Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Catholic Basics

Fellow blogger, The Happy Catholic, has compiled a list of Catholic Basic resources. Check out her post and download the pdf. I think you will find it very useful. Go here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

St. Bonaventure (Cardinal-bishop, Doctor of the Church) - July 15

From the Proper Offices of Franciscan Saints in the Liturgy of the Hours:

Almighty God, as we celebrate the birthday of Saint Bonaventure the bishop grant us the grace to profit frim his excellent teaching and always to imitate the ardor of his love. We ask this through our Lord Jesis Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spitit, one God, for ever and ever.

From Wikipedia:

He was born at Bagnoregio in Latium, not far from Viterbo, then part of the Papal States. Almost nothing is known of his childhood, other than the names of his parents, Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Ritella.

He entered the Franciscan Order in 1243 and studied at the University of Paris, possibly under Alexander of Hales, and certainly under Alexander's successor, John of Rochelle. In 1253 he held the Franciscan chair at Paris. Unfortunately for Bonaventure, a dispute between seculars and mendicants delayed his reception as Master until 1257, where his degree was taken in company with Thomas Aquinas. Three years earlier his fame had earned him the position of lecturer on the The Four Books of Sentences—a book of theology written by Peter Lombard in the twelfth century—and in 1255 he received the degree of master, the medieval equivalent of doctor.

After having successfully defended his order against the reproaches of the anti-mendicant party, he was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order. On 24 November 1265, he was selected for the post of Archbishop of York; however, he was never consecrated and resigned the appointment in October 1266. It was by his order that Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar himself, was interdicted from lecturing at Oxford and compelled to put himself under the surveillance of the Order at Paris.

Bonaventure was instrumental in procuring the election of Pope Gregory X, who rewarded him with the title of Cardinal Bishop of Albano, and insisted on his presence at the great Council of Lyon in 1274. There, after his significant contributions led to a union of the Greek and Latin churches, Bonaventure died suddenly and in suspicious circumstances. The Catholic Encyclopedia has citations which suggest he was poisoned. The only extant relic of the saint is the arm and hand with which he wrote his Commentary on the Sentences, which is now conserved at Bagnoregio, in the parish church of St. Nicholas.

He steered the Franciscans on a moderate and intellectual course that made them the most prominent order in the Catholic Church until the coming of the Jesuits. His theology was marked by an attempt completely to integrate faith and reason. He thought of Christ as the “one true master” who offers humans knowledge that begins in faith, is developed through rational understanding, and is perfected by mystical union with God.

From the Catholic Company:

St. Bonaventure is clearly a marvelous saint, but what makes him relevant today? St. Bonaventure taught a very important lesson during his life which must continue to be taught. He proposed that theology can only be done rightly with love of God and desire of union with him. Essentially what this means is that theology ought to be a practical science. Theology cannot or should not simply be thinking about God and who or what he is. Theology done rightly will lead one to a deeper piety and love of God. I think, and Bonaventure would probably agree with me, that today many theologians do not engage theology in the practical way St. Bonaventure advocates for. I find that this results in some off the wall theological ideas and arguments. St. Bonaventure’s ideas still need to be remembered for anyone who seeks to learn more about who God is and what he is, or other theological inquiries.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Four Ways that Same-Sex Marriage Will Affect You

It seems as if today everything is political correctness and we have all fallen into the trap. We tend not to want to touch certain topics for fear of being called intolerant or in fact of being ostracized. We don’t defend our faith either in our conversations with others or by our voting privileges. We will vote for those who we see will fatten out pocket books or increase the handouts we want, not because of our hard work, but because we deserve it. So we do not vote for those who reflect our morals and values, but for those who will give us the most. In the mean time we will put up with their agenda, corruption, patronage and anti-Catholicism. We do not defend our faith or our moral values because we are not knowledgeable of the issues. We go with the flow, we reflect what was said on the “news.”

We have become so desensitized after years and years of hearing the same mantras. We have accepted abortion, the killing of our unborn children, as normal. Every television program, sitcom, has its homosexual character, so it too, is normal. Faith inspiring programs are nonexistent, programs depicting a strong father figure are nonexistent, instead we have the wonderful figures of Homer Simpson and the Family Guy.

I was aghast that the entity I work for actually had a float in the recent gay pride parade in Chicago. It is one thing to tolerate, it is another to encourage. All in the name of political correctness. The news media gives this event an inordinate amount of coverage, but they will not show you or inform you of the offensiveness and disgusting nature of the things that go on at this event.

We are told that same sex marriage has no effect on us. We must be tolerant. Homosexuality is not aberrant, just a different normal. In the recent past we accepted the thought to hate the sin, but love the sinner. But today there is no more sin. Why? Because the law says so.

I recently read an article which showed that same sex marriage has a deleterious effect on us and our society/culture. Here is his fourth point:

4. Catholicism and gay rights are incompatible.

At present the Church, and all Christians of a traditional sort, coexist in a false and uneasy truce with the sexual revolution. There has always been sin in the world, of course, and Christianity and sin are always incompatible, but increasingly our world is one of sin normalized, institutionalized, made official. Think of the almost unbearable moral contradiction baked into abortion law, for instance. And of the inescapable conclusion that what the state says about abortion falsifies Catholicism.

Same-sex marriage, I think, will magnify this tension, perhaps to a point where it can no longer be smoothed over or ignored. The state and the culture say two persons of the same sex can marry; the Church says they can’t. This condition can’t endure. The Church’s position is just too great an obstacle—an insult—to the sexual liberation project, of which homosexuality has become the popular symbol.

So, you might ask, when the state and all the force of law say that our religion is false, that it is in fact bigoted, isn’t there a teensy chance it will affect us in some way? We don’t have to make wild predictions here—we just have to look at recent precedent. Viewed in the context of the fight against the HHS mandate and the state’s accompanying argument that religious freedom is really nothing more than “freedom of worship,” it seems clear enough that the logical terminus of legalized same-sex marriage is the forced relocation of Catholics to the closet—or the catacombs.

His other points were: Ideas have consequences; We all have to live in the world that SSM will create; and, Error has no rights. I encourage you to read the entire article. Here is the link.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Praise God! Illinois Parental Notification of Abortion Law

Very good news today. Another step forward.

Great news! The Illinois Supreme Court today ruled the state's 1995 parental notification of abortion law can finally be implemented.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois had this to say:

Catholic Conference of Illinois says parents ‘can breathe a sigh of relief’ with state Supreme Court ruling allowing Parental Notice of Abortion Act

CHICAGO — The Catholic Conference of Illinois applauds today’s unanimous Illinois Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for a 1995 parental notification of abortion law to finally be implemented.

State lawmakers approved the legislation requiring that a parent or legal guardian be notified when a minor seeks an abortion in order to protect our children from making a life-or-death decision on their own. The measure includes a waiver for those children who have been physically or sexually abused.

Special interests and legal wranglings barred the law from taking effect for 18 years, setting up the state as an abortion haven for children from surrounding states, which already have parental notification laws in place.

“With this ruling, parents across the state and the Midwest can breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that state law finally allows them to fully parent their children, and safeguard their lives and those of the unborn,” said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

Gilligan noted the decision cited other court rulings that recognize minors often lack the maturity, experience and judgment to distinguish harmful choices, as well as observing that juvenile justice systems exist for those very reasons.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois strongly supported the original legislation, lent its support to defeating the legal challenges to the law, and fought off subsequent legislative efforts to undermine the role of parents.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Beware – The IRS Wants to File Your Taxes for You

The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), a conservative alternative to AARP, has posted this article from which I quote. Hopefully, it does not have a chance of passing congress, but it does reveal the mindset of the IRS.

The proposal by the IRS is currently being considered by Congress, through a bill proposed by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) which claims to streamline the federal tax return process.   But in fact, it will give the IRS the responsibility and the power to handle the filing of every American tax return. No longer will Americans be able or allowed to utilize the expertise of accountants or the countless free filing services offered by corporations, but instead will be forced to pay taxes or accept refunds based on the IRS’s independent calculations. There is an obvious conflict of interest here. The IRS earns it’s stars and stripes when it collects as much in taxes as possible, and with the current administration doing all it can to close the tax gap, the IRS has every incentive to maximize collections and minimize refunds. That means that most Americans will be issued a smaller refund and a bigger bill, and although some can hire lawyers and accountants to fight the IRS, most will not.
Without even touching on the long list of concerns and challenges this proposal will bring, we should consider that the IRS already has a bad record of doing their current job. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that the IRS answers 1 in 5 tax related questions incorrectly. The GAO also reports that the IRS has failed to correct over 67% of their mistakes going back two years, mistakes ranging from miscalculated refunds, mislabeling of addresses, and the mailing of private information about one taxpayer to the address of another. Those folks that rely on their refunds are still waiting for the IRS to repair their mistakes, and the incidents of fraud and security issues related to the mailing errors are incalculable. The UK tried a similar system a few years ago, and because of the egregious failures, particularly in terms of accuracy and privacy, their government has completely given up on the failed program and is reverting back to an American-like system. The IRS is offering to do all of our taxes for free, even though the program will cost billions to create and the long-term economic consequences will be devastating. The words of Thomas Jefferson ring true even today, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.”
Read the full article here.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lumen Fidei

I did a quick read through of the new encyclical and thought it was great. I'll do a more studious read soon and try to provide a summary. In the mean time take a look at it yourself. It is at the Vatican website.

Dr. Taylor Marshall has 15 points on his site.

And Jimmy Akin via National Catholic Register has "14 things you need to know about Pope Francis’s new encyclical," here.

To Be Happy and Prosperous

"Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the Government take care of him, better take a closer look at the American Indian."

- Henry Ford

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Great Day & Potpourri

What a day! After celebrating the 4th, I’m hit with the news that Blessed John Paul II, the Great, will become officially a Saint, and so will John XXIII.

Then I hear of the release of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith). Well, rather it was written by two popes, Francis and Benedict. I’ve already started to read it. You can read it at the Vatican website, there is also a pdf version, and I am converting it to Kindle. Here is the link: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei_en.html

It’s intent is to strengthen the faith of all Catholics worldwide. It stresses the beauty of faith. A headline reads “New Encyclical Truly a Spiritual ‘Light’. I would agree from what I’ve read so far. I’ll do a summary when I can. I hope pastors will bring it to everyone in the pews. Usually when it comes to encyclicals we are on our own.

A blogger, Dr. Taylor Marshall, wrote “15 Easy Points”. Here are the first five:

  1. He begins with referring to Nietzsche as the pioneer of non-faith for our era. Consequently, "humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself." 
  1. He then refers to Dante, who in the Divine Comedy, after professing his faith to Saint Peter, describes that light as a "spark, which then becomes a burning flame and like a heavenly star within me glimmers." The encyclical builds on Saint Peter's initial faith when he said, "You are Christ, the Son of the Living God!"
  1. Next, he traces the history of faith from Abraham and up on through the Hebrews of the Old Testament. The Incarnation reveals the ultimate object of faith - Jesus Christ.
  1. "In many areas in our lives we trust others who know more than we do. We trust the architect who builds our home, the pharmacist who gives us medicine for healing, the lawyer who defends us in court." But why don't we trust God? Trust or faith is a natural part of life

  1. Faith transforms those who love. This is why we are saved by faith in Christ. 
You may want to visit Taylor's site, he always has something good. Click here.

Also, I hear a Conscience Act was introduced in the Senate. Keep your fingers crossed, er, rather, pray.

And the U.S. House passed the Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act to prohibit abortions nationwide after 20 weeks. It passed 228 to 196. One small step forward. I wonder what the Senate will do, if anything.

And, St. Joseph is back. The Congregation for Divine Worship issued a decree adding St. Joseph to the Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV. Pope Benedict approved the addition and Pope Francis confirmed it. Hurray!

Let’s pray for Fr. Francois Mourad, a Syrian monk who was slain by Islamic rebels when they raided the monastery in Syria. He was trying to protect the nuns and others.

Monday, July 1, 2013

‘We Need to Be Active Witnesses of Our Faith’

I love Archbishop Chaput. He always seems to hit the nail on the head. On June 22 he gave a speech honoring St. Junipero Serra. He speaks of our mission, the new evangelization, St. Francis and Fr. Serra. It is excellent. Below is an excerpt. I hope it encourages you to read the whole speech. It can be found here.

The “how” of a New Evangelization, or any evangelization, needs to begin with our own repentance and conversion. That hasn’t changed since Father Serra walked the Camino Real, the trail that linked California’s missions. We can’t give what we don’t have. 
As individuals, we control very little in life; but we do control what we do with our hearts.  We can at least make ourselves available to God as his agents. Personal conversion is the essential first step. It immediately affects the people around us. 
The “how” also requires us to understand the real human terrain we’re called to convert. 

Christian Smith, Notre Dame’s distinguished social researcher, suggests that the de facto dominant religion among American teenagers today is “moralistic therapeutic deism.” And he frames the creed of this new religion in this way:

First, a God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth. Second, God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and most world religions. Third, the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. Fourth, God doesn’t need to be particularly involved in one’s life, except when he’s needed to fix a problem. And, fifth, good people go to heaven when they die.

“Teen religion” largely derives from the world of adult religion, especially parental religion, and it flows naturally from what the parents of these teens actually practice.  Old patterns of religious faith among many adults have faded into a kind of vague “spirituality,” which then shapes the world into which American adolescents are socialized.

For many young people, the moralistic part of “moralistic therapeutic deism” simply means being pleasant and responsible, working on “self-improvement,” taking care of one’s health and doing one’s best to succeed. “Therapeutic” means focusing on feeling good and happy, being secure and at peace. It’s about subjective well-being and getting along amiably with other persons. And “deism” means that God exists — he created our world — but he’s not particularly involved in our affairs, especially when we don’t want him around. He’s available to meet our needs. He’s not demanding on us, but we can be demanding on him.

Obviously, very little of this has anything to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the faith of the martyrs. And that’s a problem.
In practice, American society now breeds a kind of radical self-focus and practical atheism — not by refuting faith in God, but by rendering God irrelevant to people’s needs and urgencies of the moment. 

As Christopher Lasch saw in The Culture of Narcissism, consumer culture tends to create weak personalities dependent on group behavior and approval — and therefore more susceptible to advertising and product consumption. The hard and social sciences replace the clergy as a source of guidance and meaning. And social media and mass entertainment abolish solitude and personal reflection.  

So, in an age of massive self-absorption, the result is that real individuality and self-mastery are withering. Why? Because the communities that root and shape an individual in distinctive moral codes and histories — in other words, our families, churches, synagogues and fraternal organizations — can’t compete with the noise and flash of consumer society.

Here’s what that means for all of us as believers:  A “new” evangelization must start with the sober knowledge that much of the once-Christian developed world, and even many self-described Christians, are in fact pagan. 

Christian faith is not a habit. It’s not a useful moral code. It’s not an exercise in nostalgia. It’s a restlessness, a consuming fire in the heart to experience the love of Jesus Christ and then share it with others — or it’s nothing at all.

Mastering the new social and demographic data that describe today’s world, and the new communications tools to reach it, are vitally important for the Church. 

But nothing can be accomplished if we lack faith and zeal ourselves. We — and that means you and I — are the means God uses to change the world. The material tools are secondary. People, not things, are decisive.