Monday, January 31, 2005

Turn Off Your TV Day!

The Morality in Media Organization apparently sponsors an annual "Turn off your TV day" and has confirmed that this years date is set for February 14th. Head over to the website and check it out, and I encourage everyone to take some sort of social action on that day to wage complaint against the secular media's dehumanizing effect on American culture. This issue is an important one, and I think all Catholics should take part in this practice, making the day one of prayer and contemplation, devoting it to family life or something of that sort. Of interest regarding this issue is the USCCB document, "Renewing the Mind of the Media" which can be found here.

Pray for the Diocesan Synod!

In the news today, my Bishop has just called the second Synod of my Diocese. This will be a grace-filled time and a great moment in the history of the Church in Allentown. The following prayer was published in our Diocesan newspaper as a preperatory prayer in the year leading up to this event.

Most gracious Father, fountain of life and source of all good gifts, strengthen the virtue of hope within the faithful of our Diocese as we prepare for the Second Synod of Allentown.

Inspire us with the divine light of the Holy Spirit, so that we may recognize all the paths that lay before us on our journey to You.

Bring us together to see the possibilities that exist for a more faith-filled response to Your Will.

Give us insights into the needs and desires of Your people, who hunger for Your Presence.

Free our hearts and minds of all those boundaries, barriers and stumbling blocks, which our human weaknesses impose upon us, so that we may strive to see more clearly how we as Your children can become better disciples of Christ, who is Lord forever and ever. Amen.

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!

Sunday, January 16, 2005


So, I'm happy right now. I won't be blogging as much when I go back to school, but I will try to keep up with it as much as possible, in keeping with my New Years' Resolutions.

Tomorrow, back to the Seminary and to the grindstone called "Formation."

Deus meus, adiuva me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

New link

The other day I came accross a blog by a gentleman currently discerning a conversion to the Roman Catholic Church. I'll be keeping him in my prayers, and if anyone wants to keep track of his spiritual journey or offer encouragement, head on over to "My Journey To Rome."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Four Challenges for Humanity

The Pope presented an address to diplomats to the Holy See yesterday in which he outlined the four main challenges facing humanity: life, food, peace and freedom. Here is a fair treatment of the speech, which seems to have been very keensighted, as could be expected. One section of the article that stood out to me:
"There need be no fear that legitimate religious freedom would limit other freedoms or be injurious to the life of civil society," he contended. "On the contrary: together with religious freedom, all other freedoms develop and thrive, inasmuch as freedom is an indivisible good, the prerogative of the human person and his dignity.

"Neither should there be a fear that religious freedom, once granted to the Catholic Church, would intrude upon the realm of political freedom and the competencies proper to the state."

"The Church is able carefully to distinguish, as she must, what belongs to Caesar from what belongs to God," the Holy Father said. "She asks only for freedom, so that she can effectively cooperate with all public and private institutions concerned with the good of mankind."
I think this idea can go a long way, especially in America right now, where even vague mention of the name of God is cause for a law suit, or at the very least a debate.

Thought for the moment

I hate reality TV. And apparently, despite it's poor success, there's no end in sight.

I think these will be in our hymnals before long

Jeanetta sent me a link yesterday to the Postmodern Liturgist Resources blog. They have some pretty good commentary and funny parodies. I think the title of the blog is meant to be taken with tongue-in-check. Either way, head over and check it out.

Switchfoot Plug

Anyone who's been in my car at any time over the past few days has been listening to Switchfoot, because they're all that I've had in my CD player. I'm really beginning to dig these guys, and figured an endorsement was blogworthy. So, check them out.

New link

Added a link to my buddy Dave's blog: The Power of the Darkside. The title is actually in reference to Star Wars - not the Society of Saint Pius X.

But seriously...

This rant sort of piggybacks on my last post. Jeanetta really brings up a serious issue. I was watching CNN the other day and heard related the story of a Sri Lankan teenager who was washed by rough tsunami waters upstream in a small river. She was swirled into the arms of a young man who helped her stay afloat and eventually helped pull her over to land where they could grab onto something and stay in one spot. Then her would-be rescuer proceeded to rape her and threaten her not to tell anyone of the attack when she finally was rescued. The story continued, telling of her eventual finding and transfer to a local hospital where she reluctantly told someone about the incident. The story was terrible and heart-rending enough up to this point, but here the reporter mentioned lightly in passing - as though it were a small detail of no real consequence - that the girl was immediately "given pills to prevent pregnancy."

This is a touchy subject, and very sensitive, I know. Don't think for a moment that I do not empathize with the girl and feel sympathy for this tragic misfortune that befell her. I can think of nothing more terrible for someone in her circumstances. But the entire story is eclipsed, for me, by that subtle mention of such hideous evil that comes at the end, quietly and calmly as an invited guest arriving for a party. I have heard often rash statements made by radical conservatives when arguing against abortion and contraception in extreme cases, such as rape. I always thought it a bit insensitive to stress the connection between sexual crime and sexual sin. People who are victimized will not respond well to such argument, no matter how sound it is. Yet this story hit home with me, and more clearly revealed to me just how deep are the roots of the culture of death in our society.

I'm somewhat of a pessimist, though truly a man of hope. But I can't help noticing, when I hear of stories like this, just how grim the situation in our world has become. The tragedies we face are compounded by the way in which we face them. Aid workers and volunteers have rushed to Asia to help with the relief effort and the UN is pouring forth all its assets. Condoms are being handed out, abortion mills set up, abortifacients made available, all with typical UN efficiency. Well-intended persons have virtuously stepped forward to lend a helping hand, and Satan has responded with equal fervor. I was very encouraged when I saw how much good in humanity was being brought forth as a result of the tsunami. The earth's tumult brought about a sudden wave of virtue in mankind. Yet now, as I look around the world, and especially at stories like this, I can only sigh to see how quickly that tide is receeding.

Monday, January 10, 2005


An observation from Jeanetta: "i don't know what the world is comming to. rampant abortions, condoms considered part of natural disater relief, brad and jennifer breaking up... i mean, where is God?"

My response: LOL

7 Deadly Sins for One Penny!!!

Columbia House is making moves apparently towards the $12 billion porn industry, according to a story I came accross in The Drudge Report this afternoon. For those who may not be familiar with Columbia House, it's a media distribution company that works by way of catalog subscription. Once a member, one recieves a monthly catalog and usually has a yearly purchase requirement to retain membership. Incentives to join get crazier each year, but an exampel would be "# CD's for just one cent!" To read the full story of the recent move into smut distribution, click here.

When I first read of the shady business deal (the club will be called Hush), I was very angry and thought of many things I'd like to scream about on my blog. However, I've cooled down somewhat and simply decided to let the grotesque proposal speak for itself. I hope that anyone who reads this will join me in boycotting the company and writing angry letters to let them know that people don't need an easier, cheaper way to accumulate such filth. Perhaps I'll get more active on the issue later. For now, I'm too tired.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Nephew at Christmas

I just got this picture from my brother-in-law, of my nephew from Christmas Day on the rocking chair that my mom and dad gave him. I had to share.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

You Make Me Wanna... Boo

Finally found video of Ashlee Simpson's less than warm reception at the warm-weathered Orange Bowl. I wish I could say this is a sign of America's tastes becoming a little more discerning and sophisticated, but I had to listen to that new song by Nelly and Tim McGraw driving home in my car tonight.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Finding The Right Pew

Interesting happenings in the nearby Diocese of Scranton: An Episcopal minister has found the right Church, and is in the process of converting to Catholicism. Now, he's looking for the right pew. He has requested that the Diocese begin working through a Pastoral Provision Decision, that is, seeking Rome's approval for his ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood, despite his being married with three children. This would be a historic event in the Diocese, and while it is not unprecedented is remains a rare occurence in the Church at large. It will be an interesting affair to observe...

A Home Away From Home?

CNN reports on the danger facing orphaned tsunami victims due to people who would traffic the survivors into drug cartels and the child porn industry. Criminal gangs in the region have been trying to kidnap refugees, while some have set up scams to adopt in a rampant black market system.

Earlier in the day I was discussing with Jeanetta the recent announcements by UNICEF about the issue of repatriation. For more info on the debate, click here. Now, I know I'll seem like a typical conservative, right-wing nutjob, but I must question how high of a priority the latter concern should be, given the chaotic and much more devastating nature of the former issue? Putting aside conspiracy theorists who think that adoption into Western culture of these displaced youths is nothing more than a ploy to slow the growth of non-Christian religions, I know there are many well-intended people who table relatively sound arguments against taking the children from there homeland; however, I must raise the question out of what I sincerely believe to be prudence. Is the new policy truly in the name of benificence and conservation, or is it the UN's agenda that's crooked? Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Late In The Evening... a random thought

I'm beginning to capitalize things in a cummingsesque fashion, and that frightens me. I used to take pride in my writing, but this blog thing may strip me of those pretensions. But this is just a tangent. What I really wanted to say follows, and is equally devoid of value and relevancy.

I got my school books in the mail today. Well, four of them, anyway. Sometimes I like to pretend that my seminary is like a soap opera (which is sometimes easier than one would hope). Anyway, I picked up one of my scripture books, and read the back cover and found that a contributing source is our very own Rector. Now, my scripture professor is not the Rector, but another priest. Both are quite competent authorities. Anyway, I just enjoyed fancying in my mind how my professor didn't really choose this book, but was forced to use it by my egotistical Rector. Or how in his supreme humility, the prof chose this book to show what a lowly servant he was, which would end in elevation and promotion. The fact of the matter is probably nothing like any these wonderful hypotheticals. At least, I don't believe my Rector is that egotistical. Anyway... off to read some Bible commentary and documents for entertainment.

Yes, I have no life.

Irksome Things

Click here for a disturbing article from Reuters on the current "condom crisis" in Uganda. Whoever wrote the article makes some bonehead comments, but the mentality manifested and described by the article is equally stupid.

Ugandans use between 80 and 100 million condoms annually as part of the country's anti-HIV/AIDS strategy of ABC - Abstain [from sex], be faithful [to one partner] or use a condom. That strategy, according to the government, has helped reduce infection rates from as high as 30 percent in the early 1990s, to about 6 percent currently.

That strategy? I'm a little confused, but it seems that there's two completely opposite strageties conflated as one here, unless you're supposed to wear a condom while being abstinent, which I don't think would constitute any sort of sinful behavior, but certainly would be unnecessarily uncomfortable.

And the article ends on a frustratingly broad misappropriation:
The use of condoms has universally been promoted as an effective way of stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Universally... except for the majority of Orthodox Christians on the planet.

I heard about this story when I was sitting in my barber chair, listening to Rush Limbaugh. He also quoted a source, in an unrelated tangent, that said apparently 95% of all Union dued payed in America fund the Democratic party. I don't know the source, but its an interesting tidbit.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A Masked Man and a Woman Who Should Be...

That's Gerard Butler and Minnie Driver in the new movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Butler's voice should give Michael Crawford's ego an unneeded boost, and Driver is frankly terrible. But, all told, I'd give the flick an A-. Given the basis, which is a mediocre musical adapted from a somewhat cheesy gothic horror story, one oughtn't expect much in the way of drama and emotionally moving plot development. Still, the visuals are spectacular, and a lot of the cinematography is neatly dazzling, reminiscent of the theater era portrayed in the story. Warning: it's a long one, and seems longer than it really is, so go easy on the popcorn and soda and be sure to pregame in the lav.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Philsopher Quiz Thing

I came accross an interesting little gadget online that ranks on a curve an individual's proclivity towards given types of ethical philosophies. All of this based on 10 questions, or so... Yes, I agree, it's idiotic, but entertaining nonetheless.

1. St. Augustine - 100%
2. Ockham - 75%
3. Aquinas - 71%
4. Kant - 63%
5. Spinoza - 55%
6. Cynics - 45%
7. Ayn Rand - 43%
8. Jean-Paul Sartre - 37%
9. Jeremy Bentham - 35%
10. Aristotle - 33%
11. John Stuart Mill - 33%
12. Prescriptivism - 33%
13. Stoics - 31%
14. Nietzsche - 25%
15. Nel Noddings - 25%
16. David Hume - 23%
17. Plato - 22%
18. Epicureans - 15%
19. Thomas Hobbes - 0%

Click here to take this quiz yourself.

I thought that Aquinas and Plato would have been closer. I personally see a little more overlap than a meagre 22%, but no matter. Enjoy!

And speaking of curves and philosophy... I got my grades yesterday. I guess I'm altogether pleased.

Logic: A+
Latin: A+
Survey of American Literature: A+
The Writing of Graham Greene: A
Psychology of Human Development: B

Consequently, there's no difference between an A and an A+, and both translate as the same GPA, so I don't know why they bother. Thank God I'm done with psychology. And that Latin grade comes very little from my own merit and more from the intercession of Sts. Jean-Marie Vianney and Thomas Aquinas. (And uncanonized though he may be, I think Tertullian helped, too.)


I never knew until I looked it up tonight, but apparently the word "resolve" comes from the latin verb resolvere which means "to untie." I don't know why that interests me, but it does. I'm a nerd - I've never argued that fact.

I had forgotten completely that people make New Years resolutions. (Resolution is the noun related to the verb resolve, by the by: just to invite into my stream of consciousness those who may be new at this.) I started thinking that I should make some, too. My spiritual director told me not to make any resolutions without consulting him, but I think he meant the kind one makes in prayer. At any rate, I feel certain that the types I'm going to put down here are sound. I'm not exactly swearing an oath, and I don't even know how committed I am to success, anyway. But maybe reading this will guilt me into perserverance. Who knows?

Henceforth, I firmly resolve:
1) to blog more often
2) to read more Chesterton
3) to read more for entertainment and stimulation outside of just those works assigned by professors (eg. blogs)
4) to enjoy school and not worry so much about grades
5) to hate only one of my classes, rather than the majority
6) to write to people more often, especially people who give me money
7) to spend less of the money that I don't have
8) to drive less and learn not to be a control freak when it comes to carpooling

These are my resolutions for the Year 2005. Here goes nothing...

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Good book for a winter evening


Flannery O'Connor's haunting commentary on the human condition is some of the most profound stuff ever written. Several of her masterworks are captured in this volume, as well as some lesser-known pieces, along with a few unpublished stories. It's a great book, but you may want to wait to pick it up until Lent, or at least Ordinary Time.

Picture of my nephew and our new puppy

This was just too cute not to share. By the way, apparently a ball tied to a string is as stimulating for a human toddler as it is for a dog.

Something About Mary...

It takes a lot to drag me out of retirement and back onto the blogging scene. Actually, not really... I'm just bored. Nonetheless, the subject that I choose to rant about today is one over which I frequently become incensed; it could, in a word, be summed up as "secularization." It has been for long my belief that everything true and good belongs, by right, to the Church. I've defended such practices as Christmas Trees and a fostered belief in Santa Claus against attacks from fundamentalists of my own persuasion, who see these as damaging to our creed. I think any celebration involving charity, familial gathering, peace and good will somehow leads (allbeit indirectly) back to God. But year after year, the raucus and hedonistic celebration of New Years eclipses the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - and this I find to be inexcusable.

The magnitude of the feast we celebrate on January 1st of each year is greatly underestimated by most Catholics. Especially in the United States, where obligatory Mass attendance is abrogated when the feast falls on a Saturday, the faithful have seemed to lose a sense of what it means to say that Mary is the Mother of God. This dogma, defined at the Council of Ephesus in 431 and approved by Pope Celestine I, is the foundational dogma of Mariology. Mary's identity as Theotokos is the privelege in light of which her perpetual virginity, her immaculate conception, and her glorious assumption are fitting and proper. Yet, we invoke her by this title so often that we take for granted what a significant assignation it is.

The dogma was defined in refutation of the heresy of Nestorius, whose false "communication of idioms" tried to identify Mary as the mother of Christ's human nature only. The hypostatic union, as yet undefined, was at issue and in the debate surrounding Nestorius' teachings the Church gained some of the best Christological teaching in history, courtesy of Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Through Cyril's writings, and the subsequent declarations of the Council, it can be seen how Mary as the true God-bearer illuminates our understanding of the mystery of the Trinity and helps us to more fully appreciate the Incarnation. Mary is truly the mother of God, for Christ was truly human. The dogma enforces our belief in the fullness of Christ's share in humanity (and humanity's subsequent priveleged share in Christ's Divinity, which the Church celebrates in the antiphons for this Solemnity.)

December 31st does give us adequate reason to pop open a bottle of champaigne and celebrate. It is fitting and proper to hug those whom you love and wish them well. But it's not merely because the march of time has continued through one more passage of the stars across the sky. Rather, it's because Mary became the Mother of the Incarnation and was given to us, in turn, as our Mother. We have for a loving caregiver the Queen of the Universe, who sits enthroned in Heaven above all creation. She protects our race and brings healing to our brokenness, mediating all graces which flow from the side of her Son. I pray that next year, on New Years Eve, when that ball drops, this is one old aquaintance that shall not be forgot.