Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Help Shape History

I have often said that the battle to end abortion MUST be undergirded by prayer. It is prayer that puts us into the place we need to be to change history. We are presented with an unprecidented opportunity to do just that. On 16 August 2008 there is an event planned for the National Mall in Washington, D.C. On that day every Christian who can is being called to gather there to join in prayer for an end to abortion.
Think of it, hundreds of thousands joined together in prayer at 1 time! & I suspect many hundreds of thousands more who won't be able to make the trip will join in wherever they are on that day.
With an election coming up, the urgency to answer the call to prayer & action is greater than ever. I agree with the statement they are making that this could be a tipping point in the battle.
There are many positive signs that something is happenning. Here are some of those signs that they are pointing out to us:
  • 40 Days for Life campaigns have mobilized tens of thousands of first-time pro-life volunteers
  • Abortion facilities are going out of business
  • The number of abortionists is rapidly dwindling
  • New judges have ruled to ban partial-birth abortions
  • Movies are revealing that adoption is a better answer than abortion
  • There are more pregnancy resource centers than abortion clinics
  • Young people are taking the cause into their classrooms and into the public arenas
  • Colorado has placed a measure on this fall's ballot to amend the state constitution and
  • recognize the personhood of children in the womb
  • A bill in South Dakota could virtually end abortion in that state
  • Other states are taking on new, courageous life-saving measures
  • African-Americans are exposing the racist roots of abortion
  • Adoption statistics are soaring
We have no idea of what a united prayer effort such as this will accomplish. But we will never know unless we answer this call by God to do so.
Next Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 9 PM Eastern (6 PM Pacific) there will be a 60 minute teleconference with more information on this event. The speakers will include Lou Engle, the co-founder of TheCall; Dave Bereit, 40 Days for Life & Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life.
Check out the video then follow the link below for more info & to register for the teleconference.

August 16 could truly be a tipping point for the pro-life movement -- and for America!


Friday, May 30, 2008

Alexander Courage 1919 - 2008

On 15 May 2008 Alexander Courage passed away. Most people will say who, until they listen to some of the music he composed. Probably the most well known was the Theme from the original Star Trek.
Expanded version:

Prince Caspian

I got to see Prince Caspian, the 2nd movie based on C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, Wednesday afternoon. Overall it was well done. But there are several complaints I have about how some things were handled (or not handled).
I did enjoy the movie. & I would recomend it. But with the caution that it takes some liberties I will deal with later. In doing so I will have to include some spoilers. I have kept them in the latter half of this so you can avoid them by not reading that part of the review.
The film catches the beauty of the areas filmed perfectly. You feel like you ARE in Narnia. The effects are also very well done. But given it was W.E.T.A. doing the effects, that was to be expected. They have lived up to the standards they set woking of The Lord of the Rings films. All of the talking animals & other creatures are believable. 1 of the best effects is that of the River God. The living trees were also well done, with the exception of not showing the spirits that inhabit them during the battle. But earlier, in an encounter with Lucy, they are presented in a way that captures the type of playful personality you would expect them to have.
Make-up is another area that they use to help strengthen the storyline. They make the Narnians look darker & dirtier, fitting in well with the fact that they are forced to live in hiding. These are dark days for the true Narnians & how they look shows it. The minotaurs & centaurs were very realistic in their look.
The costuming was also very well done. I esp liked the Telmarine armor & in particular the face masks. They reminded me of Don Quixote. That all fit with the Spanish overtones given to them. Overall all the technical aspects were excellent.
The music for the score used during the film worked very well. However the music for the closing credits is a different story. They used songs by Regina Spektor, Oren Lavie, & Switchfoot. While they were fine songs in their own right, they didn't fit in with the style of music used for the score. A friend of mine who had seen the movie felt the same way. The music in the movie had a medievil feel. These songs were modern in style & clashed as a result.
The acting was for the most part well done also. From those playing the dwarves to Caspian, from Miraz to the centaurs, & to those voicing the animals, everyone was up to their role. I was esp pleased with how Eddie Izzard caught the personality of Reepicheep, the head mouse. Reepicheep is 1 of my favorite characters in the books. & Izzard lived up to my expectations.
There were a couple of scenes where Anna Popplewell seemed to be calling in Susan rather than bringing her to life. That aside, the rest of the time she did a fairly good job. But not as good as that of the actors playing the other Pevensies. I talk about Ben Barnes in the spoiler section. I will say here that he did do a good job of taking Caspian from an innocent young prince to someone ready to rule. Sergio Castellitto (Miraz), Damián Alcázar (Lord Sopespian) & Pierfrancesco Favino (Lord Glozelle) suceed in making their characters into living human beings with good points rather than the cardboard villians they could have been.
But we run into problems when we begin dealing with the script. For the most part the script was well written. BUT. . . . (CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD)
Some things were changed from the book that should not have. However there is 1 change that makes some sense. The book starts out with the 4 Pevensie children being drawn back to Narnia while waiting for a train. Then we get the back story of Prince Caspian & why they were summoned back to Narnia. Having a more straight forward timeline makes the movie flow much better.
1 of the 1st things I didn't like was that they made Caspian much older than in the book. He is supposed to be the same age as Peter, but he struck me as older. & he was made to be more of a hunk than he should have been. Ben Barnes handled the role well, despite the flaws in how his character was written.
The movie starts out with the birth of a son to Prince Caspian's Uncle Miraz and Aunt Prunaprismia. Miraz killed Caspian X's father King Caspian IX. The only reason Caspian was kept alive was because Miraz didn't have an heir. Til now. Doctor Cornelius, the half-dwarf teacher of Caspian helps him to flee. He is given Queen Susan's horn & told how to use it.
Here is where the big weakness of the film comes in. They have Caspian blow the horn much earlier than in the book. The result is that they omit many of Caspian's meetings with Narnians, mostly non-human. & in doing so, the plot is weakened. It also ment that we didn't get to see as much of Reepicheep as I would have liked.
The same is true with the part of the book dealing with The Pevensies return. The movie is fairly close to the book in how they discover they have returned 1300 yrs later. But the jouney to find Caspian goes to quickly & much that is esential to the plot being better developed is omitted. The writers seemed in a hurry to get to the battle section of the book. The friend I mentioned earlier told me he wanted it to be a half hour longer so it could include some of the omitted events about Caspian as well as the Pevensies.
Aslan also returns much sooner in the book. Again, this weakens the plot. It lessens the spiritual aspects of the story. Although a later scene focusing on a bas-relief of Aslan repairs some of the damage.
1 plot change that is OK but wasn't really needed was how much further along in calling back the White Witch they went in the movie. The scene works, but really wasn't needed. I did like the fact that it was Edmund who stopped her.
Another change that was OK but not in the book was the attack on Miraz's castle. I enjoyed the griffins. & the loss of the battle by the Narnians did serve to remind them that their plans didn't include Aslan. But, it wouldn't have been needed if they had kept some of the earlier parts in.
The fight between Peter & Miraz is mostly faithful to the book. While it would have been nice to have some of the omited characters, it didn't hurt to not have them. The battle afterwords is somewhat faithful. The trees part in the battle is a highlight.
1 other plot change I could have done without is the subtle romantic overtones between Susan & Caspian. It was not needed & detracted from the story as far as I am concerned.
There are some other changes I would have made to enable it to be more faithful to the books. I say this as a realist who knows & understands that by their very nature it is impossible for any film to be completely true to the book.
& given the state of Hollywood today, including Disney, I know that it could have been worse. But, I think the execs know that if they strayed too far it would drive away a huge portion of the audience they want to reach. So, much of the spiritual side was still able to be kept in that otherwise would have been thrown out.

Harvey Herschel Korman 1927 - 2008

Harvey Korman, 1 of the great comedic actors of TV & movies & Emmy Award winner, passed away at the Ucla Medical Center in Los Angeles on Thursday after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

My 1st memories of him were from watching The Carol Burnett Show. Whether it was an original character like Ed Higgins or a take off of Clark Gable he could always bring a laugh. But the biggest laughs often came when he appeared in drag as the overly amply bossommed Mother Markus, Conoga Falls resident Yenta, in the soap opera spoof As the Stomach Turns. & when Tim Conway & him were together in a scene, you knew that neither would be able to keep a straight face. It wasn't til much later I realized that he was also the voice of The Great Gazoo on The Flintstones. He went on to star in several Mel Brooks movies. His best Brooks role was Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles. (A take-off on Hedy Lamarr that resulted in a law suit by her.)
Here are some of his best.
As the Stomach Turns Mother Markus (shows up about 2 minutes in):
Dentist Sketch from The Carol Burnett Show
Went With the Wind (The Carol Burnett Show)
Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles
"Now go do, that voodoo, that you do, so well!"
(Photo: Harvey Korman as Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles)

Ian Fleming 100th Birthday

28 May 2008 marked the 100th Birthday of Ian Fleming (R). Ian Fleming was born on this day in Mayfair, London, England. His parents were Major Valentine Fleming, DSO, MP & Evelyn Beatrice St. Croix Rose Fleming. He was the grandson of Scottish financier Robert Fleming, who founded the Scottish American Investment Trust and merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. (since 2000 part of JP Morgan Chase). He had 3 brothers & 1 half sister. During WW II he was in British Naval Intelligence, code name 17F. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). He eventually was promoted to commander. His experiences helped to lay the foundation for his writing the James Bond novels which are his biggest legacy.
After the war he worked for Reuters. It was in 1952 he wrote hs 1st Bond novel, Casino Royale. He did it to deal with the nerveousness at his upcoming marriage to Ann Rothermere. In all he wrote 12 novels & 9 short stories (eventually collected into 2 books). He took the name of James Bond from American ornithologist James Bond. He got the idea to use the Bond name after seeing Bond's book Birds of the West Indies.
But, James Bond novels weren't his only output. In 1957 he published The Diamond Smugglers. It was based on a series on the topic that he wrote for London Sunday Times. In 1959 & 1960s he did 2 series of articles for the London Sunday Times. These articles were based on 2 trips he made on the behest of the Times travel editor, Leonard Russell. The 1959 trip was to cities in the Far East & the USA. The 1960 trip was an automobile tour of European Cities. Using additional material edited out of the original articles, the articles were published under the title Thrilling Cities in 1963. The article on New York City included a Bond short story, 007 in New York.
Probably the biggest surprize to most people is that Fleming also wrote a children's book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car. It was pubklished in 1964 & Albert Broccoli made it into a musical film in 1968. 3 of the actors that appeared in it also appeared in Bond movies (Gert Fröbe, Goldfinger; Anna Quayle, 1967 version of Casino Royale; Desmond Llewelyn, Q in many of the Eon movies).
There are also 2 unpublished books. State of Excitement: Impressions of Kuwait is about the oil industry in that country. Even though The Kuwait Oil Company, who had commissioned it, gave their approval, the Kuwaiti government didn't. Between 1954 & 1964 Fleming worked with Geoffrey Jenkins on a story. Per Fine Ounce takes place in South Africa. Jenkins was commissioned to turn it into a novel. The final manuscript was rejected. (It would be interesting to read what might have been, even if poorly done.) Fleming also had a scrapebook with fragments, notes & ideas for future stories. Some of these have been excerpted in John Pearson's The Life of Ian Fleming.
He also wrote the story for the movie The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966). It deals with the heroin trade & the UN's efforts to battle it.
In later years, Fleming was in poor health. He died 12 August 1964 of a heart attack in Canterbury, Kent, England. He had finished the 1st draft of The Man With the Golden Gun. He was buried in a churchyard cemetary in Sevenhampton, Wiltshire, England. His widow Ann died in 1981. His only son, Caspar Robert Fleming, died of a drug overdose in 1975. Both are buried next to him.
In 1952 Fleming bought Glidrose Publications Limited (now Ian Fleming Publications). He assigned most of the rights to his works to them to act as a shelter from British taxes. In the years since there have been several novels by other authors about Bond as well as a series of books about Miss Moneypenny & a series of Young James Bond novels. 1 novel, 003½: The Adventures of James Bond Junior, is problematic. It is about Bond's nephew, an impossibility since Bond was an only child. In addition to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang there have been 21 movies made by Eon Productions. In addition there have been 3 other non-Eon Bond movies There was a 1954 TV adaptation of Casino Royale as well as a 1967 film version. These were made because the rights to the novel were sold seperately in the mid 50s. Never Say Never Again was a 1984 remake of Thunderball. The remake was the result of the fact that Fleming didn't have total rights to the storyline of Thunderball as a result of a lawsuit. In 1985 Raymond Benson adapted Casino Royale into a play that has never been produced. This is only a small part of the Bond merchandise over the years.
To celebrate Ian Fleming's 100th Birthday a new Bond Novel, Devil May Care, was released on 28 May. This novel takes place in the mid 60s shortly after the events in The Man With the Golden Gun.
Ian Fleming may never have set out to become such a huge part of Western culture, but as a result of James Bond he has.
(Photo: Copyright Ian Fleming Foundation, used for informational purposes only)


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dick Martin 1922 - 2008, RIP

Then there is this scene from Laugh-In that catches him at his "ham"miest best:

Thanks for "Socking It To Us"!


NY Times Obit

Today in History - 27 May 1647

The first recorded American execution of a "witch" took place in Salem, Massachusetts. The method involved was not burning at the stake, but hanging.
I wonder if this is how they proved it?

St. Irenaeus of Lyons - His Book Review of The Gospel of Judas

"They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas." Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) Book I, Chapter XXXI, Par. 1
With all the interest in recent months for the so-called Gospel of Judas I thought that it would be important to see what someone who was arround when it was written had to say about it. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was a disciple of St. Polycarp who was a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. Pretty good pedegree if I say so.
I heard about this quote while watching Living His Life Abundantly. Johnette Benkovic had Fr. Mitch Pacwa on to talk about gnosticism & in particular the Gospel of Judas & the Gospel of Thomas.

Prostaglandin Abortion - Murder With Chemicals


Watching this video turned my stomach. These are NOT blobs of tissue, these are human beings that were mudered. Thank God, they were given a decent burial. How many more are treated as disposable waste instead of with the dugnaty they deserve as a human being?

A Sad Memorial Day Weekend

Sunday night saw a line of storms cross NE Iowa on a path roughly parallel to US Highway 20. The system produced tornadoes hitting an area that was near my hometown of Oelwein. The worst damage was done in an area from Applington/Parkersburg heading East past New Hartford & Cedar Falls to Dunkerton, Fairbank, Hazleton & Lamont. Some debris from the storm has been found in Wadena.
At least 7 people were killed by the tornadoes. Many others were injured. The damage was extensive, not only from the winds but also from the flash floods in some areas. Parkersburg is virtually uninhabited as a result of the damage from the EF-3 tornado. 222 homes were destroyed, 21 businesses were destroyed & over 400 homes damaged. Among the buildings completely destroyed were the city hall, high school and the city's sole grocery store and gas station.
I saw a comment on 1 of the news websites how differently a person reacts to seeing damage when you are familiar with an area. It is true. Watching video of the damage arround Hazleton was esp unsettling for me as I couldn't help thinking about the number of times I had traveled the area of Highway 150 shown.
Governor Culver has issued a disaster proclamation for Black Hawk, Bremer & Buchanan Counties & has contacted Predient Bush asking for Presidential Declaration for Butler County.
Please keep the residents of the area in your prayers as they begin the clean-up & recovery. I know how hard it is to deal with a disaster such as this. They need to know that God is with them to help them esp with the emotional healing they need. They also need God's strength to deal with all the various things they will have to do. & esp pray for the safety of those doing the clean-up as there are many potential dangers.
The Red Cross has set up shop to help with the recovery. The Hawkeye Chapter is responsible for the Bremer, Black Hawk, Fayette Counties area & The Grant Wood Area Chapter has Buchanan County. You can make online cash donations. Contact St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, or Goodwill to see about donating clothing & other goods.
Tornado Recovery Information for staying safe during the recovery/rebuilding period after the tornado.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Why did you turn away from me?" - A Question I Hope I'm Never Asked

Judie Brown
Ever since the famous Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger memo was issued in 2003, debates have raged among well-meaning Catholics regarding precisely what the cardinal (now Pope Benedict XVI) meant by "proportionate reasons". In case you missed the memo, here is what the final paragraph said:
A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.
The whole question of voting is a complicated one for many Catholics, particularly in recent times. So I was quite gratified to read a recent statement by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, which, in my humble opinion as a lay Catholic, clarified precisely what the term "proportionate reasons" means:
What is a "proportionate" reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It's the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life – which we most certainly will. If we're confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.
These words have profound consequences for those who are searching for a valid reason to cast a vote for someone who has, in all likelihood, not only favored the direct killing of the innocent but also worked hard to protect the so-called "right to abortion" in his or her political activities. We all know that such people exist and have witnessed some of the most egregious offenders in Congress, for example, who claim to be Catholic while continuing to support abortion. You and I know these people are sadly misled, and yet we know people who disagree and would support such pro-abortion people in a heartbeat.
But I wonder what that scene described by Archbishop Chaput would look like. Let's close our eyes for a moment and think about it. Can you imagine standing before the chorus of millions of preborn babies who are with God in eternity because their lives were cut short by abortion, and saying to them,
I am sure you can understand that while I was personally opposed to abortion on earth, I never wanted to impose my beliefs on anyone. I had no problem supporting powerful people who worked very hard to make sure that people like you could continue to be killed, if that is what their mothers wanted. Abortion should be legal for those people, and so I voted for those who agreed.
Maybe the scene would be a bit different from that or the argument more nuanced, but the bottom line would be the same. And if that is so, I cannot imagine how anybody could make such a statement, with a straight face, to the millions of aborted children, can you?
apologist Jimmy Akin looked at this question as well, and when he wrote about it, he asked, "What kind of reason would be needed to vote for a pro-abort candidate for president? Something unimaginably huge."
I don't expect that this debate, which is really centered on the "lesser of two evils" argument, will disappear any time soon, but I do think that Archbishop Chaput has given us a scenario that we can imagine in our mind's eye and get our thoughts around as we grapple with this situation prior to casting a vote this November.
I further believe with all my heart that until you and I have convinced a majority of our fellow Americans that the act of abortion is nothing less than an act of murder each and every time it is committed, the debates will only foster further apathy and confusion, and will achieve few substantive results.
So let's put our thinking caps on and really concentrate on those children who are now no longer with us. Imagine them gathered all around us, singing and praising God.
As we stand there listening to them, see if you can imagine one reason to excuse abortion even in a case like rape, incest or life of the mother.
Hold that thought and consider what comes next when you are asked, as you, me or anybody else surely would be,
"Why did you turn away from me when you had the chance to teach others the reasons why killing me was wrong?"

Memorial Day Thoughts from Fr. John Corapi SOLT

Greetings and God's Blessings,

As we celebrate Memorial Day, remembering those who served the cause of freedom, let's not forget what one of the strongest factors was in enabling our military men and women to serve with valor and distinction--Faith. This is often overlooked, but shouldn't be. In the Catholic church in my hometown of Hudson, NY, St. Mary's, there is a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Victory. On the wall of that chapel are small brass plaques with the names of everyone from the area who served during World War II. The small name plaques cover most of a pretty good size wall. Many of them have a star next to the name, indicating they were killed in action. The entire country was much more religious in those days, and had the virtue necessary to overcome great adversity--whether the war or the rigors of the Great Depression.
Today, do we really believe that most of us would be able to make those kinds of sacrifices? Without faith it is highly unlikely. "For man it is impossible, but for God all things are possible." Many of us felt a lot better about our country before we lost our rational and moral mind and declared that killing the most innocent and helpless human beings was legal and moral. It is a matter of history that nations and societies that have been responsible for monumental human rights violations such as genocide and ethnic cleansing fall by the wayside relatively quickly and disappear, covered by the sands of time.
So long as the insanity of abortion on demand exists in this nation, we should be painfully aware that a dark cloud of destruction hovers over our country, and what goes around comes around. The voices of millions of aborted children cry out from the endless realm of their resting place: "How long, O Lord, how long?"

God bless you,
Fr. John Corapi

Memorial Day 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Padre Pio Myths

Over the years I have heard several people say that St. Padre Pio was opposed to the changes of Vatican II & esp the Novus Ordo Mass. The biggest problem I have with that last 1 is the fact that the Novus Ordo wasn't promulgated until 1970 & Padre Pio died in 1968. It is true that he did continue to say the Mass in Latin (1962 Sacramentary). But that was under the exception granted to older priests. However, that doesn't mean he was opposed to all the changes.
I just finished watching a program on EWTN that had as its centerpiece, Padre Pio's last Mass. It was a High Mass, with deacons etc. & I saw 2 things in particular that were of interest.
1. He said the Mass pro-populo (facing the people). Here is a video of that Mass. It starts when he approaches the altar for the Offertory & includes the Consecration.
2. 2 young girls received 1st Holy Communion at that Mass. The received it standing up at the altar. This may be simply because of his having to sit due to the stigmata in his feet.
Padre Pio did have a special dispensation from the Vatican to say the Mass sitting down due to his health & the stigmata. As I mentioned earlier, he also had the dispensation granted to older priests to continue to say the 1962 Mass in Latin rather than the 1965 (approximate) translation of it into Italiano.
Yes, there were many abuses done in the name of Vatican II. But that doesn't invalidate the true changes required, or allowed by Vatican II. I also find it ironic that many of those opposed to the post-Vatican II changes refuse to demand all changes since the initial 1570 edition be dropped also. I have also noticed that most of these same people almost deify the so-called "Tridentine Mass". They make it sound like that is the only valid way of saying Mass ignoring (& denegrating) all the Eastern Liturgies that are older & just as valid.
But, that bit of logic seems to escape them.
Padre Pio was a loyal & obedient son of the Church. That is certain. Beyond that, for anyone to speculate on his views of Vatican II without definite proof is to do him & the Catholic Church a disservice.
(1 of the ironies I found in looking for videos of Padre Pio on You Tube was that 1 of the channels that had video of this last Mass tries to use it to prove Padre Pio was opposed to Vatican II. They proclaim the very myths this video belies. They ignore the fact that his back was to the High Altar. & they repeat the myth about his refusing to say the Mass in the Novus Ordo.)

How Does Al Gore Explain This?. . . .

According to scientists, Jupiter is undergoing a period of global warming. From 2004 to 2011 the temperature at Jupiter's equator will go up 10 degrees Celsius (18 degree F). So where is this coming from?

For about 300 years Jupiter's banded atmosphere has shown a remarkable feature to telescopic viewers, a large swirling storm system known as The Great Red Spot. In 2006, another red storm system appeared, actually seen to form as smaller whitish oval-shaped storms merged and then developed the curious reddish hue. Now, Jupiter has a third red spot, again produced from a smaller whitish storm. All three are seen in this image made from data recorded on May 9 and 10 with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The spots extend above the surrounding clouds and their red color may be due to deeper material dredged up by the storms and exposed to ultraviolet light, but the exact chemical process is still unknown. For scale, the Great Red Spot has almost twice the diameter of planet Earth, making both new spots less than one Earth-diameter across. The newest red spot is on the far left (west), along the same band of clouds as the Great Red Spot and is drifting toward it. If the motion continues, the new spot will encounter the much larger storm system in August. Jupiter's recent outbreak of red spots is likely related to large scale climate change as the gas giant planet is getting warmer near the equator.
OK, Jupiter isn't exactly like Earth, but the reality is that there are cycles of rising & falling temperatures on every planet. That IS SCIENTIFIC FACT! & while we can & should do what we can to be good stewards of our planet, to say definitively that this whole "climate change" is the fault of humans is hubris & has an ulterior motive that, I suspect, has nothing to do with saving the environment & more to do with destroying the American economy & justifying abortion & birth control. If not, then why the almost total silence calling for an end to chemical birth control when there is more conclusive evidence of the harm it is doing to the environment than there is for global warming?

Papa Benedetto - Corpus Christi 2008 Homily

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated either on the Thursday after the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity or the Sunday afterwords. At the Vatican it was last Thursday. In America it is today (25 May).

Dear brothers and sisters!

After the high point of the liturgical year that extends over three months and centers on Easter - first the 40 days of Lent, then the 50 days of Eastertide - the liturgy then marks three feasts that have a 'synthetic' character: Trinity Sunday, then Corpus Domini, and finally the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

What is the significance of the feast we mark today to pay homage to the Body and Blood of Christ? The celebration itself tells us, as we manifest its fundamental acts.

First of all, we are gathered around the altar of the Lord, to be together in his presence. In the second place, we will have the procession, which means, walking with the Lord. and finally, kneeling before the Lord - adoration - which starts in the Mass and accompanies the whole procession, then culminates in the final Eucharistic Benediction, when we all prostrate ourselves before Him who stooped down to us and gave his life for us.

Let us pause a bit over these three attitudes, because they are truly an expression of our faith and our life.

The first act is to gather in the presence of the Lord. This was called in ancient times 'statio'. Let us imagine for a moment that in all of Rome there exists no other altar but this one, and that all Christians of the city are invited to assemble here to celebrate the Savior who died and was resurrected.

This gives us an idea of what it was like in the beginning, in Rome and so many other cities where the message of the Gospel and the Eucharistic celebration reached. In every local Church, there was only one bishop, and the community formed around him, around the Eucharistic sacrament that he celebrated - a single one, because there was one blessed Chalice and one bread that was broken, as we heard in the words of the Apostle Paul in the second Reading (cfr 1 Cor 10,16-17)

Another famous Pauline expression comes to mind: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3,28).

All of you are not just one thing, but one! In these words are felt the truth and the power of the Christian revolution, the most profound in human history, which is experienced precisely around the Eucharist: when persons of all ages, gender, social condition and political leaning gather in the presence of the Lord.

The Eucharist can never be a private matter, reserved for persons who are chosen out of affinity or friendship. The Eucharist is public worship, which has nothing esoteric nor exclusive about it.

Even here, tonight, we did not choose whom we would meet, we have come here and find ourselves next to each other, bound by a common faith and called to become one body, sharing the only Bread who is Christ.

We are united beyond our differences in nationality, profession, social class, political ideas. But we are open to one another in order to become one in his name. From the very beginning, this has been a characteristic of Christianity which is visibly realized around the Eucharist. We must protect it, so that recurrent temptations of particularism, although in good faith, do not result in the opposite.

Corpus Domini reminds as above all that to be Christian means to come together everywhere in the presence of the one Lord and become one with him and in him.

The second constitutive aspect of this feast is walking with the Lord. That is the reality manifested in the procession that we will experience together after the Mass, almost like its natural extension, as we move behind him who is the Life and the Way.

By giving himself in the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus releases us from 'paralysis', he makes us get up and go on, to take one step forward, and then another, and thus proceed on our journey with the strength that comes from the Bread of life.

That is what happened to the prophet Elijah, who fled to the desert for fear of his enemies, and had decided to let himself die doing so (cfr 1 Kings 19,1-4). But God roused him from sleep and made him find a hearth cake next to him: " "Get up and eat," he told him, "else the journey will be too long for you!" (1 Kings 19,5.7).

The procession of Corpus Domini teaches us that the Eucharist means to rid us of every despondency and dejection, to make us rise up again so we can continue our journey with the strength that God gives us through Jesus Christ.

The first Reading spoke to us about the experience of the people of Israel during the exodus from Egypt, their long wanderings across the desert - an experience that was constitutive for Israel but also exemplary for all mankind.

In fact, the expression "not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD" (Dt 8,3) is a universal statement that applies to every man insofar as he is human.

Everyone can find his own way, if he encounters him who is the Word and the Bread of Life, and lets himself be led by his friendly presence. If we do not have God-with-us, God next to us, how could we sustain the pilgrimage of existence, whether as individuals, or as a society or family of peoples?

The Eucharist is the sacrament of God who will not leave us alone along the way, but is right beside us to show the way. Indeed, it is not enough to move ahead, but one must know where one is going. "Progress' does not suffice, if one has no reference points - because if one goes off course, then one could end up in a precipice, or at the very least, find oneself farther away from the destination.

God has created us free, but has not left us alone. He made himself the 'way' and has come to walk with us, because our freedom also includes the discernment to choose the right way and to take it.

At this point, we cannot help but think of the 'decalogue', the Ten Commandments, in which it is written: "I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me" (Ex 20,2-3).

We find in this the third constitutive element of Corpus Domini: to kneel in adoration in front of the Lord.

To adore the God of Jesus Christ, who, out of love, became bread to be broken, is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday as well as today. To kneel in front of the Eucharist is a profession of freedom: whoever bows before Jesus cannot and should not prostrate himself before any earthly power, no matter how strong.

We Christians only kneel before God, before the Most Blessed Sacrament, because we believe and know that the one true God is present, who created the world and loved man so much that for his sake, he gave his only begotten Son (cfr Jn 3,16).

We prostrate ourselves before a God who was the first to bend down to man, like the Good Samaritan, to help him and give him back life, who knelt before us to wash our dirty feet.

To adore the Body of Christ means to believe that he is truly present in that piece of bread, Christ who gives sense to life - to the immense universe as to its littlest creature, to the entire human history as to the briefest of existence.

Adoration is a prayer that prolongs Eucharistic celebration and communion, during which the soul continues to nourish itself: it feeds on love, on truth, on peace. It feeds on hope, because he before whom we bow, does not judge us, does not crush us, but frees and transforms us.

And that is why being together, walking together, and adoring together fills us with joy. Taking on ourselves the adoring attitude of Mary, whom we specially remember in this month of May, let us pray for ourselves and for everyone. Let us pray for every person in this city that he may know you, our Father, and him who you sent us, Jesus Christ, and thus, have life in abundance. Amen

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Who Would Ever Want To Kill A Baby?

I came accross this video on YouTube. Below it is the commentary written for the video. Sadly many people do kill their child via abortion. Then they suffer. Thank God there are many organizations that offer help in finding post-abortion healing & forgiveness. If you or someone you know has been hurt by an abortion, please, please get the help you need. That is why I have a list of groups that offer help in the column on the right. God is waiting for you to come back. Don't put it off any longer.

Who Would Ever Want To Kill A Baby? / Pro-Life PSA Video. Someone once said to me, which I have always remembered "you will regret having an abortion, but you will never regret having your baby". Post-abortion Syndrome - The SymptomsPost-abortion Syndrome symptoms may start immediately or years later. Former pro-choice believers can assure you it is real. After the initial tears of despair from the emotional loss and the physical pain are gone, the decision to end a life haunts you. Was it a boy? Was it a girl? How old would he or she be today? If only... Question after question, and reminder after reminder, bring you deeper into despair. Post-abortion Syndrome - The Guilt & Depression. Post-abortion Syndrome victims often deny having abortions due to the guilt and depression associated with it. This makes documentation of it, also known as Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome, very difficult. The symptoms range from mild depression to suicidal thoughts and can also be linked to other emotional behaviors such as Eating Disorders, Drug or Alcohol Abuse, and Self Punishment. Millions of women have had abortions only to discover an emotional dilemma that won't go away. Post-abortion Syndrome can affect men as well as women. That's right -- men too can experience the symptoms of it years after the abortion. Post-abortion Syndrome - The Gift of Forgiveness. Post-abortion Syndrome symptoms can come and go until you address the core of the problem. You made the decision to have, or allow an abortion (and you will need to reconcile your decision). If you do something you regret to others, you apologize, but only after you can admit to yourself that you have done them wrong. This is the first step in leaving your past in the past for good! Once you have acknowledged to yourself that you regret the decision to abort your child, you need to forgive yourself. How could anyone ever forgive someone for killing a child? This act of forgiveness requires a love greater than you or I could possibly possess. So what's the answer? There is a God who loves you and knew you when you were in your mother's womb. He created you to have a relationship with Him. He sent His Son to die for the forgiveness of your sins and He alone holds the love needed to heal your pain. Once you have acknowledged to your Creator, and yourself, that you regret the decision of having an abortion, ask Him to forgive you. Post-abortion Syndrome - Long-term Recovery & Hope. Post-abortion Syndrome may require a long period of recovery. Thoughts may return and you may doubt God's forgiveness; however, be assured God keeps His word. Make time to get to know God. Scripture says "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Scripture also says "He separates our sins from us as far as the East is from the West" (Psalm 103:12). It's our own conviction that is hardest to let go. Knowing the Creator of the universe forgives us when we ask, helps us to forgive ourselves. Though you may still feel sad at times for the loss of your child, you can be sure that you will see them again! Music clip from the Music Bakery. Videos clips from the public domain. All original text from rosaryfilms of Secret of the Rosary.

Our Lady of She-Shan

Last year on Pentecost Sunday, 27 May 2007, Papa Benedetto issued a Letter to the Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons & Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China. In the letter he dealt with the current situation of the Catholic Church in China. He acknowledged the problemsa as well as the positive developments.
Towards the end of the letter he called for all Catholics to pray for the Church in China:

"Dear Pastors and all the faithful, the date 24 May could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China. This day is dedicated to the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai.
I would like that date to be kept by you as a day of prayer for the Church in China. I encourage you to celebrate it by renewing your communion of faith in Jesus our Lord and of faithfulness to the Pope, and by praying that the unity among you may become ever deeper and more visible. I remind you, moreover, of the commandment that Jesus gave us, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, as well as the invitation of the Apostle Saint Paul: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:1-4).
On that same day, the Catholics of the whole world – in particular those who are of Chinese origin – will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure."
A special prayer for this day has been composed by Papa Benedetto. A copy of it has been printed below. If you follow the link you will also find it in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Italiano, German, Portugese, Spanish, & French. Please pray this prayer sometime today for our Catholic Brothers & Sisters in Communist China.

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians",
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

“If you’re having a disagreement with God, guess who’s wrong!”

By John Mallon
In 1968 when Humanae Vitae was released, there were great howls of protests from lay and clergy alike. The notion was that the Church was “behind the times” “out of touch” with the needs of married couples, lacking in compassion and so forth. In truth, it was the secular culture that was out of touch in its notion that the Church had to take her marching orders from the culture instead of vice-versa. On this issue as on many others the Church has been sadly vindicated, although many still do not recognize it.
As my dear friend, Father Tom DiLorenzo, of the Archdiocese of Boston, and one of the most effective preachers in the country, once proclaimed in a homily, “If you’re having a disagreement with God, guess who’s wrong!”
Many were and still are wrong in their disagreements with God on contraception. Is dissent on Humanae Vitae a disagreement with God? Yes. Jesus Christ is God, and he instituted the Magisterium, saying, “He who hears you hears me.” He gave Peter the Keys, saying what you loose on earth is loosed in Heaven, what you bind on earth is bound in Heaven.” This is what Catholics believe; that the ordinary Magisterium speaks for Christ infallibly on matters of faith and morals. A papal encyclical is an exercise of the ordinary Magisterium which is infallible in its teaching, even though not declared solemnly.
Contraception is a moral issue. It is a matter of faith that we accept this teaching. However, God never asks the impossible or unreasonable of us. It may seem unreasonable in the short run, as in when He asked Abraham to slay his only son as a sacrifice, but Abraham, in his obedience passed the test God put to him and his son was spared.
So too, some interpreted Humanae Vitae as unreasonable, a heavy burden. (Even though since the beginning of time couples gave birth to and raised children in hardships unknown to the modern world, yet the modern world somehow saw children as a burden.) Perhaps we too were put to a test of obedience. But before long God revealed to those studying the issue the gift of Natural Family Planning (NFP). The response has been less than grateful.
As always, God and the Church are very understanding and a licit way to space children for serious reason appeared on the scene, which had the added benefit of improving communication between couples on intimate matters, creating, in turn, greater intimacy. In fact, studies show that correctly done, NFP is more effective than the pill (more on this in future columns), and entirely free of the medical risks that accompany the pill. All this presupposes a proper Catholic attitude that children are a priceless blessing from God always to be welcomed.
Strangely, to this day NFP remains one of the Church’s best-kept secrets. At the mention of it people still scoff: “Oh! The rhythm method!” This is inexcusable ignorance in any Catholic who ostensibly cares about the issue. NFP is most certainly not the rhythm method. One would have thought the good news of NFP would have been shouted from the housetops by those who found Humanae Vitae to be a “heavy burden “ placed on couples by an “uncaring Church,” but it hasn’t worked out that way, which leads one to suspect the core of the issue is not pastoral but ideological. Attacking Church authority, it seems, is more important to dissenters than helping the “heavily burdened.”
For all the ink and hot air spent on dissent from Humanae Vitae very little has been put into bringing NFP to those who would be helped by it. It is simply not a priority in most dioceses. An April 2008 report from the Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops bears this out. Space does not permit quoting at length but here is a sample:
Nationally, diocesan funding for NFP programs is meager at best. Forty percent of dioceses surveyed budgeted less than $5,000 for NFP programs in 2007. Fifty-one percent of all NFP diocesan programs operate on less than $10,000 per year. Eleven percent of all diocesan programs spend more than $30,000. There is a slight, but encouraging increase in financial support for diocesan NFP efforts. …
Most dioceses rely on part time paid staffs. Volunteers are the unsung heroes of diocesan NFP programs. A few dioceses have full time paid NFP coordinators. The majority of diocesan NFP programs depend on volunteers to sustain their programs (86%). Of these, a little less than a third (35%) of the dioceses offer modest stipends to teachers to cover personal costs, e.g., transportation, baby sitters, materials, etc.In most dioceses NFP efforts go largely unnoticed. Less than half (44%) of diocesan NFP programs are asked to submit an annual report of their activities. Often, NFP funding is so limited that it is not identified as a specific line item in diocesan budgets. To correct this problem, an annual NFP report should become typical programmatic practice in the dioceses.
In conclusion, the fundamental pastoral question that must be faced each year when examining each diocesan NFP program, is: Can couples who wish to be faithful to Church teaching on conjugal love and responsible parenthood readily get the NFP support they need? The answer to this question will determine how best to plan and support local diocesan NFP ministry. (Emphasis in the original)
The people of God deserve better.
The complete report can be viewed

Why I Can No Longer Support Habitat for Humanity

Once upon a time I supported Habitat for Humanity. I saw it as a fine Christian organization helping people to get a home they could not otherwise afford. But over the last couple of years I have become very disillusioned with Habitat. It seemed to me they were growing more & more concerned with being PC & as a result more & more ashamed of being Christian. Then I got this week's update from STOP Plannned Parenthood International & lost my last shred of respect for Habitat..
Here is that update:
We have received news from our Associate group in Sarasota, Florida that Planned Parenthood plans to build a new killing center in the Rosemary District, north of downtown Sarasota. But according to zoning rules, PP cannot do this unless a liner building, intended as multifamily, on Cohen Way, is built at the back of the lot.
PP approached the Planning Board and asked for a five-year extension, since it is not a builder and couldn’t find a buyer for this lot. In order for PP to get a certificate of occupancy, it must get a building permit for the residential building. However, the board refused PP’s request.
Unfortunately, PP found a creative solution to its problem, with the help of Habitat for Humanity. PP sold land to Habitat for $10.
S0, Habitat for Humanity, an organization that claims to be a Christian ministry, is now working with PP. Habitat for Humanity said that this was only a real estate transaction, but PP could not have opened the abortion facility if the lot was not used for a residential building, so, yes, Habitat for Humanity is helping PP open its doors.
According to Habitat for Humanity’s web site,
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat is founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, decent, affordable place to live in dignity and safety.
Apparently, Habitat believes that living next to PP, an organization that murders innocent preborn babies, pushes pornography onto children and covers up for rapists is a place where people can “live in dignity and safety.” At a meeting of the Sarasota City Commission on May 5, the commission approved a plan to get the PP abortuary opened, based on the agreement with Habitat. A letter that PP filed with the city before the meeting said, "We are excited to have Habitat be a part of the Planned Parenthood team."
We encourage all STOPPers to contact Habitat for Humanity and demand they break this agreement: Habitat for Humanity, 1757 N. East Ave., Sarasota, FL 34234, 941-365-0700,
We also encourage you to contact Habitat for Humanity International to register your complaint. You can reach them at 1-800-HABITAT. They also have a complaint line: 1-800-461-9330.
Please contact both the Sarasota and the international office and let them know that Habitat should have nothing to do with Planned Parenthood.

Here is a copy of the e-mail I sent to the Sarasota branch of Habitat:
Over the years I have been a supporter of Habitat for Humanity. Not any more. The last couple of years it seems that your orginization has been more ashamed of its Christian roots than living up to the Gospel. & now I see you are helping out Planned open a clinic in Sarasota FL. I guess you see killing the unborn as morally acceptable. I don't. & until Habitat changes its direction, I will not only refuse to support you, I will spread the word, including on my blog & tell others to do the same.

Something I learned from Mother Teresa is that true Christian Charity must have at the heart of it bringing Jesus Christ & His salvific message to those they help. Your group, by supporting Planned Parenthood is doing just the opposite.

I will be looking for alternative groups to help provide housing. I will look for programs that don't comprimise my Christian priciples.

It is not too late for you to change direction & go back to being a truly Christian orginization. I ask you to rethink your agreement with Planned Parenthood. The ends of supplying decent housing is never justified by means such as Planned Parenthood.
Please do as STOPPP has asked & contact Habitat for Humanity. Let them know that the "end does NOT justify the means". Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Habitat is also selling out Jesus. & instead of being paid they paid $10 for the priviledge of doing so. Shame on them.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Misplaced Priorities at the UN

You have to wonder what kind of mindset/worldview a person has when they consider getting condoms to victims of a cyclone more important than (or at least as important as) getting them food, medical care & shelter. But I suppose this is understandable when you see birth control as an essential medical need rather than the intrinsic evil it really is.
The title of the News24 article says it all: 220 000 condoms off to Myanmar (H/T: Catholic Cavemen) Anyone who supports an idea like this IS definitely off. EXHIBIT A: UN Population Fund (UNFPA) aid advisor Chaiyos Kunanusont said: "We don't want regular use of contraception disrupted. An emergency usually damages the health system, so people don't have access to condoms and contraceptives." As I said earlier about the mindset.
The news report goes on to tell what all the UNFPA is sending. "Flights were also carrying reproductive health kits, which included razors for cutting umbilical cords, clean sheets for delivering babies and enough contraceptive pills and injections to last 3 390 women three months." Except for the razors & blankets there is no moral justification for any of these items.
The whole mindset seems to be, let them starve to death, but if they want to have sex while doing so, then let's be sure they do so "safely". These people make Marie Antoinette seem downright philanthropic in comparison.
Talking about the UNFPA action in a post on his blog (CONDOMS TO THE RESCUE?) Rock for Life coordinator Phil Eddy points out a group that is working to counter the UN's mindset. Food Not Condoms was started by students at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA.
The group has a very interesting fact about the comparative costs of condoms & food. "On the American market, a quarter cup of rice, a quarter cup of beans and 1 tortilla, the staple diet for most of the world, costs a mere 25 cents. Low end condoms, like the kind that are being sent over seas, cost approximately 50 cents. That means, the money from each Condom sent over could have provided 2 meals to prevent starvation and help raise the quality of life in places like Africa and Honduras. In 2005 alone, IPPF could have used their funds to feed over 206.8 million people who are starving to death as you read this." Not only is Marie Antoinette a philanthropist in comparison, she is a downright saint.
When organizations buy into Planned Parenthood's mindset about the importance of birth control, they also buy into PP founder Margaret Sanger's racist views. Think about it, starvation & reduced birthrates play right into Sanger's plans to eliminate those she saw as "inferior".
People in Myanmar need food, clothing & shelter, not more death. Yet that is exactly what UNFPA is sending, more death & destruction.

Teddy Kennedy's Real Legacy

With the recent news of Ted Kennedy's cancer, many people have begun praising him for all he did. He is being acclaimed a hero for all the great things he is supposed to have done. Unfortunately, the truth is much different. Yes he has served a long time, & occasionally been on the right side of an issue. When it comes to life issues he completely stricks out. Like so many other "Catholics" who place political party line before their faith, he sold out to the abortion lobby after Roe v Wade/Doe v Bolton. Fr. Euteneuer points out Ted Kennedy's sorry record when it comes to the issue of abortion.
& that is only a part of the Kennedy record. But, I won't go into that here.
I join with Fr. Euteneuer in praying for his recovery. But even more so in Father's call to pray for Kennedy's conversion etc.

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International
Sen. John McCain responded to the news of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s brain tumor saying that Ted Kennedy was the “last lion of the Senate.” Nice words, but hollow. Clearly Kennedy has been a forty year force to reckon with in the US Senate, but lionizing him for his headstrong political partisanship over four decades is a little like saying that sticking around for a long time and being opinionated qualifies as a “legacy.” That very record of anti-life advocacy is the measure by which his soul will be judged.
While I pray for Sen. Kennedy’s recovery from a brain tumor, I pray more for his recovery from the cancerous metastasis of abortion ideology in his soul. Ironically, in the same years in which abortion has become less and less acceptable to the American public, it has become more and more of an obsession for Sen. Kennedy. Prior to Roe v. Wade, Sen. Kennedy had actually held a pro-life view of the sanctity of life. In a letter to a constituent he said,
“While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.” (See )
However, post-Roe, Kennedy’s record of recognizing the “value which our civilization places on life” has been, shall we say, less than stellar. In fact, he has a 0% record of voting in favor of life, and there is not one life-related issue in which his vote reflects a concern for the weakest members of our society, let alone the concern that his supposed Catholic faith places on them. Senator Kennedy
Is rated 100% by NARAL for his pro-choice voting record.
Voted NO on banning human cloning.
Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions.
Voted NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions.
Voted NO on criminal penalties for harming an unborn child during the commission of another crime.
Voted NO on maintaining the ban on military base abortions.
Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.
Voted YES on $100 million to “reduce teen pregnancy” by hedonistic sex education programs and contraceptives.
Is a sponsor of pending radical legislation in the Senate to promote special protections for homosexuals in the workplace. (See
In other words, Kennedy has spent the better part of his long political career promoting the forces that kill and maim and destroy all the things that we hold sacred. What a shocking example of public service for a man who purports to call himself Catholic.
A month to the day after illicitly receiving Communion at the Mass of the Vicar of Christ in our nation’s capital, Sen. Kennedy seems to have been given a real wake up call. When all moral voices go unheeded, the prospect of death tends to focus the mind on the truth. Let us all pray for his conversion from a career of abortion advocacy, for his enlightenment and for a peaceful death, something denied to all aborted babies in this country.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Keep On Learning!*

*& while you're at it use proper English.

On Monday 19 May 2008 David McCullough, author of the classics John Adams & 1776, gave the commencement address at Boston College. Not surprizingly, he had a lot of good things to say about continuing to learn throughout their lifetimes. He called on them to: "make the love of learning central to your life." & he held up 2nd President John Adams as a shining example of this.
He also warned the graduates that knowledge & wisdom are not the same thing. "Information has value, sometimes great value. But information, let us be clear, isn't learning. Information isn't poetry, or art, or Gershwin or the Shaw Memorial. Or faith. It isn't wisdom. Facts alone are never enough. . . . One can have all the facts and miss the truth."
"If you memorized the World Almanac, you wouldn't be educated, you'd be weird!"
He urged the students to "read, read, read!" "Read the classics of American literature that you've never opened. Read your country's history. . . . Read about the great turning points in the history of science and medicine and ideas."
He went on to criticize the poor language skills used by most people these days. He asked the grads to clean up the vernacular, removing "verbal virus". He defined it as the overuse of "like," "you know," "awesome," and "actually." "Just imagine if in his inaugural address John F. Kennedy had said, 'Ask not what your country can, you know, do for you, but what you can, like, do for your country, actually.'"
He ended by urging the grads to find something they believe in doing, travel & esp to always tip the maid.
He was honored by Boston College with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.


Che Miracolo!!!!! - Cardinal Mahony Edition

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who hasn't found a dissident he doesn't like, or welcome, finally has. & a fellow Bishop to boot. In this case it is Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, the retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney who is on a speaking tour for Voice of the Faithful (VofF).
In 2007 he published Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus. Recently the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a statement warning of “doctrinal difficulties” present in the bishop’s writings. This book was included.
On 9 May Cardinal Mahony sent a letter to Bishop Robinson, asking him not to come. “Your letter informing me of your coming appearance made it clear that you were not seeking my permission or approval, that you were planning to come regardless.” He went on to say: " Under the provisions of Canon 763, I hereby deny you permission to speak in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles." Canon 763 speaks of a Bishop's duty for safeguarding the Church's teachings.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, has also asked Bishop Robinson to cancel his US tour.
Naturally Voice of the Faithful (a disident group, despite their claims to the contrary) is upset. & in their mind they see Bishop Robinson as a loyal Catholic.
I am surprized that VofF sweetheart Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxillary bishop of Dtroit, hasn't spoken out yet decrying this turn of events & speaking out in support of Bishop Robinson. Esp since he knows what it is like to be banned from speaking in a diocese at a VofF event. But, I'm sure he will.
After his return from Papa Benedetto's visit to DC & New York Cardinal Mahony said he had been changed. "I return to Los Angeles a different disciple of Jesus than when I left a week ago. Thank you, Lord, for sending us not only the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of Peter, but also a brother and friend who knows Jesus personally and gave us six extraordinary days of grace and hope!"
As I said at the start, given Cardinal Mahony's track record, this is a major change in direction for him. If this is a sign of things to come, than maybe Cardinal Mahony has had a major change of heart as he said & we are seeing the start of a major cleaning up of the Archdiocese of LA. Time will tell. Let's pray it does.

Monday, May 19, 2008

This Is Chance? I Don't Think So!!!!!!!

The heavens declare the glory of God,the vault of heaven proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1
Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
You heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
All you winds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
Daniel 3:57,59-60,63-65,68,73-74

Thought for the Day - 19 May 2008

(With apologies to Fr. Mitch Pacwa SJ & the late Fr. John Hardon SJ)
Which is truly the more successful order-- the Dominicans or the Jesuits?

One can begin to approach this question by looking at their foundings. The Dominicans were founded to combat the Albigensian heresy, and the Jesuits, the Protestant Reformation.
So, when was the last time you met an Albigensian?
Source: Comment by Margaret about post A reader's joke

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Into Great Silence - the DVD

I finally got a chance to see Into Great Silence (Die Große Stille) on DVD this week. It is definitely worth viewing.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie, it is a documentary about the Grande Chartreuse, the "mother and font" of the Carthusian Order. The order was started by St. Bruno of Cologne in 1084. The order is contemplative. That means that the monks or nuns in each monastery spend most of the day in silent prayer, meditation & study. The lifestyle could be described as a combination of eremitical (hermit) and cenobitic (community) life.

In 1984 German film director Philip Gröning contacted the Grande Chartreuse about doing a documentary. He was told that it was "too early" for him to be allowed to do so. Maybe in 10 or 13 years, they told him. In 2000 they contacted him & told him the time was right. For 6 months he was allowed to do what no outsider had ever done before, enter into the full life of the monastery. He was given certain minimal conditions which he readily agreed to as they lined up with his original plan. He had to do his own filming, with only whatever light was available (no artificial lights), he could add no additional music, & no commentaries. During that time he lived as they did, filming their work, their prayer & their play. The 162 minute film was released in 2005 & the 2 disc Special Edition DVD was released in 2007.

I will comment on the film & then the extras on the 2nd disc. I want to start by applauding Philip Gröning for taking on what had to definitely be a difficult task. This is something he admits to. At 1 point he was tempted to only focus on the part of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) known as Night Prayer. It took him several years to sort through the film & decide which scenes to use.
Over all, I think he made a good selection of scenes to show both the variety & the sameness that life in the monastery is like from day to day & season to season. Gröning didn't try to show things in any definite chronological order either. At 1 point it is Winter, another Spring, it may be morning, then afternoon etc. Doing this helps to capture the timelessness that exists within the monastery. On the other hand there is also a definite flow of time every day. This is because of the liturgical prayer cycle built into their daily schedule.
Fortunately, I know enough about their daily horarium that I was able to figure out what was going on. But I couldn't help wondering how many people may have been lost at times. Commentary was banned, but couldn't quotes from the rule have been used?
Some scenes showed the monks at work. We saw meal prep, gardenning, tailoring, etc. But we also had scenes of their time in prayer, individual & communal. We also saw scenes from the weekly communal meal & communal walk. During the communal meal 1 monk reads from the Statutes. The communal walk is the 1 time when the monks must talk with each other. While prayer is at the heart of all they do, building community is an important aide in their doing so.
1 of the most moving scenes was the 1 where we see a young monk caring for an elderly monk by rubbing some kind of salve on his arms & back. This scene was an excellent depiction of what it means to be a Christian servant to one in need. & you could see that the younger monk was truly doing his work motivated by Christian charity.
While I think that over all Gröning clearly caught what they monastery was about, he did miss what is the real heart of the Carthusian life & spirituality. In his written comments on Night Office Gröning said: "The Night Office felt to me like the core of Carthusian life & spirituality." He also called it the "heartbeat of the order". While Night Prayer is a part of the heartbeat, it is just that, a part. Albeit a very important & beloved part. The Carthusian website makes it clear what is the true center: "The celebration of the most holy Eucharistic sacrifice is the center and summit of communal life." All the other liturgical hours, celebrated communally or prayed individually flow from & back to the Eucharist.
He didn't total miss it though. He did include a scene from a Eucharistic Procession (Corpus Christi?) & a small part of a Sunday Carthusian Rite Mass. But nothing that caught what is unique in the rite. It could have been any Roman (Latin) Rite Mass. God, & in particular, Jesus, esp in His Eucharistic presence, is why they do what they do. & while he did an excellent job of what, there is room for him to have better capture the "Why?". Without more of this "Why?" (Jesus) this film leaves us with the impression that this is no different than any other form of meditation out there. True Christian Spirituality does offer something better, with eternal benefits that TM etc can never offer.
The movie runs for 162 minutes. With 6 months of film, Gröning clearly had much that didn't make the final cut. As I said, it clearly had to be a difficult task deciding what to use. Now we get to the advantages of DVDs. Gröning wrote: "Cinema & DVD are non-identical twins. There is much the cinema can do that a DVD may not. But equally there are things that a DVD can do which a film can never attain. For instance, DVD can open up the paths that must be abandoned in cinema in order to create a monolithic work." In that statement he captures "special features" at their best. Esp when they do so with a 2nd (or even 3rd) disc.
In this case, Disc 2 has a great selection of bonus features. It includes an hour of additional scenes. 1 scene is the making of the famous Chartreuse liqueur that they sell to make money to operate their monastery. (Some of the proceeds also goes to help the poorer charterhouses.)
Another clip shows more of the interview Gröning did with an elderly blind monk. This is something else I wish he had included more of in the film. But, like so much else, there had to be a point where the reality of time limits had to be faced. There is the potential for a 4-5 hr film that would have covered things in better depth, but lost everyone half way through. As I said earlier about "Special Features" at their best, here is a prime example.
Another bonus is a 53 minute excerpt from Night Office. He wisely focuses on showing copies of the texts as we hear the chant & readings. Given how dark the chapel would be there wouldn't have been much to see. & this enables people to follow along. Obviously, he cut out the periods of silence. But it does do a good job of showing what Night Office is about.
I suspect that Philip Gröning isn't Catholic, or at the least isn't familiar with how the Liturgy of the Hours is set up, Lauds & Matins are 2 of the hours that make up the Night Office. Yet, in talking about Night Office, he seperates the Psalms from them. The Psalms are an intregal part of Lauds & Matins, not seperate.
The 2nd disc also includes plenty of information about the Carthusians. It includes the history, rules, info about the daily schedule, other monasteries, etc. For someone unfamiliar with monastic spirituality, esp Carthusian, looking at this info 1st helps mitigate some of the above mention concern about viewers not understanding what is going on & why.
Again I repeat "Special Features" at their best. Disc 2 is a prime example of this. I can't help but wonder how much more he had from the 6 months of filing that could fill a 3rd disc without being mere repetition. I suspect that some of this film also contains, as much as possible, more of the "Why?" I said early was often missing.
The above mentioed flaws aside, this film is well worth seeing. In this day & age with noise all arround us shutting out the "Voice of God", this movie shows us there is an antidote. Most of us are not called to this form , or any other form, of monastic life. But all of us can find the time to shut out the noise of the day, pray (including the use of The Liturgy of the Hours & the Rosary) & listen to God's "Small, Still Voice".
1 small final comment. & this is just my own personal preference. He does show a short scene of 1 of the monks feeding some of the cats. Unfortunately, none of them are the famous Chartreux breed. Some do look like they have some of the breed in their mixed heritage. I would have liked to have seen something about them. Headlines

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