28 May 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Check out the new theology blog run by Sean DeWitt (a former student of mine) and Paul Bechter.  Sean and Paul are seminarians at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, TX. 

Finally!  That preachy-leftist courtroom drama, Law and Order, is being canceled

Is B.O.'s dream dead?  "The new world order as envisioned by Obama in January 2009 was, I think, supposed to look something like the following: A social-democratic America would come to emulate the successful welfare states in the European Union."  Unfortunately, for Obama, the E.U. experiment in socio-economic engineering has failed miserably.  The one economic truth that wealth-redistributionists can't quite seem to grasp is that in order to give The Many the wealth of The Few, The Few have to be able to generate wealth.  But redistributive economic policies discourage wealth generation.  No wealth, no redistribution.
Thoughts on our legal drinking age.  I was 19 when the age was raised to 21.  I think 21 is too high.  When U.D. students come to Rome for a semester in their sophomore year, they are legally old enough to drink in Italy.  They seem to handle it quite well. 

Peggy Noonan"The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen." 

The New Atheists make a lot of ideological hay with the Church's handling of Copernicus and Galileo.  Mark Shea helps us with some of the myths.  I would also recommend the book, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion.  This is a serious academic anthology published by Harvard Univ Press but written for an educated general audience.

If you are Catholic and subscribe to TIME Magazine. . .it's probably time to cancel your subscription.  Yet another hit piece on the Holy Father. 

Bill introduced in Congress to repeal ObamaCare.  Will the GOP leadership screw this up?  Probably.

University faculty unions?  Academic faculties harbor some of the most pampered do-nothings in the universe!  Why would they need to unionize?  Prediction for fifty years out:  the only place students will be able to get a serious liberal arts education will be small, independent Catholic colleges. 

Dissecting the Sestak/White House job offer scandal. . .crime and cover-up?

Italian police arrest notorious gay activist priest on charges of child sex abuse.

"I'm spiritual but not religious" is relativistic nonsense disguised as profundity. 

This sad, then funny, then sad again. . .

Grand Unification Theory of Cutlery. . .I hope Burger King doesn't see this.

Kids answer the tough questions about romance, marriage, and parenthood.

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27 May 2010

Clarification on my K.C. post

There seems to be some confusion about my recent post on the Knights of Columbus controversy.  So, let's make sure my thoughts are clear. . .

The Knights of Columbus helped me pay for my novitiate medical insurance.  They contributed to several service projects I organized while at U.D.  I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the Knights and their work. 

I was asked by readers to respond to a very particular question:  given the K.C.'s policy on not allowing local/state chapters to expel members who take public stands against Church teaching, should we consider resigning?

My answer was and still is:  sure, consider it. . .but stay on and fight as long as your conscience allows it.  In no way does my answer indicate a lack of respect for the Knights or an ignorance of the tremendous good that they do. 

However, if the K.C. policy is morally wrong, no amount of good work will make it right.  IOW, appeals to their long tradition of public service and dedication to the Church are irrelevant to the question of whether or not local and state chapters should be allowed to expel Knights who oppose Church teaching in ways that cause scandal. 

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26 May 2010

The Knights of Columbus: to stay or go?

Dr. Jeff Mirus has it exactly right on the Knights of Columbus controversy:

It may be true that the first step toward a just social order is clear Catholic teaching by the clergy. But the second step is the day’s own trouble for the laity, the application of Catholic teaching in all the concrete dimensions of daily life. It is laymen who are expected to draw the lines that may not be crossed—not in terms of what the Church teaches, but in terms of the proper response when that teaching is ignored and our culture is subverted by those who participate in social and political life. It is laymen who are called to make it clear that if you want to be honored in our circles, you cannot campaign against what we stand for. And if you do, you will be corrected. And if you refuse correction, you will no longer be able to enjoy our company, our camaraderie, our sympathy and our support. 

The whole article is here.  I am especially impressed by Dr. Mirus' emphasis on the responsibility of the laity in defending Church teaching.

I would emphasis one essential flaw in the KC's defense of their policy:  critics of the policy are not asking the KC's to conduct investigations into the beliefs of every Knight in order to determine whether or not he is orthodox.  The problem comes when Knights who are also public figures take stands against Church teaching.  A Knight is a pro-abortion state governor not only risks his immortal soul by supporting abortion, he risks being held eternally responsible for those who may be lead to believe that since a Knight is pro-abortion, abortion must an acceptable practice in the eyes of the Church.

Whether or not any individual Knight should resign in protest against this policy boils down to a prudential judgment:  will my resignation bring about a change in the policy?  My choice would be to stay and fight.  Work to change the policy through normal channels.  There's always the chance that this will become a losing battle.  Then you would have to make another judgment:  am I giving my consent to the policy by remaining? 

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When theologians play at being scientists (and vice-versa)

The two links below will take you to proof that the relationship between science and religion--when improperly understood--can lead to confusion in both science and religion.  

Belief in divine creation is not the same as "intelligent design."  The Intelligent Design Movement attempts to change the nature of normal science in order to account for divine creation, all the while claiming that this change is true to the nature of normal science. (H/T:  Mark Shea)

A physicist corrects Jebbie theologian's confusion regarding quantum physics and transubstantiation. When theologians play at being scientists, like making the latest discoveries in physics foundational to theological discourse, they risk undermining the whole point of theology and making science into God.  (H/T:  Curt Jester)

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25 May 2010

St. Philip Neri: the Roman Socrates

 Your One Stop Spot for All Things St. Philip Neri. . .

Basic biographical/historical info. . .NB. the entry under "Political Activity"

My favorite modern biography of Philip:  The Fire of Joy

A maxim a day keeps the Devil away!  Philip Neri sayings for everyday of the year.
EWTN: Philip Neri

Patron Saint Index with lots of links

Saint of the Day: Philip Neri, saint and joker

The Toronto Oratory

The London Oratory, Brompton

At Catholic Fire: Philip Neri, humorous saint

. . .and the Chiesa Nuova, Philip Neri's church in Rome. Only in Rome can you call a 16th century church a "new church"! Philip is buried in a side chapel there. I've visited frequently, asking for a better sense of humor for dealing with the enemies of the Church.

And today is my 46th birthday. My mother denies it, refusing to believe that she has a 46 year old son!  Though she did tell me on the phone recently that I am starting to look my age. 

I am often asked why a Dominican would choose "Philip Neri" as his religious name. I wish there were some mystical, mysterious story to tell. There isn't. When I was going through RCIA, my pastor urged us all to take confirmation names. He suggested that we look at the saints honored on our birthdays for inspiration. He reasoned that picking a name from a saint celebrated on our birthday would help us to remember to imitate that saint. I picked "Philip Neri" for no other reason than that May 26th is his feast day. When I joined the Order, we were told we could use a religious name. One of the brothers asked me my confirmation name and suggested that I make it my religious name. With just a little research into Philip Neri's life, I found quite a lot I wanted to imitate!  

Though I cringe when my name is shortened to "Fr. Phil," there is one diminutive of the great saint's name I don't mind. . .Philip's closest friends used "Pippo" as a term of endearment for him.  Here's an article by the French Oratorian, Fr. Louis Bouyer that includes a couple of funny stories about the saint.

Philip knew many of the great Dominicans of his day. He was a renowned preacher and confessor. He worked tirelessly among the spiritually defeated youths of Rome. He was a practical joker and an outrageous spiritual director. When he died, an autopsy revealed that his heart had grown too big for this body. An apt description of this saint of Christ's joy! Philip was canonized along with Theresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola.

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CAUTION! Praying is risky business

Feast of St Philip Neri
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma


The ancient Greeks knew that asking the gods for favors was a dangerous business. They just might give you what you want. The same caution applied to the three wishes granted to those who freed genies from captivity. Choose your wishes very, very carefully. Though we no longer honor the Greek gods with our prayers nor believe that genies grant wishes, Christians still call on God for His help. We regularly petition Him to grant us the graces we need to survive and thrive. Since we are asking for help from an all-loving, all-knowing God, do we need to be careful when asking for what we need? St. Augustine thought so. He once famously prayed, “Lord, give me chastity and continence. . .but not yet.” Smart man. This prayer reveals both a desire for holiness and an awareness that holiness entails the radical transformation of the person praying. Augustine isn't asking for more time to sin; he's confessing his humility, his unworthiness for the gifts of chastity and continence. He simply isn't strong enough to honor these gifts as they deserve. Yes, be careful when you pray. Make sure you are ready for God's answer.

Case in point: James and John ask Jesus to grant them the seats of honor at his side. They want to be his Top Dog Apostles. Jesus replies to this foolish request: “You do not know what you are asking.” James and John are probably thinking about power and prestige; they want to be his heirs, successors to his throne. Jesus quickly deflates their dreams, “Can you drink the chalice that I drink. . .?” Of course, they say, “We can.” But they do not fully understand what drinking Christ's chalice means. To be the first among Christ's disciples means being the least of them all, the servant to all. It means taking a permanent demotion in status and power, stepping down the career ladder from Apostle to Slave. Not exactly what the ambitious brothers had in mind! If they had known themselves better, perhaps they would have exercised greater caution in asking for a sip from Christ's chalice. 

Knowing what to pray for requires a keen sense of discernment. You have to know your flaws, your strengths, your gifts. You have to be intimately acquainted with both God's overall purpose for you and how you will freely cooperate with this plan. Are you prepared to receive the grace you are praying for? Well, who isn't ready to get a gift?! Ask the many lottery winners in the U.S. who have seen their lives destroyed by money. Ask those who have achieved their dreams of political power only to see themselves corrupted nearly beyond redemption. Ask those who exercise incredible gifts of artistic creativity but eventually find themselves sliding down the drain to insanity and addiction. Asking for a gift is a easy. Getting it and using it wisely can be much, much harder.

So, what assurance do we have that the graces we need, once granted, won't drown us in sorrow and regret? Every grace we receive from God is perfected by serving others. Jesus says to his disciples, “. . .whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” There is nothing spiritually dangerous about using God's gifts in the service of His people. No danger of pride. No danger of selfishness. No danger of remorse because you prayed for too much, too soon. We come to know ourselves best by coming to know God better and better in prayer. The best we can ask for is to serve, to be the least of all, the slave to all.

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Hey whaddaya know!  That anti-illegal immigrant law in AZ succeeded in forcing B.O. to--ya know--do his job.  Note that the Left isn't calling their hero a racist or a fascist for this token move.

Two in one day. . .White House backs the Vatican's defense against spurious lawsuit.

Did porn, crystal meth, and free football tickets contribute to the BP's oil disaster?

For all my friends and fellow friars who voted for B.O. b/c they hated Bush's anti-terrorism policies and believed The One would do things differently:  secret military operations.

Are the adults in our culture finally starting to reassert their authority

"Unexpected" is the favorite adjective used by the MSM to insulate B.O. from his disastrous economic politics.  "Little noticed" is the fav adjective used by the MSM to excuse its refusal to vette ObamaCare responsibly before it was passed.

In the name of "safety," U.K. nannies limit the number of faithful who can attend Papal Masses during the Holy Father's September visit.  I hope Damien and the Catholic Herald sit on the organizing committee and pour through every decision these guys make. 

How to get more traffic on your blog:  misspell something.  I've also found that using Latin helps.  Latin geeks are compelled by Natural Law to correct one's faulty Latin grammar. 

Is this the first stage of the Coming Zombie Apocalypse? 

Bubba and the Pope

17 ways to lace up your sneakers.  The normal way of lacing up sneakers is too complicated for me.  I just wear sandals.

Lots of useful French expressions.  My fav: "Il n'y a pas de quoi fouetter un chat."  Translation: "It's no reason for whipping a cat."  NB.  some of these are R-rated.

Hilarious video of a Japanese girl scaring folks as they come through a door.  I think the reason she is scary is b/c she looks like the freaky girl from the movie, The Ring.

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24 May 2010

Gettin' holy ain't for sissies

NB.  I made a couple of mistakes while preaching this one. . .no time to rehearse in front of the mirror before Mass!

8th Week OT (T)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma


There's a bumper sticker popular among America's geriatric citizens: “Gettin' old ain't for sissies!” Aging is a long haul. It's hard work. It take courage, perseverance, and strength. Chances are that those who lack the required virtues for “gettin' old” never make it past retirement age. They falter long before the really tough stuff begins. Catholics, never shy about using what we're given to preach the gospel, should take this bumper sticker and revise it to teach another ancient truth: “Gettin' holy ain't for sissies!” All the virtues required for enduring old age come in quite handy for traveling the way of holiness. Standing up to the rulers of this world, confronting one's own demons, and coming out victorious, requires courage, perseverance, and strength. Despite the dangers of aging, many manage to do well enough without ever receiving all that God has to give them. No such thing is possible in our travels toward holiness. Peter writes, “. . .as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, Be holy because I am holy.” 

The saints and doctors of the Church teach us that we are made to be holy. We are designed in such a way that we are not only capable of being holy but are, in fact, compelled to seek out holiness. Why then do we find being holy so difficult? Why do we expend so much time and energy fighting against who we were made to be? Peter gives us a hint when he teaches us how to be holy: “. . .gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” If these are the things we must do to grow in holiness, then it makes sense that our resistance to being holy rests in our failure to follow through with this admonition. The creativity and productivity of our minds is scattered, loose, unfocused. Our daily lives show us to be immoderate, irrational, anxious. And we have set our hopes on the fleeting goodness of people, ideas, and institutions who are in themselves incapable of making us Good. If we fail to understand that God is the only source of holiness, then we are doomed to falter long before the way before us gets really tough. God says, “Be holy because I am holy.”

Being holy, like growing old, is hard. We have to grow old. No choice in that. But do we have to be holy? If it's so difficult, why bother? First, we are called to it. Drawn to God by His love for us, we are seduced into wanting to be perfect as He Himself is perfect. Without the desire for holiness, we are just animals, creatures eating, breeding, and dying without a purpose larger than our biology. Second, by accepting the graces of baptism and the Holy Spirit, we are shown who we are (sinners) and who we can be (saints). To endure the difference between the two without seeking to close the gap is unbearable. Third, as St Augustine says, we are restless—agitated, unhappy, aimless—until we rest in Him. Seeing that we are capable of being like God, can we ever be truly satisfied with being like anything less than God? 

Peter says to Christ, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Surrender is the first step and the last step. But the steps in between must follow Christ. With hearts and minds focused on Christ; our lives lived in the sobriety of his commandment of love; and our hope resting solely in the one revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, we can surrender everything unholy and become holy for no other reason than that He is holy. For those who love him, this is reason enough.

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23 May 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

A review of my prayer books from HancAquam reader and commenter extraordinaire, Opey124! 

Best Link Tag for a story about Sarah Palin:  "I can see November from my house!" 

The Left pitched an eight year hissy fit over "W's" alleged misuse of wire-tapping, torture, etc. in the war on terror.  B.O. has not only continued all of "W's" policies in this area, he has now authorized the assassination of American citizens w/o due process.  You will search in vain for any hissy fits pitched by the Left.

Student suspended for bringing his rosary to school.  School officials claim the beads endanger the safety of the school.  This reminds me of my CPE summer when the sisters--all Dominicans!--I worked with at SLU Hospital harassed me for wearing my habit.  They eventually convinced the hospital that religious habits are a "safety issue" and had them banned.

Does B.O. have the guts to keep us out of the E.U. Nanny state financial collapse?  I doubt it.

Deconstructing WaPo's deceptive paraphrase of TX's new curriculum standards.  You know you have won the debate when your opponent has to lie about your position in order to challenge it.  Strawmen are built for those too intellectually lazy to fight a real man.

America's new culture war:  free enterprise vs. government control

Confirmation class at an Episcopal parish compose their own versions of the Nicene Creed.  I remember doing this when I was an Episcopagan!  

Sad story about the disappearance of the Octave of Pentecost.

A heartening story about the public witness of priests in clerics and habits.  I wear my habit on the streets of Rome all the time.  I've never had anyone spit on me!  Maybe the sight of a 300lbs Dominican in full habit tweaks the survival instinct in even the most anti-clerical Roman!

(An aside:  during a UD mission trip to Lima, Peru, my students and I visited the family of one of our students.  The student's older sister was pregnant.  Before we left the apt. I asked the woman if I could bless her and her baby.  She broke into a huge smile and eagerly agreed.  Before I knew what was happening, every member of the large family was lining up for a blessing!  My student told me months later that the family had been shocked that I would offer a blessing and that they were still talking about it.  Apparently, Peruvian priests are somewhat stingy with blessings. . .)

Article on the Apostolic Visitation of U.S. sisters and nuns.  Warning:  don't read this article if you have high blood pressure.  It is stuffed with factual errors, leftist bias, and anti-Catholic venom.

The Knights of Columbus respond to criticism of their recent decision not to boot Knights who are also pro-abortion politicians. 

New English translation of the Roman Missal is a reach back into tradition.  Maybe.  It is certainly more traditional than the awful 1970 ICEL translation.  The better way to describe the new edition of the Missal is to say that it is a more faithful English translation of the Latin texts.  The theological problems inscribed in the 1970 edition start with an embedded Pelagianism.  It seems that the 1970 translators went out of their way to render out the necessity of God's grace in our growth toward holiness.

Why are Catholics staying in the Church despite the constant problems with clerical sexual abuse?  Oh, that's easy.  Because most Catholics are smart enough to distinguish between the holiness of their Church and the falleness of her clergy.  There's not a Catholic alive who can say, "I am without sin."

Cute pic of the day. . .a helping paw.

The one day you decide to drive with the top down. . .

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Server down

There is no Pentecost homily for you this morning b/c the proxy server for the priory was down for almost 24 hrs.  

The friar--yes, there is only one--who maintains the server was out of town and only returned about 2 hrs. ago.  Ah, good ole Italian efficiency at its best.

Look for that homily to show up sometime on Monday.

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