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Showing posts from September, 2008

The Trouble with Angels

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Throughout human history, in our philosophy and in our cosmology (or worldview), the pendulum of our place in the cosmos has swung back and forth again and again. Are we the crown of creation or are we just "trousered apes?" In our tinkering with the inner and outer worlds that we find ourselves swimming in, we are often ennobled and belittled all at once. The great Shakespeare summed it up well: "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" (Hamlet, Act V, scene ii) And of course, the Bible encapsulates the enigma even better: "What is man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting al…

St. Michael Defend Us in Battle

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PRAYER TO SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. I've posted the following snippets from Dr. Peter Kreeft before, but on this eve of the Feast of the Archangels, I just can't resist a rerun!The Twelve Most Important Things to Know About Angels1. They really exist. Not just in our minds, or our myths, or our symbols, or our culture. They are as real as your dog, or your sister, or electricity.2. They’re present, right here, right now, right next to you, reading these words with you.3. They’re not cute, cuddly, comfortable, chummy, or "cool." They are fearsome and formidable. They are huge. They are warriors.4. They are the real "extra-terrestrials…

Pio, Something Smells!

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PREAMBLE: Before we even begin today's reflections, I have something to smell you, I mean tell you. One of the coolest things about Padre Pio and the way God likes to work lies in the acclaimed "odor of sanctity" that often follows the holy ones. Yes, believe it or not, when God allows miracles to pour forth from His beloved saints, they are sometimes associated with fragrances. Therese is roses, and Padre Pio is often known by the scent of... tobacco. This to me is beyond awesome. Tobacco.... brilliant. "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible." Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of one of her most beloved and most misunderstood sons... St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Born on May 25, 1887, he died on this day in 1968, and today is still affectionately known as Padre Pio. I say he was misunderstood, but more accurately I mean missed. This is simply because so much attention was given to the …

Fire and Freedom

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Before His gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with Him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves... His gaze, the touch of His heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of His love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. - Pope Benedict XVI,Spe Salvi I love the Pope. I love this challenging invitation from the Holy Father, a man anointed and appointed by the Holy Spirit to guide and govern the Church on earth. And though this invitation speaks of great pain, I take the greatest comfort from these "burning" words of his, because... 1. I know they are true, and 2. He has the courage to tell us this truth. Christianity is not a sugar-coated religion, an escape, or a crutch. It is not unrealistic, or naive. It is standing arms outstretched in the midst of scorching winds; it is stepp…

Amazing Grace

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An update on our Snowflakes adoption story.... We had another ultrasound this week, and our baby's condition has not changed since the diagnosis of acrania. We're still holding out for our miracle, through the prayerful intercession of Pope John Paul II, because nothing is impossible with God. And what our baby needs is the impossible. Bone where there is no bone; a total and complete healing. We did receive a tremendous blessing, though, in coming to discover the baby's sex. So we welcome to the world, though still hidden in the womb, our little girl, Grace Elizabeth. And she is a dancer. In our 22nd week, the images seem so clear. She came waltzing out of the murky shadows of the ultrasound screen, in a dimly lit room at the perinatal testing center. We could see her hands waving, the bones of her tiny fingers, her heart pounding strong and fast. When the technician, Janene, said "It's a girl," I felt such a swell of emotion. Coming to know someone's…

The Catholic Vote

Indiana Bill and the Quest for Velveeta

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Have you ever tried to find Velveeta without the help of a certified supermarket technician? You'd sooner find the Holy Grail than this coveted orange wedge of pasty goodness. And why, you ask, is it so hard to find? Because no one knows exactly what it is. Cheese? But it says "pasteurized cheese product" on the side. Spread? But it says "cheese" on it. Whiz? But it comes in a rectangular box. You can scan every aisle, as Rebecca and I have, and you can ask employees... but every store will have a different story. Velveeta is like the Sasquatch of Supermarkets, the Nessie of Snack Necessities. This is why I took a picture of it when I found it, lest it should vanish in a flash like the "you-know-what" in Season 4 of LOST (I didn't want to give a spoiler there to anyone still watching Season 3). But if you're in the Acme supermarket off of Springfield Road, Delaware County, you can find this stuff in aisle 4 by the Pasta Roni. Abandon hope al…

Crossbeams

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Two beams have shot out through human history, each on a course and each on a quest. One is horizontal, passing through time, looking on the world as on a linear plane, longing for the infinite but finding only finite things. The top is spun and the circle runs and days pass, but all is vanity, passing away in clouds of half-knowledge. It is man's search for meaning. Everyone is seeking something. Every soul is longing and working and sweating out its days in a quest for a paradigm that will offer insight into the enigma of being here, of being human. We awake every morning and we rub our eyes and we look out across time; our horizontal beams like beacons, scanning the vast sea of humanity, eager to find its edge and its end. We lay out the tracks of our thoughts so that our hearts may have a Way to travel, a Path to navigate, a Destiny to reach. But all is vanity, and there is nothing new under the sun. But a second beam has fallen, and ever falls, perpendicular to the thoughts o…

A Little Silliness

Slightly irreverent and very funny... Ron Burgundy Interviews.... J.C. (and how does he keep from laughing?) Thanks Brian Barcaro for the link.

Love Your Enemies

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I remember vividly this day 7 years ago. I remember who first told me about a plane hitting a building, then another. I watched in disbelief as the TV screen showed that mighty tower slide down and diffuse itself and hundreds of souls into dust and ash through the streets of New York. I remember the smallest details, the emotion, room I was in, the bright blue of the sky that day, the turns on Lincoln Drive as I sped along to get to Rebecca at Mount St. Joseph's. That was the only thought. Find loved ones, be safe. I remember making scattered phone calls, then calls not getting through. Everyone scared, blank expressions, whispers... "What is happening?" Then prayers welling up, pews filling up and overflowing; the tenderness of people's words, the slower pace we gave our steps, and how that lasted for a time. Then another thing crept into the place of silent shock; anger, bitterness, and a searching gaze into the world to see who would "pay" for this. B…

Mist and Sun and the Meaning of Life

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I love back roads. Swervy, windy, half in shadow, half in sun ribbons of asphalt. They're like "mobile prayer" for Rebecca and I. Add a little Lord of the Rings or Dances with Wolves soundtrack music into a Sunday drive and you are GONE... floating away to Happy Land, the Land of Contemplation! And all's right with the world! Well, mostly. My drive into school each morning is a gift; back roads abound! There are a number of paths to take and I generally mix it up from day to day. Case in point: just last week, after passing it for three years in moderate "haste," I decided to take "Grubb's Mill Road" for a spin. Now don't judge a road by its name. As I made my way over hill and dale (what is a dale anyway?) I was literally captured by the sunlight streaming through morning mist over wet grass. I flipped on the hazards and with the handy iPhone (I know I know, Geek Boy Returns) I snapped a few pics. One is handsomely portrayed in this pos…

Happy Birthday Humanae Vitae!

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This year the Church "celebrates" the fortieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI's theological lighthouse, Humanae Vitae, a brief letter highlighting what human life is all about and what human love is meant to reflect. It materialized like a beacon atop a pillar of rock in the midst of the fog kicked up from a so-called sexual revolution in the 1960's. I call it a lighthousebecause today, anyone with half a brain can see that the revolution shipwrecked in turning away from it; the Yellow Submarine sank just as soon as it set sail, and we've been floating through some pretty dark wreckage ever since. The proof is in the statistics. Forty years ago, public and parochial reactions to Paul VI's letter were said to have broken his heart. Souls abandoned the Bark of Peter in droves and chose rather to find their own way through the deep and mysterious waters of human sexuality. But we have paid a high price for jumping ship... Dr. Janet Smith (click here for the compl…

Faith Database.... Wow.

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I just learned about this fantastic new resource through Catholic Exchange. I would have scratched it right up, but the Mac version isn't out until next month. Check out the video intro on the website here.2000 Years of Christian History 10 Bible Translations88 Council Documents from all 21 Ecumenical Councils400 Early Church writings165 writings from the Doctors of the Church74 books from John Henry Newman112 books from GK Chesterton1300 Papal writings/encyclicalsThe Old Catholic Encyclopedia (1200 entries and 5000 images)Many classics including Gibbons' "Faith of our Fathers," Thomas a Kempis' "Imitation of Christ" and John Paul II's "Theology of the Body"1000 Bible Art ImagesOver 100 Bible MapsIllustrated Church historySearch Catechism and Code of Canon Law Some of the Over 1500 Featured Writings Classics Apologia (Newman)St. Thomas Aquinas (The Summa) St. Augustine's ConfessionsIrenaeus' Against HeresiesSt. John Chrysostom'…

Jawdroppin' Jesus

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What's the most exciting adjective ever hurled at you? Funny? Crazy? Caring? Compassionate? Nice... ? How about spellbinding. Now that's an adjective for ya. This rarely used word is the one used in today's gospel from Luke 4. Jesus is making his rounds around the towns and villages of Galilee (the sea of which is pictured above), and this time he's in Capernaum. The people are "spellbound" by his teaching. What a great word.... spellbound. It means "entranced by or as if by a spell; fascinated." But why were the people so entranced, you ask? Because he spoke with authority. Now there's something we need desparately today but are afraid to take, like nasty medicine that we know is going to heal but it hurts to go down; words of authority. The funny thing is, they only taste nasty when we are sick, that is, need to get out of unhealthy situations of self-righteousness and autonomy. When we are arrogant, anarchists, or anti-authority, words o…

An Inconvenient Truth

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The following is from an e-mail that began circulating in March of last year. I received it yesterday from a friend. It was checked on snopes.com for authenticity and is in fact accurate! Kind of funny, kind of sad. I put it here on the blog because it puts a new spin on the spin doctors. They never tell us this stuff.... and I just wonder why. Two HousesHouse #1 A 20 room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400 per month. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 12 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern 'snow belt' area. It's in the South. House #2 Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house i…