12 March 2011

A prayer to help you through Lent

Found this in the HancAquam archives from two years ago. . .

A Lenten Prayer

Merciful and loving God, you give us* this Lenten desert for our purification, for our chance to become your faithful friends.

Because we are wearied by our sins and exhausted by the weight of our guilt, the devil seeks to tempt us further away from you.

Let us hear his false promises with your ears and see his counterfeit prizes through your eyes. With your Word in our mouths, we reject his poisonous gifts and run to you for our salvation.

With our every thought and deed, you give us the grace to turn temptation into witness, to make an enemy of the devil, and grow in your love.

Lord, grant us hearts bound in obedience to your Word and freed in your love. And even though we may suffer for a little while, we know our purpose is fulfilled when we offer you thanks and praise for the gift of your Son.

Purged of sin and guilt by your desert, we walk to his death on the cross; we watch for his resurrection from the tomb; and we await his coming again in glory!

In his holy name we pray. Amen.

(written by Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP)

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

11 March 2011


Just got a call from my parents. . .my grandfather, Clyde Mitchell, 98, passed away just a few minutes ago.

Please pray for the repose of his soul.  I will be attending his funeral sometime this weekend or early next week.

Many thanks, Fr. Philip

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

Lying is ALWAYS a sin

Lying is always a sin.  Period.  Always.  The gravity of the sin is determined by intent, circumstance, harm done, and the nature of the truth sinned against.  But the act of lying is always a sin.  Period.  Always.  Whether it's done to save babies, whales, baby whales; Jews hiding in your closet; whether it's done here on earth, under the earth, above the earth; on an alien planet;--wherever, whenever, whatever, whyever, whoever--lying is always a sin.   Always.  Nothing that can be said, done, thought, written, acted out, mimed, televised, telegraphed, digitized, whispered, signed, or turned into a reductio ad absurdum argument can make lying into not-lying.

From the Catechism:

2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving."  The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: "You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man's relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray.

2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Another spanking for the NPR brats!  I happen to like most of NPR's programs.  They are extremely condescending to non-lefties and religious people but they are so polite about it.

Confession:  I am very happy that NPR is being publicly exposed as a pretentious PR firm hired with taxpayer money by Dems; however, lying is always a sin.  Always.  Consequentialism can never be a legit path for Catholics.

Published death threats against Gov. Walker and WI GOP lawmakers.  Is that the sound of crickets chirping at CNN, NYT, CBS, ad nau.?

The Weiner Dogs of Lent. . .excellent, excellent piece on sin, human nature, and dog walking in the Big City.

Earthquake/tsunami hit Japan. . .get those prayers going, people!

My fav character from The Wire is arrested in a drug bust. . .say it ain't so, Snoop!

Mother Mary Clare's visitation of women religious in the U.S. has concluded.  Report in the works.  Of course, none of us will ever see that report. 

Good news:  IL governor signs law abolishing the state's death penalty for capital crimes.  Bad news:  death penalty still in effect for the crime of being an unwanted child.

A liberal defends Congressional hearings on Islamic extremism.

This is me today. . .deal with it.

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

10 March 2011

Choose Life & Suffer

Thursday After Ash Wednesday
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatula

Moses sets before God's people “life and prosperity, death and doom.” Much like the blessing and curse he sets before them later on, the reward and punishment offered here result from either obeying God's commandments or disobeying them. Obey and proper. Disobey and die. He warns them, “If. . .you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish.” This is a heavily-loaded warning, so let's unpack it a bit. First, note that listening to God and obeying Him are roughly the same act. Second, note that not listening to God is roughly the same as being led astray, and being led astray is roughly the same as worshiping and serving other gods. Third, note that worshiping and serving other gods is a suicidal act. Bringing the pieces together, we get: disobeying God's commandments is an act of suicidal idolatry! Concluding his warning, Moses urges the people to “choose life. . .that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God. . .” Given all this, how do we go about choosing life? How do we avoid becoming victims of suicidal idolatry? Jesus gives us a major clue: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” The first false god we must deny is Self. 

“Denying self” is not so simple as “denying myself a second beer” or “denying myself dessert.” Nor are you denying yourself when you offer yourself as a doormat to be walked on, or a handmaid to be bossed around. Refusing to give ourselves a treat or making ourselves into whipping boys is not the sort of self-denial that Christ requires of us. Notice the direct connections that Jesus makes among self-denial, cross-bearing, and following him. These are not three separate requirements for coming after Christ, but rather three distinct stages of just one requirement: if we wish to come after him, we must suffer. And the only effective way to suffer is to suffer for the benefit of others—as Christ himself does. When you deny the Self you throw the idol of the Self off the altar of your heart and replace it with Christ. In effect, you are replacing “what I do for me” with “what does Christ for all” as your motivation for dealing with the world.

Yesterday, we were smudged with ashes and reminded of our mortality—we will all die. No mystery to that basic truth. What remains a mystery, however, is how we will live. If Self reigns and we choose to adore and serve Self, then we are already dead, if still breathing. We cannot carry a cross with Christ to Jerusalem b/c Self is worried, anxious, in pain, impatient, whiney. We can't follow Christ to Jerusalem with our cross b/c Self stumbles along at its own pace, taking its own time, taking care of its own desires. Self is incapable of following Christ b/c Self is too busy guarding its rights and privileges; defending its luxuries; hoarding its necessities. There's simply no room in our hearts for both Self and Christ. One has to go. So, Jesus says, “Deny yourself; take up your cross, and follow me.” And in case we are unclear about what this means, he tells us plainly: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders. . . and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Deny yourself; take up your cross; follow Christ; suffer greatly; be rejected, killed. . .and raised on the third day. Therefore, choose life, eternal life, so that you may live, by loving the LORD, your God.

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

Classes on the Nicene Creed at St. Joseph's

Today I will begin a series of classes on the Nicene Creed titled, "Credo:  Understanding the Creed."  We will begin with a history of the Creed and move through the text line by line over the  course of the Lenten season.

This is the first set of classes I will be offering here at St Joseph's Church, Ponchatula in preparation for the introduction of the corrected translation of the Roman Missal.

As you know, one of the corrections in the new Missal changes the Creed to read "I believe" instead of "We believe."  Since the recitation of the Creed will now be much more personal, it is imperative that Catholics come to a better understanding of what it is they are affirming about their faith.

Classes will be held on Thursdays from March 10th through April 14th at 10.00am and 7.00pm in the parish chapel.  The morning and evening classes cover the same material, so you need only attend one or the other to keep up.

For my talks, I'm consulting Pope Benedict XVI's book, Credo for Today:  What Christians Believe.

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

09 March 2011

Lenten Reparations

A suggestion for you Lenten penance. . .

Offer your Lenten sacrifices in reparation for the horrific damage done by the priests and bishops who abused children and covered-up the abuse. 

I believe that the Church is on the cusp of a revival and that this revival will be brought about by the willingness of God's people to do penance for the sacrilege committed against those in most need of our protection. 

With the corrected translation of the Roman Missal on the way and hundreds of up and coming, faithful, young seminarians, religious, and priests, we are poised to exorcise the zeitgeist from the Church.  I'm not talking about a Rad Trad revolution, but rather a return to the simple, noble faith of the apostles and the reverent celebration of the Church's sacraments. 

As a Body, if any one of us is sick, all of us are sick.  Penance and sacrifice for the sins of the few can bring us all to better health.

Fr. Philip Neri, OP

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

New Preaching Site

The student friars of St Dominic Priory in St. Louis, MO have set up a site to showcase their preaching.

They also offer Lenten reflections to help you through this penitential season.

Check them out:  Preaching Friars

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

Return and be set free

Day of Ashes (Ash Wednesday) 2011
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatula

There is so little time between now and death, too little time to waste it outside God's mercy. The ashes we take remind us that we long for His mercy, that we need His mercy. There is nothing we can do or say to make our Lord love us more. To make Him grant us mercy more quickly. He sent His only Son to die for us to show us the depth and breadth of His love and forgiveness. All we need do is turn to Him, return to Him and receive what He has already given us. Now is an acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Not yesterday.  Not tomorrow. Now. “Even now, He says, return to me with your whole heart. . .Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God.” We smudge ourselves with ashes and set aside a season to remember that we are dust and that one day we will return to dust, to remember our sins and forget our guilt. And though we mourn our faults, we rejoice now b/c today is the day of salvation! Give alms, fast, and pray in thanksgiving to God. And do so with glad hearts and bright faces. Your Lord will repay your sincerity. So, waste no more time outside His mercy. Return to Him and be set free.

Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

Lenten Conferences: The Passion of the Christ

For East Coast readers of HancAquam. . .The Passion of the Christ: Conferences for Lent.

This Lent, join the student brothers of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D. C. for evenings of reflection on the Passion of Christ. Brothers will be speaking in Washington, DC, New York City, Baltimore, and Charlottesville, VA.

Schedule for the Dominican House of Studies in Washington (link) (pdf)
Schedule for the Church of St. Philip and James in Baltimore (link) (pdf
Schedule for the Church of St. Joseph in New York City (link)(pdf
Schedule for the Church of Notre Dame and Columbia University (link)(pdf
Schedule for St. Thomas Aquinas Parish at the University of Virginia (link)(pdf)
    Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

    08 March 2011

    Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ash Wednesday

     Facts, figures, and dates about Ash Wednesday.

    The text of the Roman Catholic liturgy for Ash Wednesday

    A little history and theological reflection on the liturgical use of ashes

    Ash Wednesday celebrates the diversity of Catholics

    One more cartoon

    Post-Lenten joke

    An Ash Wednesday homily

    Fr. Z. translates the Ash Wednesday prayers from the Latin and shows us how to declare war!

    And, finally. . .WASH your face!

    Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

    Coffee Bowl Browsing

    NPR exec caught on video admitting that public broadcasting would be better off w/o your tax dollars.  Oh, he also calls Republicans racist and xenophobic.  NB.  He thinks he's meeting with potential donors from a Muslim Brotherhood front group.

    Meanwhile, another NPR exec denies accusations that NPR has a leftist bias.  Apparently, she didn't get the memo.  

    The One. . .and the not so many:  paltry number of high schools invite B.O. to give their graduation speech.  They should just invite his teleprompter. . .it does all the work anyway.

    The Fleebaggers' Head Flee wants to meet with the GOP at that WI-IL border.  The GOP responds.  Hilarious.

    ". . .many of the smartest and best educated people in this country are so blinkered and blinded by the assumptions and values of the blue social model that they simply cannot think outside the box."  

    Georgetown University Medical Center (a "Catholic" hospital) starves a woman to death while her family watches.   Um, does Cardinal Wuerl know about this?

    Is it legal for a church/parish to impose a mandatory monthly donation in exchange for access to that parish's liturgies?  I'm have no idea whether or not this is legal under secular law. . .I'm absolutely sure that it would never be legal under RC canon law.

    The LA Times drops a bomb on the Archdiocese of L.A. on the first day of the new archbishop's administration.    One wonders why the lefty LAT waited until yesterday to drop this bomb.  It couldn't be b/c Archbishop Gomez is considered too conservative for L.A. 

    The inevitable demise of Anglicanism:  communion for the unbaptized.  Why not?  They've pretty much abandoned every other apostolic teaching.

    The Duck watches you. . .oh, yes, he does.

    And so do all of his feline co-conspirators.

    And the dog is just. . .well, the dog is the dog.

    Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

    07 March 2011

    What difference does it make?

    Ss. Perpetua and Felicity
    Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
    St. Joseph Church, Ponchatula

    Jesus publicly humiliates the priests and scribes by demanding that they either accept or reject that he is the Son of the Father, a revelation announced by the Holy Spirit when John baptized him in the Jordan. Afraid that they will lose their own authority or anger the crowd that follows Jesus, the elders calculate a cowardly response to his challenge and answer, “We don't know.” Because of their cowardice, Jesus refuses to reveal to them that he is the Messiah. Instead, he tells them a parable meant to unsettle their comfortable assumptions about how the Father works among His people. The Parable of the Tenants is a retelling of the history of the Jewish people and their relationship with God. Unflattering in its details, the parable exposes the infidelity of God's chosen people to the covenant. It concludes with the death of those who murder the owner's son and the vineyard going to others as their inheritance. Jesus quotes Psalm 118, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” The priests and scribes know that the parable is addressed to them. Fearing that the crowd might realize this as well, “they left him and went away.” Thinking back to the gospel reading from yesterday—a wise man builds his house on solid rock not sand—what can we make of the notion that Jesus is the cornerstone that the builders rejected?

    The other gospel writers and the tradition of the Church understand the cornerstone to be Christ, and more specifically, his resurrection. Rejecting the truth of the resurrection cuts a well-woven thread in the whole clothe of the gospel. Denial of the resurrection is a denial of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. Denial of his sacrificial death is a denial of the efficacy of his suffering. Denial of his efficacious suffering is a denial of his birth to the virgin, Mary. His incarnation as the Son of God. His promised advent. And on back to his presence at the moment of creation and his divinity as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. To paraphrase Paul, “If Christ did not rise from the dead, then all we believe and do in his name is worthless.” The Parable of the Tenants is both a history of God's people rejecting the cornerstone of Christ's resurrection and a warning to those of us who do believe but do so at a nervous distance from the consequences of believing.

    Let's cut the point as sharp as we can: if you believe the resurrection of Christ to be true, what difference does this belief make in your life? How do you behave differently? Think differently? Can others watch you and see that you have accepted Christ's resurrection as the cornerstone for building your house in the faith? The gospels repeatedly describe those who do not acknowledge the Sonship of Jesus as afraid, scared, anxious. They are very, very nervous about his claims to be the Son of God, b/c believing such a reckless claim would mean throwing themselves into a radical revolution that will change absolutely everything. Believing that Jesus is the Messiah will mark them as heretics in the temple, rebels against the Empire, and strangers in their own families. The sword Christ wields severs all bonds. His resurrection from the tomb remakes those bonds with the blood of a new covenant and a command to love that fulfills the whole of the Law. 

    If you believe that Christ rose from the dead, what difference does this belief make in your life? Can you point to this difference and give it a name? There's nothing to fear. Nothing to hide. You will lose everything for his sake and gain eternal life.

    Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

    06 March 2011

    A Shocking Declaration

    9th Sunday OT
    Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
    St. Joseph Church, Ponchatula

    You have spent all your years in the Church. You sang in the choir. Served on the parish council. Usher, communion minister, Monday morning collection counter. Worked every year at the capital fund-raising fair. Once a week at confession, daily Mass. Never missed an Ash Wednesday and said your rosary even before the first cup of coffee. Fasted, abstained, and always did your penance. You were absolutely faithful in your marriage, raised the kids in the Church, sent them to good Catholic grade schools and then to a faithful Catholic university. You volunteered for every mission trip that came around. Exhausted yourself helping with LifeTeen. Now, here you are, at the edge of death. Everyone knows that you are the best Catholic, the most sincere Christian, and that you will go straight to the throne of God. And this is very likely exactly what will happen. But we have one caution from Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven. . .Many will say to me on that day. . .'Lord, did we not do mighty deeds in your name? [Did I not help at the homeless shelter, protest at the abortion clinic, donate to Catholic Charities, pray novenas to St Jude, visit the grieving, give lots of money to the Dominicans!?] Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’” Never knew me!? Evildoer!? Is Jesus trying to give us a heart attack? Why does he make such a shocking declaration? He is doing nothing more than telling us the truth.

    Moses is telling us the truth as well when he says, “Take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead. I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse: a blessing for obeying the commandments of the Lord. . .a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord.” If you place God’s wisdom in your heart and in your soul, you become wise; that is, just being here is an act of wisdom. If you bind your hands and your mind with God’s wisdom, then every act, every job, every thought, your imagination itself is a sign of God’s presence, a flag marking you as His. This is what Jesus teaches us in Matthew’s gospel this morning/evening: it is not enough to think good thoughts about the Lord; it is not enough to do good deeds in his name. We must obey: listen and act in one move—hearing the Word/doing the Word, hearing God’s wisdom/doing God’s wisdom. If we want to be faithful, then we must place His wisdom in our hearts, our minds, and we must bind our hands and bind our minds to His will. Under the Old Covenant established between God and Moses, this feat of obedience was accomplished by following the rules and regulations of the Law—dietary restrictions, ritual sacrifices, etc. You showed your faithfulness by behaving within the precepts of the Law. Ideally, strictly following the Law would lead you to an internal conversion, what God Himself calls “the sacrifice of a contrite heart.” All too often, however, you ended up scrupulously obsessing over legal technicalities. So, how do we faithfully obey God's commandments and find ourselves counted among the blessed?

    Paul helps us out. He writes to the Romans, “Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” Let me break that down a bit: in the older covenant, as we've already noted, God’s righteousness—His rightness, His justice—were made known to us primarily through the Law and the prophets. Obey the Law, heed the prophets and God's justice is done. What Paul is saying here is that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ now manifests God’s righteousness apart from the Law and prophets, meaning that we now have access to the fullness of God’s righteousness through Christ “apart from the Law.” Remember: Christ came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it, to make the Law and the witness of the prophets complete. The Law and the prophets are witnesses to the Law—they are legitimate testimonies to His commandments. However, Christ is God Himself. God reveals Himself in the person of Christ. Christ's revelation is not a second-hand account of who and what God is, but rather a perfect and unique unveiling of God to us. So, Paul teaches us that we come to the righteousness of God Himself when we believe in Christ b/c believing in Christ is believing in God. 

    What does it mean to believe in Christ? Believing is a human act. But believing is not merely human. By the gift of the Father we are made to desire Him, made to want Him, created in His likeness and image to be seduced by His love for us! In other words, we are able to believe in Christ precisely because God engineered us—genetically programmed us—to seek Him out. Even when we are lost in sin we yearn for His perfection. Paul writes, “[All] are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus. . .” We are made just because Christ freely gave his life for us. Fully God, fully Man, Jesus bridged the gap between the human and the divine, and in dying sacrificially, made it possible for us to become God with God's help. We believe because it is our deepest need, our most profound urge. Greater than hunger, thirst, the drive to reproduce, greater even than the will to live, the imperative to partake in God's goodness comes first. When we mistake the temporary goodness of food, drink, sex, and wealth for the eternal goodness of God, we set our sights too low, aiming for the passing things of this world rather than the life of the world to come. Our target is the Beatific Vision, seeing God face to face. How we live our lives daily is exactly how we take aim at the target. When we pray fervently and do good works we believe that we are aiming true. . .but are we?

    Jesus surprises his disciples and us when he declares, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. . .” The logical question arises: who will enter the kingdom of heaven? Jesus answers: “. . .only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” But aren't we doing the will of the Father when we pray and do good works? Yes and no. Certainly, it is God's will that we pray and do good works, but praying and doing good works is not all that the Father wills us to do or to be. Christ—who reveals God Himself to us—died for us so that we might become Christ for others. This same Christ says to his disciples (and us), “Everyone who listens [obeys] to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” No rain or wind or quake will shake the foundations of house constructed on the rock of the God’s will. No pain or turmoil or doubt can threaten the integrity of a life built on hearing and doing the will of the Father in heaven. However, a house built on sand, a life constructed on the vagaries of human wisdom, human intelligence, human will will collapse and be completely ruined. It is not enough that we cry out “Lord, Lord!” It is not enough to manage an occasional good deed. It is not enough that we live our gifted lives as lukewarm but inactive believers, as tepid but untrusting doers. God's love and wisdom must be the foundation of our lives—not just the interior decoration or the pretty landscape—but the immovable rock upon which all else is built. 

    On the last day, when God looks into your face, will he see a long, honorable tradition of good works? Will he see a fervent prayer life, a life faithful to the sacraments and scripture. Will he look into your face and see there reflected his own face: a life strengthened by the Spirit, rooted and grounded in love, a life of length, height and depth, measured on all sides by the immeasurable fullness of God who dwells within you? Will our God Who Is Love on the last day see the face of Christ in you, a single will to will just one thing? His Love. If so, you will enter kingdom on the last day. And you will feel perfectly at home because you have been there all along.

    Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

    Sorry, Romania. . .I was wrong.

    Last week I noted that the second largest H.A. audience was located in Romania.  This fact was strange enough to send me digging into the Blogger stats.  Turns out I was only looking at the monthly numbers rather than the "All Time" numbers.  "All Time" only includes site visits beginning in May 2010.  So, since May 2010, the top ten audiences are:

    United States
    United Kingdom

    Follow HancAquam & Check out my Wish List --------->

    New American Bible: Revised Edition to be released

    The USCCB website is announcing the release of their New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) on March 9, 2011.

    You can click here to preview the Penitential Psalms and learn a bit more about the differences between the NAB (used in our lectionaries) and the NABRE.  Only the Old Testament has been revised.

    I'm not a fan of the NAB, so I hope that the RE is an improvement.

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