Sunday, December 26, 2010

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family

Back in 2008, my brother Matthew gave a practice homily on the Holy Family in preparation for the priesthood (he is now only a semester away!). I would like to share it with you on today's feast day.

From the introduction, we read the following:
  • For the past few weeks, we have been so intensely focused on the coming of Jesus Christ, that today the Church invites us to take a step back and look at a larger picture: The Holy Family. The Son of God, in His Divinity, could have come to us full grown and alone. Or he could have come as a child under the protection of some royal court. Instead, he chose to come to us in the midst of the most fundamental dynamic in human life: the family. The first thing Jesus sanctified by his presence was a family home – the poor cave Mary prepared for Joseph and their newborn Son. The first instrument he uses to draw men to himself is the family. Notice how this Holy Family immediately attracted the wise men and the shepherds to come and adore the Infant Jesus, because Jesus was at the center of their life. In this way the Holy Family is the greatest example we have ever been given for how our own families should be formed: centered on Jesus. Does the joint witness and holiness of our family draw others to us and therefore to Christ? Is He the center of our family life? A little examination of conscience for our family as a whole is important for us to do today as we reflect on the Holy Family.
For the rest of the homily, see The School of Mary: "Homily, Feast of the Holy Family, Year B". I hope that you will read it and leave him a few words of encouragement.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Linus: Master Catechist

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." -- Mk 10:15

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh, My User!! (Tron Geek-Out Alert)

On the last day of 2009, I made a post about the new Tron: Legacy movie and how excited I was for it to hit the theaters, considering how mind-blowing the original Tron movie was for me when I was a kid.

Well, last Friday I finally got to see it. It has received some bad reviews, but I thought it was ... AWESOME! Perhaps I'm not as much of a discriminating viewer as your average movie critic. Oh well, I usually don't agree with secular movie critics anyway. There's one scene towards the end of the movie that I completely geeked-out on. I could hardly contain myself, it was so freakin perfect. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I won't say any more, but if you've seen the original movie more than once you'll know exactly what I'm referring to.

If you haven't seen the original movie yet, you definitely should. You don't have to see it in order to get what's going on in the new movie, but if you do then you'll appreciate Legacy a lot more. Thankfully, the entire movie is on YouTube, in 9 parts. Start with Part 1 and once it ends, YouTube will queue the next Part in the series.

Also, here are the 3 official trailers for the new movie. Watch these and then tell me you don't wanna see it!

There are some interesting religious themes in Legacy.


When Quorra gets hurt in one scene, Kevin Flynn brings up a 3D display of her genetic code and breathes onto the damaged portion in order to heal her. When my brother and I saw this, we were immediately reminded of Gen 2:7, when "the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." Flynn is revered by Quorra as "the Creator." Any program that believes he has a "User" is declared by Clu to be a religious fanatic and is harshly punished. In fact, the punishment is to participate in "the games," which is very reminiscent of the martyrdom of Christians in the Roman Colosseum. Clu was a program created by Flynn to do good, but he eventually turned against his creator much like Satan did.

The final lesson of the movie appears to be that, with the power that science and technology give us, there is also the temptation for man to become a god-like figure, manipulating other beings and the world as he sees fit. If he succumbs to this temptation, it will only lead to his peril.

Have you seen the new movie yet? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought. For the whole story behind the movies, see the Wikipedia articles for Tron and Tron Legacy.

"End line."

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Trailer for "The Catholicism Project"

Fr. Barron does amazing work:

Why "Jesus" and Not "Emmanuel"?

Why does Isaiah say that the son born of a virgin will be called “Emmanuel” but the angel tells Mary and Joseph to name him “Jesus”?

First, let’s take a look at the passages in question. Isaiah is one of the prophets from the Old Testament. Here are his words:
Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

From the very beginning, the Church has considered this to be a prophesy about Christ. Now, here is where the angel tells Mary and Joseph to name this son “Jesus”:
Lk 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

Mt 1:21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Immediately after verse 21, Matthew quotes the passage from Isaiah above and applies it to Jesus. Here is where we are confronted with the question at hand. The angel says He shall be named “Jesus”, but then right after that Matthew quotes Isaiah where he says that He shall be called “Immanuel.”

Here I think is the answer: Isa 7:14 should be read in the same way that a similar passage shortly after it is read. Look at what Isaiah says in ch. 9:
Isa 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Now, no one reads this and thinks that our Savior’s name should have been “Wonderful,” or “Counselor,” or “Mighty God.” Yes, He is to be called these things, as Isaiah says, but not because any one of them is to be His name. Instead, He is called these things because that’s what He is. These titles speak to the essence of the Son of Mary.

“Immanuel” is the same type of thing. Isaiah isn’t meaning to say that His name will be Immanuel. Instead, he is saying that this son truly is “God with us,” just as He is a wonderful counselor, a mighty God, an everlasting father, and a prince of peace.

The angel says that His actual name shall be “Jesus.” Why? Because He will “save His people from their sins.” And this is fitting. The name “Jesus” means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Yahweh saves.”

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Signs of Life: Advent and Christmas

Scott Hahn's new book Signs of Life has a great quote from Blessed Jacobus de Voragine that I would like to share with you as we begin the liturgical season of Advent. In case you're wondering, Jacobus de Voragine is a Dominican monk from the 13th century who is most famous for his Legenda Aurea ("Golden Legend"), a collection of the lives of the saints that was one of the most widely read works of the Middle Ages (you can read more about him here and here).

In typical Dominican fashion, Jacobus' words on Advent and Christmas are presented in a very orderly and systematic way, but they are also very beautiful. This quote is somewhat lengthy, but definitely worth the read.

  • Advent is celebrated for four weeks, to signify that this coming of the Lord is fourfold; namely, that he came to us in the flesh, that he came with mercy into our hearts, that he came to us in death, and that he will come to us again at the Last Judgment. The last week is seldom finished, to denote that the glory of the elect, as they will receive it at the last advent of he Lord, will have no end. But while the coming is in reality fourfold, the Church is especially concerned with two of its forms, namely with the coming in the flesh and with the coming at the Last Judgment. Thus the Advent fast is both a joyous fast, and a fast of penance. It is a joyous fast because it recalls the advent of the Lord in the flesh; and it is a fast of penance in anticipation of the advent of the Last Judgment.

    With regard to the advent in the flesh, three things should be considered: its timeliness, its necessity, and its usefulness. Its timeliness is due first to the fact that man, condemned by his nature to an imperfect knowledge of God, had fallen into the worst errors of idolatry, and was forced to cry out, "Enlighten my eyes." Secondly, the Lord came in the "fullness of time," as St. Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians. Thirdly, He came at a time when the whole world was ailing, as St. Augustine says: "The great physician came at a moment when the entire world lay like a great invalid." That is why the Church, in the seven antiphons that are sung before the Feast of the Nativity, recalls the variety of our ills and the timeliness of the divine remedy. Before the coming of God in the flesh, we were ignorant, subject to eternal punishment, slaves of the devil, shackled with sinful habits, lost in darkness, exiled from our true country. Hence the ancient antiphons announce Jesus as our Teacher, our Redeemer, our Liberator, our Guide, our Enlightener, and our Savior.

    As to the usefulness of Christ's coming, different authorities define it differently. Our Lord Himself, in the Gospel of Saint Luke, tells us that He came for seven reasons: to console the poor, to heal the afflicted, to free the captives, to enlighten the ignorant, to pardon sinners, to redeem the human race, and to reward everyone according to his merits. And . . . St. Bernard says, "We suffer from a three-fold sickness: we are easily mislead, weak in action, and feeble in resistance. Consequently the coming of the Lord is necessary, first to enlighten our blindness, second to succor our weakness, and third to shield our fragility."

I highly recommend Hahn's book as a worthwhile Christmas present.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Pics of My Son Dominic

For those of you who follow me on Twitter but aren't friends with me on Facebook, you've been missing out on some awesome pics of my newborn son. Here are a few of my favorites:

Everyone says he looks like his daddy

I wonder what he's dreaming about.

He's making the "C" in CATS. Little UK fan in the making!

Proud father

I think I caught him mid-fart, haha

He's pretty stinkin awesome.

Pax Christi,

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Story of Jonah, from the Mouth of Babes

This is one of the most extraordinary things I've seen in a long time:

The story of Jonah from Corinth Baptist Church on Vimeo.

When I was working on my Certification in Catechetics at FUS, one of the things we had to do was tell a catechetical story. Telling stories as a method of teaching is very effective with children. St. John Bosco and Archbishop Fulton Sheen are two catechists who used the art of story telling to great success. Sheen entertained prime-time audiences on a weekly basis by utilizing that technique (and of course his booming voice and his great presence on camera). Telling a good story that teaches a lesson is something that every good catechist should know how to do.

For my class, we could either come up with our own story or memorize a story that has already been written and deliver it to the class. We couldn't just memorize it either. We had to actually tell it, in an engaging way, so that our intended audience would be entertained while at the same time learning the lesson of the story.

It was one of the more difficult things I had to do as a student. I spent HOURS first memorizing the story, then utilizing different voices and even contorting my body to take on certain characters. One thing I had to get over was feeling so silly while I did it. "Am I really doing this right now?"

I think I could have learned a few lessons from the girl in this video. Her innocence and playfulness adds an endearing quality to a story that we all know. And even though we all know how the story goes, since this girl is telling it so charmingly, I have no doubt that she had everyone in the audience wanting to hear it again (except, of course, for the teenage girl behind her, who is probably realizing that she's about to lose a speech contest to a 4 year old.) I think this video is just a great example of what happens when pride isn't an issue, when a person can just tell a story with passion and dedication.

I think this video also illustrates the power that the great moments of the Bible can still have in our lives. Parents run for the "next great children's book" at Books-A-Million and they forget that the big thick book collecting dust on the shelf has all the great stories a parent could ever need. Nothing ignites awe in children like a great bible story.

The word of God: ever ancient and ever new. Praise God for His word!

Pax Christi,

Stephen Colbert on the Feast of Christ the King

And now, for your moment of zen:

How's that for capturing the joy of the Feast of Christ the King? :D

Pax Christi,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Extensive Update to My Post on the Scripture Documents

Back in April, I made a blog post that listed the prominent Church documents that address the Bible. In light of the recent release of the pope's Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, and taking to heart Michael Barber's brotherly admonition, I decided to extensively beef up that post.

See "Church Documents on the Bible."

It now includes many documents that were not previously listed, as well as a section of articles that analyze these documents from different angles. It is still a work in progress, but I hope you will spend some time with this collection that I have assembled. "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord" (Dei Verbum, no. 21). The Scripture documents are abundant proof of this.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jesus' Last Words and Psalm 22

What did Jesus mean on the Cross when He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). Was Jesus really forsaken by God?

Jesus words on the Cross are from Psalm 22, which He is using to express the intense physical pain that He is feeling. This psalm describes a righteous man who is suffering various afflictions:
vs. 1: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

vs. 7-8: All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; "He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"

vs. 14-18: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet -- I can count all my bones -- they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots.

Remember, these are David’s words, from his 22nd psalm, yet they vividly describe many of the torments that Jesus faced during his Passion.

But, this is not the only reason why Jesus has chosen this psalm. In its concluding verses, the righteous man, though he suffers so greatly, has his hope firmly rooted in the Lord. He praises the Lord and knows without a doubt that the Lord will deliver him:
vs. 22-24: I will tell your name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

vs. 26: The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord!

vs. 30-31: Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it.

This means that, in quoting Psalm 22, Jesus is reminding us that, even at the point in which He appears to be the most forsaken and forgotten, the Father is with Him and He will be saved. Even in the depths of His suffering, Jesus never ceases to praise and glorify the Father.

In closing, here are the seven last words of Christ, from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. It's worthwhile to know what these words may have actually sounded like, as Jesus spoke them on the Cross.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

More Jimmy Akin Q&A

Here are some final videos from Jimmy Akin and then it's back to some original content. Jimmy's been filling in, so to speak, while I get accustomed to raising a newborn and get caught up at work.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You Got Questions? We Got Catholic Answers!

More from Jimmy Akin on the early Church:

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"Akin" for Some YouTube Apologetics

Jimmy Akin, the grand poobah, the guru, the Jedi Master of Catholic apologetics has recently been churning out some pretty good YouTube videos in defense of the Catholic faith. I think quality material of this nature is sorely needed on YouTube, considering how much anti-Catholic garbage is readily available there.

Take a look and be edified.

These videos can also be found at Akin's new website The Fathers Know Best.

Pax Christi,

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Say Hello to Phatcatholic Jr.!

On Friday, November 5, at 12:08 PM my wife Amy gave birth (vaginally and naturally, without any drugs) to our first child, Dominic Joseph Hardesty. He weighed 8 lbs., 5 oz. and was 20 inches long. He's perfect and beautiful and awesome.

A few pics:

Maybe he'll be a little Catholic apologist/catechist like his daddy? Only time will tell. Please pray for us as we navigate the ups and downs of parenting. I have no doubt that it will be an amazing adventure.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Catholic Q&A: Part 9

The following questions came from the "Catholicism" category at WikiAnswers. Do you know your Catholic faith? Chip in and help bring truth to the masses. You can start with all the unanswered questions.

Is there a “St. Jennifer” in the Catholic Church?

There is no "St. Jennifer" that I was able to find. However, I looked up the name “Jennifer” and found that it is a Cornish variant of the Welsh name "Guinevere." This gives us a possible solution. St. Winifred of Wales is also known as "St. Guinevere of Wales." She is probably the closest thing to a "St. Jennifer" that we have in our current list of saints.

How can we honor the souls in Purgatory?

The souls in Purgatory are honored whenever we pray for their speedy entrance into heaven, particularly on the Feast of All Souls Day (Nov. 2) and throughout the month of November. We can also offer up our pains and sufferings for the souls in Purgatory and pray that the grace and merit we receive from celebrating the Mass would be applied to them.

How many Catholics are in the United States?

According to the Official Catholic Directory published by P. J. Kenedy and Sons, as of Jan. 1, 2010 there are 68,503,456 Catholics in the United States. Twenty-two percent of our nation’s total population is Catholic.

What is the most wonderful thing about the Eucharist?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Different Catholics are going to have different things that they like the most about the Eucharist.

Perhaps a consensus would emerge around the fact that, in receiving the Eucharist, our Lord and Savior comes to abide within us, to live and dwell within us. That is certainly one of the most amazing things about the Eucharist.

What is also amazing is that it is only in transubstantiation (in the transformation from "bread and wine" to "Body and Blood") that the substance changes whereas the accidents remain the same. In other words, what we have after the consecration is something different, even though it looks the same as it did before. This is a miracle that defies the laws of nature. How many people can say they have an opportunity to witness a miracle every day? We can, whenever we go to Mass.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dies Irae: The Day of Wrath

Since today is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, I would be remiss if I did pay particular attention to one of the Church's greatest hymns, one that, even after the reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, is still sung during the Liturgy of the Hours on this day.

Michael Martin, in his entry on the Dies Irae in the Treasury of Latin Prayers, gives us this helpful summary:
Dies Irae was traditionally ascribed to Thomas of Celano (d 1260), but now is usually attributed to an unknown Franciscan of that period. The piece is based upon Zep 1:14-16, a reflection upon the final judgment. It was formerly part of the Mass of the Dead and the Office of the Dead. Today it is found in the Liturgia Horarum for the last week of Ordinary time (34th). In placing it there, the emphasis is upon the upcoming Advent season and the Second Coming of Christ. In Diocese of the United States, it is still used in the Office of the Dead and the Feast of All Souls (Nov. 2).

Many have complained about the depressing nature of the opening verses, but while the piece is certainly sobering, there is a note of hope as well later on in the hymn. Judgment, which is eternal, is indeed a fearsome prospect for us sinners, but, as Christians, we also realize we have Christ as our Savior.

The Wikipedia article tells us more:
Other images come from Revelation 20:11–15 (the book from which the world will be judged), Matthew 25:31–46 (sheep and goats, right hand, contrast between the blessed and the accursed doomed to flames), 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (trumpet), 2 Peter 3:7 (heaven and earth burnt by fire), Luke 21:26–27 ("men fainting with fear ... they will see the Son of Man coming"), etc.

From the Jewish liturgy, the prayer Unetanneh Tokef also appears to have been a source: "We shall ascribe holiness to this day, For it is awesome and terrible"; "the great trumpet is sounded", etc.

Martin considers the Dies Irae to be "One of the most famous melodies of the Gregorian Chant." Henry Hugh speaks of the "vigorous beauty of the original hymn" in his article for the New Advent Encyclopedia. The Franciscan Archive calls it "a hymn of singular awe and piety." Yet, I would imagine that few Catholics have ever heard the Dies Irae.

Part of this is surely due to the aforementioned reforms. Annibale Bugnini, in his The Reform of the Liturgy: 1948–1975 ([The Liturgical Press, 1990], Chap. 46.II.1, p. 773) explains the mind of the Consilium in charge of that task:
They got rid of texts that smacked of a negative spirituality inherited from the Middle Ages. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved texts as the Libera me, Domine, the Dies Iræ, and others that overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair. These they replaced with texts urging Christian hope and arguably giving more effective expression to faith in the resurrection.

This I think is a shame. It is unfathomable to me that "such familiar and even beloved texts" could be so swiftly discarded. Perhaps the Dies Irae has endured since the Middle Ages and received the affection of the laity for a reason?

At any rate, I would rather not dwell on the imprudent decisions of the Consilium (it depresses me). Instead, I would like to remedy the absense of this hymn in my own small way by providing the YouTube video below. See the entry on the Dies Irae in the Treasury of Latin Prayers if you would like to follow along with the Latin (with English translation) while you listen.

"Dies Irae" means "Day of wrath." May we all be ready.

Pax Christi,

Monday, November 01, 2010

Litaniae Sanctorum for All Saints Day

Blow is a wonderful rendition of the Litany of the Saints. It appears to be a shorter version than the one that appears here, but it is beautifully chanted, and the Latin appears at the bottom of the video so that you can follow along.

If you are not very familiar with Latin, that's ok. Don't worry about trying to translate the words. Just listen to it. Latin chant has the splendid ability to lift your heart up to heaven just by the sound of it, before the mind even begins to comprehend the words. So, just sit back and soak it in.

If you would like to learn more about the saints, I have written extensively on the subject. See the following entries:
I conclude with a prayer in Latin, with slavishly literal English translation:

Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui nos ómnium Sanctórum tuórum mérita sub una tribuísti celebritáte venerári: quaesumus; ut desiderátam nobis tuæ propitiatiónis abundántiam, multiplicátis intercessóribus, largiáris.

Almighty, eternal God, Who granted us to honor the merits of all Your Saints in a single solemn festival, bestow on us, we beseech You, through their manifold intercession, that abundance of Your mercy for which we yearn.

Pax Christi,

Friday, October 29, 2010

Computer Animated Conception

This YouTube video has been making the rounds in the Catholic/Pro-Life blogosphere, and for good reason: it is simply one of the most amazing representations I have ever seen of what happens at conception and within the womb of the mother as the baby within her develops. Make sure you watch it on full-screen mode to get the full effect.

Trust me, you've never seen anything like this:

Praise the Lord, the Creator of all things, for allowing mankind to participate in the most amazing work of bringing a human being into the world!

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Addition to the Blog

Ijust finished a new section at the very bottom of the right sidebar. It's called "Online Works by Great Catholic Apologists." As we pursue our own efforts to defend Jesus Christ and His Church, it is worthwhile to learn from the great apologists who have come before us. There are some great works in this section that are difficult to find. All the links should work, but if you find one that is broken, leave a comment or send me an email.

St. Athanasius, great defender of the Faith ... ora pro nobis!

UPDATE (10/27/10, 11:40 PM): I felt like the new section was making the right sidebar even more cumbersome than it already is, so I decided to make a new page instead. See the new tab at the top of the page.

UPDATE (10/28/10, 2:30 PM): I took the "Catechetical Materials" section from the right sidebar and made it a page at the top as well.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Proof Is in the Pudding: Obamacare DOES Fund Abortions

This excellent video produced by the Population Research Institute outlines in clear language exactly how Obamacare will fund abortions:

I recommend disseminating it widely.

Pax Christi,

Alternatives to the Susan G. Komen Foundation

In your last post, you said that Catholics should not donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Who should we donate to then if we want to support breast cancer research?

One organization I would recommend is The Polycarp Research Institute (TPRI). According to their website, “The Polycarp Research Institute is a non-profit organization (501 C3) dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of high-quality research designed to enhance the physical, psychological and spiritual condition of mankind.” Its website is sub-par, to say the least, but let's not judge a book by its cover. TPRI is one of the few scientific research organizations that has acknowledged the link between abortion and breast cancer (the “ABC link”). Also, TPRI will not promote methods or intentions that are inconsistent with the ethical and moral guidelines of the Catholic Church.

Another worthwhile organization is the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute. According to their website, “The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation, which educates healthcare professionals and the general public through research publications, lectures, and the internet, on ways to reduce breast cancer incidence.” It’s founder, Dr. Joel Brind, is the leading expert on the ABC link.

Finally, the National Breast Cancer Foundation is an option. According to their website, “The National Breast Cancer Foundation mission is to save lives through early detection and to provide mammograms for those in need. Our mission includes increasing awareness through education, providing diagnostic breast care services for those in need, and providing nurturing support services.” They are listed by the Bioethics Defense Fund as an alternative to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Before you donate to any breast cancer research organization, ask them:
  • Do you acknowledge the ABC link?
  • Do you donate to Planned Parenthood, or to any other organizations that perform or refer women for abortions?
  • Do you promote embryonic stem cell research?

I know this might seem tedious, but we have to make sure that we are donating our hard-earned money to organizations that have objectives that are consistent with what we believe as Catholics. Furthermore, any organization devoted to finding a cure for breast cancer that denies the negative effects of abortion is doing a disservice to women. The evidence is clear: 27 of the 33 studies on the ABC link showed definite increased risk. Women who had at least one abortion were on average, 50% more likely to develop breast cancer. One can’t help but wonder if the wholesale denial of this evidence is ideologically driven. Let’s have our money fuel the pursuit of truth. Only then will a cure be found.

For more information, see my previous posts:
Pax Christi,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Resources on the Abortion / Breast Cancer Link

As a follow up to my previous post about donating to Komen for the Cure, here are some resources that expose two dangerous relationships:
  • the relationship between the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood;
  • the relationship between abortion and breast cancer

I tried to avoid including a link if it simply repeated information found in a link I already had listed, but this was difficult considering the massive amount of information on these topics. Also, I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible, but I'm sure there are some articles that I have missed. If you know of one that I should include, leave a comment on this post. Finally, make sure you watch the video above. It's a great summary of what you'll find below.

I hope this collection is helpful. October is "Breast Cancer Awareness Month." Women have a right to know this information.

Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood

The Link Between Abortion and Breast Cancer

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Should a Catholic Donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation?

The Susan G. Komen Foundation (also called “Susan G. Komen For the Cure” or simply "Komen") is a non-profit organization that supports breast cancer research and awareness. They are the largest breast cancer charity in the world.

On the surface, it would appear that donating to them would be the right thing to do. After all, most of us have seen the damage that breast cancer inflicts on persons and their families, and we desperately need a cure. The problem is, Komen donates a lot of money to another large organization: Planned Parenthood (PP).

Between 2003 and 2008, Komen gave $3 million to Planned Parenthood. In fiscal year 2008 alone, they gave $805,000 to the abortion giant. For fiscal year ’09, Komen contributed $731,000. This is less than in ‘08, but only because Komen itself made less money that year.

This should be alarming for two reasons. First, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the country. In no way should they be supported for any reason. Komen tries to justify their relationship with PP by saying that, in some underprivileged neighborhoods, PP is the only clinic available that provides free breast cancer screening and information. But this is a dubious claim. There are thousands of clinics and hospitals and government programs all over this country that provide the same service. There are also many breast cancer research organizations who manage to provide their resources without the help of Planned Parenthood.

Komen also says that they give money to Planned Parenthood to do breast cancer screening, not abortions. But, even this is disconcerting. Any money you give to PP for breast exams just frees up money for abortions. Plus, let’s be honest about where PP’s priorities really lie. Between the years ‘04 and ‘05, 81,500 fewer breast exams were performed, whereas abortions increased by 9,900. Between ‘06 and ‘07 (the years for which the most recent data is available on their website), breast exams decreased by 30,731, yet abortions increased by 15,560.

Secondly, there is a causal relationship between abortion and breast cancer. Even though Komen continues to deny this, multiple studies have shown that having an abortion significantly increases one’s likelihood of developing breast cancer (Dr. Gerard M. Nadal is currently presenting all the research on his blog). What this means is that an organization with the purpose of stamping out breast cancer forever is donating large sums of money to an organization that has aided in the increased incidence of breast cancer in this country. That Komen and PP would have such a relationship is tragically ironic and ultimately indefensible for anyone who wants to find a cure for breast cancer while at the same time defending the rights of the unborn.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact

Amajor hat tip goes out to Inside Catholic for alerting me to this treasure. The American Catholic History Research Center at Catholic University of America has placed online a vintage Catholic comic books series called Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact. Here's the introduction from the website for the series:
The Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact was a Catholic comic book published by George A. Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio and provided to Catholic parochial school students between 1946 and 1972. The digital collection contains the first eighteen volumes running from 1946 to 1963, which are in public domain. There are some issues missing from Volume 4 (1948-1949). The issues published from 1964 through 1971 are still under copyright protection, which cannot be included in the digital collection at this time. Issues published in 1972 were not copyrighted and will be added to the collection soon.
As a catechist, this is a goldmine! There are comics on Bible figures, inventors, saints, presidents, and prominent lay men and women who lived their Catholic faith in the world with courage and authenticity. I learned a great deal about several Catholic role models in the faith that I had never even heard of before! (for example, from the "Catholics in Action" series: Anna Dengel, Joan Schlosser, George Speri Sperti, Fr. John A. O'Brien, Mary Synon, Linna E. Bresette, Fr. John La Forge, Msgr. William Gorman, and Fr. William J. Smith). The different comic books are sorted by titles, creators, subjects, people, series, and issues.

To get an idea of how great these are, here is one of three comic books devoted to St. John Bosco (go here for a larger view of each page):

This is truly a great resource, and a link to it will definitely be going in my right sidebar, under "Catechetical Materials." For more resources in teaching the faith, consult the other links in that section. Happy reading!

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baptism: Empty Ritual or Saving Power?

How should I respond to someone who says that baptism is just a ritual, or merely symbolic?

There are many Protestants who say this. According to them, salvation comes when you profess faith in Jesus Christ and hand your life over to Him. Baptism is simply a symbolic gesture that shows the faith community that you have repented and committed yourself to Christ.

Catholics, however, have a stronger view of baptism. We believe that it is through baptism that God frees us from slavery to sin and makes us His children. This means that baptism is more than a symbolic gesture: it has true efficacy and power. Scripture clearly shows this:
Jn 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

Rom 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Col 2:12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

1 Pet 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
The difficulty, I think, is not so much in proving the power of baptism as it is in explaining how to reconcile these verses with the verses that say it is faith that saves.

The best way to do this is to ask some questions: What is a saving faith? How does faith save? If faith is that single moment when you confessed that Jesus Christ was your personal Lord and Savior, then there is certainly no room for baptism. But, if you understand that faith requires from us a life-long "Yes" to Christ, then baptism is able to enter into the picture, since Baptism is one of the many actions that make up that life of faith.

The Book of Acts is filled with examples of faith compelling men to be baptized (cf. 8:12-13, 36; 10:47; 16:15, 31-33; 18:8; 19:2, 5). Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16). Baptism implies “faith in the working of God” (see Col 2:12 above). As the Catechism says, Baptism is “the sacrament of faith” (nos. 1236, 1253, 1992). Baptism and faith should not be pitted against each other. In fact, they go hand-in-hand.

Pax Christi,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quick Blog Update

Iupdated the Topical Index (see the tab at the top of my blog) to include the 30+ posts I've made since I last updated it. Whew! It took a little while but now it's finished.

In case you don't know, the Topical Index is a listing of links to my posts, arranged by topic. It is meant to be a resource to aid the reader in finding what I've written on topics of relevance to Catholics. Want to know how to defend the sinlessness of Mary? See the "Mary" page. Want to know how to defend the authority of the pope? See the "Church Authority and the Papacy" page. You get the idea. I have put almost 5 years into defending and explaining the Catholic faith. I hope you find this material useful.

Btw, all the links in the right and left sidebar should work now too. I need to add links to the "Online Works By Great Catholic Authors" section (in the right sidebar), but besides that, everything is now migrated over from the old blog design (when I upgraded to the new Blogger template, I had to pretty much redo everything).

Thanks for reading. If you find a broken link, or if you have a question about Catholicism, just let me know. I blog to serve.

Pax Christi,

Rare Finds at the Public Library

A couple of weeks ago, the local public library had a huge book sale, and of course, I'd have to have no pulse in order to NOT check it out. Well, after looking at literally EVERY book on every shelf that they had reserved for the book sale -- and nearly breaking my neck in the process -- I managed to come away with some pretty awesome books. Check it:

  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh (first edition!)
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales, by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm (there's no copyright info, but it looks to be very old)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (complete and unabridged, edited with an introduction by Peter Coveney, illustrated by E.W. Kemble)
  • Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes (illustrated by Edna Cooke, copyright 1930)
  • Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales (copyright 1946)
  • Saint Among Savages: The Life of Isaac Jogues, by Francis Talbot, SJ (copyright 1935)

My wife also grabbed a copy of Emma, one of the few Jane Austen books she hasn't read yet, and Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Revised Edition, edited by Nell B. Nichols (copyright 1963). We bought two other books as well, but I can't tell you what they are because they are meant to be presents for people and I don't want to ruin the surprise!

At any rate, I couldn't believe that these books were just collected dust on some random shelf somewhere. I think I paid $8.00 for that first edition of Brideshead Revisited. I love scoring awesome books that no one else cares about. Well, I love scoring awesome books PERIOD, but when they're hiding among a mountain of other books that someone is trying to get rid of, then it's even sweeter.

Have you found a rare book recently, perhaps at a garage sale or a pawn shop, or from some hapless individual on ebay who didn't know what he was selling? (those are the BEST!) Leave a comment and let me know.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ask Me a Question .... I Dare You

From the first day I started this blog back in 2006 (has it really been that long?), its content has come largely from three sources: the liturgical year, my debates with Protestants, and your questions. I have always enjoyed the third source of inspiration the most.

I enjoy the challenge of seeing what I can recall from my own brain on a subject ("Now where is that Scripture verse?") and I enjoy the quest of going out in search of information I do not know. In the process of helping you to learn more about Catholicism, I often learn a lot about my own faith as well. It's a win-win situation, and really the best way that I can ignite in others the flame that was ignited in me when I first set out to learn more about the Catholic Church.

Well, hopefully now I've made that process a little easier. In the left sidebar of this blog, you will now find a form via Formspring that you can use to quickly and easily ask me a question about God, or religion, or the Catholic Church, or really anything. I'll receive the question and make a post in response. Or, you can create an account with Formspring and receive your answer that way.

This is my first time using this so we'll see how it works out. I hope it is helpful. Now, what's your burning question?

Pax Christi,

UPDATE: The Formspring widget doesn't seem to be working. I'm looking for something else. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 04, 2010

How Very Capital of You!

What are the seven deadly sins? Are there seven virtues to counteract them?

As the Catechism tells us, “Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called ‘capital’ because they engender other sins, other vices.” (no. 1866)

The seven capital (or “deadly”) sins are as follows, with definitions from the glossary to the Catechism, or The Catholic Dictionary by Fr. Peter Stravinskas:
  • pride: Undue self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself against God.
  • avarice (or “covetousness” or “greed”): An extreme desire for material goods and worldly honors
  • envy: A resentment or sadness at another’s good fortune, and the desire to have it for oneself.
  • wrath (or “anger”): An emotion which is not in itself wrong, but becomes sinful when it is not controlled by reason or when it hardens into resentment and hate.
  • lust: The inordinate desire for sexual pleasures that inclines one to perceive others as mere objects solely for personal gratification.
  • gluttony: Overindulgence in food or drink.
  • sloth (or “acedia”): A culpable lack of physical or spiritual effort; laziness regarding one’s grave responsibilities to God, oneself, or others.

The seven virtues that counteract these sins are as follows, with definitions from the same sources as above:
  • humility: The virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good; it avoids inordinate ambition or pride
  • liberality: A detachment to material goods; generosity
  • brotherly love: Desiring the true good of others; loving them as if they were your friend or relative.
  • meekness: The ability to accept and tolerate the ordinary adversities of life with equanimity, balance, and good humor.
  • chastity: The virtue that regulates one’s sexual thoughts, desires, and actions in a manner proper to one’s vocation.
  • temperance: The cardinal virtue that moderates the drive for sensual pleasure.
  • diligence: Conscientiousness or perseverance in performing those tasks to which we are called.

The best way to grow in these virtues is through prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments. May we all cultivate the virtues of God and root out sin!

Pax Christi,

On the Stigma of Stigmatics

For the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, here's a post from the archives, originally written on April 2, 2008.

St. Francis of Assisi ... ora pro nobis!

- - - - - - - - - -

Almost a month ago, "Steve" emailed me the following question:

I saw on TV that Padre Pio's body was exhumed for veneration. I tried to search for more info online because the segment was brief. Unfortunately, I ended up coming across some hostile Web sites claiming that Padre Pio was a fraud, and that someone at the Catholic Hospital in Rome referred to him as a psychopath. It further alleged that miracles like incorruptible saints are frauds because either the bodies have been proven to have been treated, or there is gross exagerration/wishful thinking. It also claimed that the Stigmata is false because the wounds appear differently and in different locations for Stigmatics.
I am certainly not an expert on this subject, but I will try my best to respond to the points that you have raised.

First of all, concerning the accusations that Padre Pio was a "fraud," the Church definitively put that matter to rest when they declared him a saint.

You have to keep in mind that canonization is no small matter. It is not as if a couple of bishops, while smoking cigars and playing cards, thought it would be a swell idea to declare Padre Pio a saint. The Church has conducted rigorous investigations into the matter of his sanctity from the moment his popularity grew with the local people. Every detail of his life and his writings has been scrutinized. Both detractors and proponents of his canonization were given their say. At the end of the day, the Church decided that this Capuchin friar deserves the veneration of the Universal Church.

As faithful Catholics, we must trust that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has made the right decision. To do otherwise is to accuse the Church of gross negligence and the misleading of the entire People of God.

Regarding the allegation that incorruptible saints are frauds, I suggest the book The Incorruptibles by Joan Carroll Cruz, which is one of the most definitive treatments on the matter. Also, my understanding is that, while the bodies of certain incorruptibles, particular those which are put on display, are given various treatments to make them more suitable for public viewing, these treatments cannot account for the remarkable preservation of the bodies that has taken place.

I also know that, if a body has been imbalmed, mummified, or perfectly sealed from oxygen and the elements, then it is usually not considered miraculously incorruptible. The truly incorruptible bodies have not undergone these treatments, nor have they even stiffened, which is another sign of decay.

Finally, regarding false stigmata, it may be that some have truly received it while others actually have not. But, that some have not does not prove that none have. Even the secular and medical community acknowledge that such a phenomenon is real, and no one has been able to account for the miraculous qualities of the stigmata, such as the lack of infection, the persistence of the wound(s) over many, many years, and the lack of a stench or foul odor coming from the wound(s).

While it is not an article of faith that the stigmata is real, the fact that the Church has proposed for univeral veneration many, many saints and blesseds who have received the stigmata tells me that it is certainly safe to believe in such a miracle.

I realize that this post is not a definitive answer to your questions, but maybe it will help in some small way.

Pax Christi,
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