Here is an audio series that every Catholic simply MUST listen to. This is doubly true if your Catholic education in the vices and the virtues stopped after CCD or Catholic school. The speaker is Fr. Paul Scalia (son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia). In this series (starting with a session on the Natural Law), Fr. Scalia-- using Sacred Scripture, the writings of the Saints (especially St. Thomas Aquinas), Dante's Divine Comedy, and a good measure of laugh-out-loud humor--explains the Deadly Sins, their origin and cause, and how to combat them. Download and listen to these exceptional talks for yourselves and pass them on to your teen and adult children, other loved ones and friends, and basically all those who need a clear refresher of these important truths of the Faith:
I suscribe to a service called "Quick Questions" that sends out a daily e-mail answering questions about the Catholic Faith. Todays question addresses the topic of The Da Vinci Code, the highly controversial-- and still, widely read-- novel by Dan Brown. I thought the staff apologist that answered this question did a good job in addressing the main issues of why Catholics (and anyone interested in truth) have problems with Browns book-- and, by extension, any work or literary or cinematic fiction that distort or play loose with serious historical facts and religious truths:
Q: “I have just read Catholic Answers' report on the novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I have to say that the Church seems very flustered about the book. Surely the Church has nothing to fear from a work of fiction, no matter what the view of the author.”
A: Actually, the Church as an institution has had no comment, one way or the other, on The Da Vinci Code. The book has not been placed by the Vatican on any "forbidden books" list nor have any "official" sanctions been placed on it. Those who are concerned are faithful Catholics, clerical and lay, who have seen the book confuse Catholics and other Christians about the character of people in the early Church, the relationship of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, and orthodox Christian doctrine.
Although many have claimed that Christians shouldn’t be concerned about the novel because it is fiction, Brown himself has touted the book as the fruit of factual research. He opens the novel with a "Fact Page" that purports to be unvarnished truth. In other words, he wants people to believe that his conclusions in the novel are true.
Even had Brown not advertised his book to reveal hidden "truths" about Christianity, the device of fiction does not grant authors the right to disseminate historical untruths. Analogously, a novel that purported to reveal that the Holocaust never happened and that Adolf Hitler was really a great guy would be (quite properly) discounted by people of good will everywhere as anti-Semitic agitprop. Indeed, in this day and age, such a book would likely never see publication, at least by mainstream publishers. If such a book as that could not be defended with the disclaimer "It’s only a novel!" then other books that spread historical untruths also cannot be defended as "only fiction."
You can subscribe the "Quick Questions" by going to the Catholic Answerswebsite and clicking on the banner that says "Quick Questions E-Letter FREE."
This has got to be the hot button topic of the day. Virtually everybody has an opinion on it, some informed and some not so informed. And there are some who are completely misinformed and are running on pure emotion or political posturing. I'm asked about this law a lot, so I am going to try and explain my views here.
As you may or may not know, I am a "third generation" American of Mexican extraction. I put that in quotes because my family was settled in California before it was the United States. I love my heritage and am proud to be what I am. My wife is Filipino and, like most of those who come here from foreign shores, her family worked hard and sacrificed to play by all the rules to come to this country. I was born and raised in California, but have lived happily in Arizona for the last fifteen years. I was in the military, so I've seen some of the world, and I'm now a fire code enforcement official, so I see a fairly wide spectrum of the community--the good, bad and the ugly.
Having said that, let me say this: Those who are against this law and do not live in Arizona need to step back and look at reality.
First of all, this law is NOT about racial profiling-- in fact, language within the law prohibits it. It simply is an enforcement of existing law. If I thought it was going to profile people with brown skin (including me) I would be against it.
Secondly, this law does not-- repeat does NOT-- give police the legal right to stop people whenever they feel like it just to ask their legal status. It does give them the right to ask about their legal status if the person is being lawfully detained for the commission of a crime AND does not possess common ID, like a drivers license. So if you don't commit crimes or get arrested and you have ID, no problem.
So let's stop with the mischaracterizing the law. Instead, lets look at some facts.
Fact: Illegal immigration (note the word 'illegal') is draining Arizona. The emergency room system here is collapsing, the state social welfare system that are meant for American citizens in need are over-burdened and are on the verge of being cut. The public school system is hemorrhaging red ink. Cops and regular citizens along the border are being threatened and killed by violent gangs. The law enforcement system is going broke because of both non-violent and violent crime committed by non-citizens.
Answer me this: Who's going to deal with this and pay for all this? People on the liberal coasts? Who is now paying the price in treasure and blood while the rest of the country wrings their hands and the POTUS makes jokes? What would you have Arizona do--allow itself to be drained of resources? Other than open the borders or grant blanket amnesty, what would you do? I have asked this question many times in many venues and have never received an answer-- only silence.
What about all the American kids in Arizona who can't get jobs because the entry-level jobs that traditionally go to young folks are going to cheap illegal immigrants? Who is dealing with this? Arizona and Arizonans, that's who! We are the Gondor of the US taking the brunt while everyone else sits safely in their ivory towers. If the Feds or no one else will help us, we will do it ourselves. If you have a better plan that you're willing to help pay for, let's hear it.
Finally, let's be clear on this: those self-anointed Latino 'leaders,' activists and celebrities that are now screaming "RACISM" over this law do NOT speak for me. They only speak for themselves and for those who are similarly misinformed, paranoid and politically motivated. I can speak for myself.
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
[MORAL OF THE STORY:Be responsible for yourself.]
* * * * *
THE ANT & THE GRASSHOPPER (MODERN VERSION)
The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
When winter comes, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.
CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, “It's Not Easy Being Green . . .”
ACORN stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, “We shall overcome.” Then the Rev. Al Sharpton has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.
Dear Leader condemns the ant and blames President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper's plight.
Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.
Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.
The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper. The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn't maintain it.
The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.
The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and once peaceful, neighborhood.
As this scenario is repeated over and over in community after community, he entire Nation collapses, dragging the rest of the free world with it.
[MORAL OF THE STORY:Be careful how you vote in 2010 and 2012.]
In addition to being the birthday of my sweet, smart, beautiful wife Carol, today is the Feastday of St. Patrick. Most people aren't caught by surprise by this fact, since it's impossible to be unaware of the increased number of green retail decorations and Guiness advertisements this time of year, and many, many people are happy to call themselves Irish for a day, if for nothing else, as an excuse to eat corned beef and cabbage and slightly more beer than usual.
Many lose sight of the fact (if they ever knew in the first place) that St. Patrick was a real saint, and quite a famous and colorful one at that.
Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies. As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him. During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote
"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred and in the night, nearly the same."
Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family. He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more." He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.
Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.
Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message. Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461. He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.
One of the most famous and beloved prayers in the world is called The Breastplate of St. Patrick. Here it is in it's entirety:
I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of the Cherubim;
the sweet 'Well done' in judgment hour;
the service of the Seraphim,
confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
the Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward,
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin,
the vice that gives temptation force,
the natural lusts that war within,
the hostile men that mar my course;
or few or many, far or nigh,
in every place and in all hours
against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
against false words of heresy,
against the knowledge that defiles,
against the heart's idolatry,
against the wizard's evil craft,
against the death-wound and the burning
the choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
protect me, Christ, till thy returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the name,
the strong name of the Trinity;
by invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord. Amen.
Have a blessed St. Paddy's Day. As the Irish say, God love you.
Think rank anti-Catholicism has gone the way of the 19th century Know-Nothings? Think again, as a Baptist minister in Tennesee has gotten himself in hot water for distributing the infamously anti-Catholic tract, "The Death Cookie," penned and distributed by the notoriously anti-Catholic (and anti-A Lot of Other Things), Jack Chick. From the report by Fox News:
A Baptist pastor in Tennessee says he now regrets that his church distributed an anti-Catholic leaflet that a local Catholic priest decried as “hate material."
Pastor Jonathan Hatcher, who leads Conner Heights Baptist Church in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., has removed the inflammatory leaflet, “The Death Cookie,” from his congregation. He says he will no longer distribute it.
“Looking back, I don’t think it was the right tract to give out,” Hatcher told FoxNews.com. “I have some others that wouldn’t have been as offensive. But I will continue to spread the gospel — that’s what I’m called by Christ to do. I’m still going to hand out tracts, but not ‘The Death Cookie.’”
The illustrated leaflet, distributed since 1988 by California-based Chick Publications, features an ominous character with a snake around his neck who advises a man that he can control the world by establishing a false religion based upon worshipping a cookie. Upon taking the control of the cookie, the man becomes the "papa" — a reference to the pope.
Jack Chick had a huge presence in California when I was growing up there, and after my adult conversion to the Faith, I ran into his little booklets (including this particular one) in just about every Protestant book store I went into. I wrote one shop to request they stop carrying them, but they never answered back. I complained to another large store, which featured an entire aisle dedicated to the tracts, and they replied "Many of our customers find the tracts helpful so we feel obliged to carry them." I visited the store a few years ago and noted (to my satisfaction) that they no longer seemed to carry them. (On the other hand, I was chatting with a young Baptist minister in his office last month, and when he opened his desk drawer to get something, I saw a neat little stack of Chick tracts in the corner. Sigh.)
These days you normally find them strategically placed (just like Jehovah's Witness materials) in locations --- campus, bar room and truck stop bathrooms; public laundry facilities; telephone booths, etc. --- where they can be picked up by the most vunerable audience, i.e. bored folks looking for something to read, and those largely uneducated in religion and most likely to be swayed by simplistic and emotional arguments.
As noted in the news report, Jack Chick has a long and colorful career as an anti-Catholic. The apologetics organization, Catholic Answers has done a comprehensive special report on this gentleman's "ministry" called "The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick." You can find it here.
Finally, I would like to give kudos to the priest, Father Jay Flaherty, for opposing this bigotry and well-worn hate literature and for standing up for truth and for the members of his flock. This is just what a good shepherd is supposed to do.
A church's parting thought: Pastor's sign is for those who leave Mass early
MOUNT CLEMENS [MI] – Some people still take off right after Communion at St. Peter Church, but not as many now that they have to walk under signs that read "Judas left early too." Fr. Cooney says putting the signs up at each of the three exits was "a bit of Irish diplomacy" aimed at addressing a long-standing source of frustration for many Catholic priests: people who leave Mass early, rather than staying for the dismissal.
Despite the attempts of abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards to claim that Dr. King was an abortion activist, those who bear his name and continue his cause have something very different to say:
Dr. Alveda King, Pastoral Associate of Priests for Life and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., released the following comments today on the celebration of her Uncle’s life.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of a Beloved Community where all are treated with respect and dignity,” said Dr. King. ”He fought against society’s exclusion of people who were treated as less than human because of their appearance. Today, we are compelled to continue Uncle Martin’s fight by standing up for those who are treated as less than human because of their helplessness and inconvenience.
“The unborn are as much a part of the Beloved Community as are newborns, infants, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. Too many of us speak of tolerance and inclusion, yet refuse to tolerate or include the weakest and most innocent among us in the human family. As we celebrate the life of Uncle Martin, let us renew our hearts and commit our lives to treating each other, whatever our race, status, or stage of life, as we would want to be treated. Let us let each other live.”
Abortion remains a scourge of African Americans, who suffer a far-higher abortion rate. Planned Parenthood should strive to promote a culture where all human beings have an equal chance to live. That’s my dream, and Dr. King’s.
I wrote previously about this last point in my blog here. To me, it is THE Great Civil Rights Issue of our time, comparable to the abolition of slavery about 150 years ago. Arizona Congressman Trent Franks also has something to say about this, as well as some proposed legislation. See the story here.
I like to remind people that it was one of my heroes, President Ronald Reagan, who signed into law the holiday honoring Dr. King. Here are his concluding words on that day:
Now our nation has decided to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by setting aside a day each year to remember him and the just cause he stood for. We've made historic strides since Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus. As a democratic people, we can take pride in the knowledge that we Americans recognized a grave injustice and took action to correct it. And we should remember that in far too many countries, people like Dr. King never have the opportunity to speak out at all.
But traces of bigotry still mar America. So, each year on Martin Luther King Day, let us not only recall Dr. King, but rededicate ourselves to the Commandments he believed in and sought to live every day: Thou shall love thy God with all thy heart, and thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. And I just have to believe that all of us—if all of us, young and old, Republicans and Democrats, do all we can to live up to those Commandments, then we will see the day when Dr. King's dream comes true, and in his words, “All of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, ‘... land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’”