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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