Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Real Face of Santa Claus

By Ryan Scheel 

(uCatholic) ...According to scientific analysis and computer models, Saint Nicholas, the 4th century Bishop of Myra who Santa Claus is based on, would have looked a bit different than the Nordic woodsman of popular culture and more like a 4th century Byzantine Bishop.

According to The Saint Nicholas Center 
St. Nicholas’ remains are buried in the crypt of the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy. These bones were temporarily removed when the crypt was repaired during the 1950s. At the Vatican’s request, anatomy professor Luigi Martino from the University of Bari, took thousands of minutely-detailed measurements and x-ray photographs (roentgenography) of the skull and other bones...

Using this data, the medical artist used state-of-the-art computer software to develop the model of St. Nicholas. The virtual clay was sculpted on screen using a special tool that allows one to “feel” the clay as it is molded. Dr. Wilkinson says, “In theory you could do the same thing with real clay, but it’s much easier, far less time-consuming and more reliable to do it on a computer...”


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Scottish monk arrested for distributing leaflets promoting sexual morality

By Thaddeus Baklinski

( A Scottish monk has been arrested for distributing a series of leaflets in the Cambridgeshire area critical of homosexuality, fornication, contraception, euthanasia, abortion, and divorce.

Brother Damon Jonah Kelly, head of the Glasgow based charity the Black Hermits, was arrested by Cambridgeshire Police on December 8 on suspicion of a Section 5 (religious/racial) public order offence after he wrote a letter to the homosexual news publication, Pink News, claiming responsibility for the distribution of leaflets in the city of Ely, as well as in Cambridge, King’s Lynn and several other Cambridgeshire towns and cities.

Initially police declined to take any action following a number of complaints about the leaflets, saying that neither the distribution of the leaflets nor the messages they contain were a crime, and in fact protected by free speech laws.

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire Police said in a statement to Ely News, "Leaflets of a homophobic nature were distributed in Cambridge earlier this year. Additionally, similar material has been distributed in other areas of the county and indeed, the country.”

"While the material being distributed earlier this week will in many cases offend, irritate, shock or disturb, the content, context and actions of the male concerned fall short of any criminality at this time,” the spokeswoman added.

However, once the source of the leaflets identified himself, the police arrested him. They then released him on bail with a promise to appear on January 20.

The leaflets in question have titles such as "The Works of Darkness," "Homosexuality," and "Christmas, Christ and AntiChrist."

"Homosexuality" states that "God created man and woman for their mutual compatibility and for the procreation of children," and that, "all sexual activity outside of matrimonial union of one man and one woman is sin, and therefore immoral."

Warning that "through the sin of lust the Devil tempts man to sexual impurity, excess and perversion," the leaflet states that homosexuality is in reality a mental illness, but has become a cult that belongs to the culture of death.

“Homosexuality, as well as being a sin and a vice, is essentially a neurosis, a pathological condition; the result of several factors including childhood experiences. It is a dangerous temptation rather than a healthy orientation,” it reads.

“If the practice of homosexuality is acceptable, then in time any form of sexual deviation, perversion and experimentation will be acceptable, including the progressive lowering of the age of consent, taking it below the age of puberty and thus legalizing paedophilia. A common form of homosexuality is pederasty."

The leaflet goes on to say, “The condition of homosexuality can be treated and healed, as all distorted sexuality can be healed, and as many cases in recent years have proved," adding that homosexual people should not be persecuted but that homosexual inclinations should “not be encouraged."

“They need healing, not approval,” the leaflet says.

"The Works of Darkness" leaflet states that, "The deliberate killing of the baby in the womb is infanticide, is homicide, and those who perpetrate such an act are guilty of murder," and that, "Divorce wreaks havoc in society and is part and parcel of the plague of the 'one-parent family' which is a great evil."

It states that, "Homosexuality is not inborn, it is a development disorder, a traumatized condition arising out of a dysfunctional family, or it is a lifestyle choice. It is utterly opposed to the law of God and to nature, and should in no way be condoned or promoted."

This leaflet also comments on fornication, contraception, assisted fertilization, pornography, transgenderism, euthanasia, and atheism as serious societal problems.

"Christmas, Christ and AntiChrist," which was delivered in Cambridge last week, states that, “Christmas is the invasion by God into the world He created out of pure love; which through man’s evil has become a polluted landscape of de-humanized people, debasing themselves with their false gods and fetishes."

In his letter to Pink News, Brother Damon claims to have been arrested on nine occasions for leafleting, and despite this has brought his 2014 campaign to a “satisfactory conclusion.”

He closed the letter saying, "I wouldn’t be a good monk if I didn’t exhort you to repentance and conversion to Christ."


Monday, December 8, 2014

Mass with Fr. Z in Rome

From J. P. Sonnen:

It was a proud moment to serve Fr. Z's Low Mass in the crypt chapel of the Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.  During our Mass we could hear the chants of the Church from a sung Mass being celebrated above at the main altar.  For over 20 years I have been serving Mass for Fr. Z.

Fr. Z was first in Rome in 1981.  His second Mass was celebrated at the main altar of this Basilica, after his ordination by Pope St. John Paul II.  Having Mass at the tomb of St. Cecilia has a bit of an enchanting feel like having Holy Mass in the catacombs.   A very special place to visit, especially at dusk.  I saw it on my first trip to Rome and return every time. 

The Art Nouveau era mosaics were completed in the year 1900 under Cardinal Rampolla, who at age 43 in 1887 had been named Cardinal-Priest of Santa Cecilia.  Always nice to visit here on her feast day, November 22.  She is the patron saint of musicians.  A saint of the Roman Canon and Roman martyr - one of eight female saints mentioned in the Canon... (continued)


This 29-year-old was a waitress — then she got a cat with dwarfism, quit her job, and became a multi-millionaire

By Alyson Shontell

(Business Insider) Tabatha Bundesen, 29, is the owner of feline internet sensation Grumpy Cat. She lives in Arizona.

Grumpy Cat has a form of dwarfism and an underbite that yields a perpetual frown.

On Sept. 22, 2012, Bundesen's brother changed her life.

Bundesen was working as a waitress. Her brother took a photo of her peeved-looking cat and posted it to Reddit. The photo went viral and Grumpy Cat quickly became a meme, with recognition on sites like BuzzFeed and CNBC. It earned more than 1 million views on Imgur within 48 hours.

Here are the original pictures posted of Grumpy Cat:

The fame allowed Bundesen to quit serving tables.

"I was able to quit my job as a waitress within days of her first appearance on social media and the phone simply hasn't stopped ringing since," she tells The Telegraph.

In two years, Bundesen has generated nearly $100 million from Grumpy Cat's paid appearances, book deals, and modeling career, according to The Telegraph (Bundesen tells Huffington Post that amount is inaccurate, but doesn't say if it's high or low). Bundesen believes Grumpy Cat is "unstoppable."

"We knew she was extremely unique, but we didn't know she would be this magnitude of special," Bundesen said at Grumpy Cat's second-birthday party in April.

"I'm used to working every day, so this is a huge routine change," Bundesen said. "You don't have to have a routine when you have to take pictures of the cat."

Another perk: "I'm getting to travel ... we get to see my family that lives in different parts of the country more often," Bundesen told Phoenix Business Journal in an interview. "It's really awesome that Grumpy Cat can spread to joy to so many people — and she's a cat."

Grumpy Cat was born in Bundesen's home. Grumpy Cat has a brother named Pokey.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Solving the ‘enigma’ of Pope Francis


(Fox News) Since Pope Francis was elected pontiff in 2013, his actions and what he has to say have been under the intense glare of the media spotlight. However, his background has remained largely unexamined.

A new book argues that in order to understand Francis’ radical agenda for the Catholic Church, it is necessary to delve deep into the pontiff’s background and the complex Argentinian political system in which Jorge Mario Bergoglio was raised.

Austen Ivereigh, journalist and former adviser to now-retired British Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, argues in “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope” that, like his home country of Argentina, left-right paradigms do not adequately define Jorge-Mario Bergoglio, but this makes him no less revolutionary for an institution frequently defined by its wariness to change.

The thrust of Ivereigh’s book is that only by delving into Francis’ past, particularly his Jesuit background and his acceptance of certain forms of Peronism, can the reader understand his plan for the Church. Peronism -- a movement launched by former-Argentinian president Juan Peron -- rejects both capitalism and socialism and advocates a third way based on social justice, nationalism and state involvement in the economy.

Ivereigh describes Peronism as “a movement rather than a party, a culture rather than an interest group, a political hybrid so popular and absorbent that for decades it has dominated modern Argentina.” The movement was highly influential on Bergoglio, who was once reprimanded for wearing a Peronist symbol to school as a boy.

Bergoglio came to respect Peronism for the way it articulated the values of the people and their traditions. It leads, in Ivereigh’s view, to a Bergoglio who rejects Marxism and neo-liberalism as ideologies that place ideas above people, especially the poor. Ivereigh uses as an example Bergoglio’s position after the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) where he embraced the Council’s “preferential option for the poor” without sliding into the camp of some progressive bishops and clergy, who blended church teaching with Marxist ideology.

“He had a particular understanding of the renewal which was anti-liberal and anti-Marxist. He’s a nationalist, comes out of a nationalist Catholic tradition in Argentina…which tends to value the values of ordinary people and the traditions of Argentina and would see the Enlightenment as being foreign to that tradition,” Ivereigh told  ‘So he wasn’t a conservative, but he had an understanding of the Council that was at odds with a certain kind of progressive view.”

This caused Bergoglio a great deal of trouble as part of the head of the Jesuit order in Argentina. Made provincial in 1973, Bergoglio soon upset a powerful and ideological elite in the order who hated his popularity, and the direction he was taking the order. A bitter struggle ensued and despite being a popular and successful provincial, by 1990 he was exiled from the order after the anti-Bergoglio Jesuits successfully petitioned Rome to have him removed from his post.
Consequently, despite being made bishop in 1992 and Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, Bergoglio was estranged from the Jesuits and had minimal contact with the order until he became pope.

“When he was elected, a kind of collective groan went around Jesuit houses across the world,” Ivereigh says, although pointing out that since then the pope and the Jesuits have reconciled.

“The Great Reformer” also deals with the accusations that as provincial, the future pope was negligent in his actions during the Argentinian military dictatorship’s “Dirty War” during the late 70s and early 80’s. Ivereigh deals head-on with charges that Bergoglio gave the green-light to the military junta to arrest two rogue priests, and could have done more to save more people.

Ivereigh concludes the opposite, that Bergoglio saved dozens of lives and did the best he could in trying circumstances, doing more than if he had spoken out against the military junta, which Ivereigh argues, could have only made things worse.

“I have a problem with some liberal journalists in another era wagging their fingers if you’ve never lived through a dictatorship,” Ivereigh told “Totalitarian regimes are never brought down by internal opposition and speaking out against totalitarian regimes usually means more people get killed.”

One of the more unique aspects Ivereigh brings to Francis’ story is an insight into the Vatican politics that got Bergoglio elected in the 2013 conclave.

Ivereigh cites sources to argue there was a bloc of progressive European cardinals who pushed Bergoglio, first as the “anti-Ratzinger” candidate to oppose the future Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, and then again in 2013, where this time a fragmented conservative opposition allowed “Team Bergoglio” to push through and win.

The chapter is noteworthy as deals and pacts are expressly forbidden by conclave rules. While Ivereigh believes that no canon law was infringed, the revelations will no doubt lead to speculation as to whether an apparently pre-determined faction of European progressives undermined the spirit of the conclave.

Ivereigh also notes, that while he was being pushed by European progressives as the “anti-Benedict,” Bergoglio had no desire to be part of this role.

“There is much more continuity between Benedict and Francis than people have realized - I hope that comes through from the book,” Ivereigh said.

By delving into Francis’ background, his encounters with the poor, his fight with his Jesuit order and the political undercurrents in Argentina, Ivereigh paints a picture of a pope who eschews ideology in order to live out the evangelical radicalness of the Gospel. “Francis’ radicalism is not to be confused with a progressive doctrine or ideology,” Ivereigh writes. “It is radical because it is missionary, and mystical.”

Ivereigh’s Francis is a complex man full of surprises and contradictions, trying to balance faithfulness to the Church’s doctrines with an evangelical passion for bringing people to Jesus Christ, and trying to helping the poor spiritually and politically without embracing Marxism. “The Great Reformer” does not solve what Ivereigh calls the “Francis enigma” but it does go a long way to shining light on the pope’s background, how he thinks and what he has in store for the Church.