Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Profound and Beautiful Writings of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

A little over two months ago, I learned of a great American saint who I have begun to have a devotion to. Her name is Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, and she lived in New Jersey for nearly all of her short life. I wrote a little bit about her and the book her Spiritual Conferences were compiled in, entitled Greater Perfection. I finally decided to purchase the book after seeing a local pastor talk about it and read from it during a homily one Sunday, and all I can say is... WOW.

OK, I can say a lot more than that obviously. However my jaw all but hit the floor when I read these writings that came from a mild-mannered, twenty-something nun in New Jersey. Someone who was just a few years younger than I at the time these conferences were written. I'm almost halfway through the book now, and I can't get over how relevant her writings are to today; how elegant and clear her manner of writing is. After reading a lot of apologetic and theological material lately, it's really nice to read something so edifying to spirituality. I have to say, she is definitely inspiring me to do more, and I sincerely hope that that inspiration stays alive in me for quite some time. Because she makes it clear that coming to "greater perfection" isn't for the weary. If you want to be challenged in your spiritual life, this is the book for you. It has an Imprimatur and a Nihil Obstat, and she begins writing about how one can become sanctified, gets into the efficacy of the Sacraments, and into the disposition of prayer and how to enter into a deeper state of meditation during prayer. I'm definitely excited to get into some of these later chapters; this makes me look forward to yet another three day weekend where I can get some reading time.
Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich
As I haven't seen too many of her writings on the Web, I wanted to post the following selection from her conference on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

How A Black Cat Tried to Discredit Philosophy

So the other day as I was perusing my news feed, I came across something that made me laugh. No, it wasn't a cat video, but it did involve a feline. Luckily, I've blocked just about everyone from my news feed. It's not even an exaggeration. I just get so tired of seeing updates on food, selfies, and especially seeing all the hateful rhetoric, polemics, and unintelligent memes that is used to insult Christ and Christians alike. Apparently I missed one, because this ridiculous meme came through which tried to compare metaphysics and the like with science. Perhaps you've seen it before:
In the running for most unintelligent meme ever...?
Although I've seen others say so, this meme is not clever in the slightest. The variation I saw took a much more condescending tone ending with "looking for a black cat with a f***ing flashlight." What a great way to get a point across. Anyway, it shows a complete disregard for what all these subject matters pertain to, and all it does is make very apparent that whoever created this meme doesn't adhere to what science actually stands for, but scientism. Let's look a little closer at these claims made, and see why they are so easy to debunk once we try to think a little bit.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"A" is For "Asinine"

I hope that the title doesn't offend... oh who am I kidding. I've never been one to be politically correct. Webster's dictionary defines asinine as: "extremely or utterly foolish". I think that pretty much sums up the Freedom From Religion Foundation's (FFRF) constant attempts to subvert the Christmas holiday by putting their giant atheist "A" next to Christmas and Hanukkah displays throughout the country. There's one of these up, for instance, in downtown Chicago, which I had the misfortune of seeing this year, and asinine was indeed the first word that came to mind. You can see a picture of what's included in the display HERE. Here is what some of their displays read:
At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without having freedom FROM religion in government.
And another fun, totally erroneous one:
...[this sign] has been erected... to encourage the non-religious to come out of the closet, eradicate the negative stereotypes of the non-believers, promote rational thinking over superstition, and ensure that our government remains completely neutral on the subject of religion vs. non-religion.
Could you hold yourself back from pounding your head on your desk as you read that? I know it was hard for me. Here's five reasons why these statements (and the erecting of a giant "A" for "asinine"... I mean "atheism") are illogical, ill-informed and ill-placed.

The Bill of Rights

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Answering Ridiculous Claims to the Dating and Purpose of Christmas

Some of the kids in my religious education class were mentioning that they heard it said that Jesus wasn't actually born on Christmas Day. I told them they were right, and luckily that opened the door for some more discussion (well, as much discussion as some 6th graders can have I suppose...) on the topic of the dating for Christmas. There's plenty of excellent sources out there that can describe all this in more detail than I, but allow me to summarize the claims and rebuttals to why Christians celebrate Christmas in December, and I'll sprinkle some links to relevant articles throughout, so all can see and read more on the subject. Let's do this in a question and answer format, and make things a little easier to digest:

So what’s the deal with the date for Christmas?

Over the past several years, several atheists and others have claimed that when it comes to the celebration of Christmas, we're "a few months off due to trying to convert Pagans." That really isn't true, although it's a common narrative today. First off, Catholics and other Christians aren’t celebrating Jesus’ birthday on December 25th… we are celebrating the BIRTH of Jesus, the Son of God!

The first objection to the idea that Christmas is simply an adapted pagan festival is the simple fact that the early Christians were adamantly opposed to paganism in all its forms. They had inherited from the Jewish people the conviction that the pagan gods and goddesses were demons, and if you worshiped them you were demon possessed. That’s why the catechesis for Christian converts took so long and involved so many careful exorcisms. That’s why the early Christians would not offer so much as one grain of incense to the pagan gods. That’s why, rather than do so, they were willing to be martyred for Christ; they were deprived of their property, exiled, imprisoned, tortured and killed.
Gerard van Honthorst- Adoration of the Shepherds

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Posting on Catholic365... and a Welcome!

So first off, a hello to everyone who's found their way here from Catholic365.com! To those of you that don't know, I've been writing on Catholic365 for a little over a month now, with three articles up so far culled from this very blog, with revisions and tweaks here and there. if you're new to this blog, please feel free to look around, comment, share and discuss any of the topics I've posted about on here. And for those of you that haven't visited Catholic365 yet, check out my latest article there, On Being "Old School", and also look around the site. They feature stories from many different authors on a myriad of subjects.

Also, I've now added labels to each of my posts to make it easier to search for specific subjects and topics. Hopefully this will make things a bit more organized on here!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

On This Feast of St. Nicholas...

While today may officially be the Second Sunday of Advent in the Latin Church, December 6th is the commemoration of the feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. Obviously, as he is my patron saint, I love him and ask for his intercession before God every day, and the more I learn about him the more I love him. While there are many legends both old and new, there is plenty of historical backing to this great saint, and the evidence proves how holy of a man he was. My favorite story about him, where he punches Arius in the face during the Council of Nicaea is pretty dubious, but sources certainly put St. Nicholas there at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea where our current Creed was drafted.
St. Nicholas- Jacobo Robusti Tintoretto
A quick little history on this saint: St. Nicholas was born in the year 270 in the town of Patara, which is located in present day Turkey. His parents were very rich, but died when St. Nicholas was young. He was then adopted by his uncle, also named Nicholas, who was the bishop of Patara. He was a very humble man, and had a deep devotion to Christ, praying always. He also was very fond of the poor and those less fortunate, and often gave everything he could to help these people, especially poor children. This is where we see the tradition that Santa Claus gives gifts to children at Christmas.

St. Nicholas is one of only three men to have ever been nominated and made a bishop without being ordained a priest before his nomination. The other two are also saints, St. Ambrose and St. Severerus. Around the year 300, Nicholas was ordained a deacon, priest, then bishop all on the same day, and became the Bishop of the city of Myra, near where he was born.St. Ambrose, whose feast day of tomorrow, is another saint I am very fond of, and it's fitting that both of these great men were so full of the Holy Spirit, that the people were compelled to elect these holy men as bishops... before they had even received the sacrament of Holy Orders!

Anyways, I leave you all with this hilarious video made last Christmas by a secular Franciscan. It's a parody of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"... only Santa Claus isn't kissing, he's punching. And it's not your mom, but who else... Arius! St. Nicholas, pray for us!

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Very Confused World

So I really don't watch TV anymore. The main reason for watching anything, and for even having cable, is so I can watch professional baseball, basketball and hockey. Yes, I am also an avid sports fan. Once and a while I'll watch The Big Bang Theory, and I'm into The Flash on The CW as well... but even that show which features my favorite childhood comic-book superhero is growing tiresome with it's push for "normalcy" of biased, liberal agenda items in today's "modern" (or really, confused) world. However, that's not what has left me shaking my head in recent days.

That wonderful channel that has brought you such erudite and classy programming as I Didn't Know I was Pregnant and Sex Sent Me to the ER has another show that is finding popularity, and is also pushing an agenda which is utterly, and totally irresponsible. I'm talking about I Am Jazz, a show chronicling the life of a (now) 15 year old boy who has changed his name to Jazz, has started living as a female, and is taking hormone injections and other drugs (during puberty) in order to inhibit his body's natural and biological changes, while taking other hormones to acquire other secondary sex characteristics proper to females, such as breasts. Yes, this is real life, and yes we should be horrified. Now, the network, as well as Jazz's parents and himself have taken the step to press all of this backwards (or really, lack of) logic onto six year-olds in a Wisconsin school district. According to Breitbart:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why Should Pro-Lifers Be on the Defensive?

Bear with me here, as this is half rant/half stream of consciousness writing; I feel that I need to put pen to paper on this... or I guess fingers to keyboard? Anyway, there's been a lot in the news in the past few days about the shooter at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado. And that's not to mention the horrible shootings that have taken place in both California and Georgia today. So now news stories are running with "three shootings this week" all across the Internet. While all three are tragic, it feels like pro-lifers are on the defensive... and why should they be?

Seeing articles in liberally-slanted publication like Huffington Post or Slate make it obvious that many people have an animus towards anyone who does not support abortion. There's no reason why those that are against abortion need to give apologies for this mad men who killed three people. One of those people were pro-life! Also, the motive hasn't been released yet, and already people need to jump on the bandwagon and say this is indicative of anyone who stands against abortion. 

I ask a question then: are all Muslims represented by the terrorists in Paris? Or those in Syria. What about those that call for the death of police officers in the Black Lives Matter movement? It's absolutely ridiculous how little logic is used by people in the information age.

Artus Wolfaerts- Christ Blessing the Children
Luckily, Trent Horn had a really good article on this whole mess. It's worth a read. It is sad that he even need to write anything on the subject, but he makes some excellent points. My favorite:

 Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-choice America, told David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, whose videos have brought world-wide attention to Planned Parenthood’s policy of harvesting baby body parts, 
"You don't get to create fake videos and accuse abortion providers of "barbaric atrocities against humanity" one day and act shocked when someone shoots to kill in those same facilities the next." 
First, the videos aren’t fake. Second, even if they were, it would still be true that abortion providers commit “barbaric atrocities against humanity.’” That’s because it is barbaric to dismember a baby, even if you don’t sell the baby’s parts for medical research. Therefore, it would not be wrong to accuse abortion providers of such barbarism, even if some people use this accusation as an excuse to commit violence. 
Third, if every social movement chose to never say anything that could become a catalyst for violence, then there would hardly be any successful social justice movements in the history of our country. For example: 
In 1859 abolitionist John Brown led a raid on a federal armory in West Virginia in order to arm a slave rebellion (three years earlier Brown had killed five slavery supporters in Kansas). Defenders of slavery argued that because Republican abolitionists endorsed the anti-slavery book The Impending Crisis of the South, and because the book was published before Brown’s raid and was associated with violence against slaveholders, it followed that abolitionists were responsible for violence against slaveholders (Michael Kent Curits, Free Speech, 274). 
In 1963 defenders of racial segregation accused Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of being responsible for violence that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, King was one of the movement’s most vocal proponents of non-violent protest, which isn’t easy when one is facing violent opposition. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail King responded to his critics by saying, “it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence.”
Obviously, those that wished for an end to segregation and slavery didn't worry much about what the actions of a few, over-zealous people did. It did not invalidate the true spirit of what was trying to be accomplished. Unfortunately, we have to be prepared for a lot more of this literally stupid rhetoric. All we can do is try our best to speak up where we can, and make our defense a good offense. Give a reasoned explanation for our beliefs on personhood, and make others question their own ways of thinking.