . .I mean, other than this one.  Some in the U.K. want my fav European country of the E.U.

One of the nations largest unions will drop health care insurance for the children of low-wage members.  Why?  Drum-roll, please!  ObamaCare!  NB.  this union enthusiastically supported B.O.'s gov't run boondoggle.

Poor Edna. . .she opened the wrong can.

The god of cake. . .

Pope approved birth control!

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25 November 2010

Hurry up and wait

34th Week OT (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Here we are at the end of November in Rome. It's cold and raining. Has been for weeks now. We see the sun for maybe 30 minutes a day. All signs that winter is not far off. This morning Jesus tells us that the budding fig tree will be a sign that the long winter is ending and that summer is near. We also have John telling us that in his vision of the last judgment, “the former heaven and former earth had passed away.” The old order of the universe is replaced by “a new heaven and a new earth.” Winter turns to summer; the old gives way to the new. This isn't the Cycle of Life our pagan ancestors revered and celebrated; rather, it's the drama of human conversion from sin to salvation, the salvific action of Christ on the cross and our graced reaction to his sacrifice. Having died and risen again once for our sins, Christ continues to lure us away from disobedience and destruction and into a renewed life, an eternal life among all his redeemed in heaven. It is no accident that these readings come on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent.

In the Church's liturgical year, Friday's are always marked as the dark day of the crucifixion, a day for penitential reflection and fasting. It is entirely fitting that we are called to repentance on this Friday, the Friday before we begin our long wait during Advent for the coming of the Christ Child. For four weeks we will watch for the signs of his coming. For four weeks we will pray, fast, study, do our work all the while waiting and waiting for the first signs of his coming. Even knowing that his coming is inevitable, even knowing that he has already arrived once for all, we will wait and wait. This generation—those who faithfully anticipate his arrival—this generation will not pass before he finally comes among us. Are you ready? Fully prepared? Ready to receive all the graces and all the tribulations he has to give you? 

Military men and women often describe their work as “hurrying up to wait.” Rush, rush, rush to get ready. . .and then a long, anxious wait for action. If John's apocalypse tells us anything, it tells us that now is the time to hurry up and wait. Hurry to repentance. Hurry to conversion. Hurry up and get your spiritual house in order. And then wait. Christ has come. Christ is coming. And he will come again. There's a new heaven and a new earth to anticipate. Be sure that you are ready!

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24 November 2010

The first Thanksgiving Day menu?

Every American knows the proper menu for Thanksgiving Day:  turkey, cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin pie.  But did you know what the first Thanksgiving Day menu included?

Foods Included in the Original Thanksgiving Feast

In addition to the wild fowl, pumpkin and squash mentioned above, the following foods were certainly abundant and most likely were included in the “harvest” celebration:
  • Fish
  • Lobsters
  • Eel
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Corn
  • Parsnips
  • Collards
  • Turnips
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Dried Beans
  • Dried Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
The whole article is worth a read.

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In praise of Americans and not giving a @#$%!

As an American living in Europe, I am often subjected to veiled and not-so-veiled remarks from Europeans about the cultural/political backwardness of our great nation.  From snickering comments about cowboys to outright falsehoods about the Tea Party, Europeans feel free to think out loud when it comes to taking elitist swipes at the American eagle.  Normally, I smile, say something self-deprecating, and move on.  

When I first arrived in Rome in 2008, a friar from an eastern European country acidly remarked on the U.S.'s military presence on the European continent.  Maybe it was just my mood that day, or maybe it was the strain of being one of the few Americans in the priory who didn't want to add Obama to the Holy Trinity; regardless, I replied, "Well, brother, I'd be happy to see us pull all of our troops out of Europe.  But then you guys who have to take up the slack and spend some of our state welfare money on keeping Putin out of your backyard.  It's the U.S.'s willingness to defend you that allows you to spend so much on government welfare."  Needless to say, he turned purple and the conversation ended.  

I'm reminded of this failure to keep my cool by this article from Inside Higher Ed, "In Praise of the Americans."  The piece ends with this observation: 

“All the world criticizes them and they don’t give a damn….Moralists cry over them, criminologists dissect them, writers shoot epigrams at them, prophets foretell the end of them, and they never move. Seventeen brilliant books analyze them every month; they don’t read them .… But that’s all right. The Americans don’t give a damn; don’t need to; never did need to. That is their salvation.”

This astute observation was written in 1932 by Canadian political scientist, Stephen Leacock.  His take on Americans still applies to 99.9% of us, I think.  However, it could be argued that we  are currently ruled by the .1% who do give a damn what Europeans think of us.  Maybe that's the Great Divide we're seeing in U.S. politics these days. . .

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23 November 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

WOW. . .apparently, North Korea has lost its mind.

More on the amateurism of our current Betters:  rep from the Taliban in peace talks is an impostor.

This sounds like a good idea. . .frankly, anything that curbs the power of D.C. seems good right now.

"Catholics" in Belgium become Protestants while pretending to still be Catholics.  Only the NYT would think that this sort of thing is new. 

Anti-bullying law for NJ.  When responsible parenting fails, Nanny is always ready and willing to step in. 

Canonist Ed Peters is just a little bit peeved with L'Observatore over its premature publication of the Holy Father's comments on condom use.  Let the purge begin!

Upon hearing a weird combo of words, I always say, "That sounds like the name of a new band."

Um, no thanks. . .I'll wait for the next rest area.

When computer geeks get in trouble at school.

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22 November 2010

A new assignment (UPDATED)

This just in. . .

My provincial has assigned me to help out at St. Joseph's parish in Ponchatula, LA from Jan to June 2011. 

I'll be assisting Fr. John Dominic Sims, OP.  This will be my first parochial assignment as a priest.

UPDATE:  Sorry, I didn't make this clear!  I will be returning to Rome in Oct 2011 to continue studies toward the PhD in philosophy.  I've done all I can here in Rome on the license until next Oct.

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All in or not at all

St Cecilia
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Anyone who lives in Rome understands what it means to take a risk. If the careening taxis don't mow you down at a crosswalk, the uneven cobblestones will break your ankles. If the herds of tourists on the 64 bus don't crush you to death, the summer heat will suck the life out of you. We all take risks just by walking out the door every morning. We calculate the costs of leaving home against the benefits of staying in bed, weighing all the options, teasing out the advantages, appraising the disadvantages, and then we choose. Most of the time, we get the equations right and manage to live another day. If this sort of cost/benefit analysis works for mere survival, can we use it in making choices about how we live our lives in Christ? That is, when it comes to deciding whether or not and to what degree we will follow after Christ, can we coolly, logically process all the available evidence before making a choice? Jesus' tale of the widow's mite says, no, we can't. We're all in or not at all.

Living with Christ is not a contest of minimizing risks, planning strategies, or prudently calculating cost/benefit. Living with Christ is a recklessly generous, open-handed, open-hearted, full-tilt run; a sanctifying contest of perseverance and strength, a contest played with everything you've got and all that you are. If we pick and choose which portions of ourselves we will and won't give to Christ, then we cannot claim a prize even if we finish the race. If all that you are, if all of who you are didn't compete, then who exactly crossed the finish line? The widow knows who she is—a child of God the Father. She sacrifices her entire livelihood; she gives wholly, fully everything she has: two mites, two small coins. The wealthy gave of their surplus, what was left over after the cost/benefit calculations had been made. She gave out of her poverty, out of what she didn't have to give. Of her sacrifice, Jesus says, “. . .this poor widow put in more than all the rest.” The “more” that she gives is not calculable by weight or by an exchange value. How can trust in God be measured? How do we weigh hope? By giving all that she has and all that she is, the widow throws herself recklessly—ignorant of risk, despite the threat of failure—she throws herself into the hands of God and trusts Him to provide. 

The moment you and I are equal to this sacrifice, we are well and fully committed to living our lives following after Christ. We are either all in or not at all. Christ himself did nothing less for us.

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20 November 2010

OMG! The Pope says condoms are OK!!!

The Pelvic Obsessed Media are going bat crazy over the Pope's "changing his mind" on the morality of condom use.  No such change has occurred.  The use of artificial contraception within the bonds of marriage for the prevention of procreation is always intrinsically morally evil.  Sex outside the bonds of marriage is always intrinsically morally evil, so the Church has never felt it necessary to say anything about the use of contraception when it comes to adultery, pre-martial sex, same-sex sexual activity, etc.  

What the Church has said about condom use to prevent disease is this:  it is not a fool-proof means for preventing the spread of STD's.  Only sexual abstinence is 100% guaranteed to prevent the transmission of diseases contracted through sexual activity.  The only "change" here is that BXVI is saying out loud what common sense and logic dictates.  In cases where one sexual partner is infected with an STD, it might be morally permissible to use a condom in order to protect the uninfected partner.  

When it comes to making moral choices intention is vital.  If you are married and you use condoms with the intention of preventing pregnancy, you are intending a morally evil act.  If you aren't married and you use condoms. . .well, you are already engaging in a morally evil act--sex outside the bonds of marriage.  The Church has never addressed the issue of whether or not artificial contraception is permissible outside of marriage.  Why?  Because sex outside of marriage is always morally evil.  For the Church to say, "Yea, it's OK (or not) to use condoms if you're gonna fornicate or commit adultery" would be strange.  

What about a case where a husband or wife commits adultery and contracts an STD? Is it morally permissible for them to use a condom?  If the intention is to prevent the uninfected partner from disease, I'd say yes.  We might even go so far as to say that not using a condom would be morally evil.  Under the circumstances, the best option for them would be sexual abstinence, especially if there is a chance that a child might be irreparably damaged by the disease.

The example that BXVI uses to illustrate his point is telling:  a male prostitute who uses condoms to prevent STD's.  The Pope says the guy is showing some moral awareness by using condoms. He is already engaged in a morally evil business, so taking steps to lessen the evil consequences of his chosen occupation demonstrates that there is a spark of conscience at work. 

Bottom-line:  nothing has changed.  The whole "Pope shifts his position on condoms" meme sells papers.  Nothing more. 

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Getting us used to the idea of shutting down websites by going after "copyright infringement."  How long before some gov't agency decides that criticism of the governing party violates "intellectual property rights"?

The train of Eric Holder's DoJ is just starting to wreck with the recent Gitmo detainee verdict.

I would rather be sent to the Sudan as a door-to-door Bible salesman than work for the TSA.  I feel sorry for the screeners.  They are doing the job they've been given.  It's Big Sis who needs to be encouraged to explore alternative career options.

Remember this if you're flying over the holidays:  it's the dumb TSA rules that are causing the problems NOT the screeners.

Case in point:  Muslim women may be exempted from airport body searches.  Yea, that'll work.

A solution to the sex abuse crisis:  "Fidelity, fidelity, fidelity."  When the scandal reached its peak in 2002, self-appointed Prophets of Church Reform didn't want the crisis to go to waste.  Calls for radical restructuring of Church governance rang throughout the land.  But here's the problem:  had the priests and bishops who caused the scandal actually followed Church teaching there would have been no abuse, no cover-ups, no crisis.

How to fix US airport security. . .unfortunately, we would never follow these suggestions b/c someone might sue.  We can't allow anyone to feel singled out.

Redneck wedding chaos. . .um, those cops need some training on how to deescalate a potentially violent situation.  Screaming hysterically "CALM DOWN!!!" just doesn't work.  

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19 November 2010

No thieves in the temple

33rd Week OT (Fri)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Jesus enters the holy city and delivers what has come to be called the Lament for Jerusalem, “For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will. . .smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." God's people—busy with the business of the world—fail time and again to heed the prophets, leaving themselves unprepared for divine judgment. Evidence of their lack of readiness, the sign of their inattention is the thriving marketplace that has overwhelmed the temple courtyard. Quoting the prophet Malachi, Jesus shouts, “'My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.'” He then drives the merchants out of the temple so that he might teach without distraction. This surprising scene raises an intriguing question: in what ways do we steal from God? 

Mixing religion and money always brings with it the temptation to abuse one or the other if not both. Pastors steal from the collection plate. Bishops overlook sexual misconduct in fear of expensive lawsuits. Otherwise good Christians cheat on their taxes or allow money to threaten their marriages and friendships. Even Catholic religious living under vows of poverty manage to find temptation in the accumulation of things. The problem that Jesus recognizes in the temple courtyard however is not the doing of business per se. Buying and selling are not sinful in themselves. The problem is that those who buy and sell in the temple are principally motivated by buying and selling. Consumed with the daily business of acquiring money, they allow their attention to wander away from doing the business of God. God's house of prayer becomes a den of thieves when we turn our attention away from the works of righteousness and toward working in the world for the world. Our job description—as baptized followers of Christ—is simple: witness to the mercy of God by preaching His word in season and out.

Jesus wrecks the businesses in the temple because they steal from God. They steal the worship due His name. They steal the time and treasure due His work. They steal the talent better used in His service. God's people in Jerusalem are unprepared for the divine visitation. Quite literally, they don't see it coming. If we want to be prepared for judgment, we will carefully, diligently remain on watch, living each moment knowing that we live in God's creation, living as His creatures, wholly possessed by our promise to be His faithful workers.

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16 November 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Professional cheaters:  custom essay writing companies do a booming business.  I was once offered $300 in grad school to write a paper for a fellow student in our critical theory seminar.  I turned it down.  Even Marxist-feminists can have a conscience!

Using the internet to plagiarize is all too common.  One problem for professors is the huge amount of relevant material available to students on the internet.  There's simply no way for profs to keep up with everything available in their respective fields.  One solution is to assign highly specific topics on a limited range of material.  This is where U.D.'s penchant for asking "what does the text say?" comes in very handy.

Great American Spirit at work!  The kid who was told he couldn't fly an American flag on his bike gets the support of hundreds. . .all with flags on their bikes. 

Parish surveys instead of a homily?  NO.  Nothing should take the place of the homily at Mass.  Not capital fund appeals.  Not announcements.  Not lay-led meditations.  Nothing.  If the bishop is asking the pastor to read a fundraising letter, then it can be read before Mass begins.  Annoying, I know.  But replacing the homily with mundane parish business diminishes preaching by presenting the homily as dispensable.

Rainbow Sash Movement endorses Bishop Kicanas for USCCB president.  I doubt the good bishop sought this endorsement, but the fact that this dissident group thinks the bishop would make a good president of our nation's episcopal conference should cause the voting bishops pause.

Even the Europeans are starting to see the error of Big Gov't.

Charlie "I Don't Come Cheap" Rangel (D-NY) convicted of 11 ethical violations

"Why Marxism Always Fails". . .socialism requires a culturally homogeneous society whose citizens are willing and able to become wards of the State.  Inevitably, socialist societies quash natural human instincts like the desire to better oneself, a longing for the transcendent, and the need to individualize--all b/c these traits fail to reinforce dependency on the State.

Mark Shea on being an orthodox Catholic opponent of torture.  I join The Church's Yeti of the Northwest in his crusade against torture; or rather, he and I join the Church's crusade against torture.  Say it with me now:  "Utilitarianism is NOT and will NEVER be part of Catholic orthodoxy."

Take the Zombie Survival Quiz.  I got an "A."  Was there any doubt?

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US Bishops break with tradition

The voting bishops of the USCCB dodged a huge P.R. bullet today.  They elected Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York as president of their conference.

It is customary for the bishops to elect the previous term's vice-president to the office of president.  However, the presumptive heir to the office, Bishop Gerard Kicanas of Tuscon hit the major stumbling block when it was reported that while rector of a seminary he knew about the sexual proclivities and activities of a seminarian he later approved for ordination to the priesthood.  That priest went on to molest a dozen boys and is serving time for his crimes.

Bishop Kicanas' election bid probably wasn't helped by the fact that the "Catholic" special interest group the "Rainbow Sash Movement" endorsed the bishop, praising his "evolving views" and his close ties to Cardinal Bernadin of Chicago, his mentor.  RSM's website is claiming that the USCCB is taking a turn to the right. 

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