Pentecost

What a great feast the Church celebrates today! The ‘birthing’ of the Church in and through the Holy Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,

and in our souls take up Thy rest;

come with Thy grace and heavenly aid

to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

Veni, Creator Spiritus,

mentes tuorum visita,

imple superna gratia

quae tu creasti pectora.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,

O heavenly gift of God Most High,

O fount of life and fire of love,

and sweet anointing from above.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,

altissimi donum Dei,

fons vivus, ignis, caritas,

et spiritalis unctio.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;

Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;

Thou, promise of the Father,

Thou Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Tu, septiformis munere,

digitus paternae dexterae,

Tu rite promissum Patris,

sermone ditans guttura.

Kindle our sense from above,

and make our hearts o’erflow with love;

with patience firm and virtue high

the weakness of our flesh supply.

Accende lumen sensibus:

infunde amorem cordibus:

infirma nostri corporis

virtute firmans perpeti.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,

and grant us Thy peace instead;

so shall we not, with Thee for guide,

turn from the path of life aside.

Hostem repellas longius, pacemque dones protinus:

ductore sic te praevio

vitemus omne noxium.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow

the Father and the Son to know;

and Thee, through endless times confessed, of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,

noscamus atque Filium;

Teque utriusque Spiritum

credamus omni tempore.

Now to the Father and the Son,

Who rose from death, be glory given,

with Thou, O Holy Comforter,

henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

Deo Patri sit gloria,

et Filio, qui a mortuis surrexit,

ac Paraclito,

in saeculorum saecula. Amen.

Some good reads for Pentecost:

The first couple chapters of the Acts of the Apostles
The Holy Ghost Our Greatest Friend – by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, OP (EDM)
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The difference between “pro-life” and “anti-abortion”

With the untimely news of George Tiller’s murder and the frenzy over the motive (which everyone assumes is from an “anti-abortion extremist”), there’s been a large increase in news articles, etc. discussing life issues. They reference two sides: the “pro-choice” side (or “abortion rights”), and the “anti-abortion” side. I have not found one secular news article using the term “pro-life” (please let me know of it if you see one).

Does it matter?

I think it does. I think it sets up a picture of how the media wants the public to view the pro-life movement (and, by extention, anyone who calls themselves “pro-life”). They don’t want you see the movement as fighting for the LIVES of human children. They want you to see the pro-life movement as a political ideology bent on restricting women’s “rights” (as if all women are born with the inherent “right” to kill their offspring); thus, pro-abortion (“pro-choice”– whose choice?) groups are referred to as those in favor of “abortion rights”. Set up as a debate between rights, instead of the real debate (between LIFE or death), the pro-life movement becomes seen and understood as restrictive and oppressive.

Impressive propagana, isn’t it?

Don’t be fooled. In the debate about rights we must first and foremost remember that we, as Americans, profess to be “created equal” with “certain inalienable rights” which include, as a foundation, the “right to LIFE” (my emphasis).

Who’s telling the truth?

Many others have commented on Obama’s speech at the Notre [Sh]ame commencement; I wasn’t planning to, but after coming across some stats that show that States with federally funded abstinence-only sex education programs have significantly lower abortion rates than those States which reject funding for abstinence-only programs, I can’t be silent.

Why?

Because just this month, a few weeks prior to Mr. Obama’s chatter about “common ground” to “reduce the number of abortions” he cut abstinence-only sex education programs from federal funding.

According to the data then, if we abandon abstinence-only sex education programs (because, who’s going to use them if you can’t afford them?) abortion rates will not go down, but will shoot up the opposite direction: up. Cutting federal funds for abstinence-only sex education programs is NOT a step towards reducing the number of abortions in this country (it’s a step in the other direction). Cutting federal funds for abstinence-only sex education programs is NOT a step towards “common ground” (it’s an entrenchment of the same pro-ABORTION politics Obama has been lobbying for since he began campaigning).

The appeal and pleas for “common ground” and “dialogue” during his Notre [Sh]ame commencement speech were empty promises dressed in fancy rhetoric (which obviously fooled more than a few people).

More junk from Dan Brown

This Friday the movie release of Dan Brown’s other poorly researched book “Angels & Demons” hits theaters. Though I am loathe to give this more attention than it needs, I think there is an obligation to correct the blatant lies this work purports as truth.

Firstly, and more concerning than any idea that a Pope would engage in sinful behavior, is the idea that there is a divorce between faith and science– that the Catholic Church is somehow hostile to science. This is simply untrue. Although with the sketchy “theories” floating around as scientific fact today, it’s not hard to see where one might get that impression. But that’s the fault of modern scientists pushing an agenda rather than seeking to truly understand the world.

The Church loves science, and there is (and can be) no hostile relation between faith and science– by which most people aim at understanding as reason. When we paint science as reasonable, we paint faith as unreasonable. Faith is a comforting fairy tale, they say, and reason is the mature real world understanding. But this is simply a false dichotomy. Faith and reason is not an either/or situation. Yes, faith is beyond that natural (i.e., faith is supernatural); but faith does not violate reason. To use a pedantic analogy: it is not unreasonable for me to believe that my car stays parked in the parking lot while I’m shopping in the store and can’t see it. Barring some abnormal occurrence like someone stealing my car or a tornado comes by and takes my car three towns over, my car will indeed still be in the parking lot even when I can’t see it. This would not be considered an unreasonable belief– in fact, most people might suggest it would be unreasonable to think otherwise.

Now, I do grant that the belief of religious faith is a bit different. But not entirely. God’s existence is something the Catholic Church has taught can be known by the light of natural reason. We did not need God to tell us that He exists. But matters of faith like the Incarnation, that God is three persons, one God are things we could not have figured out had God not revealed them to us. This kind of faith is not simply believing something exists even when I’m not looking at it, but is a kind of belief in the testimony of others alongside recognition that God is not (and cannot be) a deceiver by His very nature.

Some reading recommendations:

Pope John Paul II’s “Fides et Ratio” (“On the Relationship Between Faith & Reason”)

Answering Angels & Demons by Mark Shea (free download from Ascension Press)

Angels & Devils by Joan Carroll Cruz

Thank you, Bishop Campbell!

Catholic Reads extends its thanks and appreciation to Bishop Frederick Campbell, of the Diocese of Columbus for adding his voice to the growing voice of Catholic Bishops opposed to Notre [Sh]ame’s honoring of President Obama at this weekend’s commencement ceramony.

Notre [Sh]ame: the Decline of a Catholic identity

By now it’s practically old news, reading about President Obama’s invitation and honorary law degree to be received this weekend at Notre Dame University (former Catholic institution of higher learning); it’s getting to be a wary topic. And what’s the hullabaloo? There’s a standing invitation for the President (whomever he may be) to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement activities. Why all the Catholic uproar, protests, and talk of scandal?

It’s not because President Obama is speaking at Notre Dame. No sir. Sure, if Obama were simply speaking at Notre Dame’s commencement, many Catholics would “tsk, tsk” and shake their heads. But, (and this is key) Obama’s being awarded (i.e., honored) with an honorary (there’s that honor again) degree of (here’s the kicker,) Law. A law degree. An honorary law degree to the most pro-abortion President this country has ever seen. An honorary law degree to a man who voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, who promised Planned Parenthood enthusiasts that he would remove all restrictions on abortion by signing the Freedom of Choice Act, who had the audacity to call unplanned children punishments, etc., etc., etc. the list goes on.

It’s a slap in the face to Catholics in this country. It’s a slap in the face to citizens of this country who have fought tirelessly against the evil of abortion.

This is not a matter of politics– it never has been– it’s a matter of LIFE. This is the real life or death situation. The lives of millions of American children depend upon our speaking up for them who cannot speak for themselves. Life is sacred, life is special, life is full of meaning. This is the foundation for EVERYTHING.

To trample and take lightly the pro-life movement– the fight to save the morals and basic human rights in this country– is an affront not merely to humanity, but robs Notre Dame of its Catholic identity. You cannot be Catholic and devalue life. You cannot embrace Catholicism and reject the sacredness of human life, reject the Gospel call to defend and help the weak, the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized, etc. Social justice issues DEPEND upon a foundation that respects, at its base, the right to life.

Notre Dame truly has become Notre Shame under the watch of Fr. Jenkins and those who support the honoring of President Obama at this year’s commencement activities.

Is the Theology of the Body scandalous?

Christopher West, among other lay Catholic speakers, has definitely popularized Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. But if you caught his stint ABC’s Nightline, or the small fury in the blogosphere over an article that quotes Dr. Alice von Hildebrand saying West’s approach is “dangerous”; you might be wondering where’s the balance? Are we too prudish, or is the Theology of the Body scandalous?

I’ll be honest. I like Christopher West. I think he’s a good guy trying hard to do a difficult job. But, I also agree with many of the criticisms leveled against him. In that vein, I think he should take the criticism seriously, learn from it, and move on adjusting his presentations as necessary.

Pope John Paul II’s catechesis on the “Theology of the Body”(TOB) is revolutionary. Indeed, I remember reading his Love & Responsibility and thinking, “a celibate guy wrote this? Seriously?” and then immediately understood the scope of Pope John Paul II’s phenomenology (i.e., I have a lot to learn). It’s not that TOB added anything new to the Church’s teaching on sexuality or the human person; but the understanding and explanation is unfolded carefully and meaningfully in TOB.

Sex is a touchy subject. It has to be handled faithfully and sensitively– which tends to make most people turn off their listening ears. Christopher West’s presentation of the Theology of the Body is lively; he tries to wake up his audience to help them see that the Catholic Church really does know what she’s talking about in regards to who we are as human persons– and especially as regards our sexuality. He says some outlandish things (to grab the attention of the audience) but usually goes on to explain and nuance the odd sayings in the light of Church teaching.

For mature Christians, I think there is some wiggle room for discussion. For example, while The Theology of the Body Institute recently made it clear that Mr. West does not endorse oral sex; his book The Good News About Sex & Marriage does give the go-ahead. I think his conclusions are based on sketchy evidence, at best; and on that point I think Mr. West is off base. While the Church is not going to draw up a list of bedroom dos and donts for married couples, I don’t think the Nihil Obstat or Imprimatur in Mr. West’s books can make up the beginning of one. Theology of the Body is not about learning how far we can go, or how much we can get away with– that’s the wrong way to look at things. Theology of the Body is about who we are as persons and the ultimate purpose of the gift of sexuality lived out in human life–whether through the sacrament of marriage OR (and I think this is too often forgotten) through celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.