Sunday, November 28, 2010

One of the things I am grateful for is the modern media's consistency for poor reporting. I can rely on stories about the Church -- they are inaccurate. Last weeks furor over Pope Benedict's comments about condoms is just such a case.

Peter Seewall asked Pope Benedict about the use of condoms. The Pope reminds Seewall (hence us) that one can get a condom anytime he wants. Benedict remarks about the fixation some have on the condom.It implies a banalization of sexuality, which after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves.
Our Holy Father goes to remark that there may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But this is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.
In the very next question Benedict says again that the use of a condom that the Church does not regard it as a real or moral solution...
One again the media have freely chosen to be short sighted. Apparently, without reading or question reports they went off on a wild goose chase. Look how short lived the so called controversy lasted. There was no "there" there.
My advice to all, when the media reports on Church stories consider 99.4752% of the story false. After some careful  study one may begin to discard intelligently what is ignorance and what is truth. The good side of this is that you never have to worry about the stories being true.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Once again we begin the formal liturgical prep for Christmas. Civil [possibly uncivil] society has been ready to help us for the past couple of weeks. Decorations and music fill our stores. Internet offers of great bargains, extra points, added bonuses, etc. etc. etc. Schedules are already filling up with parties for the company, school, clubs, backyard neighbors and assorted groupings of the human species.

One is not able to extricate oneself totally from the world. We are a part of the day to day and the only way to escape totally is to die. I suspect, however, even after death we will be involved with the world, at least in prayer.

There are some practical items we can implement to help us have a more prayerful and enriched celebration of Christmas. The list is not in any particular order.
  • Make sure you set aside some time each day to think about the Gospel for the day. You can find the daily readings at and then click on Readings. It takes only a minute to read the Gospel and you have some food for thought.
  • Sit down with your family and decide what you are  going to do to help the poor this Christmas season. It could be paying for some one's rent or buying a few extra presents to give away. Lots of opportunities.
  • Consider spending a bit less this year than last in order to help the poor.
  • Set up an Advent wreath and candles at your table and use it regularly.
  • Do a good deed for an elderly neighbor [helping set up and take down of decorations].
  • Play religious Christmas music.I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus does not count.
  • Keep one present [hopefully the best] wrapped until the feast of the Epiphany in memory of the first Christmas gift giving. I have heard every year that our kids get too much and they don't really appreciate it. If the kids have too much remember who gave it to them.
  • Go to daily Mass a couple of times a week. 
It is not easy to stand against the flow. If we don't swim upstream [against the flow] we'll never find the source.

Have a great Advent.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The "spirit (?) of the law."

I often hear about living the "spirit of the law" instead of the "letter of the law." When I hear this, it almost ALWAYS in cases where someone does not want to follow the law. It happens a lot in the case of our faith's teaching regarding contraception. You hear, "You already have children. You've fulfilled your obligation and now you can live in the 'spirit' of the law and take the pill, condom, etc."  This position shows a very poor understanding of our faith.

First of all, all law ought to based on truth. Law based on falsehood will lead to disastrous results. We have only to look at laws of racial inequity. There are legions of examples. Even law based on a truth or partial truth can lead to bad laws. We all know that alcohol can be dangerous, even deadly, but prohibition was bad law. The Court's decision to allow abortion was and is a very bad decision.

We believe as Catholics, that God made man and woman to be gifts to each other in a relationship of mutual freedom, respect, openness, fruitfulness and self-donation. A true "spirit" of the law will be to live each of those in continual giving in to Christ. Why would anyone say that they have lived up to their responsibility and now they can live in the "spirit of the law. We've had two or three children. We can quit now and worry about living in the "spirit" of  the law. It is fascinating that fruitfulness is the ONLY area where this is claimed.

There is a way to be very responsible for couple's fertility in marriage. Natural Family Planning is a 99.5% effective method of achieving or postponing children. It takes dedication and wise decisions, but so does all true freedom. There are legitimate reasons for spacing or delaying pregnancy at a particular time. Over the past fifty years the science of Natural Family Planning has developed to the point where it is quite reliable and accurate.

The respectful and mutual appreciation of a spouse's fertility build trust, affection and a spirit of cooperation with the wonderful plan of God's creation. I am including a link to a great web site that gives more information about this gift to the Church and to the world. Check it out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gratitude smadatude!!

Roman philosopher Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC) wrote, Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. We may object that love is the greatest, but, there is much truth to gratitude's generative prowess.

Gratitude is a great virtue of freedom. When I am grateful I tend not to cling to this or that. The this or that can be material things. They often have a hold on one because she thinks they will make her happy or at least be in the "in" crowd. In reality they have no power to bring life or happiness. They are immaterial matter which cannot bring joy or peace. They can bring relief or comfort which may help one find a peace, but in the end there is no  power or joy.

Gratitude helps me let go of things such as opinions. Sometimes he will hold on to an opinion because he thinks it gives him power  over another or puts him in a superior position. It does not! A grateful person realizes that all truth comes from God and it leads back to God. Gratitude opens the mind and heart to expand his truth in order to accept more truth.

Many have heard me say that the more you know, the dumber you will become and the smarter you will act. It doesn't seem to make sense. Remember that the more you know, the more you know you don't know and the more grateful you will be for what you do know. Very smart people KNOW there is so much more to learn. They have not and cannot get to all knowledge. Knowing that, they begin to appreciate the vastness of the universe and a spirit of gratitude begins to arise. That gratitude frees them to consider more than what they know before acting and hence act smarter that when they thought they knew enough.

Gratitude, it's a lot more important than we thought.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Living in fear?

Should we live in fear? Many have decided, "Yes."

Some decide to live in such a way they don't want to know a truth.  These types refuse to look at research, another opinion, etc. I know what I know and I don't care about the facts. Always be aware, by the way that are many facts and facets to most issues. For example, most of us would say that smaller classes will absolutely enhance a student's learning. Much research supports this. I cannot argue with this.  

But is it always true? Nope. Much depends on a student's home influence. A larger class of stuents with strong familial support can handle the learning with the larger group. A classroom with the proper resources can teach larger groups. Much evidence for smaller classes a small advantage. So, there are many caveats. Fear keeps some from seeing other views.

Some religions live in great fear. They are afraid to allow other churches in their countries. They burn others' books. They try to intimidate others thru arson and murder. They sometimes kill their own who convert to another religion. This is religion based on fear. Reason is not effective in these discussions because their "reasons" are not reasonable. They are emotions rising to blind the mind.

Some scientists are so fearful of anything about God that they make up "the elephant ate my homework"  explanations of the beautiful order to our universe, "This is just one of many possible universes!" In this case, fear leads to a certain creativity of thought. It is indeed, a wonder to behold.

Fear always draws us into ourselves and exclusive of anything that doesn't look familiar. Let not fear dominate your mind or heart. There is too much beauty out there.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some good news from Rome!!

If you have not heard, the Vatican has approved for publication and use the new translation of the Roman Missal. The new translation will put into use on the first Sunday of Advent 2011.

Why so far away? It will take at least a year to set up the books, get them printed, distributed in time to inform and form our Catholic people in the new translation.

It will be a more accurate rendition of the Latin missal which is the “official” form of the liturgy. For example, The Lord be with you [Dominus vobiscum], will be answered with And with your spirit[Et cum spiritu tuo]. The Spanish translation did not change the response by using, Y con tu espiritu.In some ways we are catching up with other countries.

There are many more such examples. During the upcoming year and a half there will be a myriad of opportunities to learn more about the change. Following is a press release from a Catholic News Service

The text was approved by the Vatican, and the approval was accompanied by a June 23 letter from Cardinal Llovera Antonio CaƱizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Congregation also provided guidelines for publication.

In addition, on July 24, the Vatican gave approval for several adaptations, including additional prayers for the Penitential Act at Mass and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday. Also approved are texts of prayers for feasts specific to the United States such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and the observances of feasts for saints such as Damien of Molokai, Katharine Drexel, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. The Vatican also approved the Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life, which can be celebrated on January 22

A bit of trivia – The fish was used as an early “secret” sign used by Christians to identify each other. The Greek word, ichthys,is an acronym meaning Jesus Christ Son of God Savior.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why change liturgy?

There are lots of reasons why changes are made in the Liturgy. Simple matters:
  • New saints are celebrated so new prayers are needed.
  • New languages require new translations.
  • New hymns etc. are written.
No one gets too upset about these. There was a time when we first moved to English that was very traumatic. Much of that was caused by a lack of preparation and many celebrants were themselves not well versed in Liturgical principles.

As we prepare for next year's new formulas at Mass we are doing our very best to avoid confusion and ensure people are prepared. The new Roman Missal is scheduled to be implemented on the First Sunday of Advent 2011. 

Some changes are implemented because the needs of our parishes and societal changes allow us to do things differently. Some examples include:
  • Girls being allowed to serve at the altar.
  • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
  • The renewal of the Permanent Diaconate.
  • Laity reading at the Liturgy of the Word.
Not all of these changes were (are) accepted with full enthusiasm. Some people don't want to receive the Eucharist from an EMHC. They will move to another line so they can receive from the priest or deacon, who are Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.There is probably no sin in this as long as it is not motivated by pride.

Most of the changes we deal with are at Mass. The other sacraments, however, have also undergone some changes.  At Baptism, it is the parents who present the baby, not the Godparents. We don't normally use the salt any more. We have forgotten that it was used as a sign of perseverance.

At a wedding, the Rite of Marriage has the priest greet the Bride and Groom at the door of the church. If there is a procession the Bride and Groom process together, escorted by their parents and friends. Our liturgy sees this as a much truer expression of the free choice of a man and woman to enter into a life long commitment to love. The father walking his daughter down the isle is not mentioned as an option. Since we know she is not being given away, we should avoid a symbolic action that says she is. Paul Turner wrote an article about this change. You access this at He's much stronger than I in what he says.At the current time our Archdiocese allows for the father and daughter to walk together. As a matter of fact, is even happens at SVdP.

There are several changes made in the Ordination rites for deacons, priests and bishops. Confirmation has undergone some changes.These are rather minor changes and often are seen.

The upcoming change in language will be significant. Right now, I don't foresee any rubric changes. The format of Mass should be the same. But keep in mind, the Pope could order something different. I do not expect that to happen, however.

Our liturgy, like our Church, is organic. We are growing and will continue to change as we move forward. After all, there was a time when men and women had to sit on opposite sides.

Pax et bonum,