“The Last Acceptable Prejudice” continues

The television (the tabernacle of Satan, as Fr Groeschel would say) is tuned to a show which shall remain nameless. I did not choose the show, and have been making a concentrated effort to ignore it. However, the past several minutes have consisted in repeated insults against the Catholic Church, and a long segment praising homosexuality…

It’s one thing to disagree with a thing from a rational perspective, and quite another to level insults, poke fun, and dismiss a thing irrationally.

More and more it seems like the Catholic Church is everyone’s favorite punching bag. The York Times, The Boston Globe…most news outlets in general. And apparently, with the testimony of this particular talk show, the Church is the best new punchline for everything. Especially whatever of the Church’s teachings that [the insulters] misunderstand.

This latest episode consisted in mocking the Eucharist (a very grave offense), one of the hosts talked about receiving [from the Chalice] multiple times when she went to Mass because she was “still thirsty” (an alcoholic insinuation). I pray it was a joke. More concerning than if she received mulitple times (which is unnecessary and obviously disrespectful), is the flippancy with which she dismissed the Most Sacred Blood of Our Lord. She preferred its alcholic accidents to its supernatural graces. The Eucharist is not wine. It is not a symbol. The substance of the wine is changed (into the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ), even though the accidents remain the same (it still looks, smells, and tastes like wine–but it is not). Her dismissal of the Precious Blood, mocking the fact that its accidents remain, is a mockery of the price of Salvation. It’s disgusting. It’d disheartening.

I worry about the state of the world.

I pray during this month of the Precious Blood that more Christians become aware of the price of their Salvation and turn in love to the Precious Blood that poured forth from Our Lord on the Cross and made present in the Chalice during the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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Independence Day

I saw a shirt a few years ago with a big American Flag on it, it read, “In America we’re born to be free, too bad we aren’t free to be born!” and was followed by several statistics on abortion. It’s the perfect t-shirt slogan about abortion in this  country.  How ironic. Abortion is a travesty of “freedom”.

In truth, we have lost the meaning of freedom. Our modern world has completely forgotten the truth. Instead of reality, we seek only convenience.

There is no world in which the pursuit of the common good can allow for the death of anyone, no matter how young or helpless. Murder is senseless, even more so as a ‘solution’. However, abortion is not merely murder. I don’t think there’s a word to describe the utter horror of abortion. A mother slaughtering her offspring–in the womb. No woman, no person, has the ‘right’, the “freedom” to kill anyone. To decide who lives and who dies. Especially a mother. A mother is charged with the sacred duty of protection. It’s her job to protect, defend, and love her child. Murder is a gross denial of motherhood. A dross denial of the dignity of being a woman. To murder your own child is the most abhorrent act possible.

The late Pope John Paul II once said, “a nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.” This Independence Day, we, as a nation, celebrate our freedom and the hope of the “American Dream”. Abortion is the destruction of freedom, the destruction of hope, and the destruction of the American Dream.

More pictures

End abortion. Fight it. Pray for God’s mercy and justice.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into Hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Book Review: Handbook of Catholic Apologetics

It should be noted from the outset that this book is the earlier “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” with a new cover and partial title change, and one new chapter (about forty or so pages). I did not compare each and every page, but nearly every section I checked was exactly the same. The only differences being in font-size and the chapter outlines made more concise. They are good changes, but I am not sure if they are enough to demand a new publication.

As far as apologetical content goes, Mr. Kreeft and Fr. Tacelli do a decent job defending the reasonableness of faith and explaining some of the many philosophical proofs for the existence of God. However, since they renamed the book to Handbook of Catholic Apologetics I had been hoping for a stronger focus on apologetics for theists—for explaining and defending the faith to Protestants and persons of other religions. The book is divided about half and half: the first half addresses atheists and non-believers and the latter portion of the book focuses on defending commons objections to Catholic belief (ex. Mary, the Eucharist, etc.). It is a good resource, but far from and exhaustive and serves really as a good beginning, or grounding, in apologetics.

For example, one shortcoming is the gloss over Father Leonard Feeney. In (briefly) mentioning the dogma Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Outside the Church There is No Salvation), the authors overcomplicate the matter, dismiss Father Feeney (yes, Fr. Feeney was excommunicated, but not for doctrinal reasons as the authors insinuate) and so Mr. Kreeft and Fr. Tacelli fail to give a really good apologetic defense for the doctrine. The brief sentence or two offered by the authors is useless to anyone who is familiar with the particulars of Fr. Feeney’s case about Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

Despite some of its shortcomings, Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is a book that has its apologetical merits for Catholics seeking an introduction to basic questions of faith.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Lenten Disciplines

During those especially holy penitential seasons of the Church’s liturgical year (namely, Advent and Lent) I try and limit my reading to spiritual works. Though I like the classics, there is something about the Lenten season which demands one’s whole person be engaged– this, I think, is really the meaning behind the Lenten tradition of “giving up” something for Lent. The deprivation will force us to seek something to fill its place and the goal is to find an activity that builds virtue and focuses our attention on the great gift of Redemption in Christ.

This Lenten season my goal is to posses a better understanding of grace. Though I graduated with a degree in Theology, grace is one of those subjects that one could spend a lifetime cultivating and deepening in knowledge. I admit that I have a very basic and elementary understanding of grace that extends only so far; however, I think grace needs more attention in theological studies. How else are we to cling to the authentic teachings of the Magisterium? (not to mention enter into dialogue with those who seek to undermine the Catholic Church by pretending that grace is not an all-important element of Catholicism.) Now that I am free (i.e., graduated and still jobless), I plan to devote much of my reading this Lenten season to grace.

Because I have some form of attention deficit disorder when it comes to reading– I pick up one book, read several chapters or perhaps a vast majority of it and then the next day pick up a completely different book and do the same thing, etc. and so on, so that by the time I come back to finish the first book, I have to re-read and skim parts of it to recall those intimate details I need to enter back into the mindset of the author– I chose two books for my study on grace: Fr. John Hardon’s (SJ) History and Theology of Grace: The Catholic Teaching of Divine Grace and Robert Sungenis’ How Can I Get to Heaven? The Bible’s Teaching on Salvation Made Easy to Understand. Both seem to be worthy works up to the task. (Note that I will also make recourse to the Sacred Scriptures, the Catechism, and any other reference which either book might make reference to that would help round out my understanding… probably another aspect that adds to my Reading-ADD of sorts).

Other Lenten reads I recommend:

The Gospel According to Mark- Yes, the Scriptures themselves are a great Lenten read, and I think Mark lends itself well because of its focus on the passion of Christ. Everything points towards the Cross (and the confession of the centurion).

The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ (St. Alphonsus Liguori)- This is what Lent is all about. (and St. Alphonsus Liguori rocks!)

Frequent Confession: It’s Place in the Spiritual Life (Fr. Benedict Baur)- A good read to remember even after the season of Lent is over… You’ll look at Confession in a whole new light.

Heliotropium (Fr. Jeremias Drexelius)- Talks about conformity of the will to God (like the flower (gentle Christian) that turns itself towards the Sun (Son)). I think it’s a good Lenten read because when we examine where we need to conform our will to the Lord’s Will, it demands some serious sacrifice. It’ll give you good ideas to harp on for Lent the next year!

Christ: the Life of the Soul (Bl. Columba Marmion)- a great work on the spiritual life that’s been praised by all sorts of Popes and theologians… very rooted in the Bible, the Liturgy, and the writings of the Saints. Very Christocentric throughout (I think even non-Catholic Christians would love it).

The Soul Sanctified (Anonymous)- Lots (i.e., 90 to be exact) of small meditations– just a few pages in length– on a variety of topics pertaining to Christan faith and life. Each meditation is unto itself, so you can pick and choose which topic interests you  in whichever order you choose. It’s handy to just carry around and use whenever you have a few moments to turn your thoughts to God.

There are numerous other good reads for Lent, but there is my two cents for this Lent. Happy reading and may you have a most dolorous Lent!

Be Fair to the Pope

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has been getting a lot of heat from the press (and from high ranking Jewish officials) regarding his decision to lift the excommunication of some SSPX (Society of St. Pius X) bishops, one of whom made public comments denying the Holocaust. The Holocaust, however terrible, is not a matter of Catholic faith. The lifting of the excommunications had NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO with Bishop Williamson’s comments about the Holocaust, but regarded matters pertaining to the Catholic faith. The Pope already distanced himself from the Bishop’s comments regarding the Holocaust, and reiterated that the Bishop’s comments are completely UNRELATED to the lifting of the excommunication. End of story.

Elie Wiesel, the chief Rabbinate, etc. need to step back and examine the facts… they are attacking the Pope without justification (and making a bad name for themselves in the process). The Church has done a great deal in her relation with the Jews and has been more than fair to them… so, be fair to the Pope!

Time for a Little Hope

With so many “downer” entries and concerns about the present world, I thought myself (and perhaps my few readers)  in need of a little dose of hope.

Though I may report with dismay on the various happenings of the present world, I do not despair. For I know that the end is firmly decided. God has won, and Christ has triumphed over Satan and sin and death. This present world is fading away, and with all creation I groan and wait for Hope to come for me (hint, hint… notice blog title). Christ is our Hope (as Pope Benedict XVI so providentially reminded us when he came to visit the US last April)… is a coincidence that this happened before Obama launched his idol-like ad campaign thrusting HOPE at the bottom of his posterized mug shot? I think not. We needed a reminder that Christ is our Hope, not some mere mortal. Christ has conquered the world. Whatever the economy is doing, whatever seems so bad in the world is nothing in the face of Christ the Lord, through Whom all things are possible.

No I do not dispair. I may groan and rumble in my impatience, but I always remain constantly hopeful. Because I know that Hope is coming for me. Christ will come again, and along with a recitation of the Dies Irae on my part, I wait in hope.

CLICK HERE TO READ POPE BENEDICT XVI’S ENCYCLICAL LETTER “SPE SALVI” (ON CHRISTIAN HOPE)

…Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well. So now we can say: Christianity was not only “good news”—the communication of a hitherto unknown content. In our language we would say: the Christian message was not only “informative” but “performative”. That means: the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.

…What this means is that every generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs; this task is never simply completed. Yet every generation must also make its own contribution to establishing convincing structures of freedom and of good, which can help the following generation as a guideline for the proper use of human freedom; hence, always within human limits, they provide a certain guarantee also for the future. In other words: good structures help, but of themselves they are not enough. Man can never be redeemed simply from outside.

… man is redeemed by love

…Let us say once again: we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. The fact that it comes to us as a gift is actually part of hope. God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is “truly” life.

…The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgement and grace—that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or parakletos (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).

On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

It has been thirty-six years, and in that time…

MORE than FIFTY MILLION BABIES have been slaughtered, killed, pulled apart, burned alive,  and had the life literally sucked out of them… in the warm and “safe” wombs of their own mothers.

50 Million+.

Five zero. MILLION. M-I-L-L-I-O-N. Plus.

I wish I could impress upon you the enormity of that number. The scope. The depth of what that means. How many friends, brothers, sisters, future husbands, future wives, future fathers, future mothers have been mercilessly wiped out? More than 50 million. There is not one life on this planet that has not been affected; and we’ll never know (in this life) how we would’ve been affected. The chance, the opportunity has been stripped from us by the cold surgical instruments that end life at its earliest.

Each person is unique. I know we hear that so many times that it becomes cliche, but the sublime truth that permeates that statement should impress upon us the vastness of what we have lost to abortion. Of the baby that has been aborted, there will never be, nor can there be, another. That life, that precious life, was distinct, unique, and the only one of its kind that will ever be.  Could it have been the person who would’ve been your best friend? Your child’s best friend? Your child’s future spouse? We’ll never know. We can’t get it back. It is a life lost. A life gone, forever.

50 million. 50 million lost children. 50 million children lost to this world forever.

It really is genocide.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel, Holocaust Survivor