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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Answer to the Apparent "Exclusivity" of the Catholic Church

There was a lively thread on social media regarding various heresies throughout the life of the Church. Many people, when seeing things such as Lutheranism and Anglicanism on the list, recated as expected: pretty incredulously. One person posed the following question/comment:
"So what do you say to people who say the church is any and every believer in Christ, rather than one denomination you believe to be correct? The exclusivity of this is strange to me.. that truth is not in Christ, but only in the Catholic Church. You see your religion as the gatekeeper to God, rather than Christ being so."
My reply, with a little bit more added, follows below.

Pope St. Clement I Adoring the Trinity- Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Friday, March 3, 2017

Expansive Dialogue Regarding The Church's Infallibility and Apostolic Succession

Some of you may remember that I wrote a series of articles on Catholic365 that stemmed from dialogues I had with a Baptist (and five-point Calvinist) pastor which were posted here on this blog. I then continued to turn those dialogues into essays, however, there was one last dialogue between this pastor and I that I haven't posted yet. It was in response to this essay on the Church's infallibility and how that specific charism relates to the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. The reason I hesitated for so long in posting it is because of the length of our discussion, how sprawling it was, and how off topic it eventually got before I decided enough was enough.

Perhaps I went on for too long; there is that saying about casting pearls before swine after all, and shaking the dust from your shoes. But it's my hope that someone might benefit from what is written here, and hopefully, I can eventually make this into an essay or two after doing some modifying. In any case, posting this dialogue will in the very least show people how stubborn Calvinists can be when they are backed into a wall, i.e., perfectly valid arguments not being addressed but instead deemed "invalid" and then with a wave of the hand, seemingly dismissed.

Below is the very long conversation we had. Unfortunately, the original conversation is deleted from Catholic365 as the pastor has been banned. I saved our conversations, but at certain points I did not save the entirety of my interlocutor's posts, and instead only included the relevant quotes I was replying to. I apologize for any confusion that may result in reading this, but I will try to make this as streamlined as possible for easy reading. My words will be in blue, and the pastor's in red. I begin by replying to relevant parts of the pastor's first comment on the above article. After my initial reply, I will include his full replies. My words will be in blue and "Tom's" in red:
Gérard de Lairesse- The Institution of the Eucharist

Declarations Regarding Luther's "Witness" Are Not Teachings of the Magisterium

A few months ago, I had a somewhat disturbing conversation with someone regarding Martin Luther. This Catholic man could not agree to the simple fact that, by definition, Luther was a heretic. He couldn't confirm that that was a true statement. That interaction, and the conversation that ensued with someone else following it, can be found on this blog here. This bothered me for quite a while. Even though I already knew how to respond, it didn't sit right with me so I asked for the opinion of some other people. Apologist Dave Armstrong answered me on his Facebook, after I commented on a post of his regarding Luther. Our short exchange follows and validates what I had written in the post I linked to above. My words are in blue, and Dave's in red:
Pope Leo X

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Penitential Nature of the Great Canon of St. Andrew

Today, I was able to experience something different compared to what I have encountered during my Lenten journeys over my life. Many Latin Catholics probably aren't too familiar with the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. If you want to be immersed in the beauty of the Byzantine liturgical tradition, you should look no further than the singing of these hymns during the canon. The canon was written by the great hymnographer, St. Andrew, bishop of Crete, in the seventh century. It is the longest canon ever created, with 250 hymns when sung in its entirety.

During the first week of Great Lent (also known as Pure Week), the Canon is divided into four parts, Monday through Thursday. On the fifth Thursday of Lent, the canon is sung in its entirety, lasting over three hours. I went on a Thursday night, and while it was beautiful and intimate, it was definitely a work out, and was not what I was expecting. Following the opening incensation of the church, we got a little pep talk by the priest. He told us if we felt tired, to take a break. He advised us to get water if our voice cracked, since we would be doing a lot of singing. But why would he warn us about getting tired? Because the entire service included over 100 full body prostrations... and that was just for Thursday's portion.
St. Andrew of Crete and St. Mary of Egypt

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Modern Day Iconoclasm Has Done to Catholic Parishes

This past Sunday, my wife and I had to attend Mass out of town at a different church that was outside of our diocese. That always pains me a bit because our pastor at our home parish is pretty cool and knowledgeable, not to mention there are other nearby parishes which are solid in their own right.

Now I've been to some ugly Catholic churches before, but this one stood out in its preeminent blandness. After I walked in, I remembered being there for a great uncle's funeral before. But this time, I was able to see how this church was basically a hold over from the proponents of iconoclasm, which had been condemned as heretical over a millennium ago. Why was I seeing such a naked church in the 21st century?

Of course, the church was built 30 years ago, so the somewhat clandestine revival of iconoclasm was obviously a thing in the years and decades following the Second Vatican Council. But let's not forget that the Council never called for such ugly and white washed houses of worship to be made.
Altar of St. Joseph at Basilique Notre-Dame de Bonne Nouvelle de Rennes