Sunday, January 31, 2010

Old Farmer's Advice

Old Farmer's Advice

Old Farmer's Advice:
Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.
Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
Don 't judge folks by their relatives.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life.. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
Don 't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in..
If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around..
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.
Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.


Media Malpractice at March for Life

H/T View from the Choir

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Archbishop Chaput - The Prince of This World and the Evangelization of Culture

Once again Archbishop Chaput has delivered an interesting and well conceived talk. First Things has the full text here.

Here is a taste:

Life as a bishop—or at least the life of this bishop—does not leave much time to spend on poetry. But a few years ago a friend loaned me a volume of Rainer Maria Rilke, and of course, Rilke's work can be quite beautiful. In it, I found some lines of his verse that might help us begin our discussion today:

Slowly now the evening changes his garments
held for him by a rim of ancient trees;
you gaze: and the landscape divides and leaves you
one sinking and one rising toward the stars.

And you are left, to none belonging wholly,
not so dark as a silent house, nor quite
so surely pledged unto eternity
as that which grows to star and climbs the night.

To you is left (unspeakably confused)
your life, gigantic, ripening, full of fears,
so that it, now hemmed in, now grasping all,
is changed in you by turns to stone and stars.

Philosophers and psychologists have offered a lot of different theories about the nature of the human person. But few have captured the human condition better than Rilke does in those twelve lines. We are creatures made for heaven; but we are born of this earth. We love the beauty of this world; but we sense there is something more behind that beauty. Our longing for that “something” pulls us outside of ourselves.

Striving for “something more” is part of the greatness of the human spirit, even when it involves failure and suffering. In the words of Venerable John Paul II, something in the artist, and by extension in all human beings, “mirrors the image of God as Creator.” We have an instinct to create beauty and new life that comes from our own Creator. Yet we live in a time when, despite all of our achievements, the brutality and indifference of the world have never been greater. The truth is that cruelty is also the work of human hands. So if we are troubled by the spirit of our age, if we really want to change the current course of our culture and challenge its guiding ideas—and this is the theme of our session here today—then we need to start with the author of that culture. That means examining man himself.

Culture exists because man exists. Men and women think, imagine, believe and act. The mark they leave on the world is what we call culture. In a sense, that includes everything from work habits and cuisine to social manners and politics. But I want to focus in a special way on those elements of culture that we consciously choose to create; things like art, literature, technology, music and architecture. These things are what most people think of when they first hear the word “culture.” And that makes sense, because all of them have to do with communicating knowledge that is both useful and beautiful. The task of an architect, for example, is to translate abstract engineering problems into visible, pleasing form; in other words, to turn disorder into order, and mathematical complexity into a public expression of strength and elegance. We are social animals. Culture is the framework within which we locate ourselves in relationship to other people, find meaning in the world and then transmit meaning to others.

In his 1999 Letter to Artists, John Paul II wrote that “beauty is the visible form of the good, just as the good is the metaphysical condition of beauty.” There is “an ethic, even a 'spirituality' of artistic service which contributes [to] the life and renewal of a people,” because “every genuine art form, in its own way, is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world.”

He went on the say that “true art has a close affinity with the world of faith, so that even in situations where culture and the Church are far apart, art remains a kind of bridge to religious experience . . . Art by its nature is a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice [to] the universal desire for redemption.”

Christianity is an incarnational religion. We believe that God became man. This has huge implications for how we live, and how we think about culture. God creates the world in Genesis. He judges it as “very good” (Gen 1:31). Later he enters the world to redeem it in the flesh and blood of his son (Jn 1:14). In effect, God licenses us to know, love and ennoble the world through the work of human genius. Our creativity as creatures is an echo of God's own creative glory. When God tells our first parents, “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28), he invites us to take part, in a small but powerful way, in the life of God himself.

The results of that fertility surround us. We see it in the great Christian heritage that still underpins the modern world. Anyone with an honest heart will grant that the Christian faith has inspired much of the greatest painting, music, architecture and scholarship in human experience. For Christians, art is a holy vocation with the power to elevate the human spirit and lead men and women toward God.

Having said all this, we still face a problem. And here it is: God has never been more absent from the Western mind than he is today. Additionally, we live in an age when almost every scientific advance seems to be matched by some increase of cruelty in our entertainment, cynicism in our politics, ignorance of the past, consumer greed, little genocides posing as “rights” like the cult of abortion, and a basic confusion about what—if anything at all—it means to be “human.”....

St. Caesarius of Arles - Sermon 17

St. Caesarius of Arles
468/470–27 August 542
Sermon 17

(1) We bless our God, dearly beloved, and render abundant thanks to Him because in accordance with our desires we have merited to find you safe and sound. Indeed, He is a kind Lord who knows the secrets of the heart and realizes that we experience no greater joy in this world than when we know that both in heart and in body you are healthy and perfect in the fear and love of Christ. Thus, to be sure, the Apostle spoke: ‘This is our joy and our crown, if you stand fast in the Lord.’1 Moreover, because we ought to rejoice more over the salvation of a soul than over bodily health, let us talk about eternal happiness so far as the Lord permits.

(2) When the Gospel was read a little while ago, our conscience trembled violently and our whole heart was shaken with excessive fear. Although the reward of the just afforded us consolation, still, because we know our negligences, the punishment of sinners instilled a great fear in us. For we heard the Lord say concerning Himself: ‘When the Son of Man shall come in his majesty, he will sit on the throne of his glory; and before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then he will say to those who will stand on his right hand, “Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom which was prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink.” But to those who will be on his left hand he will say, “Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you did not give me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink.”’‘ 2 And later He says: ‘These will go into everlasting punishment, but the just into everlasting life.’ 3

(3) Who would not tremble violently at these words, dearly beloved? Whose conscience does not feel an intolerable jolt? I say truly, brethren, that anyone who does not awaken at such thunder is evidently not asleep, but dead. Indeed, we have heard the irrevocable sentences: the one which the just will hear, never to depart from heaven; and the other which sinners will hear, never to leave hell. However, the kind and merciful Lord did not utter these sentences to lead us to despair, but to make us watchful and careful. Since He willed to warn us before the lapse of so many years, He wants to find us ready when He comes. See, indeed, how He wants to move you as He exclaims: Look out! Anyone who wants to aim an arrow at another does not shout to him: Look out! A man wants to shoot an arrow in such a way that the one who is to be struck may not know it except when he is unable to avoid death. An ordinarily wicked, hostile man does this, but God, who is good and kind, is not like that. Since the beginning of the world He has stretched out the bow of His power, and still He has never aimed an arrow.

(4) However, we should not be without anxiety, dearly beloved, because we know that He is keeping His patience for such a long time. The fact that such great things happen in the world and He still does not avenge them indicates patience, not carelessness. God has not lost His power, but is preserving us for repentance. Yet, the longer He awaits your amendment, the harsher will be your punishment if you refuse to amend. God indeed holds the sword, and He wishes to strike sin; we, on the contrary, defend our sins because we love them. Thus, we who should be the accusers of our sins become their defenders. Truly, dearly beloved, God does not want to kill the sinner, but his sin. Like a good doctor He wants to strike the disease, not the person who is ill. But, what is worse, we often despise the doctor and love our sickness: we love our sin and despise God. Sin, indeed, is like this, a dragon, a viper; but concerning the Lord it is written: Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.’ 4 We, on the other hand, embrace our sins like lions and dragons. But our God, who wants to punish sin and save the sinner, daily exclaims to man: Cast off your sin from you and without you it will die. If you refuse to throw aside your sin you will perish with it, for sin cannot go unpunished. God wants to kill sin, not to strike the sinner.

(5) God exclaims to you: Cast off your sin from you. For I made you, but you yourself made your sin. Indeed, I do not want to kill you whom I made, but the sin which you made yourself. I am willing to free you from your captivity and to kill your enemy; I want to drive away your sickness, to rescue you who are ill. You, however, love and embrace your sin: that which might have perished without you is going to perish with you. Because you might have received heaven if your sin had perished, by keeping it you will suffer eternal punishment. What greater kindness could be conceived or described, dearly beloved, than that of our Lord God? Before the lapse of so many years He deigns to warn us what we should seek after, what avoid. The Lord has willed to reveal to the whole world the sentence which will be imposed on judgment day.

1 Phil. 4.1.
2 Matt. 25.31-35, 41-42.
3 Matt. 25.46.
4 Ps. 90.13.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pope Benedict speaks of St. Francis


"The Secret of True Happiness: To Become Saints"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in Paul VI Hall.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

In a recent catechesis, I already illustrated the providential role that the Order of Friars Minor and the Order of Preachers, founded respectively by St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic Guzmán, had in the renewal of the Church of their time. Today I would like to present to you the figure of Francis, an authentic "giant" of holiness, who continues to fascinate very many people of every age and every religion.

"A son is born to the world." With these words, in the Divine Comedy (Paradiso, Canto XI), the greatest Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, alludes to Francis' birth, which occurred at the end of 1181 or the beginning of 1182, in Assisi. Belonging to a wealthy family -- his father was a textile merchant -- Francis enjoyed a carefree adolescence and youth, cultivating the chivalrous ideals of the time. When he was 20 he took part in a military campaign, and was taken prisoner. He became ill and was released. After his return to Assisi, a slow process of spiritual conversion began in him, which led him to abandon gradually the worldly lifestyle he had practiced until then.

Striking at this time are the famous episodes of the meeting with the leper -- to whom Francis, getting off his horse, gave the kiss of peace; and the message of the Crucifix in the little church of San Damiano. Three times the crucified Christ came to life and said to him: "Go, Francis, and repair my Church in ruins." This simple event of the Word of the Lord heard in the church of San Damiano hides a profound symbolism. Immediately, St. Francis is called to repair this little church, but the ruinous state of this building is a symbol of the tragic and disturbing situation of the Church itself at that time, with a superficial faith that does not form and transform life, with a clergy lacking in zeal, with the cooling off of love; an interior destruction of the Church that also implied a decomposition of unity, with the birth of heretical movements.

See the full article here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shove it!

Church Fathers on Abortion

Canterbury Tales has a post on what the Church Fathers have said concerning abortion. Here is a sample:

The Didache

"The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child" (Didache 2:1–2 [A.D. 70]).

The Letter of Barnabas

"The way of light, then, is as follows. If anyone desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following. . . . Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born" (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 75-120]).

The Apocalypse of Peter

"And near that place I saw another strait place . . . and there sat women. . . . And over against them many children who were born to them out of due time sat crying. And there came forth from them rays of fire and smote the women in the eyes. And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion" (The Apocalypse of Peter 25 [A.D. 137]).


"What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while such is our character, that we are murderers?
. . . [W]hen we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it" (A Plea for the Christians 35 [A.D. 177]).

See the entire post here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

One Nation Under God


The Difference Between the Male and Female Mind


Saturday, January 16, 2010

On the Mendicant Orders

On January 13, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI during his general audience spoke on the mendicant orders of St. Francis and St. Dominic. I found it interesting and thought I would share it.

At the beginning of the new year, we look at the history of Christianity, to see how a history develops and how it can be renewed. In it we can see that it is the saints, guided by the light of God, who are the genuine reformers of the life of the Church and of society. Teachers by their word and witnesses with their example, they know how to promote a stable and profound ecclesial renewal, because they themselves are profoundly renewed, they are in contact with the true novelty: the presence of God in the world.....

On the other hand, the Franciscans and Dominicans, in the footsteps of their founders, showed that it was possible to live evangelical poverty, the truth of the Gospel, without separating from the Church; they showed that the Church continued to be the true, authentic place of the Gospel and Scripture. Thus, Dominic and Francis drew, precisely from profound communion with the Church and the papacy, the strength of their witness.

With an altogether original choice in the history of consecrated life, the members of these orders not only gave up possession of personal goods, as monks had since antiquity, but even wanted real estate and goods put in the name of the community. In this way they intended to give witness of an extremely sober life, to be in solidarity with the poor and trust only in Providence, to live every day by Providence, in trust, putting themselves in God's hands. This personal and community style of the Mendicant Orders, joined to total adherence to the teaching of the Church and her authority, was greatly appreciated by the Pontiffs of the time, such as Innocent III and Honorius III, who gave their full support to these new ecclesial experiences, recognizing in them the voice of the Spirit....

Franciscans and Dominicans were witnesses, but also teachers. In fact, another widespread need in their time was that of religious instruction. Not a few lay faithful, who lived in greatly expanding cities, wished to practice a spiritually intense Christian life. Hence they sought to deepen their knowledge of the faith and to be guided in the arduous but exciting path of holiness. Happily, the Mendicant Orders were also able to meet this need: the proclamation of the Gospel in simplicity and in its depth and greatness was one objective, perhaps the main objective of this movement. In fact, with great zeal they dedicated themselves to preaching. The faithful were very numerous, often real and veritable crowds, which gathered to hear the preachers in the churches and in places outdoors -- let us think of St. Anthony, for example. They dealt with themes close to the life of the people, especially the practice of the theological and moral virtues, with concrete examples, easily understood. Moreover, they taught ways to nourish the life of prayer and piety. For example, the Franciscans greatly spread devotion to the humanity of Christ, with the commitment of imitating the Lord. Hence it is not surprising that the faithful were numerous, women and men, who chose to be supported in their Christian journey by the Franciscan and Dominican friars, sought after and appreciated spiritual directors and confessors.

You can read the full text here.

H/T View from the Choir

Massachusetts Miracle

National Geographic - Inside the Vatican

A very interesting video from National Geographic. It is about an hour and a half long, but worth the time.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

For Those Who Hated Him

The wonder is not only that he gave his Son but that he did so in this way, by sacrificing the one he loved. It is astonishing that he gave the Beloved for those who hated him. See how highly he honors us. If even when we hated him and were enemies he gave the Beloved, what will he not do for us now?

Chrysostom - Homily on Ephesians 1.1.8
Refer to Ephesians 1:7-10

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Concerning Children with Special Needs

"The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. The real choice is between love and unlove, between courage and cowardice, between trust and fear. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not. "

Charles J. Chaput - Archbishop of Denver

Archbishop Chaput - Homily Respect Life Mass

Roaming the internet, I ran across this homily given by Archbishop Chaput in 2003. I have not seen it before and thought I would share it. It starts:

Every lifetime has a few moments that become larger and more important as the years pass and we see them more clearly in perspective.

No husband ever forgets when he first met his wife. No mother ever forgets the birth of her first child. No priest ever forgets celebrating his first Mass. Looking back, everything in life flows from these pivotal moments, these turning points — and how we live out their consequences defines who we become.

For good or for ill, the same is true for nations. We remember July 4 because it established a new order of human dignity and freedom. And we remember Roe v Wade because it wounded and continues to undermine both.

Thirty years ago next week, the Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand. Today we’re living with the consequences. Today we can thank Roe v Wade for the killing of 40 million unborn children; tens of thousands of broken marriages; and hundreds of thousands of emotionally damaged women and men.

But those are just the obvious results. There’s much more ahead, because we’re becoming a nation that no longer remembers the words to explain why things like cloning, infanticide and physician-assisted suicide violate the sanctity of life. We’ve forgotten the language of right and wrong on exactly those issues that define what it means to be human.

Nations are living organisms. If we poison the roots of the tree, we get bad fruit. In 1973, Roe v Wade seemed to be about abortion. In 2003, we know it was really about the nature of the human person — and the callousness and inhumanity of the Roe decision have worked their way into every aspect of our public life, just like a drop of ink changes every molecule in a glass of water. We’re no longer the nation we once were. Because of this bad court decision, we are now a different nation....

See the rest here.