Archives for December 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #20)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Fr. Barron’s Catholicism Project.’s Top 10 Reasons for Hope. Fr. Manfredonia explains when judging is appropriate. Rick Santorum talks about the false “doctrine” of church and state. A solution to unwanted teen pregnancy. Children are the solution to, not cause of, poverty. A quote of the week.

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Father Robert Barron has been working on a 10-part series to be released next fall called The Catholicism Project. Here is a preview:

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I have featured aspect several videos from These excellent videos reflect the conscience of faithful Catholics in the voting booth. They just released Top 10 Reasons for Hope:

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Judging others is wrong, right? Should not tolerance, acceptance and understanding always prevail? Definitely not. This excellent homily from Father Ignatius Manfredonia gives the proper perspective:

Thanks go to The Catholic Wife for noticing it.

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I wrote previously about the concept of “separation of church and state,” how it was to keep the state out of religion – not the other way around and the damage done by JFK. Rick Santorum recently explained this too:

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An amazing new discovery, shown to be 100% effective in the prevention of teen pregnancy, has been announced. This apparatus will avoid all the downsides of teen sex when properly used!

Thanks Mark.

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A while back, in Quick Takes Friday set #4, I featured aspect 3 videos that explain exactly why overpopulation is a myth. The organization that produces them has a new one. This time, why having children is the solution (not the cause) for poverty.

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The quote of the week comes from a reader comment at NCR:

We raised our family of six children in middle Georgia. The Catholic community in a county of 25,000 consisted of 125 souls who practiced their faith. Our children were marked for persecution by their peers and by several teachers in the school system. The Catechism of the Catholic Church was referred to frequently at the dinner table to explain Church teaching. The children were able to explain the more controversial teachings (especially regarding the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother) in a lucid and convincing manner. My oldest daughter, now a busy mother of 3 under 5, received a face book message from a former high school classmate that she and her husband were in RCIA and were coming into the Catholic Church because they recognized the Church was the bulwark of truth and also she recalled my daughter’s strong defense of the faith in High School. The Catholic Church has the answers that well-intentioned Christians are seeking.

Mike Lambert

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

Elsewhere: coming home


The Catholic Church is bigger than ever. In some areas of the world it is growing rapidly. Here in the southern US, the Protestant Bible Belt, we are flourishing.

I mentioned back in June, a project of mine to visit 1 different church per week for daily Mass. Some friends sometimes tag along too (Tony, Daryl, Tom, Joe, Carol, Helen, Gema and my wife). So far I have visited 23 and have 20 more on my schedule, all within driving distance in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Three things demographically jump out: that is a lot of parishes, they tend to be large, and they are quite new – many built or rebuilt in the last decade or two.

For all of our growth, we know there are Catholics here in Georgia who rarely or never attend Mass or receive the sacraments. We have embarked on a program with the excellent Catholics Come apostolate to reach out to them.

Way up in Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin is also reaching out to who he calls “inactive Catholics.”

Did you leave the Church because you disagree with some of the Church’s teachings and practices; or because you found it boring and “didn’t get anything out of it”; or because someone in the Church offended you or disappointed you; or because you just got a little complacent, spiritually lazy, in the fulfillment of your obligations? Let’s look at each of these reasons.

If you left the Church because you disagree with the fundamental teachings of the Church I’m afraid there’s not much I can do to help you. The essential teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals aren’t negotiable – they weren’t made up arbitrarily by human beings but, in fact, were given to us by Christ. They can’t be changed, even if they’re unpopular or difficult to live with. I hope that you’ll take some time to really understand what the Church teaches and why. Sometimes, we find, good folks get bad information and that leads to confusion and then alienation.

If you left the Church because you found it to be boring and “didn’t get anything out of it,” well, I understand. Sometimes, it’s true, leaders of the Church haven’t fed the flock very well – sometimes we haven’t provided sound and challenging teaching and preaching, and sometimes our worship has been banal and bland. Perhaps we haven’t been very kind or welcoming. I apologize for that; we can and should do better.

On the other hand, when you attend Mass it shouldn’t be all about you – the focus is God! You should attend Mass to give, as well as receive – to worship the Lord, to ask forgiveness of your sins, to thank Him for His gifts and to pray for others. And for Catholics the most important reason to attend Mass is to receive the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of Life. You can’t do that anywhere else!

If you left the Church because another member of the Church offended or disappointed you, I’m truly sorry for that offense and in the name of the Church I sincerely apologize. I hope you’ll forgive us and give us another chance. Members of the Church – including priests and bishops – are completely human. Sometimes we say things and do things that are totally unacceptable, even immoral. But let’s face it – we belong to a community of sinners – that’s why we begin every Mass by calling to mind our sins and asking for God’s forgiveness. The virtue of forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life – we all need to seek and grant forgiveness now and then.

Finally, if you left the Church because of your own spiritual laziness – complacency – I guess the ball’s in your court. I can only encourage you to start over – to think about your relationship with God and try to understand how important the Church is in helping you fulfill your God-given potential and, more importantly, helping you achieve eternal life.

You see, the Church isn’t just another human organization, some sort of social club. We believe that the Church has divine elements – that it was founded by Christ and is guided by the Holy Spirit. You need the Church – you need the teachings of the Church, the life-giving sacraments of the Church, and the support of a community that shares your faith and values. But the Church also needs you – we need the gifts of your time and talent, your faith and commitment. The Church has an awful lot to offer you, but if in fact we’ve been imperfect fulfilling our mission, in serving the Lord and caring for one another, perhaps you can help us to do better.

The whole article is very good. Read it on the Rhode Island Catholic website. Thanks go to Marcel at Aggie Catholics for finding this.

Back here in Georgia, our Catholics Come Home campaign is well under way. There are many videos online that are part of it. Of those, there are testimonials of Catholics from local parishes who have returned home. Here are some moving examples:

Merry Christmas

Christmas 2010

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

On His way


Throughout Advent, I have featured aspect on this blog a version of the wonderful ultrasound image popular this year. It reminds us that Christmas is about Christ, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

The image is intriguing, suggesting baby Jesus in His virgin mother’s womb over 2,000 years ago, but through today’s technology. Looking at it we feel the excitement of expectancy, especially those of us who are parents. What a terrific Advent image!

I like it also because it powerfully ties to our firm belief in life from conception. Our Savior was once an unborn baby Himself. The Mother of God did not “choose” to “terminate” Him. She said only yes.

Sadly, not all professed Catholics “get” this. We all remember Nancy Pelosi’s tortured comments on “the Word” last May. In a follow-up question in August, a CNS reporter asked the ardently pro-abortion Pelosi “So, when was the Word made flesh? Was it at the Annunciation when Jesus was conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit like the Creed says? Or was it at the Nativity when he was born to the Virgin Mary?” Pelosi gave a pathetic non-response.

This year, as we anxiously await the birth of the one who saved the world, let us also remember the millions of babies killed before their birth. Pray for them and for the burden carried by their mothers. Pray also for the politicians who promote this grave evil and those who elect them to office, that their hearts may be opened to the Holy Spirit.

On a different topic, many are saddened by the rampant commercialization of Christmas. Every year it seems that it can not get worse, yet it does. I have devised a solution! Recognizing that commercialization can not be stopped and the relentless trend to take Christ out of Christmas, let’s simply have a new holiday.

My proposal: December 18th every year will hereafter be known as Happy Holidays. The secularists want a non-religious holiday and to wish people “happy holiday,” so let’s actually have one. Since Christmas is 1 week before New Year’s, placing “Happy Holidays” 1 week before Christmas makes sense. Just as they do now, stores will start their happy holidays advertising around Halloween. People can go on hay rides, sing songs such as Jingle Bells, attend holiday parties, buy gifts they can’t afford for each other and anxiously await Santa’s arrival on Happy Holidays Eve (December 17th). Those of us who don’t care for this Happy Holidays nonsense can simply ignore it. Christmas, for all of us who care, will have its true meaning restored.

So far, I have shared this stroke of genius with a few of my friends. Unfortunately, I am the only one who thinks it is a brilliant idea so getting it to catch on may take a while.

4 year old Spencer Reijgers, has also been giving the commercialization of Christmas some thought. His Grandad, Steve Haupt, tells the story:

While at the mall last year, my 4 year old grandson saw kids lined up excitedly to see Santa Claus. Having been taught as a toddler that Christmas is the holiday that Christians celebrate the birth of God’s son, with the innocence of a child, he asked his mom, “where’s the line to see Jesus”? If Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, why don’t we see Him more? As his grandpa, I was so happy that little Spencer understood the meaning of Christmas at such a tender age, and then the words for a song were jotted down in just a few minutes.

Steve wrote this original, beautiful piece performed by his daughter Becky Kelley:

Finally, I featured aspect 7 year old Rhema Marvanne in last week’s 7 Quick Takes Friday. Her mom died of ovarian cancer in 2008. Here she sings All I want for Christmas is You:

Emmanuel, God is with us! Merry Christmas to you and your family. May God richly bless you as we await anew the birth of His Son, Our Lord and Savior.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #19)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: 7 year old Rhema Marvanne sings Amazing Grace. Father Barron comments on leaving the Church. Dominicans have their playful side. UN climate delegates jump on almost any far left proposal. Just for public schools – The 12 Days of Winter. The nativity explained for the under-25 crowd. A thoughtful quote of the week.

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Rhema Marvanne‘s mom died of ovarian cancer when she was only 6. Now as a grown-up 7 year old, she has become a popular Christian singer. Here she sings Amazing Grace:

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The Catholic church is full of sinners! The institutional Church makes mistakes! Most importantly (and the real point for many), teaches morality where some prefer “tolerance.” There are many churches and faiths to choose from, should they leave? Father Barron explains:

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Religious orders are serious 24×7. They have no fun. Or do they?

Thanks to Mark Shea on this one.

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In my last Quick Takes, I wrote about the hard-working UN delegates at the “Climate Change Conference” in Cancun. Some college students dropped by to get signatures on some petitions:

  1. a petition calling for the destabilization of the US economy
  2. a petition to ban water as harmful to the environment

The delegates (much smarter than us) were happy to sign their names to these efforts. Is there really any point to the UN (other than bashing and otherwise harming the US)?

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Since public schools in many areas can no longer reflect anything Christian (every other religion, especially Islam, but not Christian), new “holiday” music is needed. Here is The 12 Days of Winter:

Thanks to Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report.

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Say you are under 25 and looking for a good way to explain The Nativity of Our Lord. This might do the trick:

I chuckled at the the Google directions part where the “Avoid Romans” box was checked. Thanks to Marcel at Aggie Catholics for finding this.

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This week’s quote:

Life is a wonderful gift, but we surely do make a mess of it. We let our fears shut us down and freeze us in place. We let our desires for what we don’t need or shouldn’t have take us down roads we shouldn’t travel. We harm our bodies, damage our spirits, and shorten our lives with too much or too little of too many things.

We use, control, envy, ridicule, and betray our friends. We wound hearts and trample spirits ” and never notice it. We lie to ourselves, lose our way, leave half our gifts unclaimed, and spend our days on dead-end streets. And we do it all, again and again, in the sure and certain belief that happiness will be ours forthwith.

We need help! Without it we’ll destroy this wonderful gift of life! That’s why God sent Jesus: to walk with us and work with us as a mentor and friend, to show us what a fully human life looks like, and to give us the desire and the power to make such a life for ourselves.

But if that is to happen, if Jesus is to be a true mentor for us, we have to get to know Him, not just on the outside, but on the inside. We need to discover how He sees the world and all of us. We need to figure out why He was such a happy man, even on the bad days. And we need to find out what He was thinking when He chose not to run away when He knew that holding to course would lead to the Cross.

Getting to know Jesus, up close and personal, is the most urgent project of our entire lives. It will make the difference between destroying ourselves and finding happiness that will last forever. There’s not a moment to lose: Get to know Him now. Let Him be your mentor. He’ll save your life! That’s what He came to do.

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