Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Brain-Wave Toy Lets You Do 'Jedi Mind Trick'

The Force can be with anyone now.

Later this summer, anybody anywhere will have the ability to physically move stuff with their minds like characters do in "Star Wars." No joke.

A new toy that harnesses the same technology doctors use to monitor brain waves will arrive in stores in August. The toy moves when it senses a change in the user's brain-wave patterns.

"It's pretty cutting-edge," says Frank Adler, executive vice president of Uncle Milton Industries, the toy company that manufactures the "Star Wars"-branded Force Trainer. "It certainly appears to be where things are headed."

It will be if the reaction from 5-year-old "Star Wars" fanatic Ryan Mogg is any indication. Mogg tried out the Force Trainer at a recent "Star Wars" toy fair.

In less than a minute, he was controlling the rise and fall of a pingpong ball in a clear tube — with his brain waves.

"It's like what Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul do!" he said afterward with a big grin.

Making a Monkey Out of Darwin

by Pat Buchanan

"You have no notion of the intrigue that goes on in this blessed world of science," wrote Thomas Huxley. "Science is, I fear, no purer than any other region of human activity; though it should be."

As "Darwin's bulldog," Huxley would himself engage in intrigue, deceit and intellectual property theft to make his master's theory gospel truth in Great Britain.

He is quoted above for two reasons.

First is House passage of a "cap-and-trade" climate-change bill.

Depending on which scientists you believe, the dire consequences of global warming are inconvenient truths -- or a fearmongering scheme to siphon off the wealth of individuals and empower bureaucrats.

The second is publication of "The End of Darwinism: And How a Flawed and Disastrous Theory Was Stolen and Sold," by Eugene G. Windchy, a splendid little book that begins with Huxley's lament.

That Darwinism has proven "disastrous theory" is indisputable.

"Karl Marx loved Darwinism," writes Windchy. "To him, survival of the fittest as the source of progress justified violence in bringing about social and political change, in other words, the revolution."

"Darwin suits my purpose," Marx wrote.

Darwin suited Adolf Hitler's purposes, too.

"Although born to a Catholic family Hitler become a hard-eyed Darwinist who saw life as a constant struggle between the strong and the weak. His Darwinism was so extreme that he thought it would have been better for the world if the Muslims had won the eighth century battle of Tours, which stopped the Arabs' advance into France. Had the Christians lost, (Hitler) reasoned, Germanic people would have acquired a more warlike creed and, because of their natural superiority, would have become the leaders of an Islamic empire."

Charles Darwin also suited the purpose of the eugenicists and Herbert Spencer, who preached a survival-of-the-fittest social Darwinism to robber baron industrialists exploiting 19th-century immigrants.

Historian Jacques Barzun believes Darwinism brought on World War I: "Since in every European country between 1870 and 1914 there was a war party demanding armaments, an individualist party demanding ruthless competition, an imperialist party demanding a free hand over backward peoples, a socialist party demanding the conquest of power and a racialist party demanding internal purges against aliens -- all of them, when appeals to greed and glory failed, invoked Spencer and Darwin, which was to say science incarnate."

Yet a theory can produce evil -- and still be true.

And here Windchy does his best demolition work.

Darwin, he demonstrates, stole his theory from Alfred Wallace, who had sent him a "completed formal paper on evolution by natural selection."

"All my originality ... will be smashed," wailed Darwin when he got Wallace's manuscript.

Darwin also lied in "The Origin of Species" about believing in a Creator. By 1859, he was a confirmed agnostic and so admitted in his posthumous autobiography, which was censored by his family.

Darwin's examples of natural selection -- such as the giraffe acquiring its long neck to reach ever higher into the trees for the leaves upon which it fed to survive -- have been debunked. Giraffes eat grass and bushes. And if, as Darwin claimed, inches meant life or death, how did female giraffes, two or three feet shorter, survive?

Windchy goes on to relate such scientific hoaxes as "Nebraska Man" -- an anthropoid ape ancestor to man, whose tooth turned out to belong to a wild pig -- and Piltdown Man, the missing link between monkey and man.

Discovered in England in 1912, Piltdown Man was a sensation until exposed by a 1950s investigator as the skull of a Medieval Englishman attached to the jaw of an Asian ape whose teeth had been filed down to look human and whose bones had been stained to look old.

Yet three English scientists were knighted for Piltdown Man.

Other myths are demolished. Bird feathers do not come from the scales of reptiles. There are no gills in human embryos.

For 150 years, the fossil record has failed to validate Darwin.

"The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontologists," admitted Stephen J. Gould in 1977. But that fossil record now contains even more species that appear fully developed, with no traceable ancestors.

Darwin ruled out such "miracles."

And Darwinists still have not explained the origin of life, nor have they been able to produce life from non-life.

The most delicious chapter is Windchy's exposure of the Scopes Monkey Trial and Hollywood's Bible-mocking movie "Inherit the Wind," starring Spencer Tracy as Clarence Darrow.

The trial was a hoked-up scam to garner publicity for Dayton, Tenn. Scopes never taught evolution and never took the stand. His students were tutored to commit perjury. And William Jennings Bryan held his own against the atheist Darrow in the transcript of the trial.

In 1981, Gould had this advice for beleaguered Darwinists:

"Perhaps we should all lie low and rally round the flag of strict Darwinism ... a kind of old-time religion on our part."

Exactly. Darwinism is not science. It is faith. Always was.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bishop Bernard Fellay meets the faithful after an ordination ceremony in Econe, southwest Switzerland, June 29 2009. Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of the four Bishops of the SSPX (Society of St. Pius X) leading to a possible reconciliation with Vatican. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the traditionalist Catholic organization SSPX, had consecrated the four bishops against Pope John Paul II's will, automatically leading to excommunication in 1988.

Video: h/t to Whispers in the Loggia

EWTN - Pontifical Tridentine High Mass of the Extraordinary Form - July 1

From the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, Alabama, Pontifical Tridentine High Mass of the Extraordinary Form on the Solemnity of the Most Precious Blood.
Wed 7/01/09 8:00 AM ET / 5 AM PT
Thu 7/02/09 12:00 AM ET / (Wed) 9 PM PT

St. Paul Outside The Walls - Tomb Panorama

Use your mouse or arrow keys to pan around, scroll button or the onscreen "+" and "-" buttons to zoom in and out.

h/t to Fr. Z.

Inhofe on Fox Live Now: Cap and Trade DOA "I'm kind of rejoicing"

Posted on Monday, June 29, 2009 9:48:52 AM by PreciousLiberty

"Inhofe just interviewed live on Fox. Fox is running with the suppressed EPA report challenging manmade global warming as a major story. Inhofe says the Cap and Trade bill is "DOA" in the Senate. There will be an investigation into the EPA suppressing valid science. He said "I'm kind of rejoicing", and that he's finally vindicated after years of pointing out the poor science.

The Fox anchor: 'This is huge!'

Sen. Inhofe Calls for Inquiry Into 'Suppressed' Climate Change Report

Republicans are raising questions about why the EPA apparently dismissed an analyst's report questioning the science behind global warming.


Monday, June 29, 2009

A top Republican senator has ordered an investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency's alleged suppression of a report that questioned the science behind global warming.

The 98-page report, co-authored by EPA analyst Alan Carlin, pushed back on the prospect of regulating gases like carbon dioxide as a way to reduce global warming. Carlin's report argued that the information the EPA was using was out of date, and that even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased, global temperatures have declined.

"He came out with the truth. They don't want the truth at the EPA," Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla, a global warming skeptic, told FOX News, saying he's ordered an investigation. "We're going to expose it..."


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Daily Bible Readings June 29 2009 Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, Apostles Mass During the Day

From Bob at A Catholic Site:

June 29 2009 Monday Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles – Mass During the Day
Saint of the Day – Sts. Peter and Paul

About the sources used. The readings on this site are not official for the Mass of Roman Rite of the Catholic Church in the USA, but are from sources free from copyright. They are here to present the comparable readings alongside traditional Catholic commentary as published in the Haydock Bible for your own personal study. Readings vary depending on your local calendar.

Official Readings of the Liturgy at – http://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/062909.shtml

Acts 12:1-11
Haydock New Testament


St Peter Freed by an Angel

AND at the same time Herod, the king, stretched forth his hands, to afflict some of the church. And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. And seeing that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to apprehend Peter also. Now it was in the days of the azymes. Whom when he had apprehended, he cast into prison, delivering him to four files of soldiers, to be kept, intending after the Pasch to bring him forth to the people. Peter, therefore, was kept in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing, by the church, to God, for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, that very night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the guards before the door kept the prison. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by him: and a light shined in the room: and he striking Peter on the side, raised him up, saying:

Arise quickly.

And the chains fell off from his hands. And the Angel said to him:

Gird thyself, and put on thy sandals.

And he did so. And he said to him:

Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

And going out, he followed him, and knew not that what was done by the Angel was true: but thought he saw a vision. And having passed through the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate that leadeth to the city, which of itself opened to them. And going out, they passed on through one street: and immediately the Angel departed from him. And Peter coming to himself, said:

Now I know truly, that the Lord hath sent his Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

Responsorial Psalm 33:2-9
DR Challoner Text Only

I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth.
In the Lord shall my soul be praised: let the meek hear and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me; and let us extol his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me; and he delivered me from all my troubles.
Come ye to him and be enlightened: and your faces shall not be confounded.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him: and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear him: and shall deliver them.
O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in him.

Saint Paul in Prison Rembrandt 1627AD

Saint Paul in Prison

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Haydock NT

For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me on that day: and not to me only, but to them also who love his coming. Make haste to come to me quickly.

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, that by me the preaching may be accomplished, and that all the Gentiles may hear: and I was delivered from the mouth of the lion. The Lord hath delivered me from every evil work: and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Saint Matthew 16:13-19
Haydock New Testament

And Jesus came into the parts of Cæsarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples saying:

Whom do men say that the Son of man is?

But they said:

Some John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

But Jesus saith to them:

But whom do you say that I am?

Simon Peter answering said:

Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.

And Jesus answering, said to him:

Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father, who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

Haydock Commentary Acts 12:1-11
Notes Copied From Haydock Commentary Site

  • Ver. 1. Herod. Agrippa, made king by the emperor Caius. See Jos. vi. 18. Antiq. c. viii. and l. xix. c. 5. put to death James the great, brother to John. Wi. This man was the same as Agrippa, by which name he is most commonly known. He was brother to the famous Herodias, who was the cause of S. John the Baptist’s decollation, (Calmet) and son-in-law of Herod the Great, by his father Aristobulus. V.
  • Ver. 2. S. James the elder, brother of S. John, the evangelist.
  • Ver. 3. The days of the azymes. By this we may know about the time when S. James was executed. Peter was to be reserved till after the Pasch, because it was not usual for the Jews to put any one to a violent death on a festival day. They would not damp the joy of the solemnity by such actions. Menoch. Nothing can be more illiberal, nothing more unfounded, and unjust, than the accusation advanced by the translators of the Bible dedicated to King James. In their preface they say, that the Catholics keep the words, azymes, holocaust, pasch, &c. in their version, purposely “to darken the sense, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may be kept from being understood.” See the splendid Oxford edit. an. 1770. So far from this, we open the window, to let in the light; we bread the shell, that the kernel may be eaten: we put aside the curtain, that a sight may be had into the holy place; we remove the cover of the well, that the good and humble may get to the water of life. If we retain certain words in the original tongue, it is for the same reason as our adversaries retain others, such as Amen, Sabaoth, Alleluia, Jehova, &c.
  • Ver. 4. To four files of soldiers.[1] To four times four soldiers, or to sixteen soldiers, each band or file consisting of four.
  • Ver. 6. With these two chains, according to the Roman custom, S. Peter must have been fastened to the two soldiers, that guarded him. Yet Peter slept secure, trusting in that Providence which sleepeth not.
  • Ver. 7. An Angel. This was probably his Angel guardian. It has always been the constant belief of the Church, that each individual is put under the protection of a tutelar Angel. A. S. Bernard, on these words of the psalm, he has given his Angels charge over thee, thus expresses himself: Wonderful condescension! and truly great love! He has given his Angels charge over thee, to guard thee in all thy ways. What is man, O God, that thou shouldst thus be mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou shouldst look upon him! What reverence, devotion, and confidence, should this word inspire in us! Reverence their presence, be grateful for their good will; have confidence in their protection; walk with circumspection; your Angel is present. In every abode, in every place, respect his presence. Let us love them too, destined to be in future our co-heirs; in the mean time, our guardians and patrons. What have we to fear under such guides? They cannot be overcome nor seduced; much less can they lead us astray. They are faithful, they are prudent, they are powerful. Why do we fear? Let us follow them; let us stick close to them; and we shall dwell under the protection of the God of heaven. If a grievous temptation urges; if great tribulation hangs over you; call upon your leader your helper in opportunities, in tribulations; call upon him, and say, save us, or we perish, &c. S. Bern. Serm. in Psalm. Qui habitat. A light shined in the room. To Peter only; not to the rest. Wi.
  • Ver. 11. Peter coming to himself. Being now sensible that all was true. Wi.

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18

  • Ver. 6. I am even now ready to be sacrificed.[5] Lit. to be immolated. See Philip. ii. 17. The time of my dissolution (lit. resolution) is at hand. This makes many judge that this letter was written during his last imprisonment; but the sense perhaps may be, that being old and worn out with labours, he could not live long. Wi.
  • Ver. 7. I have fought a good fight, or strived a good strife.[6] The Latin and Greek may signify any kind of striving for a prize. I have kept the faith, not only the Christian faith, the been faithful in my office. Wi.
  • Ver. 8. A crown of justice, which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me. These words confirm the Catholic doctrine, that good works performed with the assistance of God’s grace, deserve and are meritorious of a reward in heaven: it is what is signified, 1. by a crown of justice, 2. from a just judge, 3. which he will render or give as a reward. Yet we own with S. Aug. that we have no merit, but what is also a gift of God from his grace and mercy, and grounded on his promises. Wi. “A crown of justice,” which the Protestant translate, of righteousness; but let us see how the learned S. Austin, 1400 years ago, expounds the apostle’s meaning: “How should he repay as a just judge, unless he had first given as a merciful Father?” De grat. et lib. arb. c. vi. See Heb. vi. 10. God is not unjust, that he should forget your works; the the Protestants change into, God is not unrighteous.
  • Ver. 17. The Lord stood, &c. All agree that Nero is here meant by the lion. S. Chrys. thinks that S. Paul was set at liberty after this first justification of his conduct, but that having afterwards converted the cupbearer of Nero, he was by him beheaded. S. Chrys. hom. x. p. 611. But the Lord assisted and fortified me on this occasion by a vision, in which he assured me that he would prolong my life for the more perfect preaching of the gospel. V. The times predicted by the apostle in this epistle, (v. 3. and 4.) are now arrived; and the warnings he gives to Timothy and to all preachers of the word, should be sedulously attended to: preach the word: be instant in season and out of season; reprove, entreat, rebuke with all patience and doctrine. There will arrive a time when men will not bear sound doctrine; eager in the extreme to hear what flatters, they will have recourse to a variety of teachers not lawfully sent or ordained, calculated to tickle their ears: Assentatores populi, multitudinis levitatem voluptate quasi titillantes. Cic. In the same sense Plutarch says: ta wta apoknaiousin. It is yours, adds S. Paul, wV kaloV stratiwthV Cristou Ihsou, as a valiant soldier of Jesus Christ, to oppose yourself as a wall to all these evils, to attend every branch of your ministerial duty, not to yield to either opponents or dangers, and to see that the gospel is both preached and practised in all its purity. Thus may the Church find in you, and in her other ministers, what she is soon to lose in me, knowing as I do that my course is nearly run. That by me the preaching may be accomplished, (or fulfilled) and that all the Gentiles may hear it. This is an argument that he wrote this letter in his first imprisonment. And I was delivered from the mouth of the lion; that is, according to the common exposition, from Nero. Wi.

Haydock Commentary Matthew 16:13-19

  • Ver. 13. Cæarea Philippi, was first called Paneades, and was afterwards embellished and greatly enlarged by Philip the tetrarch, son of Herod the great, and dedicated in honour of Augustus, hence its name. There was moreover another Cæsarea, called Straton, situated on the Mediterranean: and not in this, but in the former, did Christ interrogate his disciples. He first withdrew them from the Jews, that they might with more boldness and freedom deliver their sentiments. S. Chry. hom. lv. The Cæsarea here mentioned continued to be called by heathen writers Panea, from the adjoining spring Paneum, or Panium, which is usually taken for the source of the Jordan.
  • Ver. 14. Some say, &c. Herod thought that Christ was the Baptist, on account of his prodigies. S. Mat. xiv. 2. Others that he was Elias: 1st. because they expected he was about to return to them, according to the prophecy of Malachias; behold I will send you Elias; 2d. on account of the greatness of his miracles; 3d. on account of his invincible zeal and courage in the cause of truth and justice. Others again said he was Jeremias, either on account of his great sanctity, for he was sanctified in his mother’s womb; or, on account of his great charity and love for his brethren, as it was written of Jeremias: he is a lover of his brethren. Or, again, one of the prophets, viz. Isaias, or some other noted for eloquence; for it was the opinion of many of the Jews, as we read in S. Luke, that one of the ancient prophets had arisen again. Dion. Carth.
  • Ver. 15. Whom do you say that I am? You, who have been continually with me; you, who have seen me perform so many more miracles; you, who have yourselves worked miracles in my name? From this pointed interrogation, Jesus Christ intimates, that the opinion men had formed of him was very inadequate to the exalted dignity of his person, and that he expects they will have a juster conception of him. Chry. hom. lv.
  • Ver. 16. Simon Peter answering. As Simon Peter had been constituted the first in the college of apostles, (Matt. x. 2.) and therefore surpasseth the others in dignity as much as in zeal, without hesitation, and in the name of all, he answers: thou art the Christ, the Redeemer promised to the world, not a mere man, not a mere prophet like other prophets, but the true and natural Son of the living God. Thus SS. Chrys. Cyril, Ambrose, Austin, and Tirinus. When our Saviour inquired the opinion of him, Peter, as the mouth of the rest, and head of the whole college, steps forth, and prevents the others. Chrys. hom. lv. Tu es Christus, filius Dei vivi; or, as it is in the Greek, o cristoV, o uioV; The Christ, the Son, the Christ formerly promised by the law and the prophets, expected and desired by all the saints, the anointed and consecrated to God: o uios, the Son, not by grace only, or an adoptive filiation like prophets, to whom Christ is here opposed, but by natural filiation, and in a manner that distinguishes him from all created beings. Thou art[1] Christ, the Son of the living God, not by grace only, or by adoption, as saints are the sons of God, but by nature, and from all eternity, the true Son of the living God. Wi.
  • Ver. 17. Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona. Simon is undoubtedly Sumewn, as written 2 Pet. i. 1. Bariwna is son of Jona, or John, an abridgment for Bariwanna. Bar, in Chaldaic, is son; hence S. Peter is called, in John xi, 16. and 17, Simon, son of John. It was customary with the Jews to add to a rather common name, for the sake of discrimination, a patrwnumikon, or patronymic, as appears from Matt. x. 3. and xxiii. 35. Mark ii. 14. John vi. 42. P.
  • Ver. 18. Kagw. And I say to thee, and tell thee why I before declared, (John i. 42.) that thou shouldst be called Peter, for thou art constituted the rock upon which, as a foundation, I will build my Church, and that so firmly, as not to suffer the gates (i.e. the powers) of hell to prevail against its foundation; because if they overturn its foundation, (i.e. thee and thy successors) they will overturn also the Church that rests upon it. Christ therefore here promises to Peter, that he and his successors should be to the end, as long as the Church should last, its supreme pastors and princes. T. In the Syriac tongue, which is that which Jesus Christ spoke, there is no difference of genders, as there is in Latin, between patra, a rock, and Petrus, Peter; hence, in the original language, the allusion was both more natural and more simple. V. –Thou art Peter;[2] and upon this (i.e. upon thee, according to the literal and general exposition of the ancient Fathers) I will build my church. It is true S. Augustine, in one or two places, thus expounds these words, and upon this rock, (i.e. upon myself:) or upon this rock, which Peter hath confessed: yet he owns that he had also given the other interpretation, by which Peter himself was the rock. Some Fathers have also expounded it, upon this faith, which Peter confessed; but then they take not faith, as separated from the person of Peter, but on Peter, as holding the true faith. No one questions but that Christ himself is the great foundation-stone, the chief corner-stone, as S. Paul tells the Ephesians; (C. ii, v. 20.) but it is also certain, that all the apostles may be called foundation-stones of the Church, as represented Apoc. xxi. 14. In the mean time, S. Peter (called therefore Cephas, a rock) was the first and chief foundation-stone among the apostles, on whom Christ promised to build his Church. Wi. Thou art Peter, &c. As S. Peter, by divine revelation, here made a solemn profession of his faith of the divinity of Christ, so in recompense of this faith and profession, our Lord here declares to him the dignity to which he is pleased to raise him: viz. that he, to whom he had already given the name of Peter, signifying a rock, (John i. 42.) should be a rock indeed, of invincible strength, for the support of the building of the church; in which building he should be next to Christ himself, the chief foundation-stone, in quality of chief pastor, ruler, and governor; and should have accordingly all fulness of ecclesiastical power, signified by the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Upon this rock, &c. The words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews, which our Lord made use of, were the same as if he had said in English, Thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my church. So that, by the plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock, upon which the church was to be built; Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same. Where also note, that Christ by building his house, that is, his Church, upon a rock, has thereby secured it against all storms and floods, like the wise builder. Matt. vii. 24, 25. The gates of hell, &c. That is, the powers of darkness, and whatever Satan can do, either by himself or his agents. For as the Church is here likened to a house, or fortress, the gates of which, i.e. the whole strength, and all the efforts it can make, will never be able to prevail over the city or Church of Christ. By this promise we are fully assured, that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatsoever shall at any time prevail over the Church of Christ. Ch. The gates, in the Oriental style, signify the powers; thus, to this day, we designate the Ottoman or Turkish empire by the Ottoman port. The princes were wont to hold their courts at the gates of the city. V.
  • Ver. 19. And I will give to thee the keys, &c. This is another metaphor, expressing the supreme power and prerogative of the prince of the apostles. The keys of a city, or of its gates, are presented or given to the person that hath the chief power. We also own a power of the keys, given to the other apostles, but with a subordination to S. Peter and to his successor, as head of the Catholic Church. And whatsoever thou shalt bind, &c. All the apostles, and their successors, partake also of this power of binding and loosing, but with a due subordination to one head invested with the supreme power. Wi. Loose on earth. The loosing the bands of temporal punishments due to sins, is called an indulgence: the power of which is here granted. Ch. Although Peter and his successors are mortal, they are nevertheless endowed with heavenly power, says S. Chry. nor is the sentence of life and death passed by Peter to be attempted to be reversed, but what he declares is to be considered a divine answer from heaven, and what he decrees, a decree of God himself. He that heareth you, heareth me, &c. The power of binding is exercised, 1st. by refusing to absolve; 2d. by enjoining penance for sins forgiven; 3d. by excommunication, suspension or interdict; 4th. by making rules and laws for the government of the Church; 5th. by determining what is of faith by the judgments and definitions of the Church. T. The terms binding and loosing, are equivalent to opening and shutting, because formerly the Jews opened the fastenings of their doors by untying it, and they shut or secured their doors by tying or binding it. V. Dr. Whitby, a learned Protestant divine, thus expounds this and the preceding verse: “As a suitable return to thy confession, I say also to thee, that thou art by name Peter, i.e. a rock; and upon thee, who art this rock, I will build my making laws to govern my Church.” (Tom. i, p. 143.) Dr. Hammond, another Protestant divine, explains it in the same manner. And p. 92, he says: ” What is here meant by the keys, is best understand by Isaias xxii. 22, where they signified ruling the whole family or house of the king: and this being by Christ accommodated to the Church, denotes the power of governing it.”


Pope: Scientific analysis done on St. Paul's bones

AP Photo
Pope Benedict XVI, at center, arrives with other prelates for a solemn vespers service for St. Peter and St. Paul, in St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica, in Rome, Sunday, June 28, 2009. The pontiff said recent scientific tests on what are believed to be the remains of the Apostle Paul "seem to conclude" that they do indeed belong to the Roman Catholic saint. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME (AP) -- The first-ever scientific test on what are believed to be the remains of the Apostle Paul "seems to confirm" that they do indeed belong to the Roman Catholic saint, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday.

Archaeologists recently unearthed and opened the white marble sarcophagus located under the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome, which for some 2,000 years has been believed by the faithful to be the tomb of St. Paul.

Benedict said scientists had conducted carbon dating tests on bone fragments found inside the sarcophagus and confirmed that they date from the first or second century.

"This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul," Benedict said, announcing the findings at a service in the basilica to mark the end of the Vatican's Paoline year, in honor of the apostle...


Out in the Mercy Cemetery, lest we forget!

"Praying for the dead is a great act of MERCY! Don’t forget your priests, especially those who have provided you with the sacraments, especially for those with no one to pray for them. They may be silently begging you for your prayers. Here are some of the Fathers of Mercy: Hail Mary…

This fellow was a Novice Master…"




Hitler's top secret stealth bomber

Posted on June 26, 2009, 1:32 PM | Brian Saint-Paul

(Inside Catholic) Surprising to most, the U.S. military's space-age B-2 Spirit was not the world's first stealth bomber. That honor belongs to the Horton 2-29, an experimental jet created by Nazi Germany at the tail end of World War II. However, because it was never in wide use during the conflict, the 2-29's stealth capabilities were never given much of a test. That is, until now.


Researchers hired by National Geographic studied the last remaining 2-29 in existence -- locked away in a U.S. government hangar -- and built a replica. They then tested the plane's resistance to the kinds of radar active during the Second World War.

Radar tests on the replica show that the plane's radical, smooth design would indeed have given it a significant advantage against radar, according to Tom Dobrenz, a Northrop Grumman expert in stealth, or "low observable," technology, who led the Horten replica project.

In short: The Horten 2-29 looks to have been the world's first stealth fighter.

Here's a brief video of the researchers at work. Fascinating stuff. We can marvel at the genius of the German design, while being grateful that it came too late to help the Nazis.

Catholics take a new view on a one-time death-bed ritual

Monsignor Michael Begolly, pastor of Mt. St. Peter church in New Kensington, administers the Sacrament of the Sick to Mary Matviko at her New Kensington home.
Jason Bridge/Valley News Dispatch

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The chapel in the rural Penn Township countryside, just outside of Saxonburg and the home to Shelbourne Assisted Living facility, is the setting as Carole Thompson of Middlesex escorts her wheelchair-bound mother, Mary Terek, 86, into the light-filled room.

Her pastor, the Rev. Al Semler of Holy Sepulcher Roman Catholic Church, Middlesex, greets her warmly.

Terek smiles as Semler begins the rite now known as the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

Rev. Semler grew up in West Deer in the pre-Vatican II era when the sacrament was known, forbodingly to some, as "The Last Rites" or "Extreme Unction."

Roman Catholics are being asked to view the sacrament, once thought only to be a death-bed ritual, in a new light. The educational process is ongoing, though changes, illustrated in one way this morning in the prayerful exchange between Semler and Terek, came decades ago during the historic Vatican II sessions of the 1960s.

"I remember when I was young and you would be frightened when you saw the priest coming because that generally meant you were near death," Semler says. "The church wanted to get away from that and not have it be a scary time, but a time of need to give a person a real idea of the real strength of the Lord."

Not only isn't it necessary to be on one's death bed to receive that strength, but faithful are encouraged to take advantage of other opportunities to receive the sacrament, such as requesting anointing prior to surgery and at communal celebrations offered in church.

"The rite used in administering the sacrament is adaptable to various circumstances," says the Rev. James Tringhese, pastor of St. Regis Parish, Trafford.

Those circumstances, in addition to pre-surgery, include those who are seriously ill, but are expected to recover; those experiencing the afflictions of old age; people who are chronically or terminally ill; those with mental illness and persons near death. It can be administered more than once.

Some people receive it several times over a lifetime.

It is primarily a sacrament of spiritual healing, which should not be confused with a cure.

"It can often be a source of grace for facing the illness realistically," Tringhese says, "and believing in the love that God still has for the person even in the midst of pain, suffering or terminal illness."

Too often, people today associate anointing with giving up hope for a recovery, says the Rev. Vincent Kolo, who has anointed more than 2,300 people in the last four years as chaplain at Allegheny General Hospital, North Side.

Kolo, a Scott Township native, sees it as a rite of hope -- "hope for here and hope for eternal life."

Mary Terek says receiving the sacrament is important to her. "I think I'm with God in heaven (afterwards)," she says. "It gives me peace."

Her daughter, Carole Thompson, understands. She had surgery last fall and received it.

"I lost a lot of anxiety," she says. "You are more ready to accept whatever outcome you have."

It is a source of comfort to a family to see their loved one be anointed, she adds. "It is one of the mainstays of our faith," she says.

It is, in fact, a very beautiful sacrament to perform as a priest says the Rev. Tom Burke, pastor of Good Shepherd in Braddock.

"When I go into a hospital or nursing home or home, people light up like a Christmas tree," he says.

There is a sense of peace, just in anointing on the hands and forehead, to pray with them and to give them the Eucharist, he says, if a person is experiencing a lot of pain and suffering.

"It is like a spiritual security blanket. If it is near death, like in intensive care, there's a sense of everything will be OK," Rev. Burke says.

The Rev. Anthony Carbone, pastor of St. John the Evangelist, Latrobe, is not sure some people quite understand the sacrament in its newer form. Families often do not call for a priest when someone falls ill because they don't want to upset the sick person, he says.

Carbone sees that as a disservice to the loved one.

"We ought to be helping them prepare for death," he says. "The whole purpose of the sacraments is for our salvation."

Still, Rev. David Poecking, pastor of St. Michael, Pitcairn, and Pittsburgh Diocesan chaplain to Forbes Regional Campus of West Penn Hospital, Monroeville, finds more people are less shy about being anointed.

Many who once associated anointing closely with death now understand the broader view of it, he says. "Nowadays, most of the people I encounter readily welcome anointing," he says.

The aging population likely has led to a much broader administration of the sacrament, Poecking says.

He recently performed the rite for parishioner Andrew DeBone, 92, a resident of Manor Care, Monroeville.

"My father is most appreciative of Father Dave's visits," says Donna DeBone of Monroeville, who is a volunteer Eucharistic minister at Manor Care.

She likes the new way of looking at the sacrament, which she calls "the center of our religious life."

Ross resident Marie Schuster's husband, Lawrence Schuster, was anointed three times in the period between suffering a stroke in 1999 and his death in 2007.

"He had such a peaceful look on his face after receiving the sacrament," she says. "It made it so much easier for me."

Dolores McFeaters of West Homestead understands.

"I can't tell you what an uplifting feeling it was, even with all the sorrow, to know a priest was there when my sister died," she says. "There's nothing more calming than a minister giving a blessing at a time like that."

Mary Cavicchio, 85, of Trafford, who has had several heart surgeries, says she was happy to be given the opportunity to receive it recently at her home from her pastor, Tringhese.

She finds it reassuring.

So did her grandmother, says Kim Halula of Wimmerton, near Latrobe. Her grandmother, Mary Gresh, 91, died June 3, shortly after being anointed.

"I think she was holding on for the sacrament. We just know in our hearts," Halula says. "Even though she was unconscious, I felt she was aware of what was happening."

Priest shortage yet to impact sacrament ministry in region

The Rev. Vincent Kolo wants to remain optimistic about how the priest shortage may impact one of his church's vital sacraments.

Other priests in the Pittsburgh and Greensburg Dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church share his hope.

"Several years ago, someone said that the shortage would force the church to look at what was essential to priestly ministry," says Kolo, chaplain at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh. "The day that priests do not care for the sick will be a sad day."

He has administrated the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to more than 2,300 people in the last four years. And he believes that, in contrast to some major cities like Chicago, if his fellow clergy continue to make it a priority, those in need of receiving it locally will not go wanting.

A recent Associated Press story reported that in Chicago, greater demand for the sacrament, which can only be administered by a priest, combined with a shortage of priests threaten to create a painful shortfall for Catholics.

David Lichter, president of the National Association of Catholic Chaplins, says the pressure on priests to do parish ministry has taken a toll on the number of clergy focused on health care.

To address the shortfall, the Chicago archdiocese authorized priests from the Eastern eparchy, religious orders and dioceses inside and outside the U.S. to work in hospitals. Most of the priests hired as chaplains in the Chicago area's 22 Catholic hospitals are from overseas.

That has not been an issue in this area.

"I would say there is no shortage to the point of affecting hospital coverage in Pittsburgh," says Rev. Kolo. "There are plenty of priests in the greater Pittsburgh area to cover sick calls to hospitals and nursing homes."

Oldest Icon of St. Paul the Apostle Discovered

From NLM:

"..here are some pictures of what is probably the oldest icon - in the sense of a cult image - of St. Paul the Apostle, probably dating from the end of the fourth century. It was discovered, as today's edition of L’Osservatore Romano reports, last Friday 19 June in the course of restoration works in the Roman catacombs of St. Thecla on the Via Ostiensis, not far from the burial place of St. Paul:"

Pitchman Billy Mays Found Dead

Billy MaysTMZ has confirmed TV pitchman Billy Mays was found dead today in his home in Tampa, Florida early this morning.

According to the Tampa PD, the 50-year-old TV pitchman was found unresponsive by his wife Deborah at 7:45 AM.

TMZ has learned Mays' body has already been removed from his home.

Mays had just returned from Philadelphia, where he shot a new OxiClean commercial. He was a passenger aboard a plane that suffered a blown front tire upon landing. He told a local TV station, "All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head."

We're told Mays was at his home around 6:00 PM last night, and according to a source Mays was "acting fine and normal ... he was talking business with his father-in-law."

According to cops, there are no signs of forced entry to the residence and no foul play is suspected.

The Medical Examiner's office is expected to complete the autopsy by tomorrow afternoon.


Billy's wife Deborah just released the following statement: "Although Billy lived a public life, we don't anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days. Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times."

Discovery Channel spokeswoman Elizabeth Hillman released a statement Sunday that reads, "Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth. Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal andcompassionate friend."

Story developing ...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Solution is Holiness

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven" (Matt 5:10-12)

Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version

The New Catholic Manliness

by Todd M. Aglialoro
The Catholic Church makes men . . . Of such she may also someday make soldiers. — Hilaire Belloc

It is a source of no small irony that, even as radical feminists within and without the Church have railed for two generations against patriarchy and phallocentrism, it can be quite plausibly said that the post-conciliar Church in this country has, for all intents and purposes, been run by women.

Consider a Sunday in the life of a typical American parish. Father Reilly, once his mother's darling, says Mass before a congregation disproportionately representative of widows (both the traditional and the football kind), soccer moms flying solo, and budding young liturgistas. At the elevation of the Host, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist (80-20 female) and altar servettes gather around the sanctuary to lend him moral support.

After Mass, he enjoys a donut in the church basement while regaling the ladies of the Hospitality Guild before heading back upstairs to sit in as the token male at a meeting of parish CCD teachers. Later that afternoon, Sister Dorothy fills him in on the doings of the confirmation class, peace and justice committee, RCIA candidates, and youth group. At dinner he lingers over the new pastoral letter from his bishop, urging the flock to get more in touch with the God Who Nurtures. Finally, in the evening, he pokes his head into the weekly gathering of the Divorced and Separated Support Group, whose overwhelmingly female members and leaders thank him for his solicitude.

Do I exaggerate? Perhaps. (Father probably wouldn't have checked up on his catechists like that.) But common experience nonetheless bears out the point: We may yet have a male-only clergy and hierarchy, but where the rubber meets the road — in those mundane areas of church life where laity and institution most commonly interact — the flavor is feminine. Whether you want to speak in terms of liturgy, ministry (lay and clerical), religious education, or sheer congregational numbers, official ecclesial power may not rest in the hands of women, but considerable unofficial influence clearly does, and has for some time. And we in the Church have been subject to its effects.

Not all these effects, as we shall see, have been bad. But one of the worst has been a subjugation of traditional masculine virtue: the concept of distinctly and properly manly Catholicism repressed, stigmatized, covered up, or otherwise forgotten for lack of practice. And the more "feminized" Catholicism thus became — the more its pews became recognized as the province of wives, children, and the effete — the more likely were men and their post-pubescent sons to stay away. All of this is making today's Church, according to Leon Podles, author of The Church Impotent, "essentially a women's club with some male officers."

Men Struggle to Be Brides

A certain feminine spin to Christianity is no modern novelty, of course. To the early pagans, our religion must have reeked of unmanly weakness, with its insistence on monogamy and celibacy, its idealized pacifism, its exaltation of mercy, its preference for the poor and helpless, and its meek-and-mild founder whose humiliation and death were somehow a blessing. Around the high Middle Ages, according to Podles, Aristotle's idea of the "passive" female became enmeshed with the ecclesiology of the Church as Bride of Christ. To be a good Christian from then on, he says, meant to recognize that "God is the father, the groom, active; while we were to be the bride — passive and receptive."

Msgr. Stuart Swetland, director of Pre-Theology at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, agrees that in Christian spirituality "the default position is always going to be the feminine," because we are fundamentally called "to be receptive to God, to give way to His agenda." But he insists that "there is a way to do this without being 'effeminate' — a properly masculine way to yield to God's active principle." Unfortunately, he says, in the male's fallen state it is difficult to shake the presumption that to yield to God is to be less than a real man. Throughout all ages and cultures we witness the scene of men gathering for gossip, drink, or shared idleness while their wives bundle the children off to church. These men, like their modern HDTV-ogling counterparts, might darken a church door on Easter Sunday, sweating in their suits, but they'd sooner take up sewing than a regular sacramental life.

The Over-Correction

Despite these handicaps, the Church has undeniably left us a historical legacy of masculine role models: saintly warriors, rugged missionaries, martyr-priests. In fact, just the last century may have seen something of a mini-renaissance of masculinity. Podles theorizes that in the decades immediately preceding Vatican II, many men, "hardened by the horrors of war," became priests and bishops, leading to a stereotype of the rough or aloof cleric, and to a style of catechesis that strenuously emphasized God's fatherhood, strict moral norms, and a hyper-rationalized approach to theological questions. Meanwhile, the lay members of the Greatest Generation fell into a pattern of rigid, narrowly defined gender roles, of which men had uncontested dominance.

Ironically, this brief spike in Catholic manliness may have contributed to its own downfall, for by the 1960s a counter-movement had begun. In families there emerged a widespread rebellion against "paternalistic" authority. Priests and religious strove for softer, more "pastoral" approaches. And according to Ron Bolster, director of the Office of Catechetics at Franciscan University of Steubenville, religious education "began to emphasize methodology over content — the person being catechized over the object of catechesis." The old regime's stern and systematic approach to the Faith, with its "forced memorization, casuistry, rulers on the knuckles," no longer served.

In many instances, Monsignor Swetland and Bolster both insist, there was a genuine correction in order, a worthy contribution from the "feminine" perspective to be made. But it all went too far, and quickly. (Consider as a parallel how the revolutionary affirmation-based child-rearing philosophy of Dr. Spock morphed into the coddling excesses of the baby boomers.) Suddenly a generation of men — both lay and clergy — that not long before had finally been able to admit that it was "okay to cry" became the Phil Donahue Generation: limp caricatures of sensitivity. Fathers — of families and of souls — lost their authoritative voice, or abandoned their responsibilities to seek self-fulfillment. Meanwhile, catechists, newly unchained from dry and rote formulas, soon reduced the content of the Faith, as Bolster puts it, to "Jesus loves you, now let's make a collage."

At this time, too, radical feminism stepped out of the universities and muscled in on the pews with its now-familiar list of demands, seeking (with considerable local success) to enforce a new, gender-neutral brand of "God-talk." And also — let it not go unsaid — the Goodbye, Good Men generation of clergy entered active ministry, their male psychosexual identities malformed, inflicting on the Church everything from priests with squishy handshakes to the worst crimes of the Lavender Mafia.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a testosterone-free Church, beginning perhaps in the early 1980s: Following a trail blazed first by Evangelical Protestants, in what appears to be part of another historical correction, manly Catholicism — chastened and wiser — began to make a modest comeback. Let us look at some examples of Catholic manhood's counter-offensive, how it is manifesting itself in different areas of Church life, and what it may mean for its future.

The Counterattack

"Where did it begin? Right in the bosom of the family," says Tarek Saab, founder of Lionheart Apparel, a line of casual men's clothing featuring Christian symbols and slogans. Saab, who parlayed his 15 minutes of fame as a contestant on the TV show The Apprentice into a platform for promoting masculine Catholic ideals, believes that many children of the 1970s, burdened with their parents' social debt of divorce, fatherlessness, and sexual misery, were determined to do things differently. For Christian men especially, that meant carving out a brave new counterculture in which fathers reclaimed their position as head of the family, planted themselves in the pews alongside their wives and kids, and adopted a "provide and protect" stance in the face of the world's trials and temptations.

Saab sees a parallel phenomenon among younger, unmarried Christian men, to whom his company's products and Web site content are mostly aimed. They actively reject the "cheap version of manhood" that their generation has devised in an attempt to fill the masculinity vacuum: the "lowest-common-denominator" man who worships sports, electronics, and sex (yet who still somehow escapes feminist censure, presumably by agreeing to pay for half the abortion). Conscious of oppression from a world that wants to rob them of their piety, their self-control, and their chastity, they're banding together for fellowship and strength. In a sort of return to the low-profile symbols used by the persecuted early Church, Saab envisions items such as his company's Christ-themed T-shirts (cut to show off muscles) and hats — as well as papal crucifixes, rosary rings, or Miraculous Medal tattoos — being worn in health clubs and on college campuses as a way for such men to identify and silently affirm each other.

What Does It Mean to Be a Man?

Shift from the relatively superficial to the sublime and you have "That Man Is You!," a program of Houston-based family ministry Paradisus Dei. Its founder, Steve Bollman, has mapped out an ambitious approach to men's ministry that begins by mining the social and biological sciences in search of a comprehensive vision of gender differences and roles — of what makes a man a man, and why. In so doing, he has discovered what he thinks is the key to male under-representation in the Church — in short, the "pastorally sensitive" approach bores them. "Men respond to a challenge," Bollman says. "To offer them a 'soft' program doesn't take into account how men work."

So Bollman set out to provide that challenge — with early morning prayer groups; with demanding "covenants" that call men to be self-sacrificing leaders in their families; and with an intellectually rigorous 68-week program, spread over three years, that unites science, Scripture, theology, and spirituality in a "thinking-man's quest" for the full truth of what it means to be a man — and a man of God. To date, more than 5,000 men in Texas, Canada, and satellite programs nationwide have participated.

Bollman sees his ministry as part of a larger wave. "There's definitely something going on here," he says. Throughout the Church, "God is awakening in more men the desire to be real men." This means making sacrifices, being "willing to pay the price to do the right thing." In order to make such a sacrifice a man must "draw on all his masculine strength," Bollman says, and in so doing he steers clear of the two extremes of false manhood that are "deadly to male participation in the Church": the "wimpish Christianity" that presents neither challenge nor reward, and the machismo that keeps proud men off their knees.

Hello, Good Men

In what is certainly a corollary to Christian manhood's renaissance in family life and among young men, we have also begun to witness a discernible return to masculinity in our seminaries and, consequently, our parishes. Both Monsignor Swetland and his confrere Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, rector for the Mount, see promising signs in the men coming through their seminary doors today.

For one, they are carrying themselves differently: "They take pride in their masculine attributes," says Monsignor Swetland. "The last couple generations of priests generally weren't too concerned about taking care of themselves physically," but these days "they work out, they play sports, they want to look and dress and act like men." Also in contrast to their predecessors, they're interested in pursuing "a distinctly masculine spirituality," says Monsignor Rohlfs — in part, he adds with a laugh, because "there's a sense of relief that it's now acceptable to talk that way."

This didn't happen by accident, of course. Good seminaries are not simply enjoying a serendipitous influx of manlier applicants; they're expressly targeting them. In what ought instantly to become the mantra of every rector and vocations director in the country, Monsignor Rohlfs tells how he seeks candidates who "exude a personality of quiet confidence and strength"; who demonstrate "an ability to relate to men and to fathers of families, as well as to children as a spiritual father"; and finally, "a spirituality that brings together the best qualities of a man."

Those qualities exceed the external trappings of speech and physique. "We're addressing what it means to talk about 'maleness,' beyond just the body," says Monsignor Swetland. Seminarians who, a generation ago, might have been "knocked down for appearing too aggressive" are now confident in showing initiative — no longer bound by "a false sense of what it means to be pastoral," these men are "not afraid to be Christ-centered men of action," not afraid to preach boldly about "God's ferociousness of heart."

The change has begun to bear evident fruits in the interactions among younger clergy and seminarians, thanks to a reemphasis on the classical sense of friendship, which helps guard against same-sex attraction while building a lifelong foundation for priestly fellowship and mutual help. Among such men there is virtually no evidence of the affectation of feminine traits and roles that has plagued many seminaries. And the conversations at support groups, Monsignor Swetland adds, "aren't all psychobabble like they used to be." Instead, the young men challenge and demand accountability of each other.

Perhaps above all else, this new breed of seminarian has a fundamentally different orientation toward the Church, a posture that is decidedly husbandly. "The priests we're forming now," says Monsignor Swetland, "their mission is to love, cherish, and protect their Bride the Church. Whereas so many priests and seminarians of my generation, they wanted to change the Church." This doesn't mean that these men are blind to the Church's faults and failings; however, they view those troubles in the larger context of a "battle to fight on her behalf." This spirit of spousal fidelity, combined with a healthy accent on God's transcendence (whereas the feminine approach, Monsignor Rohlfs muses, "tends to accentuate His immanence"), has the added effect of sealing these young priests with a deep and trustworthy orthodoxy.

Despite positive signs, this part of the "battle," such as it is, remains far from won. In many seminaries, even those that have cleared their staffs of ideologues, who before would give unabashed preference to effeminate candidates while straining out the masculine ones, there are still future priests with a seriously deficient — or skewed — sense of what it means to be a man. Some of these will become deadbeat spiritual fathers; others will have to battle — or will succumb to — homosexual urges.

Interestingly, some of these seminarians are the same ones displaying a conspicuously fervent piety or orthodoxy. More than one source mentions the acronym DOT — "Daughter of Trent," house slang for an effeminate or presumptively gay seminarian who affects (or adopts in a compensatory way) an old-school spirituality or flame-throwing orthodoxy. Nonetheless, there is a definite and promising trend here, the benefits of which we have just begun to reap in parishes nationwide.

Toward a Crunchier Catechesis

Partly thanks to the initiative of some of these solid young priests, religious education has also begun to show signs of a renewed emphasis on masculine concepts and methodology. After the perfect storm of feminism, weak spiritual fatherhood, heterodox mischief, and dissatisfaction with rote approaches left Catholic catechesis touchy-feely in method and devoid of content in the 1970s and 1980s, the roots of yet another historical correction began to take hold. The next generation "discovered they were missing something," Bolster says. They weren't burdened by the hang-ups or bad memories of their parents, so when they chanced to hear some small aspect of the Faith "delivered to them in a meaningful way," he says, "they became hungry for more."

This yearning for content in catechesis is not exclusively masculine, of course. Theological curiosity and rigor are not solely male qualities. The mind and the heart, dogma and experience, definition and mystery, truth and love — both men and women need to receive the Faith from all angles and engage it with all their faculties. But we return to natural gender differences again, to what Bollman calls "percentages and proportions" favoring this or that trait: Not only do they want to be spiritual "providers and protectors," but men will, on average, be drawn more strongly to a religion that provides purchase for their intellects to grasp, distinguish, and, finally, submit to.

In practice, this means a return to teaching hard or "crunchy" doctrine, a return to transcendence, a return to the fullness of Christian mysteries. Not, Bolster stresses, a return to the days of rote catechesis, but rather a new approach that "corrects current imbalances" without being merely reactionary. Thus, for example, in teaching Christology Jesus will still be "our friend" — as CCD children drew on their felt banners in the Seventies — but He will also be presented "as our God and Creator and Judge of the universe," with fully divine and human natures united in the Second Person of the Trinity. A lesson on the four marks of the Church will include the translation of "catholic" as "universal," and therefore welcoming of all, but now to be followed by emphasis on evangelization and penance rather than on cheery inclusivism.

As a professor of catechetics, Bolster is on the vanguard of a global movement toward the restoration — and more than restoration — of religious education in the Church, a movement in which men will find special benefit. In happy cooperation with the burgeoning spirit of Christian manhood in homes and parishes, it is poised to provide the next generation of faithful with a formation that is intellectual but not dry, warm and personal but not frivolous or compromising, geared to the current situation but rooted in eternal certainties. Such formation, it can be hopefully expected, will in turn produce for the Church more good male teachers, husbands, fathers, and priests.

Onward, Christian Soldiers

As I pursued this investigation of the new Catholic manliness, two common threads emerged. The first was the influence of Pope John Paul II, who by all accounts was the inspiration, motivation, and architect of the whole project. First, as a pastor and spiritual father: In him "the orphans of living parents found their Papa," as Bolster puts it. And second, by laying down a theological and philosophical trail for Catholic priests, ministers, and laymen to follow. The late pope's writings on the theology of the body helped us to understand how gender "gets right to the core of who we are," says Monsignor Swetland. Bollman concurs, adding that John Paul took the "impoverished anthropology" that his era had inherited and replaced it with a "Christian anthropology based on the inherent dignity of man and woman." Only from that foundation, he says, could we begin to rebuild an authentic male spirituality.

The second common thread was the martial metaphor. Every one of my sources spoke of a battle against the temptations and obstacles the modern world puts before men, a war against the false, cheap version of manhood it whispers in our ears. Again and again they made use of military imagery in defining male spirituality: Bolster and Monsignor Swetland — both former naval lieutenants — stressed the need to adapt the military virtues of discipline, valor, and self-sacrifice to the work of spiritual combat.

It may one day be recognized that the growing use and acceptance of military language to define manhood within the Church turned out to be not just apt but critical. For there is one religion that has no problem attracting and keeping male followers. Its wholly transcendent God doesn't desire spiritual conjugality with His people. Its leaders don't preach mercy, or celibacy, or strength through weakness; they do not have to contend with the paradox of the Cross. And the zealous adherents of Islam do not turn the other cheek.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Prayers by Heart

by Joanna Bogle

It is a sunny Sunday morning in a typical London suburb. I am doing some quick work in the garden before Mass. My next-door neighbors are Evangelical Christians, originally from India. This morning, the grandmother, wearing a sari, is walking up and down with her little granddaughter, and when we stop to chat, she tells me that she is teaching the little girl a Bible verse for the child to commit to memory. As I resume my work, chopping away at an overgrown hedge, I find I am echoing the verse too, and it follows me into the house as I hurry about tidying things and getting ready to cycle off to Mass, reminding me that Christ loves me and died for me.

How often do we teach children things to learn by memory? I can't imagine that there are very many -- if any -- other families in my local area where a child is beginning Sunday morning by learning a Bible verse by heart. But at one time it would have been normal. In my 1960s childhood, I recall elderly people -- brought up in traditional Anglican households in the vanished world of Edwardian England, pre-1914 -- telling me about having to learn a collect, or a Bible verse, or sometimes part of a hymn, as a routine part of Sunday morning. In general, it seemed to be a happy memory -- or, at least, not one filled with misery or anguish. And the verses and prayers had in many cases stayed with them down the years.

I too learned things by heart: At school we were taught the Ten Commandments this way, and the Magnificat, and various Psalms ("The Lord is my Shepherd," "Out of the depths," and so on). And we were still doing this during what was supposed to be a very revolutionary period: In 1968 -- the "summer of love" -- one got mixed messages with "pop, pot, and the Pill" coming from the mass media, while standard Shakespeare and Chaucer dominated in the classroom and rather silly new hymns were beginning to oust traditional ones at school Masses.

During the 1970s, when a certain amount of liturgical and catechetical chaos was beginning to run riot in the Church, I remember Pope Paul VI vainly trying to plead that doctrinal truths could not flourish where the uses of memory were not valued. Some things simply do have to be committed to memory, and taught in a way that ensures this. The expression "learning by heart" is itself significant: Things committed to the heart remain there, and are cherished.

The Church has always set considerable store by the whole notion of memory. We are expected to know prayers and familiar hymns by heart. It is still done, and children find it easy. Recently, giving out prizes for a school project with which I was involved, I visited a number of Catholic primary schools. It was impossible not to be touched, every time, by the sight and sound of morning assembly -- children gathered together, a mutual "Good morning," a hymn, a chorus of voices raised in "Our Father, Who art in Heaven, " and "Hail Mary, full of grace." More than once, watching the children from beneath half-closed eyes, I was struck suddenly by the thought that the children -- eyes (for the most part) tightly shut, hands firmly together -- were concentrating more sincerely than I.

Today, I still use prayers that I was taught by heart as a child -- the Prayer to a Guardian Angel, grace before meals, the "Eternal rest" for someone who has died, and more. When babysitting a small (non-Catholic) child some years ago, I started to say the old prayer, "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, bless the bed that I lie on," and she was enchanted, interrupting me to tell me joyfully that her grandmother had taught her that, and happily saying it along with me. A lovely old prayer binds people together, makes for family bonds, delivers something precious.

Knowing something "by heart" opens up paths to God. The formula for confession, the ritual of the sign of the cross, the responses at Mass. Pope Benedict XVI has urged that Catholics learn the Latin Pater Noster (which is easy to say and sing) and other basic prayers, and these are included in the small handbook version of the new Catechism. There is something glorious about the sound of hundreds of voices joining together to sing the Credo. With the increasing ease of international travel and the gathering together of vast crowds for great events -- World Youth Days, papal audiences, crowds in St. Peter's Square -- the use of common prayers, known by heart in a common language, is going to be more and more important.

To have prayers, and other basics of your Faith, in your heart is a very strengthening thing. To know the Ten Commandments, and the Beatitudes, and some of the Psalms, is to hold yourself in readiness for times when you may not have access to the books or other references that you need. Such basic knowledge unites Christians across denominations, builds bridges, celebrates a common heritage.

Modern Britain is, frankly, in many ways a depressing place. Our suburbs are litter-strewn and increasingly violent. There is rising drunkenness, especially among teenagers, and an increasing amount of vandalism and violent, angry behavior, with much public shrieking of obscenities. Teachers express well-founded fear of attack from pupils and parents. Relationships seem brittle -- a majority of births are now out of wedlock, and most cohabiting couples break up within a few years. Probably one of the most useful things that a grandmother can do on a spring morning is to teach her grandchild to commit to heart some verses of the Bible that she can thus come to cherish and value.

Joanna Bogle is an author and broadcaster living in London

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Donate $1 Million to (Catholic) Hospital

From The American Papist:

"Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and his family donated $1 million to a Missouri hospital over the weekend.

Brad's bro, Doug, announced the generous contribution to St. John's Hospital in his hometown of Springfield Saturday. The money will establish an endowment fund to pay children's cancer specialists, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

The hospital's cancer treatment unit will be renamed the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center, in honor of Brad's mom, who is passionate about children's issues...

The endowment fund will also go toward building a new pediatric unit, a 10-bedroom hospital-based Ronald McDonald house and doubling the size of the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units..."

Ark of the Covenant Story

From Adnkronos via a translation by Claud at Free Republic:

"Some wires got crossed on this story. I went to the Adnkronos website and found that the original story was posted June 18...and there's a follow-up story dated Jun 19, which (I presume) is the information from the Patriarch's press conference. Here's a link to the stories published on Adnkronos under "Arca" = "Ark"

So anyway, the press conference seems to have been last Friday. Here's the latest article on it. Can't translate all now, but here's a key passage:

"All that which is found in the Ark--explained the Patriarch, responding to the curiosity of journalists--is described perfectly in the Bible. The state of conservation is good because it is not made from the hand of man, but it is something that God has blessed." "There are many writings and evidences of the presence of the Ark in Ethiopia. There is no reason why someone [would] dare to affirm to have something that he doesn't have," explained the Patriarch. "I am not here to give proofs that the Ark is in Ethiopia, but I am here to say what I saw, what I know and I can attest to. I didn't say that the Ark would be revealed to the world. It is a mystery, an object of veneration."

Roma, 19 giu. - (Adnkronos) - "L'Etiopia è il trono dell'Arca dell'Alleanza. L'Arca dell'Alleanza è stata in Etiopia per 3.000 anni e adesso è ancora lì e con la volontà di Dio continuerà ad essere lì. E' per via del miracolo che è arrivata in Etiopia".

Il Patriarca della Chiesa ortodossa d'Etiopia Abuna Pauolos conferma quanto aveva anticipato due giorni fa dall'ADNKRONOS. Lo fa in una conferenza stampa tenutasi all'Hotel Aldrovandi a Roma, cui ha partecipato anche il principe Makonnen Haile Selassie, nipote dell'imperatore. "L'ho vista con senso di umiltà, non con orgoglio, come quando si va in chiesa. E' la prima volta -ha proseguito il Patriarca Pauolos- che dico questo in una conferenza stampa. Ripeto l'Arca dell'Alleanza è in Etiopia e nessuno di noi sa per quanto tempo ancora. Solo Dio lo sa".

"Tutto quello che si trova nell'Arca -ha spiegato il Patriarca rispondendo alla curiosità dei cronisti- è descritto perfettamente nella Bibbia. Lo stato di conservazione è buono perché non è fatta da mano d'uomo, ma e' qualcosa che Dio ha benedetto". "Ci sono molti scritti e prove evidenti sulla presenza dell'Arca in Etiopia. Non c'è ragione perché qualcuno pretenda di affermare di avere qualcosa che non ha -ha precisato il Patriarca-. Non sono qui per dare delle prove che l'Arca sia in Etiopia, ma sono qui per dire quello che ho visto, quello che so e che posso testimoniare. Non ho detto che l'Arca sarà mostrata al mondo. E' un mistero, un oggetto di culto".

Il Patriarca Pauolos ha anche parlato della costruzione di un museo ad Axum, una struttura che dovrà accogliere e conservare i tesori costruiti per secoli e secoli ad Axum. Nel museo, finanziato dalla fondazione del principe e che dovrebbe essere costruito entro due anni, potrebbe essere collocata anche l'Arca dell'Alleanza, ma per questo ha spiegato Abuna Pauolos "c'e' bisogno di una decisione che spetta al Santo Sinodo, l'istanza suprema della Chiesa ortodossa etiope". Il patriarca Pauolos, presidente del G8 delle Religioni, ha preso parte dal 16 al 18 giugno al G8 delle religioni che si e' tenuto tra Roma e L'Aquila. Poi ieri il Patriarca e' stato invitato dalla comunita' di Sant'Egidio dove ha partecipato a una giornata di studio sulla storia religiosa d'Etiopia, e sempre ieri ha incotrato in Vaticano il Pontefice Benedetto XVI.

"Nell'incontro in Vaticano Benedetto XVI e il Patriarca hanno discusso di molte cose e sua Santità ha rivolto al Patriarca l'invito a tornare a ottobre", ha precisato il principe Makonne Haile Selassie."

'Ark of the Covenant' about to be unveiled? (Claud's comments)
Ark of the Covenant Story was Bad Translating, Hype
'Ark of the Covenant' about to be unveiled? (World Net Daily)
'Ark' revelation: Can they dig it? (World Net Daily)