Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Commonality Between Millennials and Catholicism

In my latest essay for Christ Is Our Hope magazine, I was able to look at the similarities between secular millennials and the Catholic Church. You may be surprised, but there is some crossover. You can read the full article here, and see a short preview below:
One would probably be justified in calling the secularism that runs rampant in today’s culture a religion. Despite that, there’s actually hope here, as many secular millennials are the type of people who still want to serve others and find fulfillment. It could be that secularism, surprisingly, gets a few things right. As Venerable Fulton J. Sheen once said, “Truth is like [a] circle. It has 360 degrees, and that fullness would be found… in Christ’s mystical Body. Now we are to think of every religion under the sun having something good. Maybe some religion that started this afternoon… that’s got some good in it. We only have 10 degrees, but it’s got some good.” This non-religion that so many of my peers practice also has some good, as evidenced by their desire to help others. But they’ve only got 10 degrees of the truth. How can we bring those “nones” into the fullness of the truth proclaimed by Christ’s Church?
Christ Among the Doctors- Anton Kern

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hiatus For a Short While

I apologize for the lack of posts this month, but work has been very hectic. I won't be making as many posts for the next while, but please stay tuned for updates from my essays on other websites.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Discussion on "Progressive" Views Pertaining to the Church's Teaching on the Sexuality and the Marital Embrace

Some weeks ago, Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, critiquing Fr. James Martin, S.J.'s new book on "Building a Bridge" to those Catholics who are attracted to the same sex. In part, Cardinal Sarah wrote that "[Fr. Martin] repeats the common criticism that Catholics have been harshly critical of homosexuality, while neglecting the importance of sexual integrity among all of its followers." The Cardinal goes on to say that homosexual sex acts are "gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them. People who identify as members of the LGBT community are owed this truth in charity, especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the church about this complex and difficult topic."

I got into a discussion with some people regarding this critique and the way that Fr. Martin has tried to reach out to such persons. Below are two separate discussions on this topic, one which degraded fairly quickly, and the other which was a bit more fruitful. The discussion eventually broadened into the Church's authority and on who's authority the Church's teachings are transmitted to us. My words will be in blue with my interlocutors and those sharing my sentiments in other various colors.
Cardinal Robert Sarah

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What Exactly Is "Active Participation" and "Noble Simplicity" in the Context of Holy Mass?

Kind of piggybacking of of Pope Francis' comments (which really were a non-story, and were not controversial at all), I got into a bit of a discussion on elements of liturgical worship. The usual charges against traditional liturgical worship were bandied about, unfortunately. Charges that the extraordinary Form of the Mass didn't reflect "noble simplicity" or had too many "useless repetitions". Below is the conversation that I and several others had on the subject.

There are some good citations from same great essays that I do not want to be lost, so I'll post links to everything here as well for posterity's sake. My words will be in blue, with the others' in various, different colors. The whole conversation "began" when one person found it inaccurate to say that Latin encourages a camaraderie among the faithful.

Harry: The common Latin language encourages a bond of brotherhood between Catholics of all countries, rich and poor, far and wide. 

The problem is that perhaps memory of the pre-reform period has to pass before we can change attitudes to Latin. People will then come to see it not as a mysterious and alien language that shuts them out of the litugy, but as their liturgical language in which is expressed their universality of rite, their brotherhood with their fellows Catholics and not least, their intimacy with Almighty God, for whose worship this language is set aside in their lives. 

The argument that people won't understand the words of the Sanctus and Gloria in Latin when they say them every single week, and read from a Missal with both languages side by side, is just nonsensical. 

We have failed Vatican II when it comes to Latin. It should play a greater role in the reformed liturgy, where it can do all kinds of good without impeding active and conscious participation, if it is employed proportionally and only to the unchanging parts of the Mass. 

''Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.''

Completion of the liturgical reform of Vatican II as referred to by the Holy Father this week, must involve this. Otherwise we have only a 'partial revelation'.

Tom: The only common bond was that the laity were equally disconnected with the Mass. The Mass prayers were said by the priest and altar boys and the people sat and stared. 

You mentioned Hong Kong, and it reminds me of how the Vatican once held that nothing of Chinese culture could be brought into the celebration of the Mass.

Thankfully, that was lifted and Chinese can and do bring their culture into parts of the Mass without changing the consecration itself. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

On Pope Francis' Address on the Irreversible Reforms of the Second Vatican Council

This recent address by the Pope has been making the rounds all over the web in the last few days. In this address to a group of Italian liturgists, His Holiness said this:
"...we can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.... 
"And today there is still work in this direction [in the liturgical education of pastors and faithful], in particular rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial revelations, and practices that disfigure it."
I think this is really a non-story, and people on both sides are going to twist it in their own way. One side will think Pope Francis is attacking them (I don't think he's attacking anyone) and the other side will think that Pope Francis is supporting a false "spirit of Vatican II" that was extremely popular in the 1970's and 80's.
Pope Francis

Friday, August 25, 2017

Has the Church Ever Taught Error Regarding Faith and Morals?

A few days ago, I posted my essay on how dissenting Catholics face a mighty large dilemma in discounting certain teachings of the Church in matters of faith and/or morals. Apparently, the combox to that article was fairly lively. I think the one sentence that ruffled feathers most was my main thesis, and I would imagine it perturbed people because in order to accept such a notion, one must look deep inside oneself, especially if they do indeed actively dissent from any Church teaching that we are to definitively hold. That thesis was this:
"If the Church is wrong about any of its teachings, even just one, this is tantamount to admitting that Jesus is a false god, because He allowed the Church He founded to teach error."
One person in particular balked at such a suggestion. His words will be in red, mine in blue, and various other posters' comments in other colors. My main interlocutor, after quoting my words above, had this to say:

Tom: I don't think anyone believes this, even "traditional" Catholics. I don't even think the last few Popes believed this either. The Church has issued some teachings in the past that everyone admits now were error. It doesn't mean Jesus was a false god.

Is Tom's assertion true? Let's see.
Jesus the Teacher- Jan Luyken

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Orthodox Interpretation of What the Canaanite Woman Did

This past Sunday, the Gospel reading came from Matthew 15, where we hear about "The Canaanite Woman's Faith." Apparently, this particular Gospel selection has been misinterpreted through a poor eisegesis (that is, an exegesis that one gets nothing out of), and even the clergy have not been immune to this. Most notably, it comes Fr. James Martin (who wrote on this same bad interpretation last year) and the Maryknoll Missionaries. What is this ridiculous and completely heterodox interpretation being banded about? From the latter's Twitter feed this past Sunday:

Yea... no. A Canaanite woman did not "school" Jesus, and to even suggest as much is to deny that Jesus was perfect. Are we really so naive as to believe that Jesus needed to learn anything from anyone? Furthermore, if we as Catholic Christians proclaim Jesus to be perfect, then how can we ascribe a prejudice attitude towards our Lord? To be prejudice against someone because they are foreign is an imperfection in us as humans. But since Jesus didn't have only a human nature, but a divine nature as well, He did not possess this imperfection, because our Lord Jesus, like the Father (as both are one in being), is perfect (cf. Matt. 5:48). 

The interpretation given in the above image denies the august majesty of Jesus, as well as His foreknowledge. This interpretation is just as bad as the interpretation of the loaves and fishes which says that Jesus performed no miracle; everyone just shared. So then, what exactly is the right interpretation of this verse? Luckily, we have the Church Fathers and the rest of the saints to turn to. As well as many orthodox priests and pastors alive today.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Magisterium and the Dilemma of Dissent: New Essay on Catholic Stand

A couple weeks back, I recently posted an essay on Catholic Stand in response to comments made by Melinda Gates, wife of the multi-billionaire Bill Gates. In an interview with the BBC, Mrs. Gates made it clear that she and the Pope “agree to disagree” on the morality of contraception.

She opined, “It’s been a while since [the Catholic Church] revisited this topic [of contraception] — but I’m still optimistic that they might [change the teaching] over time.” This is a reference to Blessed Pope Paul VI’s remarkable encyclical Humanae vitae, in which he reconfirmed the constant teaching of the Catholic Church. You can see a preview of my essay responding to such dissenting or "cafeteria" Catholics below, with the link to the actual essay again provided at the end.
How does Gates gauge whether a certain thing or activity is “right” or not? Does she believe that the Church can make an accurate pronouncement on the morality or sinfulness of a certain action? 
Apparently not, as she outright rejects what the Church teaches on contraception. If she believes she is doing “the right thing for women” by promoting contraceptives, then the Church, by doing the opposite in condemning the use of contraceptives, must be doing the wrong thing. Two contradictory things can’t both be right and true. In this case, either Gates is wrong, or Christ in His Church is wrong. And if it’s the latter, all those who profess to be Catholic have quite the dilemma.
You can read the rest of the essay over at Catholic Stand.
Jesus Among the Doctors- Albrecht Dürer

Friday, August 4, 2017

Being the Light of the World: Stop Hiding Your Faith!

My latest article in the Diocese of Joliet's monthly magazine, Christ Is Our Hope, has appeared in print in their August 2017 issue. The article can also be found on their digital magazine in the link above. Below is an unedited and slightly longer version of the article found in the magazine. After experiencing many Catholics around me who were reticent to share their faith, I was moved to write an article that we are exhorted to do just that. The movie Silence was another trigger for writing this article, and it is mentioned in the essay itself, specifically why we must not follow the example of the two main characters in the film.hh
The Ahırkapı Lighthouse- Michael Zeno Diemer

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Essay on Alternatives to Planned Parenthood: Why Pro-Lifers Are Against PP

I recently had the opportunity to write a guest article for the pretty awesome website Secular Prolife. These people are dedicated to protecting the unborn, and while we hope for their conversion one day, they are secular and typically agnostic. This sit has proved to be a great starting point for talking to people who think that all pro-lifers are only of such an opinion because they are religious. Rarely, if ever, have I used a religious argument to voice my opposition to abortion. Anyone can do so using natural reason, as the wonderful people at Secular Prolife have. Below is a link to my first essay with the site. A short selection can be found below:
Here’s the thing that those who support Cecile Richards and her associates need to know about their pro-life friends. Even if we were to accept the bogus claim that only 3% of the services done at Planned Parenthood are abortions, how could one in good conscience support an organization that purposefully ends the lives of human beings? Even if that number was 1% or .5% of the time, the percentage would be too high. Why? Because the vast majority of people in this world consider the purposeful and willful killing of a member of the human race to be immoral and wrong.
Read the full article here. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reflections on the Readings for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Yesterday, on July 22nd, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, on of the feasts of the liturgical year that is celebrated on the same day in both forms of the Latin Rite and in the Byzantine Rite. I was lucky enough to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form (EF) after receiving the Sacrament of Confession, and I just  briefly wanted to right down my thoughts after reflecting on the Scripture readings for the Mass in the EF, as well as the Scripture selection in the Liturgy of Hours' Office of Readings.

The First Reading in the Divine Office came from St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians 3:1-17. It was subtitled, "Your life is hidden with Christ in God". As I was reading this, waiting for Mass to start, a particular few verses close to the halfway mark caught my attention. It immediately called to mind the current state of affairs regarding the permissibility of certain sins that have become socially acceptable in the Western world, i.e., fornication, and homosexual activity in particular. Beginning from verse 5:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Feast of Simon the Pharisee- Peter Paul Rubens

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Causes of Unconditional Love

In getting ready to write a new essay tangentially related to contraception, I recalled a dialogue I had with someone regarding an essay I had posted on social media. I thought about just posting my own words since I pretty much dominated the conversation. I regret doing this sometimes, typing so much, but there's always so much on my mind that I want to be able to express it all. I am trying to become more concise in my writing, but as I care for this person, I felt it my Christian duty to get this person introduced to some ideas that they may not have been aware of.  I apologize if anyone tires of the length of my blog posts. Please know that I don't do it because I'm full of myself or like to hear myself "talk". In putting my thoughts here, and in dialoguing with other people, I hope to find answers. I just go about it in a way many millennials would rather not.

In any case, here's the selection of the essay, entitled "The Death of Unconditional Love", I posted on social media: 
"The widespread availability of contraception ushered in an age of sexual intercourse without consequence. Unconditional love was taken out of the equation and replaced with immediate, self-serving gratification. Love became inconsequential to sexual relations. With the possibility of procreation and the need for commitment gone, sex went from being a wonderful gift from God and an active participation in his work of creation to a sterile act, devoid of meaning and transcendence. 
"Likewise, easy, no-fault divorce has played an enormous role in the death of unconditional love. Marriage went from being a permanent, lifelong relationship to a temporary one. Our very high divorce rate signals the fact that as adults, few are capable of unconditional love. By rejecting our wives or husbands, whether we intend to or not, we tear apart our families. What is left is a broken reflection of what once was.
"In essence, without using words and often without even intending to do so, we tell our children 'My personal needs are far more important than your need for a loving home, nurtured by both Mom and Dad.'"
Below is our conversation. Some things have been edited out, but the bulk of it is still here:
The Triumph of Divine Love- Peter Paul Rubens

Monday, July 10, 2017

New Article on "Spiritual Progress" on Catholic Stand

My latest article, replying to a claim made by Evangelical Christian author Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, is now up on Catholic Stand.  Below is a snippet of the article, followed by another link:
From reading some of the work that Ms. Fitzpatrick has produced, her faith squares up pretty evenly with the modern Evangelical movement; a movement that has no room for a visible Church. On her website and in other advertisements, Ms. Fitzpatrick describes her work in this way: “No fluff. No bricks. Just good news of a crucified and risen Savior.” 
Ms. Fitzpatrick probably does not intend it, but these words are insulting and condescending to many Christians. It implies that, for instance, that the Sacrifice of the Mass as celebrated by Catholic and Orthodox Christians is superfluous, that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is just “fluff”, and that asking for the intercession of the saints is part of a man-made building of brick and mortar that has nothing to do with the mystical Body of Christ. As if none of those things I just mentioned don’t preach the Good News of the Christ crucified. How misguided and mistaken a notion she and many other non-denominational Christians have on Christ’s relationship to the Church. Which leads us to the isolated quote I came across … 
Below is the verbatim quote from Mrs. Fitzpatrick as it was presented, with no further context: 
"Real progress in the Christian life is not gauged by our knowledge of Scripture, our church attendance, time in prayer, or even our witnessing (although it isn’t less than these things). Maturity in the Christian life is measured by only one test: how much closer to his character have we become? The result of the Spirit’s work is not more and more activity. No, the results of his work are in in our quality of life, they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." 
Is this an accurate description of “real progress? There are many issues with this quote, as well as the way the meme is delivered to the masses.
Read the rest here. 
Entry into Jerusalem- Pedro Orrente

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bishop of San Jose's Statement on Bishop Paprocki's Decree on "Same Sex 'Marriage'"

While the news cycle has started to relax it's focus on the controversial (but really, not controversial at all) decree issued by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, IL on the pastoral care of those homosexual persons in state sanctioned marriages, it seems that there are those within the Church who are still making comments about it. A few days ago, Bishop Patrick J. McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose released the following statement:
Dear Father/Sister/Brother, 
Recent news reports of policies and practices related to members of the LGBT community in other dioceses can be confusing. 
I take this opportunity to assure you that the pastoral response in the Diocese of San Jose remains just that: compassionate and pastoral. We will not refuse sacraments or Christian Burial to anyone who requests them in good faith. 
Finally, let us remember and be guided by the words of Pope Francis: “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
This is disheartening.

It's extremely sad to see, at almost every turn, bishop against bishop, pastor against pastor, and even Bishops' Conference against Bishops' Conference on several issues.

Frankly, this whole controversy that's erupted around Bishop Paprocki's decree (which is simply a reiteration of Catholic teaching) is ridiculous. As Bishop Paprocki commented in a recent interview, "[T]he decree is a rather straightforward application of existing Church teaching and canon law. The Catholic Church has been very clear for two thousand years that we do not accept same-sex “marriage,” yet many people seem to think that the Church must simply cave in to the popular culture now that same-sex “marriage” has been declared legal in civil law."

Friday, June 30, 2017

Separating Brainwashing From Evangelizing Children

I came across an awesome article by soon-to-be-deacon Joe Heschmeyer the other day, where he addressed the following question: "Is teaching children religion brainwashing?" Apparently, as he mentioned in his essay, 86% of respondents to this question on thought the answer was "yes". How profoundly sad. Religion, once seen as a virtue (and still seen as one by the Church, see CCC 1807) by virtually all people in the Western world, is now seen as a vice, and has even been called "child abuse" by certain proponents of the new atheism; of which I would argue is a new religion in itself... but I digress.

The entire article is an excellent read, and I urge everyone to read it before continuing. Here's a good sampling from Heschmeyer's essay:
As Christians, we’re called to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world (Matthew 28:19-20), but in a special way, to teach the next generation about the faith. The Shema Yisrael, the core of Jewish morning and evening prayer, comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-7: 
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." 
So you can’t be a faithful Christian (or Jew) and not teach the faith to your children. But it’s more than that. Christianity isn’t just your dad sitting around musing about what the afterlife might or might not be like. The God of the Universe entered history in the Person of Jesus Christ, and He taught, died, and rose from the dead. And Christians don’t just believe in this as as an abstract idea, but have a personal relationship with this same God. So it’s not just speculation on the Christian parents’ part: it’s rationally trusting the expert, the one Person qualified to tell us these things. It’s also sharing the most meaningful relationship you have with your loved ones. 
And finally, not teaching your kids still teaches them something. If you really believed Christianity was the most important truth in the world, if you really believed it was the surest way to knowing God and to happiness in this life and eternity in Heaven, you wouldn’t hesitate to share it with the people you loved most (especially those entrusted to your care for formation: your children).
That same selection from Deuteronomy is something that I often see included in my recitation of Compline (Night Prayer) at the end of each day. It's a beautiful thing to reflect on, and whenever I read it, I think about my own kids. Heschmeyer brings up a great point; why would you hesitate to share the faith that comes from Truth Himself with your own children? This essay is a great answer to the question that was posed on, but I'd like to add a couple of points to my own, piggybacking off of what Heschmeyer has written.
Jesus Falling Under the Cross

Friday, June 23, 2017

Decree From Bishop of Springfield Lays Down Directives For Those in Same-Sex "Marriages"

About a week and a half ago, Bishop Thomas Paprocki released a decree "Regarding Same-Sex 'Marriage' and Related Pastoral Issues". The secular media jumped all over this yesterday, with painfully erroneous ways of misrepresenting Church teaching. Dissenters such as New Way Ministry, as well as their supporters such as Fr. James Martin, also denounced the bishop's decree. However, everything seemed to focus specifically on one small section of the decree, namely on funeral rites:
“Unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death, deceased persons who had lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites. In case of doubt, the proper pastor or parochial administrator is to consult the local ordinary [bishop], whose judgment is to be followed (cf. c. 1184).
Fr. Martin replied very quickly on his Facebook page:
If bishops ban members of same-sex marriages from receiving a Catholic funeral, they also have to be consistent. They must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received annulments, women who has or man who fathers a child out of wedlock, members of straight couples who are living together before marriage, and anyone using birth control. For those are all against church teaching as well. Moreover, they must ban anyone who does not care for the poor, or care for the environment, and anyone who supports torture, for those are church teachings too. More basically, they must ban people who are not loving, not forgiving and not merciful, for these represent the teachings of Jesus, the most fundamental of all church teachings. To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a "sign of unjust discrimination" (2358).
I would have to conclude, as have others, that Fr. Martin, who echoes what the editors at New Ways Ministry had to say, is way off base here. In all honesty, he's pretty much wrong.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Discussion on Abortion and "Personhood" With a Utilitarian

Recently, the ever-awesome Secular Pro Life posted a guest blog by a woman who suffers from turner Syndrome. An excerpt from the article is below:
"Instead of turning 30 reminding me that I'm getting old, it reminds me I'm living—and it's a wonderful feeling. I will wear every grey hair and every wrinkle as a badge of honour. I get to enjoy a life that's all too often left to 'choice' and deemed 'not worth living'—without even being given a chance. 
"My mom is 'pro-choice' and believes it should have been up to her whether or not to abort me if she had known. I'm so thankful that my diagnosis was safe with me in the womb and that I'm alive—instead of my life being reduced to a statistic."
A heart wrenching reality this woman has to live with, that her mom would actually say these things to her own daughter. But what really disturbed me was one of the commenters on the article. This man, from the UK, was a self-professed utilitarian. This was the first time I really was able to get into a deep conversation with one such person. While his ideas are scary, perhaps even monstrous, my interlocutor was pleasant throughout our discussion, never threw any personal attacks, and explained his point of view in an intelligent manner. But it's his worldview that is problematic. While reading through this dialogue, one will see that not only does he reject the personhood of most life in the womb, but also of some people who may be in a vegetative or comatose state, as can be seen by him saying they "often resume personhood". His comments will be in red, mine in blue, and various other commenters in different colors. My interlocutor's initial reply to the article itself is below:

Tom: This is merely confused counterfactual thinking. She'd never have suffered with the thoughts of having not existed or regretted her missed existence had she have been aborted in the first-trimester do it's a moot point.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Priest Resigns After Implementing Traditional Changes: Why Is "Restoration" a Negative Thing?

A couple of days ago, a local news story out of Charlotte broke regarding a Catholic priest. Apparently, after being pastor at a small parish for nearly three years, Fr. Christopher Riehl resigned after several of his parishioners expressed their displeasure with his more traditional directives that were implemented. A rift had risen in the parish, with those who were complaining about his leadership splintering off to hear Mass at a dentist's office in "exile", as some described it. From The Charlotte Observer:
The pastor of a Catholic church in the N.C. mountains whose conservative leadership style split the congregation and drew national media attention has resigned. 
In a Facebook post, the Rev. Christopher Riehl of St. John the Evangelist parish in Waynesville wrote that he was “worn out or burned out” and for his own well-being needed to take a sabbatical. 
He did not mention the rancor at the parish, where he’s been pastor for nearly three years, or the petition by more than 100 members to have him removed. It was sent to Bishop Peter Jugis, who leads the 46-county Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.
The National Catholic Reporter published a January article on the clash between Riehl and many parishioners in the church of about 250 families. Some of those members have left St. John’s. 
The article cast the divide as one of a new pastor who preferred traditionalist approaches to the liturgy and church governance versus parishioners who cherished what had been St. John’s post-Vatican II style of a greater role for the laity and more modern worship and music. 
Vatican II refers to the Second Vatican Council of the early- to mid-1960s, when the Roman Catholic Church, for example, permitted the use of local languages for a Mass that had traditionally been celebrated all over the world in Latin. 
According to the National Catholic Reporter article, Riehl threw out popular hymns and replaced them with the ancient Gregorian chant. When the music director was relieved of her duties, the article said, most of the choir resigned. 
A group calling itself Appalachian Catholics in the Smoky Mountain Region said in a statement earlier this year that Riehl and some other conservative priests assigned by Jugis to small parishes in the mountains “seem to be more intent on taking the church back to pre-Vatican ll days rather than minister to the people. They seem to be steeped in doctrine and theology, but are unwilling to participate in ecumenical activities, and are lacking in compassion, love and mercy. They are doing the job of the theologian, but not the job of the pastor. This is directly opposed to what Pope Francis and Vatican II are teaching us.”...
In his June 4 Facebook post to members of his “parish family,” Riehl wrote that his leaving was not prompted by anything other than his own need to take some time away from parish ministry. 
“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that I have decided, of my own free will and my own instigation, to resign my position here at St. John’s,” he wrote. “I have found that I am worn out or burned out and for my own well being need to take a sabbatical. There was no incident or event, just a feeling that I need some time away from full parish ministry. I have absolutely no questions or doubts about my vocation to the Priesthood of Christ.”
A very sad state of affairs, indeed. NCR (more aptly called the Fishwrap or National Catholic Distorter, by others), also ripped Fr. Riehl over a year and a half ago in an earlier article, which I will quote more below. One commenter on the recent developments in this story said the following:
This new trend is disturbing to me - out with faith, hope and love ... in with appearances of reverence. I am glad these parishioners fought back against this movement of clerical snobbery. I get the sense that some of these younger priests just want to say Mass in what they perceive to be a reverent, or legal, style, without parishioners. It seems like they are removing the communion part of the faith. I hope priests like this can see that their approach is deeply flawed.  
I am now starting to understand why our Holy Father talks so much about clericalism, rigidity and legalism in the Church.
The only trend that is disturbing is the trend of disobedience and the trend that wants to see the Latin Rite purged of all it's legitimate traditions. This whole episode leads me to compare and contrast the Latin and Byzantine Rites a bit. But more on that in a bit.
St. Gregory the Great- Jusepe de Ribera

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More From the Enlightened Mind of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

I've written a few posts on here regarding Bl. Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a young 20-something saint who was born, raised and died in New Jersey in the first few decades of the 20th century. An American saint through and through, and I've come to appreciate her even more after reading her biography, written by Sister Mary Zita Geis. I learned many new things about this valuable intercessor of ours, and my devotion to her has certainly grown as I try to figure out how I can attain at least some of the holiness that she exuded throughout her life.

First, I learned that she was certainly a mystic. While the visions she had aren't described in too much detail here, she did experience visions of our Lord and Lady, as well as an interesting encounter with St. Therese, the Little Flower. But most of her experiences seemed to be internal, and in the writings she sent to her spiritual director, he understood that she was definitely receiving spiritual consolations from our Lord such as ecstasies, raptures, visions and locutions.

She also mortified herself daily in many different ways, offering up even the smallest of sufferings to our Lord. For instance, she at times never touched the pew in front of her while kneeling during Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, and when rapt in front of the altar itself, she never let her feet touch the ground as she kneeled before the Blessed Sacrament.

Another interesting tidbit was that she was quite into sports. Particularly, that "boys' game" known as baseball! Of course, baseball is my favorite sport, and to know that she enjoyed playing America's pastime, as well as basketball, makes her same ever more closer despite her nearly unrivaled holiness and submission to God's will. She also took part in Spanish club, as well as drama club and glee club at high school, and performed in and wrote many plays during her high school and college days. Again, this is something still done by many of our high schoolers today. Yet through all these similarities with us Americans today, she was oh so very different. Her piety and desire to conform to God's will is truly an example to us all, and I can't wait to see her become canonized so that all of the United States will properly be able to venerate her as they do St. Elizabeth Ann Seton today.

So in the biography, I came across a couple of her spiritual conferences that were not included in her posthumous book, Greater Perfection. Remember, she wrote these secretly as the rest of he congregation thought that the convent's priest was writing them. Finding these felt like finding a long lost b-side from one of my favorite bands. I'd like to share one of those conferences here, as many of these are hard to find on the Internet, as it certainly moved me, and I hope it does the same for the reader here:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reflecting on the Different Interpretations Given for Amoris Laetitia

I had refrained from posting this long exchange I had had regarding Amoris Latetia for a while, but it seems that the controversy surrounding it just won't go away. I decided it was time for me to post this lengthy discussion so that others can see what is at stake here. We have several bishops contradicting several other bishops on the interpretation of AL. That in itself is scandalous, and even more so are some of the interpretations we've gotten, namely from the Bishops of Malta.

This exchange is mostly with a person I had already talked a bit with on the subject. Unfortunately, this time around it didn't end so well, as my interlocutor, who is a 50-something with a degree in theology, didn't think I was worth the time as I was simply an "autodidact". The thing is, my sources all came from saints, popes, and bishops... as well as our Lord! At the outset, he would interact with my arguments, by the end, he refused to. How my questions were continually dodged will be obvious. Please note, that I don't claim to be a know-it-all. I don't. But the Church does. I asked more than once, that if I was wrong, then show me my error! It didn't happen; my arguments were instead ignored. Perhaps I could've been more pithy, but as I'm a student, I learned a lot through this exchange, and citing as many sources as possible helps me keep things straight. I can only hope that in this excessively large post, someone is able to understand the point I'm trying to make, and can see the evidence I have from the Tradition of the Church to back it up. That is, AL has not changed Church teaching on the reception of Communion for the divorced and remarried that continue to live together more uxorio. My words will be in blue, my interlocutor's in red, and eventually, my words will turn back to black to interject towards the end.
The Apparition of Christ to the People- Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More Dioceses Restoring the Order of the Sacraments of Initiation

I was confused a few days ago when I kept seeing people posting a two year old news story on how the Archbishop of Denver was restoring the traditional order of the Sacraments of initiation. That is, the age for Confirmation was being lowered so that it would be received before First Holy Communion in the Latin Rite of the Church. I later found out that the reason this is in the news again is because the changes were being staggered, and are finally taking full effect this year. All children in the third grade will receive Confirmation and First Holy Communion at the same Mass. I applaud this decision, and I sincerely hope to see it happen in my own diocese at some point... preferably before my own children reach the second or third grade. A little background on all this "restoring the order business, though.
The Seven Sacraments: Confirmation- Nicolas Poussin

Friday, May 26, 2017

New Catholic Stand Post on the Beauty of the Latin Rite

My latest, original essay is up on Catholic Stand. I've blogged here before that I often spend a lot of time worshipping with Byzantine Catholics, and I've noticed something during that time. At the same moment those in the Byzantine Rite were exhorted to maintain their beautiful and legitimate liturgical traditions, those in the Latin Rite began to discard their venerable liturgical traditions for an, oftentimes, hokey and bland minimalism, which made grandeur and feelings of awe in the Sacrifice of the Mass something to be purged and/or avoided. How can Roman Catholics reclaim this beauty and reverence that Byzantine Catholics have maintained for centuries? Here's a snippet of my thoughts, which you can finish reading at the link below:
While I myself am a Latin Rite Catholic, my maternal grandmother’s side of the family belongs to the Byzantine Rite, specifically the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). I’ve always felt that I’ve grown up with the best of both worlds. But now, with a Byzantine Rite parish so close to my home, I find myself drawn to this form of worship more and more. This is a rite in the Catholic Church which has not lost its traditions, as we have painfully seen in many Latin Rite parishes throughout the world. 
It can be rightly argued that we as Latin Catholics have an identity crisis; the Byzantines do not. On the contrary, many Latinizations that have been acquired in the last several generations are disappearing in many Byzantine parishes. Yet, despite all this, I wish to stick with the Latin Rite. I want to help, in whatever small way I can, to regain our Latin traditions as the Byzantines have.

Read the rest HERE.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

But One Example of a Negligent Teacher- When and How Should We Speak Up to Error?

Many today in the Church are concerned about how the laity, and even the clergy, have suffered in recent years due to a lack of proper formation and good catechesis. Recent popes have called for a renewed vigor in catechesis; Pope St. John Paul II even wrote an entire encyclical on the matter, Catechesi tradendae. In it, he said:
“To begin with, it is clear that the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right…from the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely by reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to on a truly Christian life…” (CT 14).
Unfortunately, many of those who have been in this position to teach have been, at times, derelict, in their duties. One such example that comes up time and time again is found in the person of Fr. James Martin, S.J. Despite his appointment as a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications recently, Fr. Martin has caused controversy by his words on more than one occasion in the last few years. But just as much as his words have caused confusion among the faithful, it can be argued that his silence and lack of speaking up as a pastor and teacher have led to even more confusion among the Catholic faithful. Just earlier this month, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban in South Africa, said on his Twitter account what many faithful Catholics have been thinking for years: "If we follow [the] teaching of Jesus & his Apostles James Martin's utterances will be shown up for what they are - heterodox!"

In a recent video in which he responded to several other criticisms he has received on Twitter, hFr. Martin mentioned how he doesn't feel the need to respond to people that disagree with him, or ones that call him out on errors he has made, because their arguments are supposedly "baseless". In the same way you wouldn't dignify a man who said you are a wife beater a response, Fr. Martin feels he doesn't need to answer the accusations of those that criticize him. Sure, some of them are baseless assertions, like the ones that are uncharitable.

But there are many people who have asked, in a charitable way, whether or not certain aspects of Church teaching are true. And Fr. Martin has sidestepped those questions at nearly every turn, always toeing the line between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, without ever going too far over into heterodoxy... but keeping a toe or two there, nonetheless. With his new book on the horizon, this is a good time to cite but one example in which it would be prudent to make a note of Fr. Martin's deafening silence. Indeed, as St. John Paul said, all Christians have the right to receive instruction on how to lead a true Christian life. Is remaining silent in the face of a teachable moment really living up to the example St. John Paul gives us?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Christians Are Commanded to Worship Together on Sundays and Holy Days: Why Should We Trust the Church's Teaching Authority?

Sometime back, I got into a discussion with someone regarding the Baltimore Catechism and how it has been an effective supplement for me as a catechist in teaching my students in our parish's religious education program. The pictures inside are remembered by many Catholics of a certain age, and these pictures, and their explanations in Q&A format, made it easy for the kids to understand the reality of the Eucharist during our first Holy Communion prep for 5th-7th graders. The Baltimore Catechism is the perfect supplement to any textbook series a catechist today uses.

However, as the discussion went on, one Catholic person expressed how he disliked some of the pictures and ideas presented in the Baltimore Catechism. This led to a discussion on whether all Christians are obligated to pay due worship to God, by assisting at Mass on Sundays or Holy Days, under pain of mortal sin. This further led into us discussing whether the teaching authority of the Church (the Magisterium) has clearly stated such an obligation to all Christians, and if those same Christians should pay heed.

I think it needs to be said that many non-Catholic Christians, specifically those of an Evangelical or non-denominational bent, eschew corporate worship. They believe that a "Jesus and me" relationship is the only real requirement anyone needs for eternal life, and that if one misses worship with their brothers and sisters on a particular Sunday, it's not a big deal. Clearly, such persons have made only a cursory reading of Scripture. For if they really had delved into the Scriptures, it would be apparent that not only are we obligated to worship our Lord each Sabbath day, but we are to do so corporately. The thought process goes something like this:

1. The relationship between me and Jesus is the most important thing there is, and one doesn't need the Church to have a relationship with Jesus.
2. This must mean it's the only thing I'm really required and obligated to focus on in regards to entering eternal life.
3. So if I miss worshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ on Sundays, it's not really a big deal.
4. Therefore, I am not required to assist at Mass on Sundays.

Unfortunately, the jump from "1" to "2" does not prove what a relationship with Christ entails. Not to mention, the jump from "3" to "4" is untenable, because who has decided it's "not really a big deal"? Furthermore, who has decided that we are not obligated to keep the Third Commandment, "Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy"? This is the problematic thought process we've received from many Evangelical Christians; it's seeped into the practice of more than a few Catholics who no longer feel it's necessary to corporately worship each Sunday and holy day. As Patrick Madrid puts it in his book Any Friend of God's Is a Friend of Mine:
"Me and Jesus" Christianity isn't biblical"
St. Paul said, "[W]e, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another (Rom. 12:5). Catholics believe membership in Christ's Body means a personal relationship with Jesus and, through Him, with all Christians. 
Although Protestants may agree with this in theory, in application most of them (this is especially true of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists) promote an individualistic "me and Jesus" version of Christianity, teaching that the only thing ultimately important is one's own relationship with Christ, independent of any relationship to anyone else. While it may pay lip service to the communion of saints, in reality most of Protestantism ignores the organic bond of unity between the Christian faithful..."
Excerpt from the Baltimore Catechism
The "me and Jesus" mentality is indeed "individualistic", flying in the face of Scripture; so how anyone can think worshipping with our brothers and sisters is a trivial matter has obviously not read or reflected on what St. Paul says in his First Letter to the Corinthians. He actually scolds other Christians for thinking they don't need other Christians, emphases mine:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ...  For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, ...those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor... 
But God has so adjusted the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Cor. 12: 12, 14-15, 18-27)
Many Christians, Catholic or not, talk about caring for the needs of other people as Christ instructed, but then they forget about how we need to develop an even deeper relationship with our brothers and sisters since we are all incorporated into the same Body of Christ. This need... this relationship, which is developed concretely at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our partaking of the Eucharist, must no longer be forgotten. The spread of this individualistic notion of a "personal relationship" with Jesus at the expense of His Body, of His spotless Bride (cf. Rev. 22:17; Eph. 5:26-27), needs to be curbed. We, as Christians, must assist at the Mass so that we may keep the Sabbath holy by giving due worship to God, and we also must worship corporately so that we "may have the same care for one another."

Below is my discussion, with my interlocutor's words in red, mine in blue, and various other commenters in different colors.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Redefining Marriage Leads to the Dissolution of Marriage

Today I had the unfortunate luck to come across a story where I found out a family had been torn apart because of one spouse's fear that she "might miss out on my chance at happiness". It's the story of a relatively famous, non-denominational Christian blogger, Glennon Doyle Melton, to leave her husband and pursue a relationship with U.S. women's' soccer star Abby Wambach. In a not so surprising twist, Wambach had just divorced what the state calls her wife not that long ago. But the whole same-sex marriage issue isn't the part that makes me so sad; it's the part about how a wife did not keep her marriage vows to her husband and has left her three children to pick up the tab. It's the culture of divorce in the Western world which should cause all Christians much sadness.
Jean Auguste Henri Leys- Wedding in Flanders in the Seventeenth Century

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Regarding the Validity of Anglican Orders

There's been a lot of talk lately regarding Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio’s comments on the validity of Anglican orders. His comments come from an article in The Tablet, a publication which can be compared to the National Catholic Reporter here in the US; in short, both publications are known best for their heterodox writings. Here's some excerpts from the article on the cardinal if you haven't seen it yet:
In a recently published book, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, calls into question Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 papal bull that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void.”
“When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’,” the cardinal says...
“The question of validity [regarding the non-recognition of Anglican orders, while the Pope would give pectoral crosses, rings or chalices to Anglican clergy], however, is not a matter of law but of doctrine,” he explains in a question and answer format. “We have had, and we still have a very rigid understanding of validity and invalidity: this is valid, and that is not valid. One should be able to say: ‘this is valid in a certain context, and that is valid another context’.”
There's been a lot of talk about "rigidity" lately, and it's unfortunate that it seems so many things devolve into this charge against Catholics by and large. These comments have raised some eyebrows, and it would be well for all Catholics to take a deeper look and find out the real story behind Pope Leo XIII's declaration on the nullity of Anglican orders in Apostolicae curae, especially in light of all the confusion that may result among the faithful during the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation.
Pope Leo XIII in 1898

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What Does Gender Really Mean When It Comes to the Transgender Question?

Recently, my friend posted a meme on social media which depicted a person holding up a sign saying "My genitals do not define my gender". On the bottom half of the meme, the following statements were also made:
"My IQ does not define my intelligence."
"My physique doesn't define my fitness."
"My semen doesn't define my child."
"Go on. Make some more stupid cases."
While I thought the meme was a bit crude, I did think it got a valid point across. Another person made a comment, indicating that the view given in the meme was ignorant in his view. The discussion we had is below, with my words in blue and my interlocutor's in red. I think the discussion we had was cordial, as we both felt very differently on the subject, but it never devolved into ad hominem attacks or other insulting banter. I hope to go deeper into such a discussion in the future, but I'm thankful for the time my interlocutor took to engage me and the time they took to read my point of view. Our discussion follows the jump:
Creation of Adam- Michelangelo 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

New Essay on "Window Dressing" Up on Catholic Stand and Catholic365

My latest essay for Catholic Stand is now live, which focuses on the differences between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians, and why both sides contradict each other on the so-called "essentials". The Catholic Stand article was shortened for space issues, but the full, unedited version can be found on Catholic365. Here's a snippet from the article. Please follow the links above for more:
King David Playing the Harp- Peter Paul Rubens
Many of our separated Christian brethren hold that there is more we have in common than we might think. I agree. Catholics and non-denominational Christians share in a common baptism and common profession of Jesus as God and savior. However, it’s pretty obvious that there are also some glaring differences between these two faiths, and I would argue (as would many Catholic and Orthodox Christians) that these differences are in essential areas, i.e., salvation. 
The first point to make in response to this view of indifferentism regarding Jesus’ Church is to simply ask, how can this be that the doctrines and Traditions of Christian religions are merely window dressing? Who has decided which teachings and doctrines are window dressing and which are actually the structure of the building itself, that is, essential? The “essentials” seem elementary to any Evangelical. 
But on the flip side, the “essentials” seem pretty clear to Catholics, too. The problem here is that these essentials are defined differently between these two faiths, and often, the “essentials” even contradict each other. But what if everything revealed to us by Jesus and the New Testament writers are essential? 
More here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

When the Writings of Saints Are Deemed to be Politically Incorrect...

You may or may not have heard the story coming out of Orlando this past week concerning a catechist at a Catholic school who had passed out printouts of St. John Bosco’s 1853 essay “The Catholic Educated in his Faith.” The teacher was reprimanded, but to what extent is unclear. From the local article:
The Diocese of Orlando issued a statement about its decision to reprimand the teacher to the Huffington Post. Diocese officials said they would issue the same written statement to the Star-Banner, but that had not been received by press time.
The Diocese of Orlando officials would not answer questions to discuss details about the exact extent of the punishment.
Jacquelyn Flanigan, an associate superintendent with the Diocese of Orlando’s Catholic school system, said in a statement to the Huffington Post that she had spoken with Blessed Trinity’s Principal Jason Halstead and Smythe.
Flanigan stated that after speaking with the two men, the school district decided to “reprimand the teacher for this unfortunate exhibit of disrespect.” Flanigan also said in the statement that the material is also “not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
It seems we've come to the point where even local dioceses are being too careful of upsetting the PC police. Here's a sampling of St. John's readings, and even I can admit that they aren't PC:
"We could say the Koran is a series of errors, the most enormous ones being against morality and the worship of the true God.  For example, it excuses from sin those who deny God out of fear of death;  it permits revenge; it guarantees its followers a Paradise filled only of earthly pleasures.  In short, this false prophet’s doctrine permits things so obscene, that the Christian soul is horrified just naming them."
But here's the thing... so what if his writings aren't PC? One could argue that Jesus Christ wasn't politically correct either, so to claim that St. John Bosco's writings go against Catholic teaching is simply mistaken. Let's see why that's so.
St. John Bosco and students

Friday, April 14, 2017

An Open Letter to a Catholic University Chaplain

It's no secret that many of North America's (and Europe's) Catholic colleges and university have had a streak of unorthodox practices and dissent for several decades. A great example of a college that once upheld Catholic teachings, and now possesses a most questionable attitude to the doctrines of Christ's Holy Church, would be the University of Notre Dame. Many other places of higher education could be named, but we don't need to go down that rabbit hole. We'll instead go down another, where I noticed a certain Catholic university had been displaying images near the school's chapel that were dangerous to the faith of those not well grounded in their faith, and were crafted by a man who had clear intentions to subvert the Truth revealed to the Catholic Church. Below is the letter I made up for the chaplain of this university:
North Quad at Notre Dame

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thoughts on the Jesuit General's Apparent Relativism, and a Reply to His (non-Catholic) Supporter

A little over a month ago, a very controversial interview with the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, was released. In it, Fr. Abascal claimed that all Church doctrine must be subject to discernment. While technically true, he failed to mention that all need to submit to what the Church has declared. That is so, because Jesus is Head of the Church. All doctrine that the Church gives us comes directly from Jesus Christ Himself. Here are a couple relevant excerpts:
Q: So if conscience, after discernment, tells me that I can receive communion even if the norm does not provide for it… 
A: The Church has developed over the centuries, it is not a piece of reinforced concrete. It was born, it has learned, it has changed. This is why the ecumenical councils are held, to try to bring developments of doctrine into focus. Doctrine is a word that I don't like very much, it brings with it the image of the hardness of stone. Instead the human reality is much more nuanced, it is never black or white, it is in continual development. 
Q: I seem to understand that for you there is a priority for the practice of the discernment of doctrine. 
A: Yes, but doctrine is part of discernment. True discernment cannot dispense with doctrine. 
Q: But it can reach conclusions different from doctrine.
A: That is so, because doctrine does not replace discernment, nor does it the Holy Spirit.
After reading the full interview of what the Jesuit General had to say, I have to say I find his words very disheartening. It sounds as if he's completely embraced moral relativism. Fr. Dwight Longenecker made some good points:
"This is astounding. Let’s be clear. While Fr Abascal thinks Jesus’ words are difficult to understand, Fr Abascal’s are easily understood. He is saying that we can’t really know what Jesus’ words were so it is all up for grabs."
The Scribe Stood to Tempt Jesus- James Tissot

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What Came First? The Egg or Moral Relativism?

I came across an interesting meme the other day. It wasn't one of your typical memes with a little bit of text emblazoned on a funny picture. The picture can be found below, with a long (for a meme) essay attached to it, seen here. The meme is titled "You were on your way home but you died". It involves a man who dies in a car accident, meets a being who purports to be God, with the God character telling the man he will be reincarnated, and will keep being reincarnated until he has lived the life of every living thing on Earth, because then he will be sufficiently mature.

The conclusion is that the universe is simply an egg for this person to mature in. However this person is simultaneously Hitler and Abraham Lincoln. Therefore, our actions do not have any real consequences. In addition, the God character comments that "All religions are right in their own way." Not to mention, the typical nonsense of God being a woman comes into play again, because it's everyone's favorite thing to disregard the fact that God has revealed Himself to humanity as "Father". But anyways, read the whole thing at the link above. We'll be focusing on one main error here: the moral relativism that the author's notion of "all religions being right in their own way" leads us to.

Monday, March 27, 2017

First Post at Catholic Stand

I've been fortunate enough to have begun writing over at Catholic Stand, a great website for superior quality content from a variety of Catholic authors. I'm hoping to reach a wider and slightly different audience by writing here, and hoping that somehow my writing will help others on their path to holiness.

My first article is a slightly shortened and edited version of my previous blog post on ugly churches. To find the new article, follow this link, and please be sure to check out the other essays around the site!

St. Nicholas of Tolentino cathedral, Philippines 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

If Planned Parenthood Is Defunded, Will FQHC's Be Affordable For All Women?

Recently, Live Action posted a story on their website exposing the myth that has been circulating around pro-choice circles. That myth is that if Planned Parenthood (PP) is defunded, women will not be able to get accessible healthcare, and the alternatives will be too expensive. Of course, we have to define healthcare, as I (and many others) would argue that abortions and contraceptives are not healthcare. But the biggest issue here, of course, is abortion. Several lively conversations ensued on public social media, and I interacted with two people. Well one, I suppose would be more accurate. And even that one wasn't interested in having a conversation of much substance. What I noticed, in the replies to this story, was that many Americans who are pro-choice and/or support PP are incapable of rational discourse; they are incapable of interacting with ideas other than their own, and instead throw around ad hominem attacks, or simply dismiss any point made with a wave of the hand since they can't come up with a rebuttal. For if they did offer a rebuttal, that would mean they would have to consider the points made by their interlocutor, and it appears that it's too much for many people to contemplate for even a second that they're position on a matter as grave as abortion is wrong.
Christ Blessing Little Children- Marie Ellenrieder

The first "exchange" I had was in response to someone simply posting a meme in reply to the article. In response to my and others' comments, all the person could do was dismiss everything said by saying a condescending "Oh honeys!" This is where intelligent debate dies. Less and less it seems that two people can exchange ideas and have a thoughtful conversation, and instead immediately dismiss the opposing sides thoughts. This is different from finding your opponents logic in actual error. We can't just dismiss someone's opinion, no matter how ridiculous we find it. We still have to interact with it, and not just declare "you're wrong", but prove and demonstrate why this is so.

The other dialogue took place with a woman who felt that Live Action was spreading "lies" and that women would never be able to afford visiting an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center). She was mistaken. I'll post my response to the first young woman, followed by pseudo-dialogue I and others had with the second woman immediately after. My words will be in blue, my interlocutor's in red, and other people in various colors.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Timely Words From Pope St. John Paul II on Conscience

As part of my Lenten devotions, I'm currently reading "In Conversation With God" from Opus Dei priest Fr. Francis Fernandez. Today, meditation was "Conscience- the light  of the soul". He himself gives great insight, but he quoted the words of St. John Paul II; words that the great pope gave exactly 36 years ago this Wednesday from his Angelus address:

I provide the link from the Vatican website in Italian, and I was able to translate the relevant parts from the Spanish, with Google and Fr. Fernandez's translations. I thought this would be good to share this, as it regards to all the talk going on about "conscience" lately in the wake of the controversy caused by certain interpretations of Amoris Laetitia. Please read in its entirety, but here are some snippets:
St. John Paul II at Yankee Stadium, 1979