Archives for August 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #37)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Fr. Muir gives the background on the corrected translation of Mass. A young girl makes a big impact. How congress has suffered in the downturn. 50 people are asked 1 question. Time magazine lobs a grenade at the Catholic Church, just because they can. Fowl, mindless act of criminality in Cornwall. A cat smarter than us.

— 1 —

The Life Teen folks have produced an informative video on the corrected translation of Mass. Father John Muir narrates. This English translation will be used everywhere beginning this Advent.

— 2 —


Rachel Beckwith wrote: “On June 12th 2011, I’m turning 9. I found out that millions of people don’t live to see their 5th birthday. And why? Because they didn’t have access to clean, safe water so I’m celebrating my birthday like never before. I’m asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday.” A birthday charity wish page was setup. Her goal was to raise $300, she fell a little short, but still raised $220.

On July 20, only 38 days after her birthday, Rachel and her family were in a terrible accident. Rachel would not survive, but her birthday wish lives on reaching almost $1,000,000. Her legacy will bring clean drinking water to over 47,000 people.

Thanks to Mary DeTurris Poust for spotting this story.

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”

— 3 —

Downgraded credit worthiness, record public debt, unemployment, foreclosures and general government dysfunction. Is this the change we can believe in? Well, at least those in congress are suffering too. Right?

— 4 —

There is an interesting genre of videos on YouTube that ask 50 people 1 question, at locations around the world. Here, people in Galway, Ireland are asked about their biggest regret:

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

— 5 —

Time magazine assistant managing editor Bill Saporito recently published a piece having nothing to do with the Church or protection of children. Yet, he opened it as follows:

Having Standard & Poor’s downgrade the creditworthiness of the U.S., and warn the country about further downgrades, is a little like having the Catholic Church lecture Scout leaders on the proper behavior toward boys.

Time Magazine

The absolute IRONY is that the Catholic Church in the US is today probably the best example of comprehensive, enforced policies for the protection of children. Children in the Boy Scouts, Saporito’s church (if he has one), and Saporito’s local public school would be much safer if they followed our programs. That of course, was not his point. His point was simply to smear the Church simply because he has the platform to do so.

Do you still subscribe to Time?

Spotted by my friend Tom.

— 6 —

Mindless criminality in England is not limited to people:

Spotted by Fr. Finigan

— 7 —

Frida Kahio from Berlin wins 2 out of 3 times in a shell game:

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!

Myth: Whore of Babylon

Whore Of Babylon

The Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon. So says one bizarre, outrageous myth common in some Christian communities. The roots of this come from twisted interpretations of Holy Scripture:

Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot who lives near the many waters. The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her, and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry.” Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns. The woman was wearing purple and scarlet and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She held in her hand a gold cup that was filled with the abominable and sordid deeds of her harlotry. On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. When I saw her I was greatly amazed.

The relatively clear books of the Bible are interpreted in hugely different ways by various Christian communities. This is an obvious problem for those professing sola scriptura (the false belief that the Bible is EXCLUSIVELY the authoritative word of God and that it is somehow “self-interpreting”). The symbolism of Revelation makes personal, non-authoritative interpretation that much more difficult.

So, who is the harlot referred to in Revelation? Probably pagan Rome or apostate Jerusalem. That is what St. John may have envisioned when he wrote it and that is historically the view of Catholic (and many Protestant) theologians. (See the Further Reading notes below for a thorough exploration.)

To entertain that it could be the Catholic Church, one would have to believe that somehow this chapter slipped by Holy Mother Church’s attention when she canonized the Bible, that Sacred Tradition vanished and her authority ended at that moment. Also, that her own Apostle (and a first bishop) John indicts the Church created by Jesus himself in favor of “churches” to be created against unity 1,400 years later.

Those who believe that are indeed susceptible to wild tales spun by others (the Jack Chick tracts come to mind), while denying the need or existence of any true authority to interpret the Bible (unlike every other word ever written). None-the-less, these many clever story tellers implore you to interpret it THEIR way (which they insist is correct). Unfortunately, good people can be misled.

Unlike other communities, the Holy Bible comes from the Catholic Church…   the Church does not come from the Bible. Remember that the Catholic Church canonized the Bible in the first place, a process that took about 400 years. What is and is not in the Bible, the order of the books, the numbering of the verses – everything. The Bible is the fruit of the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church. Of course, the New Testament writers themselves were Catholic as were all the Church fathers and Saints. Only the Church could select the content infallibly under the protection of the Holy Spirit who remains with her today and to the end of time. The Bible was never intended to replace Sacred Tradition or the authority of the Church. That notion did not exist for the first 1,000 years after the Bible was canonized. It was invented only then by self-appointed “reformers.”

Who started this Catholic church is the whore of Babylon myth? A Catholic man who broke his vows to the Church and God. A man who, alone and on his own authority, denied Sacred Tradition and the authority given by Jesus to the Church, with whom He is inseparable. A man who changed Holy Scripture to suit his evolving personal beliefs. A man who shattered Christian unity leading many to schism and heresy, who was followed by more men who built-on that with their own adjustments. The man was Martin Luther.

It was Luther who first made the association of the Catholic Church to harlot of Babylon and the Pope to the Antichrist in his angry attack On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. Luther declares “I now know of a certainty that the papacy is the kingdom of Babylon.” (See also the Lutheran Book of Concord which continues this theme.)

The irony of this is that when Martin Luther removed (by first demoting) Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Wisdom, Sirach, and 1 & 2 Maccabees from his Bible, he wanted to go further but his political support base objected. On the chopping block were parts of Daniel, Esther, and all of James, Jude and Revelation. Yes – Revelation, the same book he drew on to attack the one true Church. Of Revelation he said that he could “in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it.” The complete Bible, unlike Martin Luther’s subset, remains unchanged from Saint Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation in 397AD.

Today, the “whore of Babylon” myth is perpetuated and expanded (out of ignorance) by some Christian communities other than Lutherans. As you can tell, I am “down on the reformers” (particularly Luther) because of the long-lasting and deep damage they did to the Body of Christ. My view of Protestants, these many generations later, is however different than my view of their various founders. I was Protestant of a particular denomination because I was born into it, studied it, believed it. We were taught little about what other Christians believed. The same is true of many others in my denomination. The same is true of many in other denominations. The same is true of many Catholics. Once divided along these many branches, it is very difficult to restore the unity Jesus wants for His Church.

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

No, the Catholic Church is not the whore of Babylon nor is the Holy Father, the successor in the Chair of St. Peter, the Antichrist. This is simply an anti-Catholic attack on the Church. Attacks we expect, but it is particularly sad coming from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Further Reading:

Elsewhere: it’s starting again


During the last presidential election season, one party created a number of “fake Catholic” groups to support the talking points of their candidate. The purpose was to sow confusion among those not adequately catechatized to know better and to give cover to those who did. The specific goal was to pervert authentic Catholic Social Teaching to their own ends. Immediately after the election, these groups disappeared (or at least went into deep hibernation).

As we are warming up for the next round, expect to see more of the same. Frankly, it worked well last time so why would they abandon this successful (if immoral) tactic?

I have not seen any new fake Catholic groups yet, but there is an even more grandiose umbrella plan apparently unfolding. It is called the Circle of Protection, a group who promotes themselves as the Christian leaders from a wide spectrum of communities. The plan is to use the plight of the poor as justification for a broad socialist agenda. Socialism has been condemed by the Church for very good reason. It is most certainly not the solution to the suffering of the poor (nor does it fulfill our personal obligation to them) and ultimately could only make their struggle much more difficult.

Father Robert Sirico wrote a very insightful and well researchecd piece for the National Review Online:

It is telling that the Washington Post report on the religious Left’s Circle of Protection campaign for big government describes the effort as one that would “send chills through any politician who looks to churches and religious groups as a source of large voting blocs,” because, in fact, this is not an honest faith-inspired campaign to protect the “least of these” from Draconian government cuts, as claimed. It is a hyper-political movement that offers up the moral authority of churches and aid organizations to advance the ends of the Obama administration and its allies in Congress.

The Circle of Protection, led by Jim Wallis and his George Soros-funded Sojourners group, is advancing a false narrative based on vague threats to the “most vulnerable” if we finally take the first tentative steps to fix our grave budget and debt problems. For example, Wallis frequently cites cuts to federal food programs as portending dire consequences to “hungry and poor people.”

Which programs? He must have missed the General Accountability Office study on government waste released this spring, which looked at, among others, 18 federal food programs. These programs accounted for $62.5 billion in spending in 2008 for food and nutrition assistance. But only seven of the programs have actually been evaluated for effectiveness. Apparently it is enough to simply launch a government program, and the bureaucracy to sustain it, to get the Circle of Protection activists to sanctify it without end. Never mind that it might not be a good use of taxpayer dollars.

It is also telling that the group’s advertised “Evangelical, Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant, African-American, and Latino Christian leaders” who are so concerned about the poor and vulnerable in the current budget negotiations have so little to say about private charity, which approached $300 billion last year. To listen to them talk, it is as if a prudent interest in reining in deficits and limiting government waste, fraud, and bloat would leave America’s poor on the brink of starvation. It is as if bureaucratic solutions, despite the overwhelming evidence of the welfare state’s pernicious effects on the family, are the only ones available to faith communities. This is even stranger for a group of people who are called to “love the neighbor” first and last with a personal commitment.

Although the Circle of Protection has been endorsed by a few Catholic bishops, the predictably left-leaning social justice groups, and Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Church in America has long moved beyond the heady (and increasingly-distant) days of the 1980s when knee-jerk opposition to any reduction in government spending was the norm. That still holds, even if some of the staff and a few of the bishops at the Bishops’ Conference still imbibe such nostalgia.

Please read Father’s entire article: The Church as the Bride of Caesar. Father Zuhlsdorf (Fr. Z) also weighs-in on Father Sirico’s excellent piece.

Review: The Church and New Media

The Church and New Media

Brandon Vogt’s new book The Church and New Media will be released tomorrow (preorders are accepted now at OSV, Amazon paperback / Kindle and probably others).

The book is endorsed by “heavy hitters” Archbishop Timothy Dolan (New York), Cardinal Seán O’Malley (Boston), Cardinal Donald Wuerl (Washington), Archbishop Charles Chaput (Denver/Philadelphia) and many others. Contributors to the book include some of the most popular Catholic bloggers on the web. The first 6 chapters alone were written by 6 bloggers I routinely follow: Father Robert Barron, Jennifer Fulwiler, Marcel LeJeune, Mark Shea, Taylor Marshall and Father Dwight Longenecker. With endorsements and contributors like these, the book was a must read for me!

You will want to read the book if you are interested in how the Church has begun to harness the immense power of the online world. Perhaps you feel called to share your faith in this way, to evangelize and to bring others into the Church or deepen their own faith. Perhaps you are a capable apologist or perhaps you simply know some great recipes for meatless Fridays. There is a constituency “out there” and new media connects you to them. You will benefit too, through the discipline of writing and researching your content ideas, your own knowledge of Christ and His true Church will be deepened and strengthened.

The book is divided into 4 parts, of 3 chapters each, focusing on evangelization, formation, community and the common good:

  • Father Robert Baron begins, stressing the importance of evangelical engagement via videos and his positive experience addressing “Youtube heresies.” I know Father Baron through his YouTube ministry Word on Fire.
  • Jennifer Fulwiler discusses how she was converted from atheism to Catholicism through her blogging experience. She presents the interactive power of the medium and its broad reach. I know Jen through her blog Conversion Diary.
  • Marcel LeJeune looks at the challenges and opportunities in reaching young adults. He discusses the very impressive results Texas A&M has achieved through a wide range of online initiatives. I know Marcel through his blog Aggie Catholics.
  • Mark Shea examines the content of a blog, topics, ideas, comments and so on. If you are thinking about blogging but have concerns about what to say and how to say it, this chapter is for you. I know Mark through his blog Catholic and Enjoying It!
  • Taylor Marshal positions new media as a teaching tool and presents his reference based approach to apologetics. I know Taylor through his blog Canterbury Tales
  • Father Dwight Longenecker (married Anglican priest convert) blogs in a wide variety of styles, including “guest bloggers” he invented! I know Fr. Longenecker from his blog Standing On My Head

The last 6 chapters apply new media beyond blogging. Scot Landry discusses new media opportunities at the diocesan level with lots of powerful tips and advice. Similarly at the parish level, Matt Warner explores ways to connect with current and potential parishioners. Lisa Hendey looks outside of our formal organizational structure, focusing on Catholic communities wherever they are. Tom Peters looks to bypass old media through “Catholic online activism.” Shawn Carney tells how he uses new media to grow a powerful digital movement – 40 Days for Life.

Brandon concludes his book looking to the future, potential pitfalls, how new media can be leveraged in digital evangelism and the good outcomes it could achieve. New media is a game changer comparable to what Gutenberg brought the world 500 years ago.

Structurally, The Church and New Media includes a table of contents, an afterword by Archbishop Dolan, a glossary, an appendix, acknowledgments and extensive endnotes (clickable in the eBook version). Many interesting sidebars appear throughout the book.

All proceeds from the sale of the book are directed toward establishing school computer labs in the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya.

The bottom line: this is a unique, insightful book written by people with a ton of street cred, folks who each have had significant success in new media. We are each called to be disciples and the online world has huge potential for saving souls. The Church and New Media tells us how.

Full disclosure:   I am quoted in one of the sidebars.