Archives for May 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #138)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Denzel Washington offers surprisingly good advice to young actors. Chris Stefanick has a new video on Korean war hero Fr. Kapaun. A Google map on where the Apostles died. A toddler falls off a second story ledge. A blunt sermon on the worship of false idols. The story of two close friends, their separation and reunion. Gaslighting has been refined to an art form by some politicos – Bill Whittle takes a look.

— 1 —

A rich Hollywood actor gets on a soapbox to influence young actors. We don’t expect anything of value and certainly no mention of God. That would just seem so unenlightened and politically incorrect. What a surprise then to here this from Denzel Washington:

Spotted by Matthew Archbold

— 2 —

Chris Stefanick has a new video on Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun, a hero of the Korean war and Medal of Honor recipient (posthumously). This is a truly inspiring story:

Spotted by Russ Rentler

— 3 —

Where did the Apostles die? Blogger Catholicgauze has put together this Google map. Blue markers are generally accepted locations, yellow ones indicate some dispute. Click on the marker for details (or click here for a large, annotated map):

Spotted by Marcel

— 4 —

A 1 year-old baby in Xiaolan (southern China) fell from a 2nd story window while looking for his mother during a thunderstorm. This is what happened:

— 5 —

Video Sancto creates video versions of the faithful, orthodox sermons published by Audio Sancto. This one addresses (in essence) false idols, a topic I write about often. Fair warning, it is not politically correct, but is the unvarnished truth:

— 6 —

Two friends spend a lifetime together, struggling through neglect and abuse. The authorities rescue them but they are separated into new homes. Missing his friend and companion so much, one goes on a hunger strike for 6 days. This is their story:

More details and background are here. Spotted by by my friend Tom.

— 7 —

Bill Whittle talks about the technique known as gaslighting. At its essence, it amounts to rewriting history and trying to get people to doubt their recollections by repeating the revisionist version over and over. It is an interesting technique and used increasingly in politics.

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!

Parish life: golf classic

Parish Life

There are several Catholic fraternal organizations around the world. Their mission is to support the parish, including charitable fundraising efforts. The largest of these organizations is the Knights of Columbus. In my parish, among the Knights’ largest fundraisers is the annual Golf Classic.

We have had 3 of these annual events so far and they have been a huge success, raising many thousands of dollars for charity. A large, but limited, number of golfers can be accommodated – which are always fully sold-out. Corporate sponsors of all sizes also sign-up at different levels of sponsorship. Wonderful silent auction items are donated from many generous sources.

Golfers enjoy breakfast, carts, 18 holes on an exceptional course and lunch all included with their ticket. The silent auction is always popular, as are raffle tickets and mulligan purchases. It is a huge amount of work and the guys who have led the organization work are amazing, but it has never disappointed!

Elsewhere: Episcopal meltdown


It has been exactly 1 year since my Episcopal experiment piece. Once a thriving, orthodox Christian community with beliefs similar to Catholicism, they have now embraced every progressive desire. Contraception, remarriage, married priests, married bishops, women priests, women bishops, gay priests, gay bishops, gay married priests, gay married bishops, cross-dressing clergy, abortion, new age thinking (at least in many speeches of their Presiding Bishop)…   all if it.

How has this experiment fared? They are disappearing fast. Without the Magisterium to keep them in-check, they have gone further and further off course. These same, largely secular forces are everywhere including within Catholicism. They can’t change doctrine here, but they can chip around the edges and bring much scandal. I take the Episcopal experiment as a warning for us.

One last point: the displaced Episcopalians will go somewhere. I hope they, and everyone in the world for that matter, become Catholic. A hope that they truly convert. I am concerned however that some (speaking here of the particularly liberal ones) will come championing the same ideals that failed Christ and truth in their last community. Come, leave scandal behind, be changed by the Church not to change her.

Recently Rob Kerby covered the current state of the Episcopal church for beliefnet:

Prominent bishops are pulling out. Convention-goers were told headquarters had spent $18 million suing local congregations. Members are leaving at a record rate. This is no longer George Washington’s church – once the largest denomination in the colonies.

The headlines coming out of the Episcopal Church’s annual U.S. convention are stunning – endorsement of cross-dressing clergy, blessing same-sex marriage, the sale of their headquarters since they can’t afford to maintain it.

The American branch of the Church of England, founded when the Vatican balked at permitting King Henry VIII to continue annulling marriages to any wife who failed to bear him sons, is in trouble.

Somehow slipping out of the headlines is a harsh reality that the denomination has been deserted in droves by an angry or ambivalent membership. Six prominent bishops are ready to take their large dioceses out of the American church and align with conservative Anglican groups in Africa and South America.

“An interesting moment came at a press conference on Saturday,” reports convention attendee David Virtue, “when I asked Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, if she saw the irony in that the House of Deputies would like to see the Church Center at 815 2nd Avenue in New York sold (it has a $37.5 million mortgage debt and needs $8.5 million to maintain yearly) while at the same time the national church spent $18 million litigating for properties, many of which will lie fallow at the end of the day.”

This is no longer George Washington’s Episcopal Church – in 1776 the largest denomination in the rebellious British colonies. Membership has dropped so dramatically that today there are 20 times more Baptists than Episcopalians.

U.S. Catholics out-number the Episcopal Church 33-to-1. There are more Jews than Episcopalians. Twice as many Mormons as Episcopalians. Even the little African Methodist Episcopal denomination – founded in in 1787 – has passed the Episcopalians.

Among the old mainstream denominations reporting to the National Council of Churches, the Episcopal Church suffered the worst loss of membership from 1992-2002 – plunging from 3.4 million members to 2.3 million for a 32 percent loss. In the NCC’s 2012 yearbook, the Episcopal Church admitted another 2.71 percent annual membership loss.

Convention attendees were told that they had spent $18 million this year suing their own local congregations – those which have protested the denomination’s policies by trying to secede. The New York hierarchy has consistently won in court – asserting that the local members signed over their buildings decades ago. As a result, some of the largest Episcopal congregations in the United States have been forced to vacate their buildings and meet elsewhere.

So now, convention delegates were told, the denomination is the proud owner of scores of empty buildings nationwide – and liable for their upkeep in a depressed real estate market where empty church buildings are less than prime property. It’s the classic “dog in a manger.” The denomination has managed to keep the buildings – for which it has little use. However, they made their point – refusing to allow the congregations which built the facilities to have any benefit after generations of sacrifice, donations and volunteerism.

“One former Episcopal priest wrote me, “The irony is that after all their property suits to get control of empty buildings, they now are losing their main property.”

“But this cost cutting measure may not be enough to salvage the long term solvency of the Episcopal Church. The church is hemorrhaging money like crazy and no one seems to know how to turn off the spigot.”

“The accelerating fragmentation of the strife-torn Episcopal Church USA,” writes Christian author Charlotte Allen. – in which large parishes and entire dioceses are opting out of the church, isn’t simply about gay bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions or the election of a woman as presiding bishop. It is about the meltdown of liberal Christianity.

There is much, much more. Read the entire piece: Why is the Episcopal Church near collapse?

There are also many good comments. One man, responding to Rob Kerby’s title question says: “You are coming to this discussion late…   As if asking ‘are the Mastodons in any danger?'”

Repeating my bottom line from last year: Episcopalians manifest the dream liberals hold for the Catholic Church and the result is disastrous. This is not to say we do not suffer their presence in our ranks, but here ancient doctrine is preserved not progressed.

Life and death

Life And Death

Life and death are interesting terms which mean different things depending upon context. In the mortal, physical sense, we understand that the body has life and that life will one day end in a permanent state called death.

On the flip side, few would argue with the scientific fact of life beginning at conception. Many would argue unfortunately against all life being of the same human dignity. They say that some life is of a lower value that can be terminated by the choice of the mother – should she find it to be inconvenient or if it falls short of her notion of perfection. Other life may be too old to “invest” in, a burden on family and society, and best concluded “with dignity” for all concerned.

This great debate is about when life is of value. Is it when conceived or does it vary by the circumstances of conception, at implantation, at a certain point in gestation, upon certain conditions of viability or pain sensing, by gender, at birth or maybe when able to cast votes? Likewise is it over when it is too sick, too old or too depressed? Who decides for that life? These are very, very difficult questions…   unless you are Catholic. In that case the answer is the true one taught by Holy Scripture (the 5th commandment), Jesus and His Church. Life begins at conception and ends at natural death. Simple.

So there is life and there is death. It is a binary thing, a person is alive (putting aside value judgments) or is dead. So what then do we make of this recent Gospel reading:

A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

This is huge! While human dignity is equal, “abundance” is not. It is quality of life right now, but very different from the secular sense of material things, good fortune, family or even health. It is true joy in life through embracing Jesus Christ with our whole heart and trusting in Him above all else. It is living “God’s way,” by His will and not our own.

We see example after example of proud people who live life on their own terms (a secular ideal) — and they are miserable. They may even have great fame, immense power, incalculable wealth…   but not happiness. Perhaps they are of more modest means, chasing the American dream. Priority goes to their family, their house, their job, political ideology, sports, hobbies, and so on. If God is on their list at all, knowing Him and His will are secondary to those other priorities. When His will is known and conflicts, personal reinterpretation readily handles it. God understands – if He is love as He claims to be, then He must yield to the primacy of our will and be completely tolerant and accepting of whatever we want to do, right? If His Church says otherwise, they must be hateful and not know the golden calf god we fashioned. This is delusional, separation from the one, true God and a prideful rejection of the abundant life He wants for them.

You probably know “saintly” people. We often see them as exceptional, as inspired. They are responding to God’s grace in the same call to holiness we all share. We usually refer to saints as those already in Heaven, but scripture uses the term more broadly to include the Church Militant as we poor banished children of Eve struggle to reach it. We are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own” (1 Peter 2:9a). Our happiness right now is directly related to how we embrace that.

This has nothing to do with worldly success. It is also not opposed to worldly success, only that things of the world always and without exception must never come before God. He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Finally, there is eternal life or death beyond our mortal lives. The good news is there is no death in the sense of ceasing to exist. We all will exist forever. That existence can be independent of God (a/k/a Hell, death), which is simply a continuation of how many live their mortal lives today — or it can be with Him (a/k/a Heaven, life). It is our choice, one which we may taste the fruits of now. It is too late only when our last breath has been exhaled. Why not joyfully accept God’s full gift, in obedience, humility and thanksgiving?

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #137)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Kevin Durant – (first) class act, (second) MVP. You are probably more familiar with Dies Irae (“song of the dead”) then you think. It is graduation time again. Fr. Barron reviews the movie Noah. New evidence shows the convicted Philadelphia priests were probably innocent. Which makes sense, ad orientem or versus populum? Tara — one fast thinking, brave cat.

— 1 —

25 year-old Kevin Durant is a class act. At a time when some other professional athletes grab the spotlight to promote their sexual perversions or are otherwise recognized for their criminal activities, he earns it as MVP and uses it thus:

— 2 —

Dies Irae, the “song of the dead,” is an 800 year-old hymn. The lyrics describe the final judgment, the separation of the saved from the damned before the throne of God. It is part of the Requiem Funeral Mass. It has also been borrowed for many secular uses, as this surprisingly interesting video explains:

— 3 —

Last Friday, my daughter graduated from UGA, with honors and 2 bachelor degrees. We are very proud of her!

It was a long day. The ceremonies and speeches were better than I had hoped for. As well they should be — not platitudes and feel-good time wasters. Two years ago, Wellesley High School English teacher David McCullough gave this speech to their graduating class:

— 4 —

Have you seen Noah yet? Fr. Barron has and offers this analysis:

He likes it for its biblical basis, both factual and creative. There is apparently a lot of creative parts (not actually in the Bible) so be forewarned. However, those parts are congruent in Fr. Barron’s view with the Bible.

— 5 —

We were all saddened to see Philadelphia priests convicted of sex abuse crimes. These were alleged to have happened decades ago, but justice was finally served. The media was all over it, as they always are. Hashing and rehashing to keep our shame in the spotlight as long as possible. The left-leaning mainstream media will always attack the Church by all means at their disposal.

Now evidence has come to light showing wrongful convictions (of innocent priests). Of course, the media will suppress this even more than they do of the massive, annual March for Life. It doesn’t fit their narrative and would be a setback in the war they wage against truth, chastity and life.

See: Philly BOMBSHELL: New Evidence Further Exonerates Wrongfully Convicted Clerics; Will Justice Be Served? Will the Media Ever Take Notice?.

— 6 —

Contrary to popular assumption, Vatican II did not change the Mass to have the priest (turn away from God to) face the people (versus populum). In fact, the missal still assumes the priest is facing in concert with the people (versus orientem). Fr. Dylan James needed to explain the proper symbolism to his young altar servers and made this this visual aid:

Ad Orientem Cartoon
Spotted by Fr. Finigan

— 7 —

A neighbor’s dog sees a target of opportunity, a young autistic boy on his bike. He attacks, dragging the boy several feet before (out of nowhere, like a rocket) Tara, the boy’s *CAT* counter attacks. I am not a cat person, but this is a great one:

The boy required stitches but is OK. The mom was also attacked when she went around the car to locate the animal. The footage is from security cameras.

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!