22 April 2011

Not yet arrived. . .

To the kindly HancAquam Book Benefactor(s) who purchased for me, Opening Up the Scriptures: Joseph Ratzinger and the Foundations of Biblical Interpretation AND Rediscovering Aquinas and the Sacraments. . .these books have not arrived yet.  

I don't want you to think that I've rec'd them and failed to express my gratitude! 

Thanks to the generous soul who purchased two much-needed books this afternoon. . .Both will be used in my summer classes at U.D.

God bless, Fr. Philip

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Our Lord is dead!

Good Friday (A)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatoula

Our Lord is dead! Thanks be to God, our Lord is dead.

We Catholics are often accused of being a bit strange if not outright bizarre. We worship statues, pieces of bread; venerate bones and pieces of cloth; we march around towns in funny costumes, singing hymns in a dead language. As odd as these may be nothing quite compares to our Good Friday celebrations. Granted, what we actually do and say isn't all that odd; well, no odder than usual. No, what's odd, maybe even cruel, is that we celebrate the execution of our Savior. We celebrate the brutal beating and bloody death of a man we claim to love and honor. Surely, we deserve to be called “perverse” for believing that such a horrible death is worthy of celebration. Perverse or not, we do celebrate; we offer God thanks and praise for this sacrifice. For without it, we would still labor for the Devil as slaves of sin. But b/c of it, we are free. 

Good Friday then is as much a feast day of our freedom from sin as it is a memorial of Christ's death on the cross. Therefore, with each lash, thanks for your liberation. With each nail, praise God that you are ransomed. And when you come forward to kiss the altar of the cross, give yourself over again to the Love Who is your King. 

Our Lord is dead! Thanks to be God, our Lord is dead.

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Obamasaurus Rex. . ."artists, academics, and self-described intellectuals have self-selected themselves into an almost parallel universe of leftist chic and wishful thinking."  And B.O. is their fossilized god.

And if you need evidence of the leftist academic fantasy-world, check out this report on a recent conference of college composition teachers.  This is the Marxist-feminist B.S. we were force-fed when I was a grad student instructor way back in 1987. . .24 yrs ago!!!  They are obviously suffering from a fatal case of Epistemic Closure.

Well, this is embarrassing.  I could only watch about three seconds of the thirteen second pause.  NB. fast forward to 1:30.

The Anchoress has the links for all your Holy Thursday/Good Friday needs!

Why has radical eco-evangelism failed in spreading its gospel message?  My guess is that they fudged the numbers; hyped false causes of the problem; offered only expensive, bureaucrat-heavy top-down solutions; and came across as Dirty Hippies Hell Bent on Saving Us from Ourselves.  Oh, and the quasi-religious tone of their campaign didn't help either.

This pic has no caption.  Nor should it.

Ninja Squirrel OD'ed on the coffee again.  Bad, Ninja Squirrel, bad.

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21 April 2011

Coffee Cup Browsing

Wealth Redistribution Leftists on campus not so eager to redistribute their hard-earned grade points to needy classmates.  Slimy GPA Capitalists Pigs!

The attack on the Church in Spain continues a pace.  This is the third, fourth, fifth (?) act of vandalism against Catholic churches in Spain this year.

Yes, confessions can be heard during Holy Week. . .even on Good Friday!  It has become Hardened Tradition among priests of a certain generation to argue that Church rules forbid the celebration of confession during Holy Week.  This is false.

Ouch!  S.N.A.P. is fed some of its own bitter soup after one of its shrinks goes to jail for possessing child porn.  S.N.A.P. started out with a righteous cause.  Now its all about the $$$ and the publicity.

Hilarious. . .for philosophy geeks, that is.  Jeff, you need one more for the Dominican adage "never deny, rarely affirm, always distinguish."  Maybe something like Madonna's "V" for vogue to signal a need for a distinction.  :-)

As predictable as Easter and the start of summer:  "(Insert name of vacuous pop-star) outrages Catholics during Holy Week."

Good question for Fr. Tom Reese, SJ:  if the Church must radically alter her doctrines b/c of membership losses, must the Jesuits do the same?

Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Catholic university sends email:  "F@#$% Democrats!"  He's not fired.  Oh, wait. . .

A necessity for Easter Sunday Mass. . .(ducks and runs)

The Original Annoying Vegan. . .

There was a priest at yesterday's Chrism Mass sporting this hair-do.

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20 April 2011

The Poisoned Cup of Betrayal

Wednesday of Holy Week (A)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatoula

Judas Iscariot is one of three souls Dante condemns to the ninth circle of Hell, the circle reserved for traitors. He spends eternity being gnawed on by one of the three heads of the Devil. That Judas is a traitor is indisputable. He betrayed his friend and teacher, Jesus, to the men who plotted against him. For 30 pieces of silver and with a kiss, Judas sends Jesus to Pilate and the cross. Why Judas betrayed his friend is up for speculation. A quick read of the gospel story seems to point to greed. Judas was a thief. He stole from the disciples' common purse, robbing his brother-students of contributions made by the faithful. It's possible that Judas' greed joined forces with his nationalism and both pushed him to betray Jesus b/c he felt that Jesus had betrayed his promise to claim the Judean throne in a bloody revolution. Or maybe Judas was destined to betray Jesus and simply acted out his scripted part in the Passion drama. Figuring out the psychological motivations of the living is difficult; doing so for the long-dead is impossible. What we know is that Judas sold his friend and teacher for a price. He lived just long enough to regret that bargain. Whatever we may think of Judas, his betrayal of Christ brings home one hard truth: even our most faithful friendships are poisoned when we bargain with the Devil.

Everyone involved in the plot against Jesus understands that they are plotting against an innocent man. They distort his teachings. They find witnesses to lie about his actions. They knowingly accuse him of crimes he did not commit. Even Pilate knows that he's innocent, but he takes the politician's route of irresponsibility and dumps the decision to execute Jesus onto the mob. And the mob—cheering Jesus on Monday and screaming for his execution on Friday—knows nothing more of the man or his mission than what they've heard on the street. He's a blasphemer, a revolutionary, a fraud. They betray Jesus and their own religious heritage by finding him guilty w/o the trial that their traditions demand. All of them—the Pharisees, the scribes, the chief priests, the Romans, the mob, and even his own friends—all of them make a bargain with the Devil and suffer from the poison he injects into their souls. For each of them the poison is slightly different but no less deadly. At the moment they seal the deal with the Enemy, they become enemies of God.

And that's the Devil's ultimate goal: to increase the ranks of God's enemies. He lead a third of the angelic host into Hell. From the Pit, he tempts and taunts and tries his best to make us believe that it is possible for us to become gods w/o God. He will use silver to tear one away from Christ's friendship. He will use anger and vengeance to tear away another. With subtle compromise and accommodation he will gather many more. Most of us don't have it in us to be a Pilate or a Judas. But how many of us have the makings of a Mary or a Martha? We don't have to be Pilate or Judas to betray the Christ. Nor do we have to be Mary or Martha to be his faithful friend. When the crisis moment comes, when our enemies enter the garden and ask, “Aren't you a friend of the man from Nazareth?”, all we need do is set our faces like flint and tell the truth. Let the sword fall, or the cell door close, or the gag choke our voice. Let come what will. But tell the truth. Anyone who bargains with the Devil, anyone who closes a deal with sin lives just long to regret it. And that's just long enough to be too late.

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A Rant about "The Borgias"

I caught the fourth episode of Showtime's new costume drama, The Borgias last night.  From a production-values standpoint, it was very nicely done.  Not quite as lavish as their last effort, The Tudors, but still favorably comparable.

One glaring error was their treatment of the Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola.  Fra. Girolamo was a fiery Florentine preacher who railed against the political and moral corruption of the papacy of Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia). 

The Good Dominican Friar is introduced preaching in a pulpit wearing something that looks like a Benedictine habit belted with a cord!  Throughout the episode, he is referred to as a member of a mendicant Order but the Order is never named.  He appears a couple of times in the same habit.  One of the pope's enemies visits Savonarola in his cell at the priory and they talk beneath a huge painting of OP saints and blesseds--all wearing historically accurate OP habits. 

Savonarola was sent to Florence in 1482.  He was 30 years old.  He was executed at 48 years old. In the episode, he is portrayed by an actor in his late sixties. 

Another error:  the pope's son dresses a spy in a habit identical to Savonarola's and sends him to watch his father's chief enemy in the College of Cardinals.  The cardinal ends up in a confessional with the spy.  When the spy flubs the rite, the cardinal asks the spy to identify his Order.  He responds, "I am a member of the Mendicant Order of St. Benedict."  Ugh. 

My complaint is less about the specific errors than it is about the general inability/unwillingness of these productions to get Church Stuff right.  How hard could it be to google "Savonarola" and figure out the details of the OP habit, his age, and the name of his Order?

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19 April 2011

Coffee Cup Browsing

A quick review of the new HBO series based on the first novel in George R. R. Martin's Fire & Ice saga, The Game of Thrones.  If you read a lot of fantasy, you will like Martin's novels.  They are long on plot/character but the supernatural elements are muted.

On the disappearance of the anti-war Left.  Why aren't those protesters screaming and foaming at the mouth in front of the White House like they did from 2003 to 2008?  

Fr. Z. gives us an amusing rendition of a Children's Mass. . .in Latin.  This is not at all improbable!

Prof. Jacobson marks the beginning of Passover with a repost of his 2009 article on the role of Christian America in the defense of the Jewish people.

On the U.N. prostituting itself to one Big Solution after another in order to increase its power and influence:  ". . .apocalyptic rent-seeking is an institutional feature of the UN. . ."

Soon. . .

Calvin & Hobbes quotes. . .these are great!

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18 April 2011

Choose: Mary or Judas?

Monday of Holy Week (A)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatoula

Yesterday—Palm Sunday—began for us a week-long remembrance of a series of outrageous events that precede Jesus to his death on the cross. Entering Jerusalem on a donkey and hailed as a king by the crowds, Jesus goes on to visit Lazarus, Mary, and Martha in preparation for the Jewish feast of Passover. Today's outrageous events in the family's home foreshadow Good Friday's execution and reveal the hearts of two of Jesus' disciples: the devoted heart of Mary and the traitorous heart of Judas. Defying religious law, social convention, and good fiscal sense, Mary uses a pint of expensive perfume oil to anoint Jesus' feet. She compounds this outrageous act with another: she uncovers her hair and uses it to dry the oil from his feet. Mary's devotion shocks Judas who protests the anointing, arguing that the oil should be sold and the proceeds given to the poor. Since he was stealing from the disciples' treasury, his real concern, of course, is for his own pockets not the poor. Judas' traitorous heart is a sharp contrast for Mary's devoted heart, and we learn from the contrast the ultimate worth of extravagant love when weighed against the pretenses of faked charity. With his indignant outburst, Judas pretends to care about the poor. But it is Mary who exemplifies the proper attitude of a beloved disciple. While she points toward Jesus' death and burial by anointing him, Judas actually brings about his death by betraying him. Our Holy Week question is: will you be a Mary or a Judas the week before Easter?

By almost every measure that we hold dear, Mary's anointing of Jesus' feet is outrageously wasteful, an over-the-top act of devotion that would likely set even the most extravagant among us to wonder about her sanity. That jar of oil was worth a year's wages! And she just dumps it on Jesus' feet! We have wonder if Lazarus and Martha tried to stop her, or did they just look on in horror along with Judas? Jesus doesn't object. When Judas sputters his outrage, Jesus says, “Leave her alone.  Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” What is it that Mary is supposed to keep for Jesus' burial? Maybe there's a bit of the oil left, or maybe he's referring to Mary's devoted heart, her extravagant love. There will always “the poor” among them for them to love and serve, but he will be with them for only a few more days. It is Mary's deeply rooted charity that will survive his death and that charity will serve the poor far longer than Judas' coin.

Our practical natures might be tempted to side with Judas on the question of whether or not to sell the oil and give the proceeds to the poor. Even though he's stealing from the treasury, surely Judas is right to object to the waste of the oil. Even if he steals half the money from the sell, a lot of poor folks can be fed from half a year's wages. Surely that's a better use of the oil, a more efficient way of being charitable. Judas' motives for wanting to sell the oil should not be allowed to taint the final goodness of the righteous goal of feeding the hungry. And if this were a story about the most efficient means of handling a common purse, then Judas would be right. Unfortunately for Judas, this is a story about Jesus' impending death and who marks his passing with the proper devotion and respect. Mary's love leads her to the cross with Jesus. Judas' greed leads him to betrayal. Mary's love binds her to a life of discipleship. Judas' guilt hangs him with a rope and ends his life in suicide. Mary lives on as an example of servant-devotion; Judas died as an example of what happens when we allow selfish expediency to rule our hearts. 

This week we remember the outrageous events leading up to Jesus' execution. We can follow Mary's example or Judas' example. Will you love exuberantly, or you will pretend to love and betray your Christ?

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17 April 2011

Cheer him! Crucify him!

from Palm Sunday 2007:

The Mass
Palm Sunday: Phil 2.6-11 and Luke 22.14-23.56
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Luke Church, St Paul Hospital and Church of the Incarnation

Paul says that Jesus, emptying himself, took on the form of a slave and became one of us to die as one of us for all of us. We can cheer all we want. Wave palms all we want. No one here will ask Jesus to let his cup pass. No one here will volunteer to hang on that cross and let Jesus go free. Are we cowards? No. We know that Jesus must die so that we might live. The certainty of his death is the only possibility of our eternal life. Only he is Son of God, Son of Man; fully human, fully divine. His death pulls us down into the grave and his rising again draws us up with him. Everything that needs to be healed will be healed. All repairs will be made. Nothing will be left broken or hurt.

But today, just today, knowing what we know about his journey from here to the tomb, even still we must cheer and whistle. And wave palms. And shout “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” And we want so much to grab the tail end of his departing scene and pull it back, just yank it back to the garden or the roaring sea or the mountaintop or the desert or to any of the dozens of place where we sat with him to listen to God’s wisdom, to see the radiant glory of his love for us.

We want him anywhere but here in Jerusalem. He rides to the cross, ya know? And we must cheer. We must cheer because later we will shout, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” What did we forget between our cheering him into the city and our heckling him to the cross, between our exuberant welcome and our jeering blood lust? To be Christ we must follow Christ. Who wants to follow Christ to the cross? Who wants their flesh torn and bleeding? Who wants the thorns of a mocking crown piercing their scalp? I deny him. I do not know him. No, I’m not his disciple. Never heard of him, never met him. Who? Who? No, sorry, doesn’t ring a bell.

We’ve come too far for that now, brothers and sisters! That desert was forty days long. Along the way we dropped coffee and tea, booze and cigarettes, TV and shopping, email and chocolate. We dropped gossiping, nagging, sex, meat, cussing. We picked up extra hours of prayer, daily Mass, weekly confession, spiritual reading, volunteer hours, being nice to little brother and sister, obeying mom and dad, obeying husband or wife, extra money in the plate on Sunday. The devil bought out his best temptations to show us our weaknesses and sometimes he won and sometimes we won. But he knows and you need to know if you don’t already: God wins all the time, every time, for all time! And He has given us Easter to prove it. But now…if you will be Christ you must follow Christ. Walk right behind him. Feel the stones. Wipe the spit. Hear the curses and jeers. Taste the salty iron of blood. See the cross on his shoulder. And know that he carries for you the only means of your salvation. The sacrificial victim carries his own altar to the church of the skulls.

How far will you follow?

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Q:  Father, where have you been the last few days???  A:  My doctor doubled one of my BP meds and it made me a bit lethargic.  Actually, it almost zombified me!  I'm adjusting. . .

Koran-burning is condemned; Bible-burning is required.

Useless U.N. scrubs eco-disaster predictions from its website. . .

The Oh-So-Tolerant Left in Madison, WI. . .CAUTION:  obscene language!  Apparently, folks, this is what democracy looks like.  More like mob-rule.

Nanny State nannies targeting gripers in airport security lines.  I hope they never learn to read minds. . .I'll be in some serious trouble!

B.O. to Catholics, "You are the enemy."

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