Wednesday, December 30, 2009

elecTRONic geekiness

Over the Christmas break, while I was in Maine, Amy and I took her younger brothers to see Avatar in IMAX 3D. It was AMAZING! I think I can safely say that it was the most visually-stunning movie I have ever seen. For those of you who live in a cave, here's a trailer:



At any rate, my intention is actually to talk about a different movie. While I was waiting in line to enter the IMAX theater, I saw a poster for the new Tron movie, Tron Legacy, and just about lost every bodily fluid at my disposal. I'm sure this is old news to most people, but that's the first I had heard about a sequel to the old Tron movie that blew my mind when I was a little kid. I pretty much couldn't wait to get home so that I could read up on the old movie and the new one, and try to find a trailer for the new one, which is slated for release in December 2010.

When I was little, the lightbike scene was always my favorite. I remember thinking it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I just couldn't believe that something like that was possible to make. You need to see what I'm talking about first, before you can really appreciate the trailer for the new movie.

Tron (1982) Lightbike Scene:



Even today, that's pretty darn cool. Now that you are initiated, check out a similar scene from the new movie.

Tron Legacy (2010) Lightbike Scene:



I can't wait to see it!!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Little Christmas Humor

Today, I happened upon an amusing blog called Glib and Superficial, operated by one "Gentleman Farmer" and his "Hired Hand." Once I read their posts for Dec. 21st, I determined that I had to engage in some thorough plagiarism and provide them below, with an equally generous "hat tip," of course.

First, you must check out Denominational Santa. How do each of the Christian denominations perceive of Santa? Here's a taste: "Presbyterian Santa delivers presents based on his own inscrutable election, and not on account of any merit; but niceness is evidence that the person is one of the Elect, so we do expect to see presents going to the nice -- but only because they're elect, not because they're nice." HAHA!!

After that, watch this genius video that someone put together of Jack Bauer interrogating Santa (as a forewarning, Jack calls Santa an "s.o.b." at the end):



Merry Christmas!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, December 25, 2009

Homily of Pope Benedict XVI for Midnight Mass

The pope's homily for Midnight Mass this year is spectacular. It is "a message that cannot leave us indifferent."

Here is a taste:
  • Dear Brothers and Sisters!

    “A child is born for us, a son is given to us” (Is 9:5). What Isaiah prophesied as he gazed into the future from afar, consoling Israel amid its trials and its darkness, is now proclaimed to the shepherds as a present reality by the Angel, from whom a cloud of light streams forth: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly “God with us”. No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). For you the Saviour is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us?

You can read the rest of his homily here. On that page there is also a link to a video of the homily.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Northern Exposure

Some time later today, Amy and I will make the 7.75 hr drive to Steubenville, where we will spend the night with her sister and then head out early tomorrow morning for the 12 hr. drive to Portland, Maine. We'll spend a few days there with Amy's family and then on the 27th we start the long journey back to Owensboro.

From what I can tell, we won't be hitting any bad weather, but it's still a pretty grueling trip so your prayers would be most appreciated.

St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers .... ora pro nobis.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Catholic Q&A: Part 6

Here is a recent batch of questions that I answered in the "Catholicism" category at WikiAnswers. Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

  • Which days other than Sundays are Catholic obliged to attend Mass?

    Besides Sundays, Catholics are also obliged to attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation. In the United States, the Holy Days of Obligation are:

    • January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God;
    • Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension;
    • August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
    • November 1, the solemnity of All Saints;
    • December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception;
    • December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.

    Which early Church father is commonly referred to as the “Doctor of Grace”?

    "Doctor of grace" is a title commonly attributed to St. Augustine, because of his many brilliant works on the subject of grace.

    How could the souls in Purgatory be assisted?

    The Catholic Church teaches that the souls in purgatory are assisted by our prayers for them, and by our works of penance, or other good works, on their behalf.

    Why do some people kneel on one knee in front of the Eucharist but other times they kneel on both knees?

    The gesture of reverence depends on the degree of presence: the greater the presence, the more profound the gesture. When the Eucharist is in the tabernacle, you genuflect on one knee, since the Eucharist is present, but you can’t see it. However, when the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance, then you can see it, so you kneel on both knees (and even bow with your face to the ground). As an aside, this also explains why we make a reverent bow (bending slightly at the waist) when we walk past the altar. The altar too is a symbol of the presence of Christ because it is there where the Sacrifice of the Mass — His sacrifice — takes place. But, Jesus is not as profoundly present in the altar as He is in the tabernacle or when the Eucharist is exposed for adoration.

    What is the small round container called that is used to carry the consecrated host to the sick?

    The container in question is called a pyx.

    Where was the first Church council held?

    The first ecumenical council of the Christian Church was held in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in A.D. 325. But, even before that, we see in Acts 15 that the apostles attended a council in Jerusalem that was also significant, for there the decision was made that Gentiles who convert to Christianity did not have to be circumcised.

Do you know your faith? Help me tackle some unanswered questions. Of course, if you have any questions of your own, just leave me a comment or send me an email.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fr. William Francis Medley, New Bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro, KY

I am pleased today to announce that my diocese, the Diocese of Owensboro, KY, finally has a new bishop: Fr. William Francis Medley, a pastor from the Archdiocese of Louisville, KY. Rocco Palmo over at "Whispers" broke the story, as he is often wont to do, at about 5 AM this morning. His article is excellent about placing the significance of the appointment within the larger context of Vatican appointments to the bishopric this year.

On the diocesan website, you can read a biography of the bishop-elect, read the statement he gave at the press conference welcoming him as the new bishop, and even watch a video of that conference.

As I watched the news conference, my first impression was that he is very down-to-earth and congenial man. He seems very friendly and approachable. He has a good sense of humor and he speaks well in public. I read his statement before I saw him deliver it, and I found it to be very articulate and meaningful. At the press conference he seemed to get choked up at the mention of his mother and the role that she plays in his life. This tells me that he is a man who is in tune with his emotions and who has a deep and abiding love for his family. The significance of this appointment has not escaped him, and he appeared truly humbled by it, stating often that he will rely on past and present bishops of Kentucky and on the faithful he shepherds to guide him as a bishop.

As a Director of Religious Education in the diocese, I am grateful for this assignment and I look forward to working with and getting to know our new bishop in the upcoming months.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

"Babies" = Greatest. Movie. Ever.



And to think, there's people in the world rabidly fighting for the right to kill them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Homily for Gaudete Sunday

My brother's homily for the third week of Advent: "Christian Joy"

  • At Mass today, we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, also known by it’s Latin name Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice!” which is the fist word of our Entrance Antiphon: Gaudete in Domino semper! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” This is taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In all of our readings today we see woven through them the thread of Joy. Listening closely to the unity of the readings our Mother Church gives us can provide the key to understanding what she wants to teach us. I think the key this Sunday is Christian Joy that is ours when Christ is near. Our penances, prayers, and fasting this Advent in preparation for the coming of the Lord is almost over. There is cause for great Joy! Soon, our Lord will be born again in our hearts, bursting forth with the light of day.
Read the rest here. Note that right now he's just a lowly seminarian so he doesn't actually say these homilies in Mass. He wrote and delivered it last year to the pastor of the parish where he was doing his pastoral year ... as a way to practice. Also see his homilies for the first and second week of Advent, and for the Feast of Christ the King.

Stop by his blog sometime and give him some encouragement. He's months away from the transitional deaconate and he needs your prayers.

Btw, the pic above is of "Fr. Z", who helps us to distinguish "pink" from "rosacea" -- an important distinction I'm sure!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Pro-Life Advent Reflections: Part 3

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mt 24:40-41: The "Rapture", or Something More?

What does Jesus mean when he says that, when the “Son of man” comes, “two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left” (Mt 24:40-41)?

Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind books popularized the notion that this passage is a reference to “the rapture,” the taking up into the air of all true Christians before the tribulation takes place so that they can dwell in a parallel kingdom in heaven while the rest of us hapless souls struggle against the anti-Christ on earth. But, this is not Catholic teaching, and I think there is another interpretation that fits better.

Immediately before the passage cited above, Jesus makes a reference to Noah and what took place when God drowned the whole world with a flood. In many ways, that was an end-times event for everyone alive at that time. Jesus compares that event to what will take place upon the Second Coming. He says:

“As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.” (Mt 24: 37-39)

These words of Jesus provide the context for what he says next, when he says, “two men will be the field, one is taken and one is left,” and so on. This means that, just as the wicked in Noah’s time were “swept away,” one will be “taken,” and just as Noah’s family was spared, the other will be “left.” This passage we are investigating does not refer to some being raptured and others being “left behind.” Instead, it means that, when Jesus comes, some will have their life taken from them, and others will live. This is the effect of the General Judgment, which the Church says all men will experience when the Son of Man finally comes again.

This passage also means that our "day", the end of our time here, does not always come when we expect it. God may call us home even amid the mundane chores of every day life (working in the field, grinding at the mill, etc.). Jesus’ words remind us that we must always be ready, for “of that day and hour no one knows” (Mt 24:36).

As with every difficult Scripture passage, it is important to utilize the context of the passage, and to always read Scripture with the mind of the Church. During this season of Advent, let’s make sure that we are making ourselves ready so that on “the day of Christ Jesus,” we will be found fit to live forever with Him.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

What’s the difference between nondenominational churches and the Catholic Church?


Nondenominational churches (as their name suggests) are not affiliated with any particular denomination. This means that there is nothing distinctive about their theology or their governance that aligns them with any particular denomination. The Catholic Church, however, has a very distinctive theology and governance that separates it from other Churches or ecclesial communions. It follows from this that nondenominational churches do not have many of the things that make the Catholic Church distinctly Catholic. This includes things like:
  • The pope, bishops, or a formal hierarchy
  • Seven Sacraments
  • The Sacrifice of the Mass
  • Prayer to the saints
  • Devotion to Mary
  • The four Marian dogmas
  • Sacred Tradition
  • Apostolic Succession
  • A distinction between mortal sin and venial sin
  • A belief in Purgatory
  • The use of statues and icons
  • Veneration of relics
In virtue of being nondenominational, they vary greatly in theology from church to church, but in general, nondenominational churches tend to focus on the basic Gospel message and do not stray very far beyond that. “Jesus is God, He died for your sins, have faith in Him and you will be saved.” The Catholic Church, of course, preaches the Gospel as well, but She also preaches many other things that, while not the Gospel message per se, are still true and thus must be taught and believed. This would include many of the items listed above.

Nondenominational churches may or may not also differ with the Catholic Church on various issues of morality, such as abortion, contraception, homosexual marriage, divorce, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc. How much any nondenominational church differs with the Catholic Church on these matters basically depends on the nondenominational church in question. Some may differ greatly with the Catholic Church on these matters, while others may be perfectly aligned with us.

What makes them even more difficult to compare and contrast with Catholicism is the fact that most nondenominational churches, in their desire to remain nondenominational, usually refrain from making dogmatic statements. If it doesn’t have a direct bearing on the Gospel message or on a person’s salvation, then they usually leave it up to the believer to decide.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, December 07, 2009

Pro-Life Advent Reflections: Part 2

Catholic Q&A: Part 5

Here is a recent batch of questions that I answered in the "Catholicism" category at WikiAnswers. Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • Who wrote the letters in the Catholic Bible?

    There are many letters in the Catholic Bible and they weren't all written by the same person. Paul, the great evangelist from the Acts of the Apostles, wrote Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Traditionally, Paul was also considered the author of the letter to the Hebrews, but his authorship of that letter is widely disputed. James, the Lord's "brother" and bishop of Jerusalem, wrote the letter of James. Peter, the Apostle, wrote 1st and 2nd Peter. John, the "beloved Apostle" and the Gospel writer, wrote 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. Jude, the Apostle, wrote the letter of Jude.

    Why is the resurrection essential to our faith?

    The resurrection is essential to our faith because, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then He did not conquer death. If He did not conquer death, then He did not pave the way for us to conquer death (and sin, the wages of which is death). If we cannot conquer death then this life is all that there is. There is no hope for an afterlife with God. There is no resurrection of the body on the last day. There is no definitive end to suffering, and evil, and death. There is no union of man with God. There is no grace. There is no Church. There is no sacraments. There is no Pentecost. Without the resurrection, the devil has won and mankind is finished.

    Why is the Catholic Church based in Rome?

    The Catholic Church is "based in Rome" because St. Peter, the head of the Apostles and the Rock upon whom Jesus Christ founded His Church, lived and died in Rome. His successors, who are the popes of the Catholic Church, maintained their residency in this city in his honor.

    Why is a flame significant to Confirmation?

    The flame is significant to Confirmation because it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, particularly as He was poured out upon the Apostles on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Scripture notes that on that day, tongues of fire appeared over their heads as the Holy Spirit was given to them and they were emboldened to go out and preach the Gospel. The Sacrament of Confirmation is a sort of Pentecost event in the life of a Catholic because it results in the Holy Spirit being poured out upon that person, and him being strengthened to live his faith with boldness and to be a soldier for Christ.

    In Baptism, what is the meaning of the anointing on the chest?

    The anointing with oil on the chest is meant to give the child the grace and the strength to live the Christian life. In ancient times, athletes would massage their muscles with oil to prepare themselves for competition. Soldiers would do the same to prepare themselves for battle. In Scripture, the Christian life is equated with both of these things: a race to be won (cf. 1 Cor 9:24; 2 Tim 4:7; Heb 12:1) and a spiritual war to be waged (cf. 2 Cor 10:3-4; Eph 6:12). So, in baptism we give the new Christian his or her adequate preparation.

    What was Mary’s childhood like?

    Scripture makes no mention of the childhood of Mary, so it is difficult to say with certainty what her childhood was like. The Protoevangelium of James, an ancient Christian writing, says that Mary was raised in the Temple and that, at an early age, she consecrated herself to the Lord as a perpetual virgin. Since Catholics believe that Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin and that she committed no actual sins throughout her entire life, it is safe to assume that her childhood was a truly holy and precious one.

    What does “INRI” stand for?

    INRI is the acronym for the Latin phrase, "Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm," which means: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Pontius Pilate had this phrase written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and placed on the cross upon which Christ was crucified (cf. Jn 19:19-22).

    Does every saint have a feast day?

    No. There are thousands of saints, so it would be impossible for every single one of them to have their own feast day (unless we decided to devote each day of the calendar to several different saints). Instead, only those saints who had the greatest impact on the Church or around whom a fervent devotion has grown are celebrated with feast days in the liturgical calendar.

    What is the importance of apostolic succession?

    Apostolic succession is important because it preserves for the Church the power to teach, to sanctify, and to govern that was first given to the apostles by Jesus Christ. Bishops receive this power and priests participate in it through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In this way, the Catholic Church continues to be a truly apostolic Church, both in her teaching and in her authority.

Do you know your faith? Help me tackle some unanswered questions. Of course, if you have any questions of your own, just leave me a comment or send me an email.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Catholic Q&A: Part 4

Here is a recent batch of questions that I answered in the "Catholicism" category at WikiAnswers. Also see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
  • What are the material signs of a sacrament?

    The material signs of a sacrament are those elements of the sacrament that effect our senses and direct our minds to the spiritual reality that the elements signify.

    Each sacrament has its own material signs:
    • Baptism: water, oil, candle, white garment
    • Confirmation: oil, laying on of hands
    • Eucharist: bread, wine
    • Reconciliation: the confession of the penitent and the words of absolution from the confessor
    • Holy Orders: oil, laying on of hands
    • Matrimony: the bride, the groom, the vows they make
    • Anointing of the Sick: oil, laying on of hands, water

    Where in the Bible do you find the stories of Holy Thursday?

    The readings for the Mass on Holy Thursday evening commemorate the Passover, the Last Supper, the institution of the Eucharist, and the institution of the priesthood.
    • Reading I: Exo 12:1-8, 11-14
      Responsorial Psalm: Psa 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18
      Reading II: 1 Cor 11:23-26
      Gospel: Jn 13:1-5
    Read these different passages and you'll find the stories of Holy Thursday.

    Why do Catholics honor and celebrate the rosary?

    Catholics honor and celebrate the rosary because it is a time-tested method of contemplating the significant events of the life of Christ, it is a powerful weapon against the devil, and because it helps to strengthen our relationship with Christ and our devotion to His mother.

    What does the priest say at the end of Mass?

    He says, “Go in the peace of Christ,” or “The Mass is ended, go in peace,” or “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” We respond by saying, “Thanks be to God!”

    Does a saint have only one feast day?

    Typically, a saint only has one feast day, but there are a handful of saints who have more than one. For example, St. Peter has three (Feb 22, June 29, Nov 18), St. Paul has three (Jan 25, June 29, Nov 18), and St. Joseph has three (March 19, May 1, Dec 27). Mary has 17 different feast days (!!), at least one in every month except April.

Do you know your faith? Help me tackle some unanswered questions. Of course, if you have any questions of your own, just leave me a comment or send me an email.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
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