Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone

Merry Christmas to all. Today Christ our Savior is born!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Mass In Scottsdale Arizona - from one extreme to another

While in Scottsdale AZ, I attended two churches. One is St. Bernadette's and the other is in the Fransican Renewal and Retreat Centre and is called Our Lady of the Angels. The contrast couldn't be more stark.

Last week on the feast of Christ the King, the priest spoke about Fr. Miguel Pro who was killed during the Mexican Cristero War in 1927. He talked about how Fr. Pro reached out his arms in imitation of Christ because he was killed by a firing squad. The homily continued with the priest condemning both abortion and euthanasia. He said they are both very evil. He also said we must obey just laws and that gay marriage is not real marriage and we should oppose it.

I was surprised to hear such clear and direct teaching on these subjects.

But this morning I decided to check out the Fransican Renewal Centre and their Mass. I had checked out this place earlier with my girlfriend during the week. They have a very large area where they hold spiritual retreats. They have areas for people to stay overnight and they even prepare meals. It seems like a very large operation.

I arrived a minute or two late for Mass and the entire place was completely jam-packed. Not only was every seat occupied, there were people outside the church either in the lobby or in the yard. But they would not be witneesses to a traditional Mass, that was clear from the outset. Right when Mass began, two women appeared in front of the altar and proceeded to do a liturgical dance - something forbidden during Mass. They danced and moved their arms flowingly to the music. At that point I really didn`t know what I had gotten myself into.

After the performance, the congregation enthusiastically applauded. There was no hesitation, it was just expected. The music in general was very modern and included an electronic keyboard and complete drum set. Also, there would be a sort of background music during much of the time the priest spoke.

Of course during the Our Father, everyone held hands, well except me. Also I noticed the people took on the actions of the priest quite frequently. The homily was not too controversial. The priest said we must be ready for the coming of Christ. He briefly mentioned something about people from other "traditions" should also be ready, but I'm not sure what he meant by that.

After the homily, the congregation once again applauded. Throughout the whole Mass, the congregation probably applauded about 5 times.

The communion was a thick consecrated piece of bread, not the usual communion.

During the prayers of the faithful, the priest wished Jews a happy Hannukah.

Finally during the announcements, they announced a get together for gay and lesbian group for spiritual discussion. Can't really comment on that much since I don't know much about it.

So as you can see, within Scottsdale there are several very different types of Masses.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

do we even need sex ed in schools?

WOW! I just went overboard there, didn't I? I mean the only real question is how much or what kind of sex ed we need in schools. Some say we need abstinence only sex ed, while others believe kids should be given information about everything related to sex under the Sun. The more informed they are, the logic goes, the better off they'll be. But I'm asking a different question. Is ANY sex ed needed? If so, why?

My revolutionary idea is that no sex ed is required whatsoever. Think about it. It's a very new concept to begin with. It's only been about a generation since we've even had this in schools. No one in past generations seemed to have any problems with sex, look how many children they had. Oh, I can sense the first objection! "That's the whole point! People had more kids than they could handle because they didn't know about contraception and things like that!"

First of all, Catholics believe contraception is immoral in the first place. Secondly, who says people were having too many children? I remember watching a documentary which was saying how before the first world war, women had few rights and they all stayed home and raised their children, their many children. Only 4% rated themselves as unhappy when asked. The rest said they were happy or very happy! You'd be lucky to get 50% saying that these days.

But back to the main topic - why do we even need sex ed? We don't have Eating Ed or Talking to People Ed or Going to the Bathroom Ed. These are all natural things which humans have engaged in since the beginning of time, and now suddenly we need explicit and detailed lessons about sexuality?

Another disturbing trend is teaching explicit sexual content, including homosexual acts, to children who are very young, even kindergarten and younger. What possible reason would there be for this? The obvious answer is indoctrination. Many pro-gay-acts groups have often spoken about the need to "get them while they're young". Everyone knows if you want to indoctrinate people, you must start with the youngest people you can get your hands on (figuratively speaking hopefully). That's another reason to oppose universal daycare. If it's state-run you can be sure it will promote immorality.

The whole point of sex ed these days is to indoctrinate children. Within my age cohort, there is almost universal acceptance of contraception. In fact, most people my age view it as not only a good thing, but necessary for modernity. Without contraception we'd basically be living in the stone age, so the reasoning goes. You would be surprised how many people think contraception is basically the foundation of our modern culture.

Over the past few years, I have started to question fundamental paradigms instead of only operating within them. Instead of asking the best form of sex ed, I ask if it even necessary at all. What prompted the whole sex ed movement? This is something I must look into further. Was there some public outcry because people did not know "what to do"? That seems very unlikely and frankly absurd. Clearly people knew how to engage in sex.

Many will say the main thing is about STDs, or as they are now called STIs, and how to avoid them. But really the system we have now only promotes STIs. How? By making acceptable the practice of multiple partners, perhaps dozens. This is the greatest contributing factor to the spread of venereal diseases. Just try to find a classroom in Canada which advocates monogamy. It would be harder to find than a needle in a haystack.

If a couple was monogamous and waited until marriage, there would rarely ever be any cases of STIs and they could be dealt with much more effectively. Certain STIs should prevent a couple of engaging in any sexual act. Why would you expose a loved one to a deadly disease?

If you are reading this from a Western country, I know 95% of people will strongly disagree with me on this. If so, please state why you think sex ed is necessary in school.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Exciting new project - A Catholic Facebook

I am currently working on an exciting new project to develop a Catholic Facebook. This will be a very valuable website. No longer must you scroll through countless articles about cats or some random celebrity. The topic is very focused. Find out what is happening in the Catholic world in your diocese and around the world. Some big names in the catholic world are involved with this project. It is very exciting and promising.

I will be releasing the website address later so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Disappointed with my CBC interview

Yesterday morning I was asked to do a CBC Radio Interview for the Central Newfoundland morning show. I found out the previous Friday and prepared over the weekend. I was meant to be on the air for about 5 minutes to answer the interviewer's questions about the pope's recent comments.

Unfortunately there were some technical difficulties to say the least. I was asked the first question. It had to do with how young Catholics have responded to the Pope Francis's recent comments on how to approach evangelization. I gave what I felt was a pretty good answer. When I was completely done, there was silence. I waited a while, but there were no further questions, there was no speaking. After about 20-30 seconds I said "hello?" but no one answered. I didn't know what was going on. Eventually the call was dropped.

They called me back. The call screener thought the cell phone I was using may have been to blame. I felt it was just a random glitch so I decided to move ahead. I was asked another question. I thoroughly responded. Then I waited for feedback. The seconds seemed like an eternity until I realized once again no one was answering. I was so angry. How could this possibly happen?? I waited there. After about a minute, I could hear something from CBC radio come on my phone but then it disconnected.

I really don't know what happened. I was left extremely angry and confused. Whoever was at fault, technically it was as though the CBC person had placed me on mute, because they could hear me but I could not hear them. I'm not saying that's what happened, but the result was the same.

I later called back to apologize and let them know that I would be more than willing to do another interview in the future. At first I didn't feel this way. I felt upset and angry and didn't want to do this again. If I do do another interview, I will do it from a landline. This has never happened to my cell phone before and I did not anticipate even this possibility. I have friends who live nearby who would have been more than happy to let me use their phone.

There may be some kind of message in all of this. I'm not quite sure what it is. What I was able to say I think was pretty good and maybe some people got something out of it. I hope so. There are forces, some immaterial that are working against the Church and this could have been one of them. We will probably never know.

All I can do is place my trust in God always and believe he is always looking out for me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

End of the World and Fertility


Could humans cause the end of the world? I started wondering this after I began learning more about declining fertility rates. Most people are familiar that world population has been increasing for quite some time now. The fallacy is that it will just continue to grow. The fact of the matter is, as one researcher put it, people are not breeding like rabbits, they just stopped dying like flies. The main factor in growing human population is that old people are living much longer than ever before.


But I found something very scary. Replacement fertility rate is 2.1 children per woman. Almost all Western countries are now below this replacement level and rely on immigration to keep populations up. Some country are particularly concerned with low fertility rates and have enacted national policies to deal with the crisis. The thing I found scary is the precipitous drop in worldwide fertility rate. If this rate sinks below 2.1, the population of the world will soon peak and then start to decline unless something drastic happen. And that's why I brought up my original question of whether humans could cause our own demise.

Here is the data (found on Wikipedia):

World historical TFR (1950–2015)
UN, medium variant, 2010 rev.[2]
YearsTFR
1950–19554.95
1955–19604.89
1960–19654.91
1965–19704.85
1970–19754.45
1975–19803.84
1980–19853.59
1985–19903.39
1990–19953.04
1995–20002.79
2000–20052.62
2005–20102.52
2010–20152.36

According to this chart, fertility has declined sharply since the 1950s. From 1995 to 2010, fertility rates dropped by .43. That's just 15 years. If that trend continues from 2010 to 2025, the fertility rate worldwide will be just 1.93. If this is not reversed, the human world would be on a collision course to self-annihilation! Look how far we've come since the 50s! Our current fertility rate is less than HALF of what it was just a couple of generations ago.

Very scary stuff! Our only hope is to listen to the first thing God commands of the human race: "God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Gen. 1: 28)

RIch Preachers (of L.A.)

Check out the following video:


Many people are upset with this new series coming out on the Oxygen network, known to many as Oprah Winfrey's tv station. As you can see from the 3 minute preview, the show follows the lives of several rich preachers. My reaction is not quite the same as most people's. Many react in disgust. How dare these men of God take all this money for themselves. This may be true, I'm not going to judge that. What I will judge is the prosperity gospel which says if you follow God's commandments, he will reward you with material wealth. I believe material wealth is objectively good and more wealth is better than less wealth. But I do not believe that material possessions are an indication of God's favor with a person.

I think the main message of Jesus was to not be attached to worldly things but to instead focus on spiritual things. Attachment to material wealth can lead to dissatisfaction with life and greed. Ultimately it can detract from our spiritual relationship with God. However, I do not think it's anyone's obligation to be poor, unless one takes a vow of poverty. The Catechism has an interesting message about greed. It says it can affect rich and poor. Poor people can become obsessed with money and become jealous of others who are more financially successful. This can lead to dissatisfaction. However, on the other hand, people with a lot of money can become so attached to it that they obsess over maintaining and protecting it. This too can lead to dissatisfaction.

Overall I think wealth creation is a good thing, especially when it lifts people out of poverty. But I think the main problem is attachment to wealth and possessions which can get in the way of our relationship with Christ.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gay Catholic

I just came across this blog post by a gay Catholic. It's a good read. He talks about his struggles and puts things in perspective. He's already received a massive number of comments and it was only posted earlier today (technically yesterday since it's after midnight):

http://www.stevegershom.com/2013/08/yoiks-and-away/

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ender's Game Author's gay comments

I was just listening to CBC and they were talking to a gay group that is going to boycott Orson Scott Card's upcoming movie called Ender's Game. They're doing it because Orson is an outspoken critic of gay marriage and also thinks homosexuality is a disorder.

The ironic part is that this boycott will probably have the opposite of the intended effect as happened with Chick-fil-A.

How dare someone be opposed to gay marriage. The minute some people decided two people of the same sex could form a marriage, all of a sudden everyone in the world must accept and embrace it with open arms, otherwise you are a gay-hater. Nevermind that this is brand new definition, never before heard of in human history. You must accept it or else you are a bigot and must be hated.

So big deal, Orson Scott Card believes in the traditional definition of marriage. Slow news day?

Card also belongs or belonged to the National Organization for Marriage, a group that supports the several-thousand-year-old definition of marriage. Of course, because they do this, they are considered a hate group akin to the KKK.

Card also has allegedly called homosexuality a disorder. So? It obviously is a disorder. Think about it. Animals must do two things: survive and reproduce. Anything which makes these things either more difficult or impossible is suboptimal. If an animal cannot reproduce, his genes will die out. We are ordered to certain ends. We have feet so we can walk. We have hands to hold things, use tools, climb, etc. We have eyes to see. We also have reproductive organs for a reason. Gay people use these organs but not for their intended purposes. They frustrate the natural use of these parts of their bodies. It seems clear this is a disordered behavior. It would be like putting on a blindfold all day over healthy eyes.

Whatever is the case, Card has the right to say these things. It shouldn't be a hate crime to support something which has existed for millennia. I'm glad these advocates don't have the law behind them or it would be illegal to even have an unauthorized opinion on gay marriage.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Non-denominationalism / Non-religious

A new trend these days is for Christians to call themselves non-denominational and another is for people to say they are spiritual but not religious. Today I will talk about the latter.


I was about to watch a YouTube video a few days ago when an ad by an Indian guru named Sadhguru appeared. In it he speaks in general terms about how humans must attain a new consciousness in order to live properly into the future. He makes odd claims in the commercial such as with more people on earth, we will have to eat and even breathe 40% less...

I started looking at some of his videos and a few things became clear. For one, he does not like religion. He doesn't like words like "sin" or even "morals". From what I can gather, he does not think anyone should acknowledge or even speak about sin.

He seems to have a very simple solution to all our spiritual needs. He basically advocates we "remember" who we are and then we wouldn't do anything wrong and the whole world would be perfect.

In a few places, he comes across as a moral relativist. For instance, someone asks him if there are any sins or any good or bad. He responds by asking for an example. The audience member for some reason chooses "killing an animal" as a sin. The guru then says that we kill millions of organisms when we inhale and exhale. He says we kill plants when we eat. So he says how can we stop killing things? We could stop breathing, but then we would kill ourselves and that would also be a sin. His moral relativism comes in when he asks how you can know what is morally right when different cultures and different religions have different morals.

So he seems to just throw in the towel on the whole question of right and wrong. In fact, he goes so far as to see sin as some sort of conspiracy set up by religion, which then allows them to step in and "fix" the problem which he believes never existed.

What I see from all of this is that he has set himself up as the final arbiter in issues of morality. He is the judge, jury, and executioner. I sense a certain level of pride in people like this. He sits on stage and simply answers one questions after another. He never says he doesn't know the answer, and when he says something it is very definitive. He constantly stops and asks the audience if they agree with what he just said, but it is only rhetorical. He expects a "yes".

I find it odd how moral relativists like this can speak with such absolute certainty.

Also, he is very belittling to religious people. The picture he paints of them is that all religious people are intolerant and constantly fighting with their opponents. He makes it seem like they are all hung up on technical rules.

But he is creating an unnecessary and false dichotomy. In actual fact, many religious people have deep faith and spirituality. The difference is that religious people believe God has revealed himself to humanity, not that they themselves are the revelation, like Sadhguru thinks. Most religious people are seeking answers, not claiming they know all the answers like this guru does.

In fact, in another irony, the guru claims that having morals means you "know" the answers, whereas simply being spiritual means you are open to answers and receiving information. The irony is that I've rarely spoken to a religious people who is any more "certain" than Sadhguru is. I doubt you would ever hear this guru say he doesn't know an answer. In fact, he comes across as rather cocky.

This is the problem when you place yourself above everyone else. He claims religion is a racket but he doesn't mind having tens of thousands of followers paying huge sums of money to visit him, who hang on every word that comes from his mouth. He doesn't act with humility, but rather with complete confidence and an air of superiority.

The bottom line is the new trend, which mostly springs from Eastern religions, is to claim you do not follow a religion, but rather are spiritual. But it reminds of the saying that there is a shortage of priests, but no shortage of popes. Everyone just wants to be the head of their own religion, to make it all up as they go along. Isn't it great to be in a position where you know it all and there is no person or authority above you? Throw in thousands of devotees and you can see the appeal of this new movement.

Thomas Peters is recovering

Fellow Catholic blogger Thomas Peters who was involved in a serious accident about a week ago is now on the road to recovery, seemingly with no permanent injuries. This is great news. There is a website set up to track his progress: http://tpetersrecovery.blogspot.ca/

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Famous young Catholic blogger in serious condition

Thomas Peters, who ran the very popular Catholic blog American Papist is in serious condition at the hospital in Baltimore Maryland after a swimming accident. He no longer runs the American Papist blog but became involved in CatholicVote and the National Organization on Marriage. I'm not sure his exact age, but he is around 30. His father is the well-known canon lawyer Edward Peters.

He and his family need your prayers right now.

More information can be found here: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/please-pray-for-thomas-peters-and-his-family.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ireland starts on the path to killing chidren.

According to LifeNews, Ireland has recently passed legislation which allows women to abort their unborn babies in some circumstances. Ireland is one of the few pro-life European countries and now this is starting to change. Not by popular demand though, but by the whims of those in power.

In the new law a woman can obtain an abortion if it is deemed she is likely to commit suicide unless she does. As LifeNews reports, suicide rates are much higher for women who have abortions, so this will probably backfire.

The question is how many women will claim to be suicidal in order to kill their baby? I would say a lot. And who is going to contradict them?

But what about women who would genuinely commit suicide? I would say this must be very rare. I don't really understand it. Why would a woman kill herself because she is going to have a baby? If she really didn't want her kid that bad, wouldn't she give him/her up for adoption? Plus, I think the depression should be dealt with separately.

You can't kill a person just because you might commit suicide unless you do. If you are suicidal, you should seek immediate medical attention and stop blaming an innocent baby.

If this is allowed, then why aren't all abortions allowed? If abortion is illegal, it means the people believe it is murder. Does the psychological state of the killer determine whether or not the victim has value and should not be killed? That's what is being implied.

Imagine if a woman said she wanted to kill her 2 year old son. She is told she can't because it's illegal. Then she says she is suicidal and must kill her two year old son and she is then given permission. That would be absurd. The correct course of action would be to treat the mental issue which makes her want to kill her son.

In any event, this is just one step toward total disregard for human life in yet another Europe country. Very sad news.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Not sure how I feel about Pope John Paul II being canonized

First off, don't get me wrong. I don't doubt that JPII is in heaven, but being in heaven is different than being canonized. I think this might be too soon to canonize this previous pope. John Paul died just 8 years ago. If you asked non-Catholics, they mightn't even know the names of his two successors. Pope Francis has now declared that John Paul's canonization can proceed and will probably take place before the end of the year.

My issue is how it will be perceived by many. I don't want the canonization process to become a sort of automatic post-death honor given by the current pope to his predecessor. If people perceive canonization as something easy and quick, it could lose some of its profundity in their minds. It becomes just another honor among many, like being on the cover of Time Magazine or winning a Nobel Prize. To some it may look like something akin to a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oscars.

Now I know perception is not what matters, but the Catholic Church understands the value of symbols. Canonizing someone does not accelerate their entry into heaven and there is no necessary reason to speed up a particular cause. Ultimately canonization is for the edification and prayer life of Catholics. Therefore, it is important to maintain the gravitas of the whole process and proceed with not only caution, but an air of solemnity and seriousness.

Pope John Paul II was a great man. I encourage people to pray to him. My only concern is that his canonization may be proceeding a little too quickly.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What is marriage?

This seems like a very basic question, but it is at the heart of the current same-sex marriage debate. Yesterday, the American Supreme Court barely agreed to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. One of my favorite justices, Antonin Scalia, disagreed with the Supreme Court even hearing this case in the first place. He said the court really had nothing to do with this and should have rejected the whole thing.

In any event, 5 of the justices disagreed with this dissent and went ahead and removed DOMA. DOMA was put in place by Bill Clinton to define marriage, on a federal level, as only between a man and a woman. Now that this is no longer in force, the federal government can now start redefining marriage.

Of course, as expected, many people celebrated this ruling. From my own Facebook page, there were many people who seemed very happy about this. Ironically, Bill Clinton applauded this decision, even though DOMA was enacted during his presidency.

But the question that no one really talks about much is "What is marriage?" In all the debates, the only thing I hear is "equality". But in any debates, the terms must be defined.

In all of human history, cultures have recognized marriage and it has always been the union of a man and a woman. This is no coincidence. Marriage exists because of children. If there were no children, there would be no marriage. Because cultures saw that a child does best with his mother and father, marriage held a special status. It was honored and promoted. This is a special relationship that was recognized as the most important because it was the building block of a family, which is the building block of society.

But it is beneficial from a biological point of view also. A pregnant and new mother left alone in the wild is in great danger. She is very vulnerable. Having a man to protect and serve her gives her child the greatest chance at survival. It is also beneficial to a man who can help ensure his genes will be passed down.

Jesus Christ lifted marriage to an even greater place when he made it a sacrament and something holy. So what is marriage? According to the Catholic Church, marriage is "covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring."

This may be the Catholic definition of marriage, but it really is the basic understanding of marriage that all cultures held for many millennia. An essential element of marriage is the sexual complementarity of spouses, because reproduction is an essential aspect of this union.

So if this is the definition of marriage, not allowing gay marriage is not about inequality or bigotry, it's about definitions. It's not discrimination to refuse to call a circle a square.

But what has happened? Basically society at large has changed its definition of marriage. Strangely, most people cannot even define it. They will say some platitude perhaps about marriage being a commitment two people make to one another. It's extremely vague and unspecific to the point where MANY things could be considered marriage that people would never consider marriage. Two good friends can make a commitment to one another, but that's not necessarily marriage.

I've even asked people how they define marriage. They struggle with it a lot. Many will say two people who love each other and want to commit to one another. But if this is the definition, are arranged marriages invalid? Plus, our society in general seems to have a distorted view of "love". Love, in modern terms, is more accurately described as "affection", it's just an emotion. But real love is action, it's putting your spouse's interests first and caring for them in good times and bad. Affection is great, but what marriage requires is true love. But back to the question. What if for a particular period of time, a couple does not feel affection? What if they are going through a hard time? Is their marriage automatically ended? I would say absolutely not.

And if marriage is just about love, however modern people define it, why is it restricted? Even with gay marriage, there are still restrictions. Siblings cannot marry, nor can a parent marry a child. Most gay marriage advocates would say incestuous marriages are wrong. But who are they to judge. Why should I listen to their moral code? What about polygamy? I've asked several gay marriage supporters why we can't have polygamous marriages. Their usual answer is they don't know anything about that and cannot comment. Others say it's just too different. But again, would they accept any of these same arguments used against gay marriage? They too are moralizing. They too are defining marriage based on their own personal belief systems. I've rarely come across anyone who both agrees with gay marriage and all those other types I've mentioned.

Marriage is something, it has a definition. Calling a circle a square doesn't make it one. If circles are forced to be called squares, we will always have to specify what type of "square" is being referred to. Language is pesky like that. It needs to be specific or new words will emerge.

If marriage can be anything, then marriage is nothing.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ignatian retreat

This past weekend, I attended an Ignatian young adult retreat at St. Bon's School in St. John's. It was facilitated by 3 Jesuit Scholastics (seminarians) from across Canada. Artur, Edmund, and Santiago gave around 35 young adults an introduction to Jesuit spirituality in 7 talks over 2 days.

I found the entire event very rewarding. On top of the informative talks, there was adoration, silent prayer, singing, confession, and finally the weekend culminated in a Mass.

The main thing I took from the retreat was my need for more prayer. I was introduced to silent prayer, which is distinct from adoration. I find this difficult. During the talks, the speakers said the devil often tempts us to leave the prayer, or to leave early. However, the greatest spiritual fruits are often found just after you were about to quit.

Another concept I learned more about was the idea that things in our lives either bring us closer to God or further from him. It's not always obvious which is which either. Sometimes things will make us happy for the time being but actually pulls us away from our Creator. Other things may seems difficult, but are actually better for us in the long run.

I found the three young seminarians to be full of hope. They were also easy to get along with and were very "normal" guys.

Edmund gave me a special gift of an origami giraffe. He said the giraffe represents Christ because the giraffe is able to see over the entire savanna, and has the largest heart of all land animals.

I recommend this weekend to any young person who may be considering it.

New milestone

My blog has surpassed 200,000 pageviews. I hope it won't be long before my next 200k!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Henry Morgentaler has died

I'm probably not going to give you any new information on Henry Morgentaler that hasn't been reported in the news, but I will add my two cents.

Morgentaler was synonymous with abortion in Canada. He was a physician who spent his life fighting legal battles in our country to have abortion legal and paid for by the government. He did not want any compromise, just 100% availability of abortion at all stages for any reason totally paid for by the government.

He largely succeeded in his goal. Legally speaking, abortion is allowed in Canada anytime before the baby is born. And in nearly all provinces, the price of abortion is paid by the government. Much of this is because of Morgentaler. Therefore, to some extent all taxpayers fund the killing of unborn children.

I find it ironic that Morgentaler would advocate the execution of innocent human beings since he himself was almost a victim of the same thing as a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp during World War II.

Because I subscribe to many pro-life channels and have many pro-life friends, I saw a lot of posts about Morgentaler. Generally they all said it's up to God now. It always is. I was surprised to see a young lady praising Morgentaler and thanking him. It's especially ironic since she has a new son whom she has been continuously posting pictures of since his birth. Is she happy that she had to option to abort him while she was pregnant? Is she happy other women have this option?

How can you see a newborn child and thinking "It's a good thing we have abortion in Canada because I may have wanted to kill this child."

Someone else responded to her comment saying Morgentaler did a lot for reproductive rights. You'll notice most pro-abortion people speak in euphemisms. They talk about "reproductive health", "women's rights", etc. Never do they say what they are really advocating: the ability to kill their unborn child in the womb.

I'm not going to sit here and judge Morgentaler for two reasons. First of all, perhaps he felt what he was doing was right. Many pro-abortion people surely feel the same way. They don't advocate legal abortion because they just want to spread evil throughout the world. Perhaps it is based in selfishness, perhaps their lack of beliefs in a soul, or just bad philosophy / theology. But in some strange way, abortion advocates think they are doing what is good. Perhaps Morgentaler felt the same way.

Another reason I will not just judge him is because we have all sinned, we all need forgiveness. As Jesus says no man can go to heaven on his own, he needs God. So I don't want to put myself on a pedestal and say I am so much better than Morgentaler.

But we can say that what Morgentaler did was objectively wrong. He performed abortions and fought to have it legalized in all of Canada. Worse yet, he forced taxpayers to fund it, thus increasing demand.

To its shame, Canada awarded Morgentaler with the Order of Canada. Strangely (or perhaps predictably), the blurb describing why Morgentaler received the Order does not mention the word abortion, or even terminating pregnancies. It doesn't mention unborn children. It once again speaks in euphemisms. It talks about increasing "health care options for women", and heightening "women's reproductive health issues". The truth must be glossed over in this case.

The decision to award Morgentaler with the Order of Canada was deeply divisive and should have been avoided in my opinion. The Order of Canada should be used to bring Canadians together, not separate them.

I hope the death of Dr. Morgentaler renews the abortion debate and people start to see the truth of what it really is. I do hope that Morgentaler is with God now. We all have to do our best to bring about a culture of life.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Is it hard for rich people to enter heaven?

It seems popular these days for Catholics to judge rich people and say it's really hard for them to enter heaven. Some say they hope to never be rich. I heard a heterodox priest once urging young people to not make too much money. Somehow wealth is now seen as objectively bad in and of itself.

One of the most popular verses people use to justify this hatred of the rich or riches is when Jesus says it is more difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. What you almost never hear though is what Jesus says right after. Here's what it says in Matthew chapter 19, verse 25:

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

At the time, richness was seen as a sign that God was blessing you. Therefore, it was shocking to hear that it would be hard for EVEN rich people to enter heaven. Jesus goes on to say for all men it is impossible. It is only possible for God. Notice Jesus doesn't say for everyone else it's relatively simple, it's only hard for rich people?

I take it more to mean "even the most blessed people will have a hard time entering heaven". Really, it's not only hard, it's impossible. That's because we cannot save ourselves.

I think wealth can be an impediment to holiness, just as anything can. Anything one makes an idol can be an impediment. Your job, your hobbies, your favorite sport, your body, you diet, etc. can all become obsessions which divert our attention away from God. We must worship God alone. I think what Jesus mostly condemns is a person's attachment to money. But he also condemns people who are too attached to positions of power and prestige, too attached to family and friends, or too attached to comfort.

Jesus says we must put God first and nothing should be on par or above him.

A trend I am noticing more from members of the Church is to think the Church speaks infallibly on matter of faith, morals, and economics. I find many people thinking in socialist terms and believing the Church has to endorse their particular policy.

I will get into this more later, but what I personally believe is that the Church guides the behavior of people, not governments. Only a person is a moral being, only they can make good or sinful decisions. You cannot say a country made a sinful decision. When Jesus tells us how to live, he speaks in terms of the individual. He does not advocate government involvement. He tells individuals to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.

As I said, I will delve into that subject more later. The reason I bring it up is because more and more people within the Church seem to think the solution to our problems can all be found in government policies and to not support one of these policies is going against the Church. Many advocate redistribution of wealth and say we as Christians must support this. But I believe there are alternative viewpoints.

Wealth in itself is a good thing. It allows us to live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Instead of condemning wealth, we should find ways for everyone to produce it. There is no limit on wealth. One hundred years ago, there was far less wealth than there is today. Therefore, I would caution against condemning rich people. They have their temptations to overcome just like everyone else.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

American-born Saints

After doing a little research, I could find only three American-born Catholic saints. These are Kateri Tekakwitha, Katharine Drexel Elizabeth Ann Seton.

There have been no American-born male saints.

Others are considered "American saints" despite not being born in the United States. See the list here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pope Francis washing women's feet

Pope Francis went to a juvenile prison to wash the feet of 12 individuals, some Christians, some Muslims, some women, some men. I think this sent a good message that he was willing to wash the feet of criminals, non-Christians, men, and women. As the Bible reminds us, we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God and we are therefore no different than these criminals.

But Pope Francis violated a liturgical rule by washing the feet of women. The symbolism of the washing of the feet is that the priest, bishop, or in this case, pope, is ultimately a servant to all the faithful. But it also represents the washing of the feet of the 12 apostles. All of the apostles were men and therefore it is appropriate for the priest to wash only the feet of men. But this is not just me saying this. This is specified in the rubric of the Sacramentary, which is the book outlining the procedures to be followed by the priest during Mass. This includes Holy Thursday when the washing of the feet takes places.

The Sacramentary states:

Depending on pastoral circumstances, the washing of feet follows the homily. The men who have been chosen (viri selecti) are led by the ministers to chairs prepared at a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each man. With the help of the ministers he pours water over each one's feet and dries them.

It specifically lists men as receiving the washing of the feet. No exception is made for women.

The USCCB has made an exception to allow women, by emphasizing the symbolism of service and charity and placing less emphasis on the apostleship of the twelve men.

Charity is wonderful, one of the three holiest virtues. But charity cannot justify incorrect liturgical actions. If people are offended that women cannot participate in this event, it is possible that they do not know the meaning behind it. Are they also offended that Jesus selected only men as apostles?

The Sacramentary does not seem to specify that the participants must be Christian, and therefore it seems alright that some participants were non-Christian. Of course, this is not an infallible teaching held in the deposit of faith and does not amount to a doctrine or dogma. I think Pope Francis is a great pope and I want him to do a good job.

Today is Holy Saturday, a time of waiting for the resurrection of Christ. We wait in anticipation for the coming of our Lord. This reminds us that the Lord shall return. Many Catholics will attend Easter Vigil, which combines the Saturday Mass with Easter Sunday Mass. The first half is very solemn and quiet, and the second half we celebrate the joyous resurrection of our Lord, the greatest day in the Christian calendar.

In most churches, the celebration begins later in the evening from about 7pm to 9pm and then ends around 2 hours later.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pope Francis has clarified the reason behind his papal name. I always had the feeling he named himself for St. Francis of Assisi, who I regard as the patron saint of my middle name Francis as well.

 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

FAKE Photo of Bergoglio (Pope Francis) with John Paul II and Ratzinger

This is NOT Pope Francis:


A very amazing picture has been circulating on Facebook and perhaps elsewhere. It purports to be the three most recent popes together - our newest Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio), Pope John Paul II, and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).

This is in fact not the case. It cannot be Bergoglio. The man in the picture is a Cardinal, as one can tell by his cassock. Bergoglio became a cardinal in 2001. As you can easily tell by comparing this photo of John Paul II with one from 2001, this photo is much earlier than that. To the best of my knowledge, the cardinal in the picture is Cardinal Edouard Gagnon. Gagnon, of Quebec, died on August 25, 2007 at the age of 89. I am not 100% certain of this however.

I am not sure when the photo was taken.

Here are some more photos of Cardinal Gagnon. Judge for yourself if he looks like the guy in the middle above:




Source: http://eccechristianus.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/cuando-la-historia-nos-alcanza/

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The New Pope is...

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina has been chosen as the 266th Pope! His Papal name is Pope Francis!

We have a Pope!

Just waiting to see who he is.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Times for Papal Election Voting

The 2013 Papal election to select the 266th pope will start tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Here is the schedule for the first nine votes will take place in the Vatican City to elect the successor of Pope Benedict XVI and ultimately the 265th Successor of Peter and Roman Pontiff:

(Thanks to CatholicPulse.com for the information)


1st Ballot - 2:00PM Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2nd Ballot - 5:30AM Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, March 13, 2013

3rd Ballot - 7:00AM Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, March 13, 2013

4th Ballot - 12:30PM Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, March 13, 2013

5th Ballot - 2:00PM Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, March 13, 2013

6th Ballot - 5:30AM Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, March 14, 2013

7th Ballot - 7:00AM Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, March 14, 2013

8th Ballot - 12:30PM Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, March 14, 2013

9th Ballot - 2:00PM Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, March 14, 2013

My prediction is that the pope will be chosen on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.

Monday, March 04, 2013

WOMEN PRIESTS, CONTRACEPTION, GAY MARRIAGE????

MEMO TO JOURNALISTS:


The answer is no, no, and no. The Church will NOT, I repeat WILL NOT change its teachings on women priests, contraception, or gay marriage. Not now, not in 5 years, not depending on who is elected as pope, never. These teachings form part of the deposit of faith and are unchangeable. You can now stop asking these same old questions over and over and start asking substantive questions which actually matter.

If you don't like the Church's teachings on these issues, don't hold your breath for them to change. I would invite you to look into why the Church teaches what it does in these areas, but if you are steadfastly uninterested in that, then please either accept it, keep quiet about it, or move elsewhere. If you are looking for a Church that looks like the Catholic Church in many ways but has women priests, allows contraception, and gay marriage, you might want to try a Protestant denomination like the Anglican church.

Watching TV coverage of the upcoming papal election has become an exercise in tedium. Every interview is identical. Whether they have a Catholic layperson or a bishop, the interviewer only ever asks one of 4 questions:

1) Will the next pope allow women priests?
2) Will the next pope allow contraception?
3) Will the next pope change the Church's position on homosexual acts or allow gay marriage?
4) Will the next pope change the Church's position on abortion (especially in cases of rape or incest)?

Once the interviewee answers the question, undeterred the interviewer will persist with follow-up questions, such as:

5) But isn't it time for the Church to modernize?
6) So many Catholics oppose the Church's position in this area. Isn't it time for a change?
7) But how will the Church attract young people?

The answer to all of the above 4 question is "No." Period. No if, ands, or buts. Questions 5, 6, and 7 are thus moot. Now that that has been established in the first couple of minutes of the interview, why not try coming up with some original and thoughtful questions?

I don't even have a TV, but from the YouTube videos I see of the mainstream media's coverage of the papal election, this guide I've prepared could come in handy for many reporters, anchors, and journalists.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why does the mainstream media care about the pope?

It seems the mainstream media is covering the pope's resignation and the upcoming papal election pretty closely. Many people in the general public are talking about it. Yet, most of the people and groups involved in this discussion are not practicing Catholics and probably know very little about the Church. So why the interest?

Perhaps they are interested because it is an event with major significance. About one sixth of the world is Catholic and therefore the pope has more followers than almost any leader. The pope has influence on a lot of people, especially practicing Catholics. But why would the secular be interested?

Ultimately I think a lot of the interest stems from the secular world's false hope. With news of a retiring pope or one who just passed away, the secular world is filled with hope that the next pope will implement their social agenda in one or several areas. They see the Church as an obstacle to the worldwide implementation of their plans and hold on to hope that perhaps the next pope will change all of that.

People truly and honestly believe that the next pope may reconsider the Church's opposition to gay marriage or abortion. Some believe the Church will do away with rules about contraception or women priests. Unfortunately for these people, these things will never change. Would the media continue to cover this story as much as they do now if people were convinced the Church's stance on all the "hot button" moral issues of the day are pretty much already settled? I doubt it.

To a typical secular person, the next pope will be ideologically identical to Pope Benedict XVI. If there are any differences, the secular person could probably not perceive them, even if they were to be explained. There may be changes where the Church has the authority to make them, but they will not reverse 2000 years of tradition.

Pope's New Residence in a Monastery

A couple of months after retiring, Pope Benedict XVI will live in a monastery close to St. Peter's Basilica called Mater Ecclesiae. Housed here are nuns who pray for the pope. I haven't been able to confirm this, but this is an alleged picture of his future room (Source: Catholic Charismatic):


You can see this room is very simple and basic. He does not live in the lap of luxury. Probably the average person has a more luxurious bedroom than this. The reason I mention this is because so many people are critical of the Church's wealth and make it seem as though the pope, bishops, and priests, all use the riches of the Church for their own personal gain.

Here is a picture of the outside of the monastery (Source: National Geographic):


What will Pope Benedict wear when he retires?

So Pope Benedict has officially retired. We are now between popes in a period known as the interregnum. So what will Pope Benedict wear now that he has retired?

For one thing, he will not wear his signature red shoes. Instead he will wear brown shoes he received as a gift from his visit to Léon, Mexico.

Also, the pope's fisherman's ring will be destroyed which normally happens upon the death of a pontiff.

The former pope will continue to wear his white cassock, but he will not wear the shoulder covering known as a mozzetta.

INTERREGNUM BEGINS NOW

Pope Benedict has officially retired at the exact moment this article is published and the Interregnum has begun.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Confusion about Pope Benedicts post-resignation name

I am somewhat confused as to what Pope Benedict will be called when he retires in a few days. First, there was a video from Rome Reports claiming he would be still called Benedict XVI, and also referred to as Bishop Emeritus of Rome. That was all fine until now another report from the same organization says the pope will be referred to as "Pope Emeritus". Does this mean he will be referred to as either Bishop Emeritus of Rome OR Pope Emeritus? Is either one acceptable?

Check out this latest video:


Compare this to the following video:

Happy Birthday Nan

Today would have been my maternal grandmother's 87th birthday. Unfortunately she died about 3.5 years ago. She was a really great person and I just wanted to mention her on my blog today. Rest in Peace Nan.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wow! Found a newspaper article about the pope from 1752!

I was just going through an archive of really old newspapers. First I was specifically looking for articles about the pope, but then I started to simply look for the oldest newspapers available on the system. That's when I stumbled upon an article written in the Halifax Gazette dated March 23, 1752.

Here is what the article says (some was hard to make out, but this is my attempt):

Foreign Advices

Rome, September 24.

A Few Days ago, as the Pope was going in his Coach to the Quirinal, an ordinary man kneeled in the Street upon his Knees as if he wanted to receive a Blessing from him, which as he was going to give, the Man threw a Stone at his Holiness's Head, which narrowly missed : He proved to be a Madman lately escaped from the Hospital for Lunaticks, to which Place he was remanded, with strict Orders to the Officers, to take more Care for the future of the unhappy People committed to their Charge.

That is very shocking! A man actually threw a rock at the pope's head! The pope did not seem to react too negatively though, only advising the hospital to take better care of its patients. It's so fascinating looking at an article from over 250 years ago! The pope in question would be Pope Benedict XIV. Since the paper came out in March 1752, the article much have been written the previous September, in 1751. At the time the pope would have been 76 years old.

To see the article as it appears on the Google News Archive, go here (second article from top).

Happy birthday bro

Just wanted to throw a quick "Happy Birthday" out to my brother Peter. Have a great year!

Looking back at some old articles on the pope

There is a great tool on Google called Archived News search where you can search through news articles found in newspapers around the world dating back many decades, even centuries. I searched for articles around 1958/59 on the keyword "pope" and found a very amusing one about Pope John XXIII.

Part of it says:

In a joking and paternal manner, the pope asked: "Am I right in thinking you all like a little wine?"

There was only silence until one man got courage enough to say "yes." With that, the pope sent an aide off to the papal cellar for some bottles of sparkling wine which he offered the workers.

See the whole article here, written in the Milwaukee Journal, dated November 8, 1958, titled "New Pope Making Calls Unannounced and He Delights People of Vatican City"


Friday, February 22, 2013

Pope's name after resignation

Last Saturday, I predicted the pope would be referred to as "Emeritus Bishop of Rome" upon his retirement. I was close, I just got the words in the wrong order. It was announced today that upon resignation the pope will be called "Bishop Emeritus of Rome". The video from which I received this information did not mention what proper name he would go by, whether it would be Benedict or Joseph Ratzinger. That's still a tough question for me, and I'm on the fence about it.

Upon their deaths, popes are obviously still referred to by their regnal name. Therefore if Benedict goes back to being called Joseph Ratzinger, I would assume his name would be once again changed back to Benedict upon his death. This would seem rather odd. The problem with keeping the name Benedict is that it implies he is still pope since he has a papal regnal name and is still alive. That's why I'm on the fence. Both names have logical reasons to be used. It does not appear as though this particular issue was addressed by the Vatican.

Actually, scrap that! I re-watched the video and they did indeed address that question. They said he would still be addressed as His Holiness Benedict XVI. This decision makes sense to me when I think about it. Legitimate opes have never reverted back to their original name. Also, I can speak about "Pope John Paul II" without implying that he is still in charge. We do not now call him Karol Wojtyła. It's sort of like when an American president retires and he is still called Mr. President.

I'm glad this has now been cleared up.

Here's a video about the announcement:

Comparing Pope Benedict to Other Popes

Here are several pieces of data comparing Pope Benedict to all other popes:

1. Pope Benedict was the fifth oldest pope ever at the time of his election at the age of 78 years, 3 days. (the oldest pope at his election was Clement X at age 79 years, 290 days)

2. Pope Benedict is currently the 4th oldest pope ever, at the age of 85 years, 311 days. (Leo XIII died at the oldest age of 93 years, 140 days)

3. The length of Pope Benedict's reign of 7.8 years is fairly standard in papal history, where the average is about 7.5 years.

4. Pope Benedict is the eighth German pope

5. Pope Benedict named two doctors of the Church: Hildegaard of Bingen and John of Avila.

6. Pope Benedict took 7 trips outside Italy during his pontificate.

7. Pope Benedict wrote 2 encyclicals, compared to Pope John Paul II's 14. Pope Pius XII wrote 41 encyclicals, which is higher than all his current successors combined (at 32).

That's all for now!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Photos of Benedicts XVI and John Paul II together

As Pope Benedict's papacy comes to an end, I would like to present several photos of Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger at the time) together with Pope John Paul II.














Monday, February 18, 2013

Is the media that ignorant?

It still strikes me as funny how ignorant the media seems. In some ways, I think it just reflects how everyday people are thinking. When discussing the papal resignation and upcoming election, many mainstream media outlets act as if laws against same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception are actually on the table for the Church.

I just read an article about Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian papabile and the online paper acted shocked that he opposed same-sex marriage and abortion. Is this the first time this paper has heard the Catholic Church's position on these issues? This are nowhere on the radar for the Church. I doubt even a single cardinal has an opinion on same sex marriage or abortion which is at odds with Catholic teaching.

Most non- and lapsed-Catholics have the mistaken impression that the Church is no different than a secular country. That it might just change centuries-old beliefs in favor of new morals which came about less than a generation ago. I guess people are just used to our modern day elections where everything is on the table and we just pick and choose our latest moral code.

Pope actually have very little power to "change" anything about the Church. Many things, such as the nature of marriage, the sanctity of life, and the male-only priesthood are essential characteristics of the Church which will never change. Ironically these are the issues the media talk about the most.

I think this ultimately comes from ignorance. To the secular public, it will make no difference which pope will be elected. On all the "hot button" issues, the cardinals are probably all on the same page, with possible differences which would be imperceptible to our secular sound-bite culture.

Marc Ouellet said papacy would be nightmare

On June 30, 2011, La Presse published an article about Cardinal Marc Ouellet. When told many people see him as a potential pope, Ouellet reacted by laughing and saying, in French (my translation below):

«On ne peut pas empêcher le monde de rêver. Ça serait un cauchemar. Moi, je vois le travail que le pape a à faire. C'est peut-être pas très enviable. C'est une responsabilité écrasante. Enfin, à la grâce de Dieu! Il y a l'aide du Saint-Esprit, évidemment, mais c'est une très grosse responsabilité. Personne ne fait campagne pour ça.»

Basically, this translates as:
"We cannot prevent the world from dreaming. It [the papacy] would be a nightmare. I see the work the pope has to do. It is perhaps not very enviable. It is a crushing responsibility. Only by the grace of God! There is help from the Holy Spirit, obviously, but it's a very large responsibility. Nobody campaigns for this."

See full article here.

Human Sin Immune System

I thought today that a good concept for dealing with sin is to deal with sin in a way similar to our immune system. For many people, including me, I only deal with sin when I'm face to face with it in the middle of temptation. This would be like living without any regard to health whatsoever and then once you fall ill, doing a few things to feel better.

As an analogy, it would be like only eating junk food and not worrying if it's moldy or otherwise gone bad, not bathing, not exercising, not getting enough sleep, going outside in the cold without proper clothing, never cleaning your bathroom or kitchen, having garbage and insects all around, not practicing any hygiene, not brushing your teeth, etc. But then as you become ill, you attempt in vain to not get sick. By then it's too late and you fall ill.

Very few people would ever live like this. In order to stay healthy, people employ a multi-layered approach. First, they try to maintain their health through exercise and correct eating choices. Next, they are careful about food safety. Thirdly, they maintain correct hygiene by bathing, brushing their teeth, and taking care of themselves in general. They maintain a clean dwelling. If they do fall ill, people will generally spend time taking care of themselves. They may then reevaluate their lifestyle to see if their illness could have been prevented.

This approach makes sense, and it's probably one we should use in our spiritual life. I remember reading a book by Father Gabriel Amorth, the chief exorcist of Rome. He said people will come to him only after all other spiritual avenues, such as psychics, have been exhausted. An exorcism may be then be performed. Usually he said people will get into spiritual trouble after indulging in immoral activities. It doesn't just come out of the blue.

So how can we create a spiritual immune system? There are probably countless ways to do this, so I will just try to list some possibilities:

1) Get up early and go to bed early
I find a lot of sin and temptation can occur late at night. I think there's a reason good vs. evil is often depicted as light vs. darkness. The Bible often mentions nefarious activities that occur in the cover of night. Things in the night are hidden and secret and we feel like we can get away with more.

2) Work hard
They say boredom and not having anything to do can lead to sin. I believe this is true. If we are doing lots of work, we don't have as much time to sin.

3) Associate with good people
Associate with people who do not participate in evil activities. If you feel you are at risk of committing certain sins, avoid people who indulge in these. Make friends with people who have good habits. We are often influenced by those we associate with.

4) Read spiritual literature
Read the Bible, the Catechism, Life of Saints, etc. Not for any particular purpose, but just for knowledge and spiritual edification.

5) Routinize prayer
Prayer can often seem inconvenient. A way around this is to make it a routine part of your life. Pray at the same time every day. Maybe right after supper or before a particular show. Make it an automatic thing so you don't have to fight your laziness every time to do it. This also goes for Mass. You should try to go to Mass the same time every week. If you go to Mass every week, it will eventually get easier and easier.

6) Avoid sin as soon as possible
Ending temptation is always easiest at the beginning. For instance, it's easier not to eat a piece of chocolate cake before you have a piece. Don't say "Oh, I'll just have one bite and that's it." Giving in to temptation a little only makes it easier to go to the whole way. The easiest time to stop temptation is now. In the long run, if you avoid temptation, it will eventually get easier, not worse like popular culture tells us. The more we indulge in a sin, the more we will want to indulge in it.


Those are just a few ways to avoid sin and live a good life. The point is you should not wait until you are struggling in the middle of temptation to do something about the sin you are facing.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Questions and Answers about Pope's Resignation


1. What will Pope Benedict XVI be called once he resigns?
This seems as yet uncertain. Some have suggested "Pope Emeritus". However, in 2010, it was revealed that Pope John Paul II said "there is no place in the Church for a Pope Emeritus." This is something he said to the doctor before an operation. Others have suggested "Emeritus Bishop of Rome". I think for the most part this would be non-controversial, since there are currently many retired bishops in the world who use this style.

As for his regnal name "Benedict XVI", some assume, including Fr. Z that he will keep it. I am less certain. This is his papal name and no longer being pope, it would be less fitting. Plus, how would he be introduced? "Emeritus Bishop of Rome Benedict XVI"? Perhaps. But it seems a little contradictory. Pope and Benedict XVI seem to go together, and pope is implied when one says "Benedict XVI". So it would be almost like saying "Emeritus Bishop of Rome Pope Benedict XVI". This seems really confusing. As I don't think a certain decision has yet been made, my guess is that he will go by Joseph Ratzinger, Emeritus Bishop of Rome. No matter how you slice it, it ends up seeming a little odd.

2. Where will Pope Benedict XVI live after his resignation?
Once Benedict resigns, he will first go to his Summer residence in Castel Gondolfo. After some time, he will move to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the Vatican, where he will live permanently.

3. What will Pope Benedict XVI do after his resignation?
The former pope will probably stay out of the limelight. There will not be two competing papacies or something. He will probably quietly spend his time in prayer, meditation, reading and other activities. He will possibly write. But I would say he will try to keep a low profile.

4. What will happen to Pope Benedict XVI fisherman's ring after his resignation?
The pope's fisherman's ring will be destroyed shortly after his resignation. Since the ring is a symbol of his papal authority, it is appropriate that it be destroyed once he abdicates the thrown.

5. What color will Pope Benedict XVI wear in retirement after his resignation?
As far as I can tell, this too is still in the air. I believe it seems unlikely he will wear his white robes. It is more likely that he would dress as a cardinal or perhaps bishop.

6. Will Pope Benedict XVI be a priest in a particular diocese after his resignation?
The pope will maintain his priestly faculties and will probably celebrate Mass, perhaps daily. Of course, his Masses will most likely be low-key. He will continue to live in the Archdiocese of Rome and will be under the spiritual leadership of the pope.

7. Why did Pope Benedict XVI decide to retire?
Pope Benedict said his reason for retiring is that due to his advanced age and health concerns, he does not feel up for the task of pope.

8. When exactly will Pope Benedict XVI retire?
Pope Benedict's resignation takes place at 8pm, February 28, 2013.

9. More questions
If you have further questions about Pope Benedict's retirement, please ask them in the comment section. Thanks.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Trevor Moore produces vile music video about the pope

Trevor Moore and his group called the Whitest Kids You Know have produced a disgusting music video mocking and criticizing the pope. They bring up all the typical anti-catholic slander, including the accusations that they have too much money and also the sex abuse scandal. The video is crude and vulgar. Here are a few of my reactions to this video:

1) Vatican has too much money.
This is the main theme and chorus of this music video - that the Vatican simply has more money than it knows what to do with. He depicts the Holy Father as throwing money around like it's going out of style because he simply has so much. Yes, there are some very magnificent pieces of artwork all around the Vatican. There are jewels and gold and all sorts of other wealth. But these are mostly for the people. The pope doesn't live in St. Peter's Basilica. He in fact has a very simple room basically just containing his books. My suspicion is that Trevor Moore himself probably has a more luxurious life than the pope. I never hear anyone accuse museums of having too much wealth. People don't demand that museums sell centuries-old artifacts to raise money. I could understand this argument if Vatican City was closed off to the public and the Church spend most of its money on luxury items, but it doesn't, not even close. I have been to the Vatican and it is truly amazing. It is awesome and wondrous. Anyone is welcome, rich or poor.

A woman once tried to use a jar of expensive perfume on Jesus. One man objected, saying that the perfume should be sold and money raised to give to the poor. This man's name is Judas and Jesus rebuked him for his comments. Jesus said it was proper to spend money and valuables worshiping him, and that is exactly what happens in the Basilicas and Cathedral in Rome.

2) Sex Abuse Scandal
This is of course the whipping boy that everyone goes to when criticizing the Church. Much of the criticism is valid. However, rarely is it contextualize. This is especially true in this case. In fact, the singer disgustingly tries to implicate Pope Benedict himself in child sex abuse, implying that he himself abused or continues to abuse children. This is nothing more than slander. Would he like a video accusing him of abusing children? Pope Benedict really did everything he could to end the abuse. This kind of criticism is never made in other spheres. No one blames the head of the School board for all the abuse cases that happen there. No one blames the president of the Boy Scouts for personally causes sex abuse in his organization. But when it comes to the Church, the gloves are off and there are no rules.

3) HIV / AIDS
I've addressed this before, but more condoms has not been a solution to the HIV / AIDS problem in Africa. On the other hand, Uganda, which has taken a more Catholic approach, has seen success. Here is the article I wrote on this topic.

4) Conclusion
I do not really feel the need to go over every detail of this discusting video. It is full of foul language and unfounded attacks on the Church. As Professor Phillip Jenkins has pointed out anti-catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in our world. And in my opinion, there are no limits as to what is considered acceptable. Oh well, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, we aren't Christians because it's easy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Papal Conclave 2013 Numbers & Statistics

Pope Benedict shocked the world when he announced he will be stepping down as Supreme Pontiff at the end of the month. Except for the usual papal death, the conclave will proceed as usual. I wanted to explore some of the numbers and statistics important to this conclave.

  • There will be 117 cardinal electors (cardinals eligible to vote in the conclave) next month.
  • There are a total of 209 living cardinals, but 92 will have reached the age of 80 before the day the See of Peter will become vacant and can no longer be part of the election process.
  • 67 of the current cardinal electors were chosen by Pope Benedict XVI, and 50 were picked by Pope John Paul II (This is more balanced than the electors at the 2005 Papal Election, wherein all but three (Joseph Ratzinger, Jaime Sin, and William Wakefield Baum) were chosen by Pope John Paul II)
  • The youngest cardinal elector is Baselios Cleemis (Isaac) Cardinal Thottunkal from India, who is 53 years old. The oldest cardinal elector will be Walter Cardinal Kasper of Germany, who will turn 80 before the conclave begins, on March 5. The oldest living cardinal is 98 year old Ersilio Cardinal Tonini of Ravenna-Cervia, Italy.
  • Paddy Power, a major betting organization, currently ranks Marc Cardinal Ouellette, former Archbishop of Quebec City and current Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as the best odds for being chosen as the next pope. I would be happy with this result!
  • Pope Benedict will officially end his papacy at 8:00pm (1900 GMT), February 28, 2013. At this moment, there will begin a period called an interregnum, meaning between reigns, in which there is no pope.
  • Article 37 of Universi Dominici Gregis requires that a papal conclave begin between 15 and 20 days after the end of a papacy, usually due to the death of the pope. The requirement does not note any exceptions to this time period. However, one part reads "the Cardinal electors who are present must wait fifteen full days for those who are absent". Notice is says "for those who are absent". If, however, all cardinals are present before the 15 days are up, can the conclave commence? On this point, I am uncertain. My guess is no. Given airlines and other technology, it seems as though the elections of 2005, two from 1978, and even 1963, and 1958, could have in theory occurred before a 15 day waiting period. Yet none did. Therefore it seems likely the election would commence on the 16th of March. That is, Pope Benedict ends his duties on February 28, there is no activity for 15 full days, then the following day, the 16th, the elections would commence.
  • Pope Benedict is one of only a few popes to ever step down voluntarily. The most recent was Pope Gregory XII in 1415 who did so in order to settle the conflict arising from the Avignon Papacy. He saw this as the only solution and therefore it is arguable as to whether this was truly voluntary. The most notable case of a voluntary resignation is that of Celestine V in 1294. This pope explicitly gave permission to popes to resign and then did so himself soon afterward. Two other popes resigned. Benedict IX did so in 1045, but soon regretted his actions and reclaimed his papacy. Finally there is Pope John XVIII. Little is known of this pope's resignation beside the fact that it happened. Therefore, if you do not count papal abdications which were done to resolve an immediate conflict or in which the abdicating pope reconsidered his decision, we can conclude that Pope Benedict XVI will be only the third pope to voluntarily and permanently quit his post as pope while still alive.
This is a good start I think. I may have more facts and figures later.


Poor Lubomyr Cardinal Husar

File:Lubomyr Husar.jpgI'm not sure how he feels about this, but Lubomyr Cardinal Husar missed being able to attend a papal conclave by 2 days. If Husar had been born on February 28th, 1933, instead of two days earlier on February 26th, 1933, he could have participated in the upcoming papal election, which will probably occur on March 16, 2013.

Cardinal Husar retired in February 2011 and received the title "emeritus". Despite this, he would still qualify to participate in a conclave. Husar belongs to the Ukrainian Catholic Church, an Eastern sui juris church in communion with Rome.

It's not all bad news though. Cardinal Husar did get to participate in a papal conclave in 2005, when Pope Benedict was elected. Interestingly, Husar was considered papabile despite the fact that he was one of only two Eastern Catholic cardinal electors.

I wonder if Lubomyr Cardinal Husar is upset that he was born two days too early to participate in another conclave.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

EASTER AND LENT DATES 2013

Ash Wednesday: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Palm Sunday: Sunday, March 24, 2013
Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday): Thursday, March 28, 2013
Good Friday: Friday, March 29, 2013
Holy Saturday: Saturday, March 30, 2013
Easter Sunday: Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lent 2013 began on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 and will end on Thursday, March 28, 2013. Once the Vigil Mass begins on Thursday, March 28, 2013, this officially marks the beginning of a season called Triduum, and the end of Lent.

Triduum begins on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at the beginning of the Mass of the Lord's Supper and ends at the end of Easter Sunday, on March 31, 2013.

In total, the Lenten season contains 44 days. From Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday is 40 days.

If you remove the Sundays, does Lent have 40 days? The answer is no. Every Lent contains 6 Sundays. Therefore, if they are removed from the equation, Lent would contain 38 days. However, if you include Good Friday and Holy Saturday as part of Lent, then removing those 6 Sundays would give a total of 40 days.

Much of the information provided here came from a Jimmy Akin article: http://jimmyakin.com/2004/03/the_length_of_l.html

Goodbye Pope Benedict!

As you've probably already heard, Pope Benedict has made a rare decision to resign as pope, something which hasn't happened for some 600 years. He will officially quit on February 28, 2013 and then the conclave and election process will begin. I suspect we will see a new pontiff before Easter Sunday which is on March 31st, 2013.

I think this new reality is just sinking in for me. On the one hand, the pope is still alive so there isn't the mourning which came with the death of the last successor of Peter. In my mind I think okay he's still alive. But then it hits me there will be a conclave soon to elect a new pope. This is a huge event, one which has only occurred one other time in my lifetime in 2005. I will be following very closely.

People have already started guessing at who will be the next pope. Of particular interest to me is the possibility that Cardinal Marc Ouellet, former archbishop of the City of Quebec and current Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, will be chosen as the 265th successor of Peter. Of course, he is but one of the papabile.

This is a very extraordinary event. As I mentioned previously, Pope Benedict will be the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign from the papacy while still living. The last time this happened was when Pope Gregory XII resigned his post in order to settle the conflict of the Avignon Papacy and disputes over the position. The last truly voluntary resignation of a pope happened with Celestine V in 1294 when he specifically allowed a pope to resign and then did so himself. Unfortunately, Celestine was captured from his tranquil life as a monk and imprisoned by his successor in a cell where he would die 10 months later.

It seems as though only 2 other popes in history have stepped down voluntarily: John XVIII in 1009 and Benedict IX in 1045 (he regretted his actions and later returned to the papacy). Basically this means only 1.1% of popes have voluntarily resigned (1.5% if you count Pope Gregory XII).

Many people are using this as an opportunity to voice their personal opinions when it comes to the Catholic Church. Often, these comments come from people outside the Church who have very little knowledge about it. Perhaps because people are very used to democracy, they believe in personally deciding what the Church should teach. I've heard many people proclaim that they Church must modernize and "get with the times". Funny thing is, it's doubtful they would join the Church even if this happened. I'm not sure why non-Catholics who do whatever they want are even concerned about what the Church teaches. If they disagree, why not just leave or ignore it?

Many people simply do not understand the Church. Many people think the pope, on a whim, could change constant moral teachings of the Church, such as laws concerning homosexual acts, abortion, female ordination, etc. As John Paul II and Benedict XVI have made clear, these issues form an important part of the Church's teaching and cannot be changed. Specifically, Pope John Paul II issued a controversial statement indicating the Church not only will not, but in fact cannot, change its stance on female ordination, because Jesus Christ himself did not do this, nor did the universal Church in her entire history.

Many people do not like the Catholic Church because of what it teaches. Instead of coming right out and saying this though, they attack Pope Benedict. They complain about how "conservative" he is. They try to blame him for the sex abuse scandal which he had nothing to do with and tried to stop and later rectify. Some even stoop so low as to criticize Benedict for his physical appearance. People who do this simply do not want to say they disagree with the Church and over a billion Catholics. Instead they vilify good people like our current pope.

The point is, people can choose to either obey or disobey the Church, and if they choose to disobey, the Church has no say in their life. So why do some people feel the need to react so strongly against the Church? I will leave that question to anyone who might want to answer in the comment section below.

Pope Benedict is an intellectual giant and a worthy shepherd. His successor will have big Prada shoes to fill. One interesting thing I heard today (from Karl Keating quoting Jeffrey Tucker) is that by resigning, the pope may possibly have some say or influence on who the next pope will be. Whoever it is, I pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as our current pontiff leaves the limelight and a new one takes over.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Response to Bulls**t episode on the Vatican

Penn and Teller have a show called "Bulls**t". I added the asterisks. The show is designed to refute commonly held beliefs. They've done episodes on dozens of topics, including violent video games, PETA, and the income tax. They also did one on the Vatican. I will offer a rebuttal to their video.

No Opposing Positions Presented
First of all, they admit at the beginning that unlike every other episode, this one will feature no counter arguments whatsoever. In every other episode, they present a premise, and they always have several guests who disagree with the comedic duo. However, on this episode, they say they will do no such thing. It will be completely one sided. Now, they claim they requested input from some "authorities" within the Vatican. They don't specify who they actually asked. Maybe they sent a letter to the pope himself expecting a reply. They specifically said they asked authorities within the Church. Notice they did not ask someone from Catholic Answers or from a Catholic publishing company or just a pro-Vatican person. They don't seem to care that the episode will completely one-sided. They just brush it off by saying the Vatican has been making its point for 2000 years and they say now the other side needs a chance. As if there has never been someone who disagreed with the Church. Anyway, the episode was designed to be biased.

Italian Comedian Sabina Guzzanti
The first specific story present by narrator Penn Jillette is that of Sabina Guzzanti who said something offensive about Pope Benedicts XVI. You could pretty much add "allegedly" to everything Penn says about her story. She said something offensive about the pope. The pope "allegedly" was upset about this and "allegedly" contacted the prime minister who "allegedly" threatened to charge this comedian with slander for what she said. He then goes off on speculation about how upset the pope was, how he reacted to what she said, etc. All conjecture. Oh yeah, and according to Penn, the pope also wanted this woman to be imprisoned. Again, pure conjecture and not from an unbiased source. Recently a man was charged for exposing private documents of the pope and was sentenced to time in prison. The pope intervened so that the man would not go to jail. Doesn't exactly sound like a man who likes imprisoning people. By the way, we are left in suspense as to what this comedian says as Penn says he will "return" to this later. I guess he will come back after he has defamed the Church enough so that, like a good lawyer, he can say anything about the Church and everyone will believe him.

Vatican and homosexuality
After the first segment, Penn introduces the head of an atheist / agnostic organization in the UK where the representative says he thought John Paul II was bad, but Benedict is much worse. He offers no reason for thinking so himself. The narrator comes on to cite an example of how "bad" Benedict is by mentioning a 2008 resolution introduced in the UN by France. The legislation would seek to remove discrimination against gay people. The show even admits the reason the Vatican opposed this because it could lead to pressuring countries to accept gay marriage, something the Vatican is opposed to. Penn interviews a guy who says this would not happen so automatically more nefarious motives are assumed once again. Penn goes so far as to say the Vatican is okay with gay people being killed. Wow, goodbye any actual evidence. Hello hyperbole! The Vatican has specifically said unjust discrimination against gay people is wrong. But don't confuse Penn with the facts!

It's surprising how the atheist representative can be taken seriously. He goes from the amazingly inaccurate estimate that "20%-50%" of Catholic priests are gay to the conclusion that Benedict XVI must be a really bad person to speak about against homosexual acts. I'm surprised he can't see his own logical fallacy here.

Penn Jillette then makes the surprisingly accurate statement that the Church does not consider homosexuality itself to be a sin, but just acting upon it. He even does a good job of explaining it, by saying the Church is against sex outside of marriage and gay people cannot marry and therefore homosexual sex is sinful. He goes off the rails when he implies homosexual sex condemns someone to hell automatically. He makes it seem like it is that sin in particular which will do this.

Penn then criticizes the Church's position that gays cannot marry or participate in homosexual acts by asking the rhetorical question of whether it makes sense to tell a bird it cannot fly. But this comes from a faulty understanding of sexuality as being uncontrollable and inevitable. This makes no more sense than saying "How can we tell an adulterer he should not cheat? Isn't that cruel?" One can choose to refrain from inappropriate sexual relations.

Back to Comedian Sabina Guzzanti
Sabina is now reintroduced to the show where she talks about how terrible it is to hear in the news the pope's opinion on various matters. Oh the humanity. We are teased once again about some blasphemous things this comedian said. But that will have to wait till later! In this segment, Sabina and the narrator goes on about how people are not free to express themselves in Italy. Well, let's wait and see what happened and how she was ultimately punished. I'm expecting it to be really brutal!

Sex Abuse Scandal
Of course, everyone knew this would be part of the show. This is a major tragedy and deserves to be addressed. There is too much to re-mention here, but I've written other articles addressing this in the past. Once again, the only people being interviewed are victims groups and lawyers of victims. One document that they mention is called Crimen sollicitationis. Penn claims the purpose of the document is to silence the victim on pain of excommunication which he claims means condemnation to hell - an amateur mistake. In fact, the purpose of this document is to maintain the dignity of the accused and the accuser until the process has been carried out. It does not preclude presenting the case to public authorities prior to the Church trial. John Allen Jr. wrote about this document and said it must be understood in the proper context.

In a similar vein, the show mentions a Vatican document which notes the statute of limitation on secrecy for sex abuse is 10 years after a minor has reached the age of 18. This was designed to protect the victims of abuse. I haven't had time to research it thoroughly yet, but again it refers to a statute of limitations, which by definition are beneficial to the victims.

AIDS
Then Penn pulls out another old canard by claiming the Vatican is somehow responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the deaths of millions of people due to AIDS because of its stance on contraception. Penn also mentions overpopulation as an issue here. Many people see this as a black and white issue (i.e. more condoms = less AIDS). Scientifically this is not the case. For a variety of factors, in the real world, more condoms does not equal less AIDS in the real world. This can be seen in Africa. A couple of countries, including Uganda, implemented a policy of sexual gratification control and monogamy, which had much better results than the places which emphasized the use of contraception. Same thing with the Philippines, where contraception was or is prohibited. In many parts of Africa, condoms are more easily available than clean drinking water. If the theory that more contraception = less AIDS, then AIDS should have been eliminated from Africa by now. The fact of the matter is that promiscuity is what leads to infections. If people did what the Vatican said and waited until marriage to have sex and remain monogamous, this would in fact eliminate AIDS. Of course, people with AIDS would refrain from having sex out of love for their potential partner. But for some reason, people do not think that people can control their sex drive, especially in Africa. This is a very dim view of humanity, in my opinion.

The discussion of condoms as AIDS prevention switches to condoms are being morally permissible within marriage. Of course, they interview many dissident Catholics such as the president of Catholics For Choice. They make it seem like the Church being against contraception is just some silly rule that was just arbitrarily decided and that it can be easily reversed. One of the reasons for the opposition to contraception is that it purposely prevents an act from fulfilling its natural and healthy purpose. The purpose of sex is ultimately procreation. To purposely thwart the actual intention of the act is morally wrong. Plus, we can see all the negative consequences of contraception which were correctly predicted by Pope Paul VI when he published Humanae Vitae, such as promiscuity and the objectification of people.

Penn also claims the pope himself said contraception entering the water from women's urine is having negative effects on the environment. He makes another amateur mistake here, since this is a statement from the L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Newspaper, not by the pope, and it is not an official Church document.

Plus, Penn claims the Church was opposed to the small pox vaccine, a claim I can find no backing for anywhere.

Back to Comedian Sabina Guzzanti ONCE Again
Let's hope this time Penn spits out what this comedian said and the consequences. Already, so he finally gets to it, although I was quite disappointed. This "comedian" essentially says in a very vulgar way that she believes the pope will end up in hell. She adds other things concerning homosexuality which I do not want to repeat here. It was disgusting. Why did she say all of this? Because the pope dared offer his opinion that school children in Italy should not be forced to hear about homosexual acts. For this, Sabina believes Italy is no longer a democracy. By the way, poor oppressed Sabina was applauded by a large part of the crowd to whom she told her joke.

In the end, Sabina was not sentenced to any time in jail and did not receive any penalty. The Vatican issued a statement saying they forgive her for her comments. Amazingly, Penn and Teller are able to spin this into making it seem like the Vatican did something bad. Wow, they must really be desperate!

Ending
The conclusion of the video is a collage of the guests basically insulting the Church, calling it greedy, power-hungry, homophobic, etc. Fill in the blanks. You get the idea. Penn ends with a short monologue rehashing some of the grievances and canards presented in the video.

This video was a particularly lop-sided presentation of the Vatican. It has no value for honest truth-seekers. But to a large part of the public which only thinks the Catholic Church is bad, you will probably be cheering for this error-laded documentary.