Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Don't be sad Garfield

... your owner Jon Arbuckle is wrong. Enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas, December 25th-January 6th.

Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax huminibus bonae voluntatis!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Noonan on Huckabee

I have deliberately not followed the Republican and Democrats as they have vied for a nomination almost 9 months away. Other than retching at some of the possibilities. Factor in my residence in a non-important state (they don't know what they're missing in SD), I missed the Christmas Holiday ads that various candidates were airing. I did stumble across this commentary by Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal.

Apparently there is an illuminated cross in the background of Huckabee's ad. Here is a screen shot from the youtube posting:

Peggy Noonan's most interesting point was: "
I wound up thinking this: That guy is using the cross so I'll like him. That doesn't tell me what he thinks of Jesus, but it does tell me what he thinks of me. He thinks I'm dim. He thinks I will associate my savior with his candidacy. Bleh."

In some ways, she is judgmental: "He thinks I'm dim." Unless he told you that Peggy, we don't know that.

But she does point out the reality that we, the voting public, are viewed as means to the politicians end. So often we are no longer people to be served but means to their own political power. If they please us, it is only because it serves to strengthen, grow, or renew their own position.

I hope I'm not cynical.

If you want to read Noonan's column, do so here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rowan Williams and the Wise Men

In a couple of different spots today, I've heard it said that Archbishop Rowan Williams, primate of the Anglican Church, has claimed that the Nativity is a legend.

The London Telegraph titles the article: "Archbishop says nativity a 'legend.'"

And here is a screen shot of that title from Drudge:

The telegraph even includes this quote: "Dr Williams said: "Matthew's gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told. It works quite well as legend.""

Interesting. When you read the actual interview, linked on the Telegraph's website, we find this quote. "Well Matthew's gospel doesn't tell us that there were three of them, doesn't tell us they were kings, doesn't tell us where they came from, it says they're astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire. That's all we're really told so, yes, 'the three kings with the one from Africa' - that's legend; it works quite well as legend."

Maybe I'm naive regarding the press, but I always thought that a quote should be a quote. The words actually said.

In further along in the Telegraph article we find the opinion: "In a final blow to the traditional nativity story, Dr Williams concluded that Jesus was probably not born in December at all. He said: "Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival.""

A final blow? I think I've known this since before I was a teenager.

This is why I don't read popular media accounts of Christmas, Easter, or Jesus. You want the story on Jesus, in the Church's words, read the Bible.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Marriage on TV

So I'm wasting time that I should have used for reading, watching my favorite self-important TV show, House, when I see this new ad from a not linked free credit report website.
"Well, I married my dream girl, I married my dream girl, but she didn't tell me her credit was bad. So now, instead of living in a pleasant suburb, we're living in the basement at her mom and dad's. No! We can't get a loan for a respectable home, just because my girl defaulted on some old credit card. If we'd gone to, I'd be a happy bachelor with a dog and a yard."
Throughout the video, the husband and his two friends are singing and playing their instruments while the wife stalks around, rather upset, doing house chores. She's throwing things and slamming doors, while he carries a mocking, self-satisfied look on his face. We give our engaged couples some general financial advice, but this is crazy. Has marriage simply become an avenue for social advancement?

If marriage is only the legitimization of a sexual and emotional relationship, why not? Maybe a vast majority of Americans have no sense of the singularity of marriage. Maybe it is true, as the canon lawyers say, that many couples don't even know what they are simulating as they attempt marriage and, from the very beginning, fail.

Now if we can just get the starving to realize they're hungry.

Papal Visit

Not for me, but in DC and New York this April. If you were thinking of finding more information, the US Bishop's Conference has a website: Christ our Hope, it is named after the Pope's latest letter to the world, Spe Salvi, which was released on November 30th. Gotta wait and see what their blog page materializes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

One of a kind...

So, I'm procrastinating my Thank You notes for various Christmas gifts, making a connection on Facebook with a priest friend of my brother's from Benedictine College, KS. I decide to see how many other Facebook members list their job title as "Parochial Vicar."


None, really, but now I can start writing Thank You notes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quote of the Week

I'm doing a Friday penance of cleaning my office and I found an old First Things article by Fr. Edward Oakes, S.J. It is a self-admittedly scattered article about relativism, but he ends with a quote from Blaise Pascal:
[The Christian religion] teaches men both these truths: that there is a God of whom we are capable, and that a corruption in our nature makes us unworthy of Him. It is equally important for us to know both these points; for it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his wretchedness, and to know his wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can cure him of it. Knowledge of only one of these points leads either to the arrogance of the philosophers, who have known God and not their own wretchedness, or the despair of the atheists, who know their wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer.
Fr. Oakes also gives Pascal's recommendation for dealing with the challenges of our day:
Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next, make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is. Worthy of reverence because it really understands human nature. Attractive because it promises true good.

Road of Bittersweet

On a cold day after a long week in Aberdeen, where I found myself very busy for no apparent reason, I want to share this from Amy Welborn's Website:

it is the story of a family who had a child, Austin John, born with anencephaly. He lived 11 minutes, due to his disorder. When first diagnosed, his parents were told to abort. According to Amy, the family chose to "accept the counsel and wisdom of the Church and bring him to full term." This linked video, shown at his funeral, shows the remarkable impact that little Austin had in 9 months and 11 minutes.

This is a very powerful testimony how, if we allow it, the morally right and personally right don't have to be at odds.

Because someone you know may have to deal with such a difficulty, Be Not Afraid is a website that offers support and inspiration for couples facing difficult pre-natal diagnoses.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Omaha Tragedy

I have friends and family who live in Omaha. My brother lived 8 years there. I spent two summers there. Pray for them.

Read this Omaha blog for some perspective.

Why isn't the Pope Visiting Boston?

This April, Pope Benedict XVI is visiting the U.S. The impetus is a visit to the U.N. General Assembly but he will also visit with the U.S. Bishops in Washington, D.C., as well as help the Archdiocese of New York celebrate their bicentennial.

Thanks to the irreverent, and sadly frequently immoral, Onion (a news farce from the University of Wisconsin, Madison), we see why the Pope isn't visiting Boston, a traditionally Catholic town and perhaps the cultural heart of Catholic America over the past 100 years.

You can find the original link here.
Tip o' the hat to Gaswin.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Golden Compass

Amy Welborn has a thorough commentary. She has read the books but has not seen the movies. Read her by clicking here.

In our bulletin we are letting people know that the movie does make implicit challenges to our faith and the books, in Pullman's own words, are "about killing God."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Why didn't I do this?

From a German Blog: Lux Aeternitatis via the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

It has been almost 10 years since I studied German, but apparently these come from a facebook group: Catholics for Clerics in Cassocks. I can't find them on facebook, though.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Homily, 1st Sunday of Advent

[Though this is technically more of a sermon as it is topical on Advent instead of properly scriptural, if you'll pardon me.]

December of 1998, I am studying chemistry at the state school in Minnesota. It is my second year in college and I am also an R.A., a Resident Assistant in charge of a house of 30 some men. As I study for my Organic Chemistry final, laboring over reaction mechanisms and carbon chains, I hear an unusual sound, a barking dog.

In any college dorm, a barking dog would be cause for alarm on many levels, I had a special concern: Chris, my blind resident and his seeing eye dog, Nimitz. Nimitz is a great big golden lab, almost 3' tall at his shoulder with a broad chest. Service dogs are trained to be seen and not heard, so his barking was unusual and troubling. I grab my master key for all the rooms and head down to Chris' room.

"Chris this is Andy, your R.A., is everything all right?"

Nimitz barks.

"Chris this is Andy, your R.A., is everything all right?"

Nimitz barks.

"Chris this is Andy, your R.A., I'm going to unlock your door and come inside." I open wide the door, Nimitz is there and nothing more.

This isn't unusual, Chris often goes out with friends in the evenings and will leave Nimitz to rest after a long day. Chris' friends will guide him to Bible study or a movie and give Nimitz the evening off. But Nimitz doesn't bark, what is Nimitz's problem? His water dish and food bowl are empty, so I throw in some kibble and water, pat his large head, and walk out.

No sooner am I back in my room when I hear Nimitz: "Bark, bark...bark.... ... ...bark."

"Chris this is Andy, your R.A., I'm opening your door." "Nimitz why are you barking, whats the matter?" I often talk to inanimate objects, it is quite relaxing, really. I think maybe he needs to go outside, I don't need a mess on my dorm, so I take him outside. He avails himself of the opportunity and I am quite satisfied as I bring him inside.

No sooner am I opening my own door again when I hear Nimitz: "Bark...bark, bark, bark."

"Chris, this is Andy, your R.A., I'm opening your door." "What in the world do you want, Nimitz?" The dog says nothing. "Do you want to play?" I open the door and let him into the hallway. We start playing fetch, thinking that he's lonely and that he'll then let me return to my chemistry.

I'm still a nerd, still a scientist, trained in the art of observation. As we play fetch, Nimitz is making four stops in two spots. I throw the ball, he stops and looks into a stairwell, he runs, stops at a second stairwell and looks in there, he retrieves the ball, looks into the second stairwell again, runs back to me, and checks the first stairwell again before dropping the ball.

As I throw and observe, I'm thinking. What is Nimitz doing? Then it hits me: he's looking for his master, Nimitz is looking for Chris. The idea forms that Nimitz isn't going to be happy with food, drink, relief, or play, Nimitz will only be happy with his master, Chris.

So what in the world is Advent, and why should we care? Advent is that time for we Christians to to remember that only Jesus Christ will fully satisfy us. Like Nimitz, no food, no drink, no fun will satisfy like our Master.

So what is Advent? Advent is our time to look at our lives and ask, "Where do we place our hope, our expectations? Where do we look for our fulfillment, our satisfaction?" Sports? Toys? Gadgets? Fun? Jobs? Prestige? Money? Friends? Relationships? Where? All of these things, good though they are, will all fall short. We find dissatisfaction in what should be satisfying us. We find that our hope was really only a way to cope.

We are only coping with the sources of dissatisfaction. We treat the symptom and not the disease, we cover up the pain and don't look for the cure. There's a medical term for that sort of care, treating the pain and not the source: they call it palliative care, hospice care. Hospice care is for when we've given up on the problem. I'm not ready to give up.

That is why our Church looks different from the world around us. We have no manger scene, no Christmas tree, no lights, just a simple Advent wreath and the Cross of Jesus Christ. These 23 days before Christmas, in the midst of your shopping and baking and eating, I invite you to do something with me. Leave yourself a little hungry, a little cold, a little dissatisfied, on purpose. Deliberately remind yourself that your full satisfaction, happiness, and joy will not come from the good things of this world. When you feel that hunger, that cold, that dissatisfaction, pray that Jesus will transform your heart to look only to Him as your hope.

This Advent, direct your hearts to the ultimate hope: love. Unconditional, unending, undying, unwavering love found in Jesus Christ. Don't just cope. Find hope in Jesus Christ.