28 January 2012

Just Say NO to B.O.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans asked his pastors to read a letter at this weekend's Masses.  When I read the letter to myself, I thought it was rather tame.  However, when I read it aloud, I was struck by the force of his words and motivated to act.

Rarely have I asked HancAquam readers to anything specific. . .OK. . ."buy me books" counts, I guess!  :-)

Let me ask you to do something now:  contact your Congressmen and Senators and let them know that you strongly object to the Obama administration's intrusion into our lives as faithful Catholics.

Even those of you who think the Church's teaching on contraception and abortion is wrongheaded or too extreme, or even if you don't really understand the Church's teachings, you can appreciate the gross malfeasance of requiring Catholic institutions to pay for contraceptives and abortions.  The Amish are exempted from buying health insurance and sending their children to public schools.  The Quakers are exempted from serving in the military.  Why are Catholics being required to violate their conscience in the funding of abortion?

Spirit of Vatican Two Catholics and JPII-BXVI Catholics can agree that the well-formed conscience of a religious believer is not subject to regulation by secular political forces.  

B.O. is setting himself against both the leadership of the Church and against the free conscience of individual Catholics when he orders that we work in order to supply money to those who want to violate the natural law by killing their children.  This is a rank, cynical political move to shore up his base before an election by demonizing the only institution left in this country that believes in objective truth and knowable moral norms.  

Not only is he ordering us to give our money to abortionists, he's implicating us in mortal sin.

Let your representatives know that they have your support in opposing B.O.'s attempt to get you to pay for his supporters' abortions.

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Anxiety = Distraction

4th Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Paul writes to the Corinthians: “I should like you to be free of anxieties. . .[so that you might adhere] to the Lord without distraction.” How does he suggest that we avoid anxiety and thus adhere to the Lord without distractions? Don't get married! “An unmarried man [or woman] is anxious about the things of the Lord. . .a married man [or woman] is divided,” he says, between pleasing the Lord and pleasing a spouse. Looking out over the congregation, I daresay, by Paul's standard, we have a lot of anxious folks here this morning! But this nothing to be worried about. Paul adds, “I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you. . .” In other words, though he believes it is better to remain unmarried and thus undivided in the service of the Lord, he is not imposing celibacy as a restraint. Keep in mind that Paul's advice to the Corinthians is coming from personal experience—he had been a married man.*  He knows all about the anxieties and distractions of having a wife. And that's his point, that's what he is teaching—not celibacy or virginity (worthy, even preferable choices) but the importance of serving the Lord without the anxiety of distractions. The unclean spirits possessing the man shout at Jesus, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” Jesus casts out the man's uncleanliness by saying, “Quiet! Come out of him!” And the man is distracted no more.

How do we become possessed by the unclean spirit of anxiety? It might go something like this: an ordinary seed of responsibility sprouts as a worry and that sprout of worry, with careful nursing, blossoms into a poisonous vexation. That poisonous vexation, if not quickly and mercilessly pruned, is left to ripen and become an anxious fruit, which then drops, bursting with rot to plant its distracting seeds in your spirit. Then the cycle of responsibility, worry, vexation, and anxiety to distraction not only repeats but it repeats in every part of your life. What might start as an ordinary responsibility to pay a bill can sprout, blossom, ripen, and rot into a distracting anxiety about money. “I have a bill to pay” becomes “If I can't pay this bill, I am a worthless husband, a useless wife.” If and when this happens, then you know that the unclean spirit of anxiety has possessed you. To that unclean, disquieting spirit, our Lord, say, “Quiet! Come out!” 

You might have noticed that I left something out of my description of how we might become possessed by the unclean spirits of anxiety. I said that an ordinary responsibility can sprout in our souls as a worry. What can cause this? What is it that transforms a mundane responsibility like paying a bill into a worry about where the money will come from? To answer this question, we need to think about what anxiety is in Christian terms. And how anxiety is a distraction in our service to the Lord. There is no official Church definition of anxiety, but there is a revealing mention of it in the Catechism, a mention that gives us a powerful clue in figuring out exactly how anxiety hurts us spiritually. In its discussion of the Tenth Commandment, the one against coveting a neighbor's goods, the Catechism says this, “Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God”(2547). If abandonment to the providence of God frees us from anxiety, then it is reasonable to assume that refusing to abandon ourselves to the loving-care of the Father enslaves us to worry. Anxiety then is the unclean spirit that possesses us when we fail to trust that God will provide for our needs. The job of this unclean spirit is to distract us from serving the Lord by focusing our time, energy, and talent on trying to solve the very problems we have created for ourselves by not heeding the Lord's will in the first place. I hope the irony of this doesn't escape you. . .

OK. We've all heard some version of “abandonment to God's providence” all our lives. It's right up there with “Offer it up” and “think of it as a few more days off purgatory.” What does the phrase mean though? When we think of abandoning something we think of leaving it behind, surrendering it, giving it away. We think of abandoned cars, houses, even abandoned children or spouses—those thrown out. When we abandon something we sever all ties to it, cut our affections, distance ourselves. But none of those really fit the idea of abandonment TO God's providence. We're not giving up on providence or cutting ties with God's loving-care. What we are doing to falling into the hands of God w/o looking first to see if He's really gonna catch us. Think of bungee jumping off a bridge w/o the bungee cord. You abandon your perch in order to abandon yourself to the rush of the wind and the pull of gravity. We always fall down. Spiritually speaking, when the need arises, we always fall into God's loving hands. Like needful objects hurtling toward the earth, at our most desperate, we tumble toward the Father. There is no question about this. It is His will. The question is whether or not we will acknowledge this as His will, give Him thanks for His care, and then continue on in the full knowledge that we have already been caught and cared for. The unclean spirit of anxiety is exorcised the moment we say to the first inkling of worry, “Quiet! Come out of me!” And when family and friends see that you are calm, collected, and cared for, they will be astonished. 

Let's set the record straight on one important point: God's loving-care for you in your time of need will not likely appear in your checking account or as a magically transformed spouse or as suddenly obedient kids. His love for us can manifest as material goods. More often than not, His love for us sits as a reminder beyond this life that our lives here are impermanent, always in transition toward to a higher end with a greater purpose. God is not a heavenly banker, or a miracle-working therapist, or revolutionary psychotropic medication. He loves us b/c it is His nature to love, and the love He gives us is given so that we can transform our relationship to Him, to others, to ourselves, and to the things of this world. This means that all those relationships that invite the unclean spirits of anxiety into your life must be re-ordered behind your first love: God. Love your spouse b/c you love God first. Love your children b/c you love God first. Love your house, your car, your career, your hobbies b/c God comes first, before everything and everyone you love. That way, when your spouse passes, your kids move away, your car breaks down, and you lose your job, you still dwell faithfully in the only permanent source of love, Love Himself, God. 

The Psalmist writes, “Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God. . .” Your life will be ruled by that which you love most. To place God at the center of your life, to make Him your heart—remove whatever else, whoever else occupies that place of honor and abandon yourself and all those you love to the only living source of Love: Christ Jesus and him alone.

*I changed this portion of the sentence b/c I'd confused Paul with Peter.  Paul was probably a widower.

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27 January 2012

Will your penance bear fruit?

St. Angela Merici
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

In the newly translated Confiteor we confess, “I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. . .” In that way that only Catholics can truly appreciate, we cover all the bases! Thought, words, deeds, and deeds we didn't do. This penitential prayer isn't just some casual way to start the Mass, nor is it an easy-cheesy wink at our sins. In that one sentence we rehearse not only the typical progression of sin but we also practice a way out of whatever sin we may have committed. Sin usually starts with a thought, then progresses to a word—to ourselves or someone else; then we move to the deed itself. How do we “reverse” this progression once it's finished? We start with a deed—going to confession. Then we move to the words—we confess, pray the act of contrition, and receive our penance. Then we move—literally, physically—out of the confessional and complete our penance, the final deed. Rightly conceived and executed, that penance can be the very seed of next witness; that is, our penance—whether public or private—can be both a seed planted for our own growth in holiness and the beginning of a holy life for someone else. Let me give you a very stark example. . .

In 1981, my high school Spanish class went to Mexico City to visit the newly built Shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe and the National Cathedral. I knew exactly nothing about Catholicism. Our tour bus pulled up into the plaza in front of the shrine and the cathedral and we all piled out to gape at all the weird stuff around us. Just as I stepped out, I heard this low moaning, a sort of chant coming from the right. The locals gathered for prayer parted and from among them came about 200 abuelas, grandmothers, crawling on their knees toward the shrine. They were all holding these strings of beads and muttering out loud. Never in my 17 years had I ever seen anything so bizarre! We all stopped and stared at them. They were dressed in loose-fitting black shawls with their heads covered and. . .the worst part. . .their knees and legs were covered in blood. They had been crawling over asphalt and gravel for miles. I asked my teacher, a Catholic woman, “What are they doing?” She said, “They are doing penance for their sons who are in jail.” Thirty years later, that image—those grandmothers on their bloodied knees doing penance for the sins of their sons and grandsons—remains a vivid image for me of what we are capable of when believe in the power of repentance. Though none of the abuelas know this, their witness that day put me in the Dominican habit. They planted the seed of my priestly vocation.

The new translation of the Confiteor is not all that different from the old one. The bishops restored the triple mea culpa, and thus reasserted the role of our free will in committing sin. This isn't a move toward darkening the joy of our celebration; this isn't a way for the clergy to “beat up” on the laity for your lack of holiness. Quite the opposite! That you are reciting the Confiteor at Mass in the first place is evidence enough that you are fully aware of your sin. The Confiteor is your chance to tell the truth about your spiritual state and to receive the mercy that God freely offers. How can you receive if you do not ask? When you leave here this evening, what penance will you perform? How will you show the Lord that you are repentant? Whatever you choose to think, to say, or do, let it be a witness that plants a seed, a seed that produces a marvelous harvest for the glory of the Lord!

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Liberty for the Amish & Quakers but not Catholics. . .

In the editorial below, Archbishop Dolan makes an excellent point.  The gov't respects the religious consciences of a number of Christian groups in the US by exempting them from otherwise obligatory laws.  Why is it so difficult for B.O. to respect our 2,000 year old tradition of calling abortion murder and refusing to pay for it?
ObamaCare and Religious Freedom
How about some respect for Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease?
By [Archbishop] TIMOTHY M. DOLAN

Religious freedom is the lifeblood of the American people, the cornerstone of American government. When the Founding Fathers determined that the innate rights of men and women should be enshrined in our Constitution, they so esteemed religious liberty that they made it the first freedom in the Bill of Rights.

In particular, the Founding Fathers fiercely defended the right of conscience. George Washington himself declared: "The conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness; and it is my wish and desire, that the laws may always be extensively accommodated to them." James Madison, a key defender of religious freedom and author of the First Amendment, said: "Conscience is the most sacred of all property."

Scarcely two weeks ago, in its Hosanna-Tabor decision upholding the right of churches to make ministerial hiring decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously and enthusiastically reaffirmed these longstanding and foundational principles of religious freedom. The court made clear that they include the right of religious institutions to control their internal affairs.

Yet the Obama administration has veered in the opposite direction. It has refused to exempt religious institutions that serve the common good—including Catholic schools, charities and hospitals—from its sweeping new health-care mandate that requires employers to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees.

Last August, when the administration first proposed this nationwide mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage, it also proposed a "religious employer" exemption. But this was so narrow that it would apply only to religious organizations engaged primarily in serving people of the same religion. As Catholic Charities USA's president, the Rev. Larry Snyder, notes, even Jesus and His disciples would not qualify for the exemption in that case, because they were committed to serve those of other faiths.

Since then, hundreds of religious institutions, and hundreds of thousands of individual citizens, have raised their voices in principled opposition to this requirement that religious institutions and individuals violate their own basic moral teaching in their health plans. Certainly many of these good people and groups were Catholic, but many were Americans of other faiths, or no faith at all, who recognize that their beliefs could be next on the block. They also recognize that the cleverest way for the government to erode the broader principle of religious freedom is to target unpopular beliefs first.

Now we have learned that those loud and strong appeals were ignored. On Friday, the administration reaffirmed the mandate, and offered only a one-year delay in enforcement in some cases—as if we might suddenly be more willing to violate our consciences 12 months from now. As a result, all but a few employers will be forced to purchase coverage for contraception, abortion drugs and sterilization services even when they seriously object to them. All who share the cost of health plans that include such services will be forced to pay for them as well. Surely it violates freedom of religion to force religious ministries and citizens to buy health coverage to which they object as a matter of conscience and religious principle.

The rule forces insurance companies to provide these services without a co-pay, suggesting they are "free"—but it is na├»ve to believe that. There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there's no free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you.

Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees.

The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.

This latest erosion of our first freedom should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead.

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Prayer to St Michael the Archangel. . .yup, it's time!

Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, IL has asked parishes in his dioceses to reintroduce the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel as a way of combating B.O.'s intrusion into our Christian consciences with his pro-abort/contraception mentality. 

Hoorah for the Good Bishop!

Here at St. Dominic's we recite the prayer after each Mass. . .

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host--
by the Divine Power of God--cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Another version:

O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places. Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.  Amen.

And there's an even longer version:

O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places. Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.

Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels.

Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage, Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions.

In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory.

The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude.

Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations.  Amen.

Warning:  the Devil prefers that Christians keep quiet and he more or less leaves us alone when we aren't causing him any trouble.  Reciting this prayer just might rile him up a bit.  You've been warned!

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Coffee Cup Browsing

If the "values" expressed in this vid win out, our country cannot/will not survive.  Caution:  strong language.

B.O. leaves "clean energy" summit in a 22 car motorcade.  I'll start to worry about "climate change" when the Alarmists start acting like they really believe their own propaganda.

Sonograms and background checks:  "I’ll start taking their bleating about constitutional rights seriously when it becomes one tenth as hard to get an abortion as it is to bear arms."

200 Lefties camp out in a park and scream, "Eat the Rich" and we hear weeks of fawning media coverage.  300,000+ Pro-Lifers march through D.C. and all we hear is the Media Crickets chirping.

"The other nine nations on the World Watch List’s top 10 are all majority Muslim states. All told, the consensus estimate for the number of Christians killed for their faith each year around the world is 150,000."

Pastor issues letter, "Good Manners in God's House."  Betcha he caught some flack for this one!

Our Petulant President:  "very thin-skinned."  Yeah, that happens when you're used to everyone thinking you're the Savior of Mankind.

Bishop blasts Catholic-bashing from the White House.

Suicide:  the man accused of murdering Fr. Ed Everitt, OP is found dead in his cell.  R.I.P.

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26 January 2012

Update on Mom. . .

Scuba Mom is home from the hospital.  She's feeling fine.

Thanks for all the prayers and notes of concern. 

God bless, Fr. Philip, OP


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25 January 2012

What shall I do, Lord?

The Conversion of St. Paul
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

Once, when I was 12 y.o., the carpenter helping us build our house in Mississippi whapped me in the back of the head with a 2x4. I've been hit in the face with a strand of barbed-wire. Had a tree fall on me while cutting fire wood. Almost drowned in a lake. My little brother bounced a brick off my head after I had hit him with two bricks. When I was 17, I rear-ended a truck on Hwy 78 going 60mph. Totaled both trucks. While working in a psych hospital, I've tackled and helped to restrain a police officer, an amateur wrestler, a woman who thought she was the Devil, and dozens of out of control adolescents. Been bitten, kicked, punched, spit on, bled on—well, name a execrable body fluid, and I've had it flung at me. Probably the most dramatic thing ever to happen to me was almost dying from a staph infection in my lower spine. Took seven weeks of IV anti-biotics and four months of bed rest to clear it up. Despite all this, never once did I see lightening or hear the voice of Jesus. Never once in all those moments of crisis did the thought occur to me: Go preach the Good News! Mostly I just laid around and watched Jerry Springer or re-runs of Hogan's Heroes. To get Saul's attention, Jesus has to smack him a around a little. Make him dependent on the charity of others in order to set him on the righteous path. Saul becomes Paul when he asks the Lord, “What shall I do, Sir?” 

What difference does Saul's question make in his transformation into Paul? Remember who Saul was: "I am a Jew. . .educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God. . .I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison. . .” Saul was not an indifferent observer of the early Church. He was an active persecutor, a man on a mission to see the first followers of Christ executed for their heresy. He was on his way to Damascus to bring [them] back to Jerusalem in chains for punishment. . .” when he was enlightened to the errors of his ways. Saul's question to Jesus—“What shall I do, Sir?”—is more than just a polite question; it's a declaration of surrender, an admission to the Lord that he—Saul—is now subject to the Word of God revealed in the Christ. Saul the Zealous Persecutor of the Way becomes Paul the Zealous Apostle of Way when he bows his stiff neck to Jesus and asks him for a task, a job to do in his name.

Wouldn't Saul's question to Jesus make an excellent prayer to start your day? Before your feet touch the floor in the morning, ask Christ, “What shall I do for you today, Sir?” Make no mistake: it's a very dangerous question to ask, a very risky request to make. You might not like the answer; you might end up wishing you had never asked. But if you will go from being who you are in Christ to being everything you can be for Christ, you will take the risk and find joy in the answer. Because we have Saul's story of how he became Paul, we don't have to wait to be struck by lightening or blinded or sent off to live with strangers in order to ask, “What can I do for you, Lord?” We know how his story goes and how it ends. Paul evangelizes the whole Mediterranean region and ends his life a prison in Rome, probably executed by beheading—a mercy accorded Roman citizens. We don't die as martyrs to be good Christians. But we do have to find within ourselves and within our Body the Church Paul's zeal, his strength of resolve, and his fidelity to at once seek out the Lord's will for us and then do that will once it is made known. What can I do for you, Lord? “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

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Things Presbyterian Seminarians Say. . .

Hilarious!  Not sure how many Catholics will get this. . .but it is hilarious:

H/T:  the Great Bearded Sage-Yeti of the Northwest (Mark Shea)

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24 January 2012

Fool us once, shame on us. . .

Mirror of Justice hits the target perfectly:  

The Obama administration's abortifacient and contraception mandate is appalling, but I cannot claim to be surprised by it. In fact, I would have been surprised---indeed stunned---had the administration done anything significant to honor or protect the rights of Catholics and others on whose consciences the mandate will impose.

In every area touching the sanctity of human life and issues of sexual morality, the Obama administration is aggressively prosecuting the agenda its critics predicted and its most ardent left-wing supporters hoped for (There was never any reason to believe that he would do otherwise. In fact, his paper thin record as a Senator made it abundantly clear that a pro-abortion agenda was the only agenda that he held sacred). Those who are driving the train, including key administration officials who self-identify as members of the Catholic Church, have no regard for the ethical beliefs of Catholics and others when they are in conflict with left-liberal orthodoxy. Their task, as they perceive it, is to fortify and expand the "right to abortion" and "sexual freedom" wherever they can. They pursue this agenda with a religious zeal because, in fact, the ideology in which abortion is a "right" and "sexual freedom" is a core value is their religion (This is a point that cannot be made often enough:  secular ideology operates very much like a program of religious proselytizing). These beliefs are integral to their worldview. If, like Kathleen Sebelius, they happen to be Catholics, you can be assured that it won't be Catholic teaching, or the Judaeo-Christian ethic, that shapes their policies on issues of life and death and marriage and sexual morality; it will be liberal ideology---pure and simple---that does the shaping.

Interestingly, Obama and his people have been willing to break the hearts of those on the left when it comes Guantanamo, rendition, basic procedural rights of detainees and those accused of supporting terrorism, targeted assassinations, drone attacks, and so forth. But they keep faith strictly with them when it comes to anything pertaining to abortion, contraception, and other central components of the ideology of lifestyle liberalism---the conscience rights of Catholics and others be damned. (For me, this is the most damning consequence of the 2008 election.  So many otherwise faithful Catholics brushed aside B.O.'s radical pro-abort agenda on the shaky premise that his efforts to undo GWB's war on terror squared the proportionalist circle, allowing them to "balance" the scales of justice against the unborn in favor of a leftist pipe dream, i.e. playing nice with terrorists would make them go away.)

Pro-life citizens, including many Catholics, who in 2008 allowed themselves to be persuaded that Obama wouldn't, as his critics warned, push abortion hard and run roughshod over the religious liberty and rights of conscience of Catholics and other pro-life citizens and their institutions, have now gotten a rude awakening (Have they?  I wonder. . .). His administration revealed its contempt for religious freedom and the rights of people and communities of faith when it embraced an extreme and utterly untenable position on the ministerial exemption in the Hosanna-Tabor case (This case was set to neuter the First Amendment by inviting gov't bureaucrats into the hiring practices of churches). In case anyone thought that was some sort of isolated mistake, the President's abortifacient and contraception mandate leaves the matter in no doubt.

In 2012, it is no longer possible to sustain illusions about what Obama and his people mean to do to us. They are already doing it. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."  (There is no way a faithful Catholic can claim--again--in 2012 this president should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his radical pro-abortion/anti-Catholic agenda.  It was nearly impossible to do so in 2008, but many managed it by twisting themselves into moral knots.  Surely, the three years of an aggressive, secularist campaign of intimidation at the hands of B.O. and his minions has proven that.)

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The folly of Roman preaching. . .

An anonymous commenter sent me a link to H. L. Menken's essay, "Holy Writ" (1923). Menken is one of my favorite writers, but I've never run across this particular piece of prophecy:

An excerpt:

Preaching is not an essential part of the Latin ceremonial. It was very little employed in the early church, and I am convinced that good effects would flow from abandoning it today, or, at all events, reducing it to a few sentences, more or less formal. In the United States the Latin brethren have been seduced by the example of the Protestants, who commonly transform an act of worship into a puerile intellectual exercise; instead of approaching God in fear and wonder these Protestants settle back in their pews, cross their legs, and listen to an ignoramus try to prove that he is a better theologian than the Pope. This folly the Romans now slide into. Their clergy begin to grow argumentative, doctrinaire, ridiculous. It is a pity. A bishop in his robes, playing his part in the solemn ceremonial of the mass, is a dignified spectacle, even though he may sweat freely; the same bishop, bawling against Darwin half an hour later, is seen to be simply an elderly Irishman with a bald head, the son of a respectable saloon-keeper in South Bend, Ind. Let the reverend fathers go back to Bach. If they keep on spoiling poetry and spouting ideas, the day will come when some extra-bombastic deacon will astound humanity and insult God by proposing to translate the liturgy into American, that all the faithful may be convinced by it. 

Now, I disagree with HLM strongly.  Why?  Because to agree with him would put me out of business!

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Scuba Mom Update

Just talked to Scuba Mom. . .she had an allergic reaction to the IV anti-biotics they were giving her and had to be moved to the ICU to recover.

She's feeling fine this morning and will be moving back to the regular unit soon.

Thanks for the prayers!  Keep them going, please. . .

Fr. Philip, OP

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Coffee Cup Browsing

When words mean whatever we want them to mean. . .and by "we," I mean those in the Grievance Industry and their political puppets.

B.O.'s former economic adviser admits that the "stimulus" was mostly about paying off campaign promises.  

Another Catholic health care giant takes its 30 pieces of silver b/c being associated with the Church "hampered some deals" in its effort for expansion.   Ignore assurances that it will remain "in the Catholic tradition."

A MUST read:  Secular Theocracy

BAM! "What we’re watching emerge in this country is a new kind of paganism, an atheism with air-conditioning and digital TV.  And it is neither tolerant nor morally neutral."

You were offended?  OK.  But were you harmed?

I protect mine with three layers!

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23 January 2012

Prayers for Mom

Just got off the phone with Scuba Mom. . .she's back in the hospital with pneumonia. 

Please keep her and my father in your prayers.

God bless, Fr. Philip, OP


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No seed, no harvest

NB.  I forgot to note that this homily is a repost. . .from 2008, I think.

Day of Penance for Abortion’s Violence Against Human Dignity (GIRM 373)
Isa 32.15-18 and Matt 5.1-12 (Votive Lectionary nos. 887 and 891)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

It doesn’t take long growing up on a farm to figure out the meaning of the gospel adage: you reap what you sow. We planted melon seeds and melons grew. We planted squash seeds and squash grew. Come harvest time we reaped melons and squash. The connection between planting seed and harvesting the fruit of the seed’s plant is almost too obvious to have a name. “Natural consequence” might work. Or perhaps something less philosophical like “biological process.” Regardless of what we decide to name the connection, the connection is significant not only for planning a useful garden—imagine planting spinach seeds and getting corn two months later!—but it is also significant for us as creatures who live and grow in the image and likeness of our Creator. The seed we sow in the private plots of our own hearts and the seed we sow in the public ground of the “Common Good” will grow to fruition for harvest and that harvest will make its way back to our plates. On this day of penance for abortion’s violations of human dignity, we must ask: are we eating our own condemnation?

We could spend most of today talking the coming financial disaster of Baby Boomer retirement and the lack of younger workers to pay into Social Security. We could talk about how the low birth-rate among the Boomers turned Gen-X into Generation-Narcissist, and Gen-Y into Generation-Entitlement. We could point out that the “freedom of choice” to procure legal abortions and the use of contraceptives have “freed” sex from its reproductive end and given us at least three generations of Americans that are at once obsessed with sex and neurotic about sex to the point of needing professional medical treatment. And we could spend some time talking about how legal abortion has functioned in our national moral calculus as an agent of human degradation, one focused tightly on racial minorities and the poor. This is where we are. Where are we going to be?

The Beatitudes teach us that there is a pattern to justice and peace that begins right where we are. Where we are always results in where we will be. Just look at the text. Blessed ARE they who mourn, for they WILL BE comforted. Blessed ARE the clean of heart, for they WILL see God. All the way through the teaching, Jesus makes the practical, moral connection between where we are with where we will be. Blessed are, blessed are, blessed are. . .will inherit, will be shown mercy, will be satisfied. This is the moral parallel to our sown seed/predictable harvest image.

Fortunately, as moral creatures, we are graced with intelligence and good sense. We are free to change where we are and therefore free to alter where we will be. Isaiah says it plainly, “Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security.” So long as we sow the seeds of narcissism, entitlement, self-righteousness, material convenience, and violence against children and the unborn, we can expect to harvest nothing less than an aggressive contempt for life, an aversion to sexual responsibility and care, and a culture so soaked through with death that it stinks up the heavens. So long as we deny the justice of the most basic human right—the right to live—to our future, we have no future. There is Nothing beyond narcissism; Nothing beyond entitlement; Nothing beyond violence but more violence. We will not be shown mercy; we will not be comforted; we will not be called children of God, nor, for that matter, will we see God.

Our ministry today is penance. And preaching. Who out there doesn’t know that Christ’s peace follows God’s justice? No desert will become an orchard and no orchard a forest if we cannot quench the conflagration that consumes our yet to be born future. There is no soil rich enough to produce a harvest without seed.

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-6 Fat Report

Down to 327 lbs.!  Just another 100 lbs to go.

WooHoo!!!  Keep those prayers going, folks.

Update:  Ooops. . .I lost six pounds rather than three.  

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Coffee Cup Browsing

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, “In effect, [B.O.] is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences."  Even pro-abort/pro-contraceptive "Catholics" have to see that this is only the first salvo in B.O.'s war on the Church. 

B.O. knows who the enemy is.

Another extended crashed cruise ship metaphor:  The Sinking of the West.  Cf. the links above.

Let the E.U. Nannies find the money to defend themselves!  The cradle to grave socialism of the E.U. is made easier to maintain by a massive subsidy called. . .the American Armed Forces.

Newt wins in S.C.  I think this is more about sticking it to the Palace Guard Media than it is about the voters' comfort with Newt.
Cardinal Mahony attacks B.O. and his power grab over the Church.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Maybe the 52% of Catholics who voted for The One might get it right next time around?

The Occu-Bears!  (You make this stuff up, people.)

You GOT that!?

Funny. . .don't know why.


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Fr. Pontifex responses to Love Jesus, Hate Religion vid

There's a Youtube video where some guy recites a poem about loving Jesus but hating religion.  I haven't watched it. . .don't need to. . .I know the meme well b/c I used it for years to dodge my vocation.  

Below you will find an excellent response to the shallow anti-Catholic vid from "Fr.  Pontifex":


What if I told you that Jesus loves religion
And that by his coming as man he brought his religion to fruition
See this had to be addressed, the use of illogical terms and definitions
You clearly have a heart for Jesus but its fueling atheistic opinions
See what makes his religion great is not errors of wars and inquisitions
It's that broken men and women to participate in his mission
Clearly Jesus says I have not come to abolish
I came to fulfill the law and I came to fulfill the prophets (Matthew 5:17)
And lines about building big churches and tending to the poor
Sounds a bit like Judas when the perfume was being poured (John 12:5)
See His religion is the largest worldwide source of relief
For the poor, the hungry, the sick and repentant thief
Oceans of compassion, opening wide the doors
For single mothers, widows and orphans, married and divorced (James 1:27)
We all detest hypocrisy, and empty show is just the worst
But blaming religion for contradiction
Is like staring at death, and blaming the hearse.
See the teacher will teach when the students are ready to listen
But those that choose to sit in the pews and refuse the good news
Is not the fault of religion.
And If I have the Jersey and I'm playing for the Bulls
There's going to be some boundaries, regulations and some rules.
You can't have Christ without his Church; you can't have the King without his Kingdom
Sins of the Body and internal treason will never ever make me leave him
And that Jesus said it is done, is absolutely true
But he also gave us a mission with many things to DO.
Jesus says if you love me, you will Do what I command. (JN 15:14)
Go and Baptize in the name of the Father, Son & Spirit in Every Land. (MT 28:19)
And on the night he was betrayed he took his men in the Upper Room
Take at eat this is my body take and drink my blood for you.
A New covenant you see, an act connected to the tree,
Do this time and time again in Memory of Me. (Mt 26:26-28)
And at last with crown of thorns beaten beyond comprehension
His eyes were looking for yours and mine; it was divine, no human invention.
So as for religion I love it, I have one because Jesus rose from the dead and won.
I believe When Jesus said IT IS FINISHED, His religion had just begun.

Fr. Claude (Dusty) Burns
Aka Pontifex

You can go to the Youtube page and see some of the other responses. 


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22 January 2012

Prayers, please. . .

Going for an interview of sorts on Tuesday. . .please pray that it goes well!

More on this development later.

God bless, Fr. Philip Neri, OP

NB. This job would be in addition to my current assignment as parochial vicar.

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Getting your attention. . .

3rd Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

What does it take to get our attention these days? A crisis? Some sort of disaster? Maybe something as simple as a name change for your favorite brand? Or maybe you're a fairly even tempered sort who reacts proportionally to all situations. You're calm in a crisis, controlled, and clear-minded. But think about it. What isn't a crisis? Global warming! A New Ice Age! Bird Flu! Terrorists! Record Unemployment! The End of America! Sex Scandals! Genocide! The Collapse of Europe! Just about anything that happens these days (no matter how minor) is presented to us as a crisis of earth-shattering proportions, a disaster on par with the worst punishments visited on sinners in the Old Testament. Digging through the hysterical rhetoric of a hyperventilating media can be exhausting work. If you're like me, you've come to the conclusion that “Wolf” has been cried once too often, and that it is far better to throw in with the providence of God and let human events unfold as they will, knowing that Love Himself has already won the victory for us. Squeals of panic from politicians, activists, and media talking-heads take on a whole new insignificance when placed along side the Word of God and His promise of loving-care. None of this, however, should close our ears to the His call for our repentance. Though He will not destroy us for our disobedience, He will leave us to face the consequences of failing to heed fair warning. “I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. . .”

So, what does it take to get your attention these days? The people of Nineveh hear Jonah announce in their streets, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed!" Just forty days. And everything you know and love will be gone. Does that get your attention? Apparently, it gets the Ninevehites' attention b/c they repent and their city is spared. What's odd about this brief episode from the Book of Jonah is that the prophet sent by God to warn the Ninevehites never actually offers them a deal. You know the deal. . .repent or burn. Jonah simply goes around the streets yelling that the city will be destroyed in forty days. No conditions. No hedged bets against destruction. Just a straightforward warning. Why no conditions? Well, we might speculate that Jonah wanted the city destroyed. Or perhaps the Lord's punishment for his earlier reluctance to serve left him feeling a little petulant. Regardless, the threat of destruction is enough to send a city-wide wave of repentance through the population. Having secured the Ninevehites' attention without offering them a deal, Jonah secures the city for the Lord. 

So, what does it take to secure your attention? Writing to the Corinthians, Paul announces, “I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. . .For the world in its present form is passing away.” Does knowing that your time will one day run out secure your attention? Paul's warning to the Corinthians is hardly profound. The world in its present form is always passing away. Time is always running out. Anyone with a watch and somewhere to be knows this. What might not be so obvious at first glance is that for time to run out, for the world in its present form to pass away, there must be a point somewhen in the future toward which we are moving in time. In other words, Paul is telling the Corinthians that time and this present world have an end and that end is swiftly coming to bear. Is this an attention-grabber? Hardly. We're told everyday that the end is near. It's either the ice caps melting or the scarcity of clean air or some new genetically modified plague that's coming to wipe us all out. . .any moment now! Just a few more minutes. . .one or two more hours. . .I mean, um, in a year or two. Maybe. Naw, telling us that time is short is nothing new, not scary enough to open our ears to news we do not want to hear.

So, for the last time, what will open your ears to hear what you really need to hear? How about this: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel!” A time of fulfillment. Not the end of time, or the destruction of your city, but the fulfillment of God's promise to bring His kingdom to us. You are now living in that period of human history that will witness the keeping of a divine promise. Turn from disobedience toward righteousness and believe that the Lord wills that all sinners come to Him for His mercy. Notice the absence of a threat, the absence of a deal. Notice also that Jesus doesn't warn us or nag at us. He simply announces that the Kingdom of God is at hand and then he invites us to turn from our sin and believe that we are forgiven. We don't have to fast to be saved or put on sackcloth or wail our sins in the streets. All we need to do is turn from sin and believe that the Father loves us enough to announce the coming of His kingdom by sending His only Son to live and die as one of us. He fulfills His promise in the body and blood of Christ. The urgent choice we have to make is btw receiving him as Lord, or living with the consequences of sin. 

Jesus calls all of us to believe his gospel. Not a gospel of loss, of grief and mourning; not of threat or bargain, or dust and fumes; nor the gospel of city-wide apocalypse or righteous war. His is a gospel of everlasting goodness and eternal life, permanent mercy and all-pervading grace; a gospel of ceaseless vitality and living strength. And it is our gospel! Our story! Our work in the world and, if we will take it up, our dare and our charge—to be with Christ in here and to be Christ out there. He says to Simon and Andrew, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Follow after me and my gospel, and I will turn you into men who cast your nets to harvest the lives of men and women who long to give themselves to God. Simon and Andrew abandon all they know and follow Christ. James and John leave their father in his boat and follow Christ. And all of are made into the men that Jesus promises. How did he get their attention? Threats of impending apocalypse? No. Promises of damnation if they refuse? No. He simply tells them the truth. And that truth rings in their ears louder than family, friends, career, hobbies, or even the lure of this world's impermanent joys. 

OK. I lied. I'm going to ask one more time: what does it take to get your attention? Sirens? Flashing lights? Threats of immediate death? How about an invitation from Christ himself to become an heir to his heavenly kingdom? To be a member of his Body with an eternal purpose? If so, here's the Good News: you are so invited. All you need to do to become a fisher of men is accept the invitation. 


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