Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thea Bowman on Life

Thea Bowman

 In 1987, Sister Thea Bowman helped develop  Lead Me, Guide Me: The African American Catholic Hymnal, which was the first hymnal developed for Black Catholic worship.  Bowman believed that "Black sacred music is soulful music" which is holistic, participatory, concrete, engrossing and life-giving.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Margaret Sanger on Eugenics

Margaret Sanger and KKK

Margaret Sanger was the founder of the American Birth Control League in 1921 (which was the forerunner of Planned Parenthood of America).  

At first blush, it may seem striking for a progressive to ally with the Ku Klux Klan.  However, Sanger's eugenic ideas aimed at "inferior" unwanted minorities certainly appealed to the KKK.  Moreover, the KKK's anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant auspices aligns with Sanger's project to progressively control birth.

Ironically, former House Speaker and current Democrat Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi, who wears her liberal understanding of being an ardent Catholic on her sleeve, will be awarded the Margaret Sanger Award by Planned Parenthood at their Annual Gala on March 27th. Planned Parenthood proclaims: 

No one is more deserving of this honor than Leader Pelosi, who has fought tirelessly throughout her career to protect and expand women’s access to health care. As the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, Leader Pelosi recognized that women’s health is a mainstream issue impacting women and families.

While Planned Parenthood certainly embraces the icon of Margaret Sanger for her mission to spread birth control and womens' health, but they conveniently have forgotten why Sanger pushed birth control, particularly among minority groups.   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Reid Between the Lines" Anti Papist Bigotry at MSNBC

When MSNBC was reporting on the Hobby Lobby which was going to be argued before the US Supreme Court, Joy Reid's video package included some naked Catholic bigotry.

Rather than settle for arguing the merits of Sebilius v. Hobby Lobby  for the State (as is MSDNC's wont) on whether corporate personhood can include religious convictions, Joy Reid impeached the credentials of two thirds of the nation's highest court based on religion.

While Reid's legal analysis might acknowledge the  Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, she is blissfully ignorant of Article VI paragraph 3 of the Constitution regarding no religious test.

Catholic Supreme Court Justices 2013-2014 session

To think that an originalist like Associate Justice Antonin Scalia or natural law jurist like Associate Justice Clarence Thomas would vote en bloc with their wise Latina co-religionist Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor is drinking liberally spiked Kool-Aid around the ugly fever swamp.

Jeff Dunetz observed that MSNBC is hypersensitive about racial implications.  So if court commentators hypothetically opined about three African American judges voting together, this would be condemned as racism.  Dunetz, who writes Yid with Lid, noted: "However because Joy Reid was questioning Catholic judges, it’s no big deal.  In the world of the  mainstream media it’s only bigotry when directed toward certain groups, blacks, women, Muslims, Hispanics, etc.".  Yet liberals are quick to condemn conservatives for supposedly judging people because of their race or creed.

Jeff Dunetz observed that MSNBC is hypersensitive about racial implications.  So if court commentators hypothetically opined about three African American judges voting together, this would be condemned as racism.  Dunetz, who writes Yid with Lid, noted: "However because Joy Reid was questioning Catholic judges, it’s no big deal.  In the world of the  mainstream media it’s only bigotry when directed toward certain groups, blacks, women, Muslims, Hispanics, etc.".  Yet liberals are quick to condemn conservatives for supposedly judging people because of their race or creed.

It is sad that unwarranted accusations against certain groups of faithful, such as Roman Catholics or Latter Day Saints (Mormons) are accepted by progressive posses but judging the actions and expressed intentions of Salaphist or Jihadist Muslims is quickly condemned as "racism".

Ms. Reid's read of the Catholic cabal on the Supreme Court proved to be quite mistaken.  Arguments before the high court had Justices gravitating their questions from ideological and gender groupings, not from shared creed.

Sketch of Solicitor General Donald Verrelli arguing Sebelilius v. Hobby Lobby at US Supreme Court 

In fact, based upon early reporting, the more overt allusions to applications of faith to legal hypotheticals was a question from Associate Justice Samuel Alito , who queried Solicitor General Donald Verrelli (arguing the Obama Administration's case) whether halal or kosher butchers could be banned if legislators passed an animal cruelty law like Denmark.  Verrelli's answer was that they could get standing with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but they better get their cases to court by raising claims on behalf of their customers using the First Amendment.

While CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called Verrelli's two hours of arguments a "train wreck" for the Obama Administration, other liberal commentators dissented.

Let us hope that in late June when the contraception cases are likely to be issued that the Lamestream Media can contain their contemptible secularist biogotry against the faithful.  But that is expecting a minor miracle from the media.

h/t:  Hot Air
      Yid with Lid
      SCOTUS Blog
    WSJ Washington Wire

Thomas Jefferson on Religious Liberty

Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 24, 2014

Proclaiming the Word on Why Going to Church Matters

More than nine in ten Americans believe in God, but less than half of those Christian believers attend weekly church service. Corporate worship may not feel as imperative for Protestants who prize a personal relationship with their Savior and who may feel that private scriptural study may suffice.

Traditionally, Catholics attended weekly Mass around 75% in 1955 as the Magisterium stressed the “Sunday Obligation”.  As of 2009, Gallup reports that 45% of Catholics make it to Mass every Sunday. It is a facile conclusion that  that Vatican II alienated the Catholic faithful, however  there was already a precipitous decline in weekly Catholic worship in 1964, which was before most of the “Spirit of Vatican II” was implemented.  Of course, some traditionally oriented Catholics bristled at Novus Ordo “vulgar” (local  language) liturgies.  But it would be mistaken not to attribute factors which effect the overall culture, such as mobility negating community pressure, increasing agnosticism in secular society et cetera.

This weekend, I was visiting with a friend who is a mother of a child who is resistant to going to Church because it is “boring”.  Later, lack of church attendance can be rationalized as unbelief or knowing it already.

Shortly after this conversation, I had a reminder of why actually going to Church matters.  As I have a sacramental religiosity, I know that I am receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist at any Mass.  Worshiping at my home parish, I can connect with acquaintances with whom I have developed a relationship.   But what particularly impressed me, was how even familiar scripture can have new life breathed into them through thoughtful homilies.

This past Sunday’s Gospel was the Third Sunday of Lent, where we heard the Gospel of John’s version of the Samaritan woman at the well.   In less than twelve hours, I heard three different and thoughtful takes on this Johannine Gospel.

In the morning, I listened to Word To Life on SiriusXM's The Catholic Channel, where several Dominicans analyzed the scripture in a traditional manner. Their message focused on how Jesus knew the sin of the Samaritan woman serial husbands, yet invited her to take from the well where she would never thirst again.   This take seemed sensible for Lent, as the faithful come to terms with our sinful nature and are invited to use prayer, fasting and abstinence to better participate in the salvific redemption of the Easter miracle.

Prior to the liturgy which I worshiped , I chatted with the lay sacristan.  He shared his academic understanding that the five husbands may refer to the five gods that Samaritans historically worshiped as the word ‘baal’ could refer to “god, lord, king, or husband” which tainted their worship of Yahweh.  This would jibe with Jesus instance that Jews following the Mosaic code were worshiping correctly.  Yet Jesus offers an invitation to a true seeker, such as the Samaritan woman at the well, to follow the Messiah thus opening up God’s Kingdom to more than just the Jews.  This was an insightful academic exegesis.

During the Liturgy of the Word at Mass, the priest preached a more meta-view message.  The homily did not concentrate on the woman in the wel per se but that it  is the first of three dialogic gospels before Passion Sunday.  These Johannine Gospel stories  may only be heard once every three years in the regular church liturgical readings cycle but they are part of the scrutinies every year for new Catechumens.  The meta-message of water, blindness and death emphasize the Paschal symbols of baptism, light and resurrection.

Another aspect of the young priest’s homily was the literary virtues of these readings from John’s gospels.  These scrutiny stories all are dialogic in character.  The dialog element was further impressed at this liturgy by having several voices proclaim this Gospel to have it sound more like a dialog.  The priest considered how rare real communication, in which interlocutors are really listening and interacting with each other rather than mentally rehearsing their retort or waiting to share their bon mot.  The priest quoted theologian Fr. David Tracy’s pearl of wisdom (from Plurality and Ambiguity: Hermaneutics, Religion and Hope (1994) ) that:

A conversation is a rare phenomenon, even for Socrates.  It is not a confrontation. It is not a debate.  It is not an exam.  It is questioning itself.  It is a willingness to follow the question wherever it may go.  It is dia-logue.

This “wordy” homily suggested that the Johannine dialogic gospels underlined the opening of the fourth gospel in JN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

By speaking person-to-person without pretense, Jesus was able to help a true seeker find The Way, even though she was a person (a Samaritan woman) with whom society would have expected a Jewish rabbi (much less the Messiah) would associate.   This demonstrates how God comes to us in our imperfectness to offer relationship.

There is no way that I would have garnered this insight resting upon my own  laurels with the conceit that “I’m already familiar with that scripture.”  These faithful encounters with scripture really deepened my faith, giving increased historical, sacramental, seasonal and scriptural insight.

While such a testimony might not make it seem less boring to an argumentative adolescent, it should lend credence to how we can hear the Proclamation of the Word differently at different stages of life and through different hermaneutic lenses which compliment rather than contradict each other. The more profound challenge is to live the Word in our everyday lives.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Myth Busting Blind Date

Sinead O'Connor
If it were true, this must have been an unusual blind date for Medusa as it was an occasion when her companion did not get stoned.  After her encounter with St. Paddy, she bears a striking resemblance to Sinead O'Connor.

For a less fanciful account of St. Patrick's life, here's a tongue-in-cheek animated hagiography.

h/t: Dan Piraro

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Combatting Shallow Conclusions About Constitutional Separartions

It is important for freedom loving Constitutionalists to educate other Americans on the origins of Separation of Powers and the non-existent Separation of Church and State. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Missiological Meditation

The earth is the only road that can lead us to heaven.  There is no other.  And the earth is not an idea, an argument, an abstraction or a concept.  It is not even a law.  It is a thing, a gigantic thing, a great tangled swarming mass of things: it is a universe.

And because we must be led to God by things, they have therefore within them everything that is needed for the divine fulfillment of this task.  It is, strictly speaking, their main role. 

Around us, Providence has placed hosts of silent messengers who can lead us without effort by paths of love to the holy springs of peace.

Wood, water, fishes, the morning dew, the cock crowing at dawn, should all be able to inspire our prayer.  Clothes and flowers, perfumes and pearls, the wind whistling past, the bread on the table, the jug, chair and roof… all these things have been sanctified, all these things have been loaded with blessing and divine inspiration by the Word.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Properly Remembering National Appeciation Day for Abortion Providers

March 10th was designated National Appreciation Day for Abortion Providers.  It is the 18th anniversary of abortionist Dr. David Gunn.   Planned Parenthood of New York suggested sending flowers and thank you notes to abortion providers. How touching.

In an apologia for National Appreciation Day for Abortion Providers published by Talking Points Memo, Colleen Crinion,  a self described progressive activist and a former Planned Parenthood employee, lamented that women are being shamed from having abortions and regulations requiring admitting privileges are discouraging doctors from performing abortions. Crinion paints a picture of abortionists as valiant heath care professions who are performing a service which is no big deal and is safer than childbirth.  

Still Crinion concedes that: "Like any profession, abortion doctors are not homogeneously perfect." A better paradigm for National Appreciation Day for Abortion Providers is Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who ABC TV Terry Moran labeled:  "the most successful serial killer in the history of the world."  

Gosnell's practice consisted in late term abortions for minorities and immigrants in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.   If Gosnell did not kill the child in the womb, he would snip the child's neck "to ensure fetal demise".  Gosnell was tried for several post birth murders of children as well as for the death of a women who Gosnell botched an abortion in which the woman died because she was not admitted for more advanced medical treatment which would have exposed his House of Horrors.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may have turned a blind eye to his horrific practice because of political contributions and political correctness.  Wonder if Gosnell received flowers or thank you notes while serving his life sentence without parole. Alas, Gosnell was not an isolated occurrence.  

An even more apt memorialization of the day might be a statue at Legazhi parish in Bicol, Philippines.

This unsettling art should not bother those properly remembering National Appreciation Day for Abortion Providers.  After all, pro abortionists contend that the fetus is just an unwanted blob of tissue. The sculpture reminds people of the consequences of their "choice" much more than buzz words like protecting "reproductive rights" or womens' health.  In an age when many accept moral relativism, appreciating the humanity of a situation can cause metanoia towards moral truths and inspire ethical behavior.  This is why progressives favoring "abortion rights" fight so hard against ultrasounds, waiting periods et cetera, as it allows for introspection and rejection of terminating a pregnancy.

However, the Bicol Statue memorializes the abortionist's role.   What ought to be remembered are the victims:  the unborn child whose life is terminated and the mother. That is best expressed by a heart rendering work  "Memory for Unborn Children" by Slovakian sculptor Martin Hudáček.

"Memory for Unborn Children" by Martin Hudáček

 As Fr.William Kurz, S.J. of Marquette University observed about Hudáček's work: "It speaks directly and beautifully both to the intense and profound grief of the mother, and to the dignity of the aborted baby.”

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pope Francis on Falling

Pope Francis

Words of wisdom as we continue on our Lenten Journey as well as our lifelong companionship with Christ.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Some of the Book Review for Finding Mr. Righteous by Lisa De Pasquale

Lisa De Pasquale’s first published book is  Finding Mr. Righteous   (Post Hill Press (2014),  241 pages) which chronicles her dozen years of dating in the DC area.  De Pasquale worked in conservative circles, but the book mostly eschews politics. De Pasquale’s friend and mentor Ann Coulter blurbed about Finding Mr. Righteous as “A true Christian story, disguised as racy Chick Lit.  Her  prologue proclaims: “ This book is about the men I’ve met in a quest to know Him.”  While Chick Lit is not in my usual reading wheelhouse,  I was intrigued to learn of a faith quest which was augmented by being involved with: an atheist; a Catholic; an Evangelical;, a Quaker;  a prominent Protestant preacher; a Jew; an Asiatic Indian; as well as a non-denominational Believer.  

De Pasquale should be credited for her candor in writing about uncomfortable personal attributes. 


 The book has the quality of being like Bridget Jones Diary Does the District of Calamity, with the caveat that the author is decidedly based in Northern Virginia and not directly in DC.

For most of the book, De Pasquale’s writing style takes a breezy, conversational tone, including her recounted email epistolary exchanges.  But she also displays a trait of  including too many insignificant details without delving deeper, which  blunts the story of  her spiritual journey.

De Pascquale was baptizes as a Catholic but had never attended Mass until her Catholic boyfriend took her to one on the Catholic University campus.   She was rebaptized at the age of ten at a Florida Southern Baptist church even though she did not feel the call.   But De Pasquale thought of herself as a Christian-In-Name-Only (CINO). Thus she was not troubled to be  being romantically involved with an atheist. The author opined that she did not feel like she was a member of the (Christian) club.

It is a pity that for most of her ecumenical amorous encounters De Pasquale seems deeply superficial.  When she went to Mass with her Catholic squeeze, she commented that she felt awkward since she did neither instinctively know when to stand nor did did she know the ritual prayers by rote memory.  Thus the author admits to not knowing what was going on. But she did not really seem to demand a Catechesis. When her Catholic boyfriend would offhandedly mention that he was going to bible study at a bar (presumably Theology on Tap), she was confused but  never pursued it further.  When questioned about his faith, the Catholic said: “I’m Catholic.  This is what I believe, and you’re welcomed to come if you’re into it.”  Apparently, that open invitation was not evangelical enough.

De Pasquale pursued an older interest who was labeled “The Evangelical”.  That hardly seems like an apt description of someone attending  The Falls Church (Anglican).  They are more evangelical than Anglo-Catholic, but their worship is sacramental in nature which would be at odd with a Pentacostals Christians who are often associated with Evangelicals.  Apparently offering a prayer of joy to a stressed acquaintance, a well loved booklet, a study bible and encouraging her twice attend church was insufficient evangelization, especially for the author who does not intimate ever really reading the material.


The denouement of Finding Mr. Righteous, De Pasquale’s conscience was touched by the example of an upright Christian, and she realized that she her willing participation in affairs made her no better than the religious hypocrites with whom she was involved, yet she lets the divorced Preacher who used her for phone sex off pretty lightly. 

The style of the book shifted at the end which ceded the focus to Mr. Righteous’ recounting of the story about Bathsheba, which was told in detailed prose, punctuated by a contemporary explicative.  For the author, this non-pretentious, non-judgmental sharing was the sort of sharing which spoke to her soul. 

After reading this self proclaimed Chick Lit, I am happy that the author has found her path on the journey home, it did not strike me as an instructive book for others to do so. Several times, the author opined that  Christianity was a club.  As someone with a sacramental spirituality, I understand Baptism as both a ritual to join a family of redeemed sinners (i.e. Christians) and as a rebirth to new life from our Savior’s expiation of the wages of sin.  Knowing that a Heavenly Father loves us so much that he would send his only begotten Son to die for us to remain in relation with Him could greatly increase the self-esteem of a believer.   Moreover, Christians usually put this faith into practice via a community and reach out to the world. How this has translated  in the author’s experience is unclear. 

Read Finding Mr. Righteous if you want to enjoy a page turner piece of Chick Lit.  Alas, the book is unlikely to  satisfy an enthusiast of the New Evangelization, a conservative political junkie  or someone seeking insight on deepening one’s Christian faith.

Monday, March 3, 2014

In the Cazzo of Petrine Obscenity?

When Pope Francis was giving his Angelus blessing and homily at St. Peter's Square, he made a slip of the tongue whch sounded obscene to native speaking Italians. 

In English translation, the pontiff said:

If each one of us does not amass riches only for oneself, but half for the service of others, in this f–k [pause], in this case the providence of God will become visible through this gesture of solidarity,

The offending word is "cazzo" which is Italian for the male appendage, but it is commonly used as a synonym for  the "F" word.  His Holiness obviously meant to say "caso" which is example in this instance. Philologically, the mistake is easy for a Spanish speaker to make.

To me, what is really obscene is  that the chattering class is more intent on snickering over something that sounded dirty rather than concentrate on the message of sharing rather than not hording riches.

It seems that the Francis effect can only go so far.

h/t:  NY Post

Post Scriptus 03/04/2014  

After the Cazzo kerfluffle went through the press cycle for a day, Pope Francis used Twitter to share his humble mea culpa.

A Prayer for Peace in Ukraine

"Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called the Children on God"
At this hour, we fervently pray that Your Holy Spirit may inspire
men and women in Ukraine to become Peacemakers.
May they seek reconciliation and dialogue
and end the violent confrontation and killing.
May they restore tranquility to their nation
and restore human rights, democratic principles
and religious liberty to their troubled land.
God, our Father, we beseech you to comfort
the suffering, heal the wounds and accept
the souls of the departed into 
Your Heavenly Kingdom.
And may the Most Holy Mother of God,
extend her Blessed Mantle of Protection over Ukraine.
And may each of us always live our lives
as instruments of Your Peace.