Archives for August 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #74)

This week: A look at 2016: Obama’s America. Father Barron on Catholic Social Teaching. Andrew Klavan’s Economic Smackdown: Paul Ryan vs. Barack Obama. Pillars of Catholicism now available (free!). Inexpensively converting existing cars into hybrids. Unintentionally tearing down the highway at 115 mph, police in chase. A random thought.

— 1 —

When we vote, we presumably choose a person whose intentions for the country most closely match our own. I think all sides can agree on that. Therefore, knowing those intentions are key. For our incumbent president, much remains veiled – particularly by the highly partisan media. Yet, President Obama has been forthright on who has influenced him, where he wants to take America and why. Dinesh D’Souze, President of The King’s College, wrote a best selling book exploring the “hope and change” of Obama’s America.

I do not like movies which are nothing more than 90 minute political hit pieces, chock-full of partisan propaganda. The new movie 2016: Obama’s America is different. It brings D’Souze’s book to life in the president’s own words. Author D’Souze is no political hack and producer Gerald Molen (who also produced Schindler’s List) no video propagandist.

2016 is in theaters now. See it, understand how we got to where we are and where the current path leads over the next 4 years under President Obama. If this reflects your intention, vote for him.

— 2 —

Father Barron takes a few minutes to discuss Catholic Social Teaching. The topic is very important and hot at the moment since Catholic Paul Ryan’s selection. He speaks often and quite eloquently of how it guides his prudential decisions.

— 3 —

Andrew Klavan’s piece contrasting economic plans is over a year old now, but it seems like an appropriate time to dust it off:

— 4 —

John Paul the Great Catholic University‘s free, 13 session, online class entitled Pillars of Catholicism (I first mentioned it here) has now begun. The class is open to everyone and you can start any time. Mary Lane has more on it at Catholic Exchange. This could be a good refresher for some or of interest to those wishing to explore the faith.

— 5 —

Middle Tennessee Statue University has developed a simple way to make any car into a hybrid. For (a projected) $3,000, gas mileage can be at least doubled. Dr. Charles Perry explains:

Spotted by my friend Tom C.

— 6 —

Lauri Ulvestad was traveling along a mid-west highway in her 2011 Kia Sorento SUV. Somehow, her accelerator became stuck and took her on a 59 mile high speed (up to 115 mph) 35 minute nightmare. This could have been any of us.

ABC’s Good Morning America also reported the story.

— 7 —

Random thought: vanity license tags are tombstones for the living.


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Reformation or revolution?

Two months from today “Reformation Sunday” is observed. Not in the Catholic Church, of course, but in some Protestant communities. This day is set aside each year to remember the actions and the movement initiated by Martin Luther.

In the early 16th century, there were problems in the Church founded by our Lord, Jesus Christ. These problems wounded the Church and were born of sins and poor judgment of imperfect shepherds. As a matter of fact, the institutional Church was not perfect even in the early years nor is she perfect today. She will always need renewal and reformation, but she will prevail.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Indeed, the Church has prevailed for 2,000 years through all manner of challenges – both within and without. Some have commented that if it were not for the protection of the Holy Spirit, she would have collapsed long ago! Through it all, the Church has preserved Christian doctrine and rejected all attempts throughout two millennia to “modernize” and dilute it. Truth simply does not change.

Martin Luther’s complaints for the most part were centered on discipline, not doctrine. Discipline is administrative, not faith. It is rooted in the authority given by Jesus to Peter and his successors. For example, how men are selected for the priesthood is a discipline. That married men are not selected for the Latin Rite is a discipline. Simony, selection to ecclesiastical offices in exchange for money, was a discipline that Luther quite correctly objected to.

Perhaps the most famous complaint Luther made was against the selling of indulgences. Indulgences are remissions of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. Essentially, acts of contrition in this mortal life can reduce the amount of, or need for, cleansing (purgatory) for the eternal life. In her authority given by Jesus to bind and loose, Holy Mother Church determines discipline regarding indulgences. While selling indulgences may or may not be intrinsically wrong, they certainly led to abuse as a practical matter. Luther was correct to object.

Simony, selling indulgences, and other discipline faults of of the early 1500’s have long been corrected – just as other problems which preceded them have been and just as current and future problems will be.

There have been many great reformers throughout Church history who have worked to renew and purify the practices of the Church. People like Pope (Saint) Gregory the Great, Saint Peter Damian, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Clare of Assisi, Saint Catherine of Siena, Jean Gerson, Jan Hus, Gasparo Contarini, Blessed John Henry Newman and Servant of God Dorothy Day.

Martin Luther could have also been a great reformer. He might have become Saint Martin Luther the Reformer. Alas, he chose the path of revolution over reformation. He violated his vows as a Catholic priest, separated from Christ’s true Church and led generations of Christians away from the fullness of the faith and into error. That is his sad legacy.

In his schism, Luther changed the canon of Holy Scripture infallibly determined over 1,000 years prior (only 400 years after Christ). He discarded Christian doctrine and created new, novel doctrine. On his own accord, this prideful revolutionary made sweeping changes that no pope could ever do. Inspired by this new freedom to redefine and reinterpret the faith, Luther had contemporaries who did likewise – each resulting in conflicting beliefs with the other.

Some will celebrate on October 28th the revolution they incorrectly call reformation. Others will pray for the reunification of our brothers and sisters now in thousands of separated Christian denominations. May they come home to the Catholic Church, inseparable from Christ, founded by Him and protected by Him until the end of time.

Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Elsewhere: Jesus on gay “marriage”

Some people assert that Jesus never said that gays could not marry. This is wrong on so many levels. For starters, Jesus never explicitly said that men could not marry farm animals nor that women could not marry vegetables. Such wonky logic! The obviousness of these things in biblical times precluded any need for additional comment. In fact, these things were obvious to all for the entirety of human history until recently when some of us think that they have “evolved.”

The entire Old Testament was abundantly clear on homosexuality. For example, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22) or “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, they have committed an abomination; the two of them shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)   Was all this thrown out? NO – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)

Direct comments are not absent from the New Testament either. For example, “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Writing for Catholic Lane, Christopher Eden suggests that Jesus actually did address the issue of gay “marriage”:

Jesus’ stance on marriage was strong. When the Pharisees asked Him whether it was lawful for a man to give his wife a bill of divorce He responded, “The Creator ‘made them male and female…   a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’…   So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate?” (Matthew 19:4-6).

The apostles were stunned when He went on to say that only death could dissolve a (valid) marriage, and how anyone who divorced and remarried lived in adultery. “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry!” (Matthew 19:10) Jesus didn’t back-pedal; they had understood Him just fine. That was marriage in the Kingdom – marriage as it was before humanity’s Fall. Jesus knew it would be difficult, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted” (Matthew 19:11).

Pay attention to what Jesus said next: “Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12). A man’s ability to be united to his wife, sexually, was what made him a candidate for marriage. If he was unable to achieve sexual union because of a) birth defect, b) castration, or c) a vow of celibacy; then marriage was not his vocation.

The foundation of Jesus’ whole argument is biological. Unless “a man” and “his wife…   become one flesh,” there is no valid marriage. For Jesus, and for anyone committed to His teachings, it is impossible to speak of a “Christian same-sex marriage.” Jesus’ words rule it out absolutely. The parameters for marriage between Christians, the parameters for a sacramental marriage, have been set by Jesus and cannot be changed. “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away” (Luke 23:33).

Christians who argue differently undermine their faith. To make their argument they would have to assume that either a) Jesus was wrong on the nature of marriage (If so, He’s not God); or b) the Bible puts false words in Jesus’ mouth (If the Bible got Jesus’ words on marriage wrong, why believe it when it says that God loves us or Jesus died to save us from our sins?) There are some questions where Christians can honestly disagree with one another, but this is not one of them; Jesus teaching is plain, as is His warning to those who try to water His teachings down, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels? (Luke 9:26).

Read the whole piece: Was Jesus Really Silent on Same-Sex “Marriage”?.

Myth: Catholic’s “re-sacrifice” Jesus at Mass

No, we don’t “re-sacrifice” Jesus at Mass.

Our “worship service” is The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and yes, there is a very real sacrifice. In fact, it is the ultimate and most complete sacrifice possible. It is the one perfect sacrifice of our Lord and Savior in atonement for our sins.

What happens at Mass is not in any way a new sacrifice or re-sacrifice. It is the passion and death of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. We are present at that sacrifice. Sometimes, for simplicity, we describe it as a “re-presentation.”

I will let you in on a little secret. Mass is not actually a re-presentation either. The Oberammergau passion play is a re-presentation. There is no actual sacrifice there, only the enactment of one. Jesus is not present in the literal sense – they are just actors.

The Mass is the ancient Christian liturgy, celebrated by priests ordained through an unbroken chain of succession to the Apostles. Every priest can trace his priestly lineage all the way back to St. Peter, the first pope.

Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice (Matthew 5:23-24). For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, “Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations” (Malachi 1:11,14).

Didache 14; 70 A.D.

In the Catholic sanctuary, the altar is more than a table to hold scripture. It is the altar of sacrifice upon which bread and wine, no different than that which Jesus consecrated at the last supper, are taken by God’s angel to His altar in heaven (Eucharistic Prayer I – Roman Canon). From Him we receive the sacred body and blood of His Son. The priest in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) says the words of consecration but the words are of Jesus and the place is the last supper, His passion and Calvary. We are there, along with all the angels and saints of heaven.

“When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven?” (The Priesthood 1118 – 3, 4, 177; 387 A.D.).

“Reverence, therefore, reverence this table, of which we are all communicants! Christ, slain for us, the sacrificial victim who is placed thereon!” (Homilies on Romans 8:8; 391 A.D.).

Saint John Chrysostom
Doctor of the Church

We do not “attend” Mass. The eternal heavenly liturgy is transcendent and outside of time as heaven itself briefly touches us. We are in fact, participants concurrently with those at every other Mass throughout the world, concurrently with those at every past Mass and concurrently with those at every Mass yet to come.

Mass is holy, not entertaining. From the Mass we receive the Eucharist, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. We fall to our knees at His real presence.

For most of Christian history, this is how all Christians worshiped. It is still how Catholics worship and always will be. To the Protestant ear, it may sound hard to believe – much as disciples found Jesus words in the Bread of Life Discourse (John 6:22) hard. The Eucharist truly is the real presence of our Lord and the Mass solidly biblical (see also this and this).

Scott Hahn was a curious Protestant minister when he attended his first Mass. In plainclothes, sitting in the very back, he expected to witness the ultimate sacrilege. He was far from the first person surprised by the truth:

As the Mass moved on, however, something hit me. My Bible wasn’t just beside me. It was before me — in the words of the Mass! One line was from Isaiah, another from the Psalms, another from Paul. The experience was overwhelming. I wanted to stop everything and shout, “Hey, can I explain what’s happening from Scripture? This is great!” Still, I maintained my observer status. I remained on the sidelines until I heard the priest pronounce the words of consecration: “This is My Body…   This is the cup of My Blood.”

Then I felt all my doubt drain away. As I saw the priest raise that white host, I felt a prayer surge from my heart in a whisper: “My Lord and my God. That’s really you!”

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #73)

This week: Paul Ryan, just another “Catholic” politician? God’s Story – the history of everything important. Episcopal parish converts en masse. Cardinal Raymond Burke discusses the LCWR. Gays at Chick-fil-A show their rainbow colors. A 4-part video series on Sexual Brokenness. How new technology helps a disabled two-year old.

— 1 —

Have you ever heard Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi speak about their professed Catholic faith? It is possible that they are solidly grounded theologically, just completely unable to articulate any of it (e.g. this painful example). It is possible that they are obedient to the Magisterium, other than being opposed to the Magisterium’s teaching on abortion, on marriage, on subsidiarity, etc. (e.g. these examples). Such issues notwithstanding, Biden and Pelosi often wear their supposed Catholicity on their sleeve. We call that scandal.

Contrast that to Paul Ryan. Unlike Pelosi, he does not hold himself out as an “ardent practicing Catholic.” Yet, he obviously knows his faith extremely well *and* informs his judgment by it. Imagine that – to actually learn and live by the faith!

There are, of course, those Catholics who think that the preferential option for the poor means voting in favor of big government vs. any personal responsibility. Unlimited debt and the injustice of its burden on future generations do not concern them. Neither does the Catholic teaching on subsidiarity (and often life itself or true marriage). These people do not like Paul Ryan and have wildly misrepresented his position. We have a word for that too – calumny. This has already gotten to the point that Bishop Robert Morlino, Ryan’s bishop, has had to defend him.

Update:

— 2 —

God’s Story — the history of everything important in 7 minutes:

Spotted by Marcel

— 3 —

St. Luke’s parish, an Episcopal church, converted to Catholicism last October. Here is a PBS produced piece on their transition. For them, it is surprisingly objective:

There is some random noise in it, but key points are the need for truth and authority. The former is increasingly lacking today’s Episcopal church and the latter was simply never there (which explains the former). I identify with parishioner Anne Marie Whittaker who felt that her Protestant church left her, not the other way around.

The Episcopal bishop puts a brave face on their situation, but their numbers are seriously declining. He commented that they have about 90% in common with Catholicism other than authority. I think that may have been true 20 years ago but is not today. Since then, Episcopalians seem willing to replace any truth with a new, improved truth:

  • they are pro-choice and opposed to any government action that limits “abortion rights”
  • they perform same-sex unions (avoiding only the word “marriage” – for now)
  • they ordain women as deacons, priests and bishops
  • they ordain openly homosexual deacons, priests and bishops

Many people will often rationalize 1 shocking change here or there. I know that I did. At some point, if you really care about your Christian faith and are honest with yourself, you realize what your church teaches is simply *wrong*. The truth is not in a church that says taking a child’s life is a difficult, personal decision. The truth is not in a church that says God’s love is reflected in homosexual acts. The truth is not in a church that says women are interchangeable with the male priesthood chosen by our Savior. You know this.

Above video spotted by Russ Rentler

— 4 —

His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke succinctly explains the problem with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR):

Honestly, this is so simple, as Cardinal Burke notes. The sisters are consecrated religious who have professed to live in Christ-like poverty, chastity and obedience. It is their choice to remain obedient, faithful Catholics (which can only be defined by the Magisterium) or not. What can no longer continue is for them to remain as Catholic consecrated religious who oppose the authority of the Magisterium, oppose Catholic doctrine and scandalize the Church.

— 5 —

Chicago, where faithful Christian values are officially unwelcome. Apparently the only Chick-fil-A served as the venue for the much ballyhooed gay “kiss-in.” Protesters were doing their loud, intolerant thing when someone noticed an elderly homeless man, off to the side, reading his Bible. They were non-judgmental and treated him with dignity and respect.

At a follow-up protest, as the protesters marched in a circle chanting “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” another gentleman concerned about their eternal salvation enters their midst to pray for them. He did not bring a bull-horn, carried no large banner, shouted no slogans. Father Gerald O’Reilly quietly prayed the Rosary. Out of respect of his concern for them, and in the interest of dialog, they welcomed the good padre.

Contrast these few protesters with the thousands who came in support of Chick-fil-A. The differences could not be more stark. This story was spotted by my friend John B.

— 6 —

The Colson Center has put together a very good 4-part series on Sexual Brokenness. It includes many of the themes taught by Bl. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (introduction: online here and here or this book).

Continue with parts two, three and four.

— 7 —

One of the conveniences of the Starship Enterprise was the replicator. It is envisioned as a device that could construct needed objects without the usual manufacturing process. We are not there yet (if ever), but we now have 3D printers that can construct prototypes and other unique, low-volume objects.

Two year old Emma was born with the congenital disorder arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) from which she lost use of her arms. The metal prosthetic usually prescribed is far too heavy for a 25-pound child. Check-out the story:


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

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