Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014! (and my experience at Midnight Mass)

Merry Christmas 2014 to you and yours!

Hey everyone, sorry I haven't been writing as much as before. Hopefully that'll improve.

Tomorrow I will be going to "midnight" Mass at the hospital. They have Mass there every day, but for the eve of Christ's Birth, it's a bigger event. But compared to other services in the city, it's going to probably be the smallest.

I find sometimes the Midnight Mass at my local church to be something of a "show". They have a huge choir that seems to be the center of attention. The priest usually gives a very cheery, Christmassy homily. The people in the congregation are overly touchy feely. Right before Mass actually begins there is a lot of chit-chat. For many, this continues throughout the service.

During the night, I see people whom I've never seen before. You can always spot reluctant teenagers who are only there because of some kind of threat.

Because so many of the parishioners never go throughout hte year, they are not familiar with proper etiquette. For example, there is applauding at some of the choir songs. But this is not completely the fault of those in the pews. Much, or most, of the blame goes to the choir itself. Inevitably, the choir decides to have a solo performance following communion. Normally everyone has already received communion by this point and really the priest should be concluding the Mass.

But instead, once everyone has taken their seat again, you'll hear the piano begin to play Ave Maria or O Holy Night. I do a mental facepalm and wait while the soloist performs his or her dramatic piece. Once it's over, there is silence.

This part is crucial. During this silence, the priest should quickly react by starting the ending prayers. But of course he doesn't. Instead, nothing happens. It is now beyond the point of no return. Applause is inevitable. First a few people will start to clap, as if we are at a concert, and then, as is customary in a recital hall, everyone else will join in. I just sit there cringing.

Some people ask why I'm so negative and possibly mean-spirited. But they misunderstand. I would simply ask what the Mass IS. Is the Mass a gathering of the community to hear pleasant things about Christmas and to listen to some nice holiday music? No. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. We are transported through time and space to Calvary where Jesus gave his life for our sins.

Any music or reading or anything else any human does during this sacred event is only to highlight the life and death of Jesus Christ. Therefore applauding the singer, or the choir, or any other human is missing the point altogether of the liturgy. This is not a concern, it's not a form of entertainment. Applause is the recognition of a human accomplishment. During Mass, it represents a misunderstanding of the purpose and meaning of the Mass.

Bottom line: I will be going to a smaller service in the hospital. Hopefully it will stay true to the real meaning of Christmas.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

You'll never guess who I saw at the airport [Hint: He's a Catholic Answers Live Guest]

On one of my many connection flights from Phoenix to St. John's, NL (specifically the flight from Chicago to Ottawa), I saw the one and only Tim Staples of Catholic Answers Live. Of all the guests on the show, he is tied for first (along with Jimmy Akin).

At first, I wasn't sure it was him and I'm somewhat shy naturally. But then he took off his jacket, and his shirt said "Don't leave Peter because of Judas." Then I knew for sure it was him.

It was awesome getting to talk to Tim in person. He's very friendly. He told me about a conference he was having in Ottawa on the subject of his new book called Behold Your Mother which is a biblical defense of the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church.

After the flight, I had to pick up my bags, as did Tim, so I went to speak with him. I worked up enough courage to ask to take the selfie you see above.

Tim told me his wife just gave birth to their sixth child. What a blessed family.

I hope his conference goes well in Ottawa!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Libertarian inconsistency on Abortion

As many people know I consider myself a libertarian. I do not believe this conflicts with my Catholicism, although many have said it does. The bottom line of the philosophy is that individuals act and we cannot demand the state force people to do something to accomplish our goal. But enough about that for now. Let's talk about abortion and libertarian contradictions.

First off, many libertarians are pro-life including Ron and Rand Paul, Julie Borowski, a famous libertarian vlogger, and Libertarian Party Candidate Bill Barr. I believe the rates of pro-life people in libertarianism is close to the general public.

Many famous libertarian philosophers have put their support behind legal abortion, but on very shaky ground in my opinion. Let me explain.

Ayn Rand, someone whom many libertarians follow but whom I do not much like, said the idea of a fetus having rights is nonsense. Only at birth does the fetus acquire rights, according to her. But what changes in her opinion? It seems more of a subjective, opinion-based idea than one that is logically consistent. From where does a fetus magically receive his rights after leaving the mother's womb? I'm not sure if she explains this at any point.

Walter Block supports an idea called "evictionism". Basically he says you can evict a person from your body but you cannot kill them. Strangely he says the woman may legally abort if the fetus is not viable outside the womb. Given those two facts, he is basically saying a woman can only remove a fetus from her body if she's sure the baby will die.

The idea of evictionism is absurd in this context. It is derived from the idea that one can use force on a trespasser who refuses to leave your property. However, can you really consider an unborn baby a trespasser? First of all, the fetus developed directly from a woman's own act. This is an implied invitation for this possibility. It would be akin to inviting someone onto your property. Once you do this, can you legitimately forcibly remove the person? Not morally you cannot.

You could ask this person to leave and if they do not you could use force as a last resort. However, a fetus cannot be asked to leave. Especially if it is not viable. It has no choice but to stay. Removing the fetus would mean certain death. It would be like inviting someone onto your property into the middle of the dessert. Then after they arrive, you tell them to leave knowing they will certainly die without any water. In fact I would go further to say you didn't even invite them. They had no control over being there, then you demand they exit into certain death. This is more similar to a fetus. A fetus does not decide to enter a particular woman's womb on its own. It is formed in the womb of the mother and only others decision causes his or her existence. Therefore, the eviction is even worse morally speaking.

Other positions in support of abortion in the libertarian community rely on the idea that a woman, like anyone else, should not be forced to be a slave to someone else or to breed because someone else demands it. A couple of issues arise. According to this logic, a mother of a 1 year old baby living in a rural community can choose to simply abandon her child or expose it to the elements knowing he or she will probably die because "no one is a slave" and should not be forced to take care of someone if they do not want to.

Logically speaking libertarians in favor of abortion must also be in favor of child-abandonment even when this means death to the child. However, no libertarian I've heard has so far has dared suggest this. Libertarian pro-choice is not different than any other form of pro-choice philosophy. I hesitate to even call it a philosophy because it's based purely on emotion. As usual, the only argument exists in whether or not an unborn child is a person. If so, no justification for taking his or her life is sufficient. If not, no justification is necessary.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

7 Steps of Writing News About the Catholic Church

I was watching a very formulaic report about the Catholic Church and I assumed it was from some internet news agency with a small budget. I found out that it was actually from the BBC. I was boggled at how simple and overdone the format is and was shocked anyone still took these organizations seriously.

Here is every report you will ever hear about the Catholic Church:

1) The pope is holding a synod, council or assembly of some kind.
2) With Pope Francis in charge, many feel he will make some change that will popularize the Church in the eyes of the general public.
3) Mention contraception and/or abortion and/or divorce and/or gay marriage
4) Talk about hope for change, but warn that huge changes (the kind ultimately wanted by the general population) will probably not happen.
5) Vaguely analogize the Church as a large vessel being turned around.
6) Imply that given the chance, Pope Francis would endorse gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, but he is sensitive to the "bigots" of the Church.
7) Finish up by looking forward to when the Church will truly "advance" and be acceptable to the general population.

This formula is applied to virtually every news story about the Catholic Church. It implies the church only cares about sexual issues, and that the Church's main goal is to be popular with everyone. I'm getting kind of fed up with every news article being the same.

Friday, June 13, 2014

First communion and confirmation

I attended a first communion and confirmation at my local church a couple of weeks ago. If there is a crisis in the church, I think this event could explain a lot of it. I discovered a lot of what is wrong with how Christianity is portrayed to children and families.

I will say the sacraments were conducted in a very childish way. First of all, there was no seriousness in the congregation. People were acting the same as they would at a child's recital. They were talking, laughing, and everyone was commenting on how cute all the children were.

Then the actual event began. First, two girls came out dressed in ballet outfits and did some sort of interpretive dance. No one knew what was going on and it had nothing to do with Christianity. After this, the confirmation children began singing a silly and childish song which included a lot of sign-language-type gestures for rainbows, unicorns, and other things.

To an outside observer, the ceremony could have easily been a school play for pre-schoolers or some form of dance recital. It had nothing to do with Christianity. The entire atmosphere was very egocentric. Look at us perform! The children are not to blame, they were being manipulated. Those to blame are the organizers.

Encouraging the charade and making it much worse were the parents and families. Most weren't paying any attention to the Mass or sacraments whatsoever. They were talking, laughing, talking about their children, etc. No spirituality whatsoever. Just something "fun" to do on the weekend.

The problem with all of this is that it presents Christianity as something childish and silly, something like Sesame Street. The lapsed Catholic parents obviously didn't think what was going on was a big deal. Jesus is just a buddy or chum for children to make them feel better when they get scared at night.

But Christianity is meant to be for the real world, for the worst tragedies in life. Christianity is meant to give us peace and joy and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It's not a children's cartoon on Saturday morning.  But that's what children and their families are being presented with and that's why people stop going to Mass when they reach 12 years old.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Funny spelling mistake on Vatican Youtube video

I came across a video that was uploaded a few days ago by the Vatican on Youtube. Check out the funny spelling error in the title:

Instead of Sacred "Heart" of Jesus Parish they typed "Hart".

The video is here.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Catholic Teaching on Sperm Banks

This might sound like a weird topic, but I bring it up because I just heard a news story about a felon who switched his sperm with another man's and the man's wife was impregnated with the wrong sperm. So she ended up not having her husband's child, but some random person's whom she didn't know. This probably happens more than people expect. And it's all too possible with all these immoral sexual practices.

If a couple follows God's natural law on conception, this craziness would never happen. The Church says sex must be both potentially procreative and unitive. If either element is missing, it's an immoral act.

Children are not some sort of trophy. People nowadays just plan out their perfect family the same way they buy furniture or a new car. Then if they find out the child they ordered turned out not as they'd hoped, they just destroy it for another one. That's why 92% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted. Just like sending back an ipad that you didn't like.

So couples think of children as an accessory to their lives, just something on their to-do list that they can check off. And then when they have their ideal 1 boy and 1 girl, they mutilate their bodies through vasectomies and hysterectomies so they won't have any more kids. I guess that goal has been accomplished.

Another belief is that sex and procreation are two completely separate ideas, as if they have nothing to do with one another. It would be like thinking eating and nourishing your body as two separate acts with nothing in common. In reality, in nature, procreation is a product of sex, they are inextricably linked. In nature, they aren't two different things.

So Pope Paul VI said contraception was bad. It's pretty obvious, unless you're a "modern" person, that this is true. It's true because when you separate sex and procreation, all kinds of weird things happen. For one thing people start using sperm banks and fertility treatment. Instead of having sex with each other, the couple does their own thing separately and the woman ultimately ends up pregnant on a hospital bed with a doctor impregnating her. Or two gametes are artificially joined together in a sterile lab then inserted into a woman's body. What a strange way to be conceived.

That's procreation, but sex becomes weird too. No longer attached to procreation, sex is just about pleasure so as long as two or more (or fewer) people are having fun then it's totally legit. No one stops and says, hold on a second, this is not procreative so it's stupid and pointless. That's what they would say back when everyone did not have a contraceptive mentality. It'd be like eating a pile of food and then going to the bathroom and forcing yourself to vomit it out. We still connect eating with nutrition so people still say that's weird. Well, having sex while preventing procreation makes just as much sense.

But also inherently infertile sex is totally legit in this new paradigm. Extramarital sex, gay sex, or any other kind of sex is fine, it's just for entertainment. Kind of like games. Some people like video games, others like board games. I wouldn't judge someone for liking video games, even if I don't like playing them. Well that's how people think about sex. Since it has nothing to do with procreation, then who cares who you do it with.

Anyway, people gotta snap out of it. It's all an abomination. A child deserves more than to be born in a test tube and surgically inserted into a woman. He deserves dignity. It's ironic that we kill so many kids through abortion and then go to incredible and immoral lengths to conceive. Why don't the women who don't want their babies just give them to families that do.

To read more about the criminal who switched his sperm with the real father, click here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Is the New Canadian Cardinal orthodox enough?

Quebec Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix talks the National March for Life in Ottawa in May. The archbishop says Softening the message has nothing to do with the New Evangelization, though some people have tried to make the Gospel “sweeter” and “easier." Photo by Debroah Gyapong / CCN.

Whenever a Catholic prelate is assigned to a high office, many Catholics wonder if he will be orthodox or not. There is always a fear that a church leader will try to implement some newfangled theology or be a big fan of interpretive dance taking place during Mass.

So when Pope Francis chose Archbishop of Quebec GĂ©rald Lacroix those questions naturally arose. At first I could not find much information on the subject. Media outlets were simply presenting objective facts and did not give any clues as to the Cardinal-elect's positions or opinions.

Then I dug a little further and found out some interesting information. It seems Lacroix is very interested in orthodoxy and presenting a historical and full Gospel. He is not interested in innovation and in fact he is very critical of this approach.

As educated Catholics know, there is no such thing as conservative or liberal when it comes to Church teaching. You are either orthodox or not. Lacroix is definitely orthodox. To prove this, here are some things the prelate has said over the years:

Here's a great interview he did with the National Post. I like how he questions the questions. So the first query asked by the Post was how the new archbishop (this was written in 2011) would get people into the pews of the churches in Quebec. He said "I think the first thing is not to try to bring people back to the pews. People in Quebec will resist that." He goes on to say the focus is not to increase numbers in some utilitarian way, but rather to change hearts and minds and people will come naturally. To read the rest of the interview, go here.

In another great interview, Archbishop Lacroix, whose name means "The Cross" is asked about softening or watering down the message of the Gospel to attract people. He flat out rejects this proposition, stating: “We’re not telling people, listen we have a new message, It’s not going to be as demanding as we were before, we’ve found a smooth version of the Gospel; it won’t be so difficult to live, it’s going to be easy, come right in, no that’s not what it’s all about”. To read the rest of this interview, click here.

Overall, from everything I've seen so far, Lacroix seems like a very solid choice, and given the fact that he was chosen by the Holy Father, it says a lot about the Pontiff as well.

Happy Feast of Christ's Baptism everyone.

God Bless.