Saturday, April 30, 2011

George Weigel on the Bad Popes

I originally happened to catch this entire interview of George Weigel on CSPAN and was very impressed with CSPANS treatment of the issues. Being a Weigel fan, of course I also thought he did a great job as well. This is an excerpt of him talking about the "Bad Popes" which I thought was well said

Friday, April 22, 2011

Is the Catholic Church the Bureaucratic Whore of Babylon? And When was the First Mass Anyway?

Much of the information was gleaned from Mike Aquilina's book the Mass of the Early Christians. Mike is a great Church historian and he, more than providing his own spin, simply brings together the documents of the Church Fathers. He is a very accessible author for anyone looking to get some exposure to the Church Fathers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Roman Station Churches

An ancient tradition in Rome is once again winding down as another Lent is in the books - a tradition that I was able to participate in while on vacation in Rome.

For each of the 40 days of Lent, there is a different Church in Rome designated as the "Station Church" for the day. All day long Masses are held in that Church in many different languages, and pilgrims pour in to the Church all day long.

The first Mass of the day is typically the English Mass, and I believe preference is given to the English Mass because the men of the North American College Seminary in Rome, as I understand it, kept the tradition going when most other languages let it slip in the recent past.

While I was in Rome over Spring Break, I was able to make the pilgrimage through the streets of Rome (usually close to an hour walk) - a prayerful experience in and of itself because you have to set out in the darkness of pre-dawn in order to get to the Church in time, and it is an awesome experience as most of the city is still dormant.

Famous Catholic author George Weigel (tied for my favorite author) actually walked the streets with us because his next book is going to be on the Station Churches and the North American College's role in keeping the flame alive.

As Fr. Z notes on his blog (read here) the A.P. actually did a fairly good story on the subject today which you can read here.

It is nice to see an ancient custom which the American Church can take a lot of credit for picking up when most others let it slip.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peter Kreeft on Love and Fear

Dr. Peter Kreeft is a fantastic theologian who teaches at Boston College and has been writing wonderful essays and books and articles for many years presenting the Catholic Faith as intelligible and enjoyable. Below is an excerpt from an essay on Love and Fear

"God is love. And love is not "luv." Luv is nice; love is not nice. Love is a fire, a hurricane, an earthquake, a volcano, a bolt of lightning. Love is what banged out the big bang in the beginning, and love is what went to hell for us on the cross.

The difference between love and "luv" is the difference between the prophetic model of religion and the therapeutic model. In the prophetic model, God commands us to be good. In the therapeutic model, people use religion to make themselves feel good."

Read the entire article and visit his site by clicking here

Continued blessings this Holy Week!

Obstacles to Prayer

This was a talk I gave last Friday at Holy Name parish during their fish fry. Thanks to their DRE Jonathan Chamblee who filmed it, put it on Youtube, and then sent it to me. Although I didn't ask him to do any of that, I am appreciative of his efforts because I think we covered some good questions that a lot of people have about prayer. Hope it helps you during this Holy Week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chesterton on Homosexual Marriage and Other Words

This is all taken from an essay entitled "Eugenics and Other Evils"

"Suppose we are all standing round a field and looking at a tree in the middle of it. It is perfectly true that we all see it in infinitely different aspects: that is not the point; the point is that we all say it is a tree. Suppose we are all poets... a conservative poet may wish to clip the tree; a revolutionary poet may wish to burn it. An optimist poet may want to make it a Christmas tree and hang candles on it. A pessimist poet may want to hang himself on it. None of these are mad, because they are all talking about the same thing. But there is another man who is talking horribly about something else. There is a monstrous exception to mankind. Why he is so we know not; a new theory says it is heredity; an older theory says it is devils. But in any case, the spirit of it is the spirit that denies, the spirit that really denies realities. This is the man who looks at the tree and...says it is a lamp-post...the difference between us and the maniac is not about how things look or how things ought to look, but about what they self-evidently are."

As G.K. is noting (Sartre, Nietzsche, Foucault... are you listening?) words mean things, reality is real.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I will sometimes post articles or videos to watch on this blog but I very rarely say you need to PHYSICALLY GO to an event. This Good Friday night at Ritter, however, is our second annual Tenebrae service and I am telling you that you should go if you are able. The Tenebrae service is free and open to the public and it is the perfect ending to Good Friday.

So often people are looking for something to do on Good Friday; they are looking for a chance to spend more time in prayer with other people, and that is precisely what Tenebrae is.

Tenebrae (pronounced TEN - UH - BRAY) is Latin for "darkness" and is an ancient custom in our Church. The service has always been a chanting of various psalms and passages from Scripture that focus on the suffering and death of our Lord.

Tenebrae goes back to the middle ages, and the service was performed in Churches throughout the world. The Pope always celebrated Tenebrae in the Sistine Chapel, and one of the pieces that was written for the service was Allegri's Miserere Mei, Deus (a setting of Psalm 51), written for 9 voices. It was considered such a treasure of the Church that it was kept under lock and key for hundreds of years. The piece was finally made public when, at age 14, a young Mozart, traveling in Rome, attended the service, and then promptly wrote the music down from memory when the service was completed.

A group consisting of students in IU's School of Music, Vox Reflexa, under the direction of Mr. Ben Geier, will be performing most of the music for Tenebrae at Ritter, including the finale - the same piece that served as the conclusion for Tenebrae in the Sistine Chapel for so many years - Allegri's Miserere.

The service begins at 9 p.m. and will conclude by 10 p.m. The service is NOT a Eucharistic service, and so in no way takes the place of attending one's parish services earlier in the day on Friday.

If you have any questions please contact me. I hope to see you at Ritter, and I hope you have a blessed Holy Week!

Great Story About Autistic Basketball Manager

The Bulldogs may have come up short in the national title game, and the boys of Summer may be taking over for the boys of the hardwood, but a friend sent me this video and I think it is worth a watch. I first heard of this young man's story several years ago, and even now, after all that time, I still literally cry EVERY time I watch this. This is what sports and high school athletics should be ALL about!

"I've Given Up On My Lenten Penance..."

The last few weeks I've heard this from many Catholics raising the white flag on Lent - "I just can't do it" or "I started out Lent with a lot of things I was going to do, but now I'm clinging to my one final sacrifice, and I don't know if I can make it to Easter with that."

First of all, as General Maximus exhorted his troops in Gladiator - "HOLD THE LINE!!!" Stay strong!!! Easter is almost here.

Secondly, those broken Lenten promises need not be consigned to next year's Lenten wishlist.

Let's look at what some of our Eastern brothers and sisters do for Lent.

The Orthodox Church has a progressively more intensive Lenten sacrifice which is not left up to the individual person but is entered into by the entire community. Lent gets progressively more challenging, and they even encourage no eating from Holy Thursday night until the Easter celebration.

Learning about this has encouraged me to add some stuff as Lent has progressed. For Lent I gave up coffee and alcohol and going more than 8 mph over the speed limit. Then, for the final two weeks of Lent, I've added the giving up of sweets to my original sacrifices. For Holy Week, I'm adding no TV to the slate. It is certainly no Orthodox Fast, but it has been really helpful for me to experience a growing sense of solemnity as I head toward the Triduum.

So... to those of you who feel like you've dropped the ball on your Lenten promises... just renew your original promises for Holy Week!!! What a great way to make peace with your stumblings and to at the same time enter into a deeper sense of solemnity as you pass through this most awesome of weeks.

Blessings to you and your family this Holy Week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Brother's Talk on Discipleship

This weekend at the Consumed retreat my brother Tony, a first year seminarian for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, gave a talk on discipleship and vocation. It definitely merits a listen in my mind

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Priest to His Altar Servers

Great letter from a priest to his altar servers. This type of reverence from altar servers is needed in many parishes today! Also a great read for all Catholics to think about how to approach the Mass. Click here for the read.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Wish Mass Were More Entertaining!

The Mass as done by "Call to Action" - Catholic liberal wackos - demonstrating what Mass looks like if we make it in to what we want it to be instead of celebrating the Mass as the Church hands it down.

This was another video that me and my brothers watched a few Christmas Eve's ago and couldn't stop laughing for about 20 minutes. It is sad, but when you realize it probably isn't even a valid Mass anyway, that makes it better.

Response to Classes on Homosexuality

I have been able to read all of the comments on Youtube, Facebook, and my blog, and at this point, I'd like to issue a statement addressing those comments which merit a response.

Before that, I would just say that President Obama has called the nation to a more civil discourse, and judging between the tone that those in favor of "gay marriage" used and those who posted in support of the Church's teachings, I'd say Obama has more work to do with his liberal supporters than with Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world.

While most of the comments on the blog and Youtube were polarizing, some merit a response, and so I hope to provide that now. With those who actually plan to engage in civil conversation, I hope that this serves as an invitation to further discussion.

One of the good points raised, and one that I failed to consider, was the point some made concerning polygamy. In my video I noted that "society has always understood marriage to be between one man and one woman." Many posters brought up the issue of polygamous relationships, even among folks in the Old Testament of the Bible. One wonders though, even given these examples, how common polygamy was/is, and whether or not marriage between one man and one woman was still, in those societies, normative. Polygamy as a societal norm would seem to be physically impossible given the fact that, outside of war time where a large number of men would have been killed, the population of men and women would be about the same, thus making it hard for every man to have two wives.

While polygamy poses a problem for those wanting to say marriage has always been understood to be between one man and one woman, it also poses problems for those who would want to see marriage redefined. The first problem it poses is that one would have to explain why society moved away from polygamy to a place where marriage is today. Why have societies (usually as they become more educated) moved TOWARD marriage as it is currently understood?

The second problem it poses for those who want to redefine marriage is that there is nothing that logically stops polygamy from returning if one undoes how marriage is defined. One poster noted that Lincoln signed a bigamy act in 1862 that would prevent polygamy from occurring, but Clinton signed a defense of marriage act in 1996, and we're seeing how sacrosanct that presidential act is considered today. One poster even said “we’ll be on your side if polygamy is ever put back on the table as an option” (read: we won’t push the envelope TOO far) but the question is simple – there is no logical answer to why, if we say the gender doesn’t matter, that we can simultaneously hold that the number of people entering a marriage does matter.

Also, before beginning, it should be noted that the videos were three different classes.
Class 1 - What the Church teaches on homosexuality
Class 2 and Class 3 - The Church says not letting homosexuals marry is clear simply through reason, and so that class was arguments from reason against homosexual marriage

The accusation that I did not present both sides is ludicrous in that in class 2 we watched a debate hosted by CNN on the issue for almost 8 minutes. It was CNN people! Also, I wonder where my kids would ever get "the other side" without me teaching it - perhaps on "V for Vendetta," "Will and Grace," "Modern Family," "The Family Stone," "The Kids are Alright," "Friends," or any of the shows listed here on wikipedia.

1. I had a lot of statistics about homosexuality thrown at me, but I still haven’t heard how, if it is biological/genetic, it is passed on to the next generation. Especially if one wants to say that this generation of homosexual persons is the most liberated, and no longer feels the need to hide in marriages, then homosexual people should be having children at a record low, so should one expect the numbers of homosexual people to drop off dramatically when this current generation of 20-40 somethings passes away? I think it is interesting how strongly some cling to Darwin’s philosophical claims but never apply them to the issue of homosexuality.

2. Some were upset that I didn't know which states one can currently get married in as a homosexual, or that I didn't know the current wording of hate speech laws. These things, while I agree to them being important, are really quite superfluous to the discussion we had in class.

3. Someone went off on the fact that Leviticus considers lots of other things to be sins of varying degrees - I covered that, at length, in the first class, and also talked about the Church's response to "the Leviticus issue"

4. Prop 8 was a federal judge saying that it is unlawful for a state to change its Constitution according to our nation's Constitution. Fair enough - thanks for pointing that out.

5. "Popular opinion is swinging in the direction of gay marriage." Has popular opinion always been a good indicator of what is right? Certainly, with issues like interracial marriages and slavery and so forth the public's opinion slowly warmed to finally adopting laws that were just.

However, there have also been plenty of times where popular opinion slowly moved towards favoring something that history later looked back on as disastrous. Popular opinion in Germany no doubt slowly warmed to Adolf Hitler.

6. Someone wondered why the state would be concerned about the population dying off (and thus wondering why the state would want to protect marriage as it is) when we already have millions of unwanted children. That point doesn’t hold water, though, because whether the children are “wanted” or “unwanted” they are children who are going to continue the species. “unwanted” children still go on to contribute to society, and most end up having kids of their own.

7. As the man on the CNN video said, people are looking to have their homosexual unions "solemnized," which is what I was getting at with my "friendship" comment in the second class. Wanting people to "solemnize" something doesn't in fact mean that the government SHOULD solemnize something. I can't DECIDE I deserve a Purple Heart or a Medal of Honor - I meet criteria beneficial to the state, and the state turns around and solemnizes my contribution. I can't just say "Hey, I want to be recognized too" and have that be a valid argument.

8. Issue of some heterosexual couples being infertile - covered in class.

9. One poster noted that Catholic Charities in Boston chose not to offer adoptions anymore because they wouldn’t receive federal money – and this is a completely false claim. From the Weekly Standard: “To operate in Massachusetts, an adoption agency must be licensed by the state. And to get a license, an agency must pledge to obey state laws barring discrimination.”

It had nothing to do with federal money – Boston Catholic Charities adoption efforts were closed down by the state.

Cohabitating??? - Don't Move to Santa Fe

This story comes via "the Deacon's Bench" blog - the Archbishop of Santa Fe issued a pastoral letter about marriage, noting,

"We have three groups of people who are living contrary to the Gospel teaching on marriage: those who cohabit; those who have a merely civil union with no previous marriage; and those who have a civil union who were married before. These people are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion. They are in great spiritual danger."

and later:

"These people may not be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, not only because of scandal, but even more because one commits the sin of sacrilege by administering a Sacrament in the state of mortal sin. Nor are such people to be admitted to the role of sponsor for Baptism or Confirmation, as is clearly stated on the Archdiocesan Affidavit for a Sponsor. It is critical for the sponsor to be a practicing Catholic – and can anyone be seriously called a practicing Catholic who is not able to receive the sacraments because they are living in sin?"

WOW!!! I'm sure this Bishop is going to get attacked with the whole "Does anything the Bishops say matter anymore because of the abuse crisis thing" - a sure sign that he's hitting on the mark. Let's pray for this Bishop, and let's pray that more Bishops decide to take up a stance on the wall while our culture is still salvageable!

Pope Michael???

Found this video over on

This shows what happens as soon as people split from the "Rock" the Church Christ founded on St. Peter, and do their own thing (see: Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, etc.).

There is actually another "pope" in Montana that looks even more outrageous - Pope Pius XIII. One Easter about 5 years ago my family started looking at his website, and it quickly became one of those things where people were laughing so hard they were choking and crying! Here are some of the pictures. The first photo is the white smoke after the "consistory" (eerily similar to some of the photos of where Ted Kaczinski was holed up) and the second is the official "papal" portrait, apparently by a garden. Enjoy - and pray for these people

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"When In Rome" - Homily for Laetare Sunday

I was able to do a lot in Rome, but it was something unexpected that I will remember most