Catholic Interest

Interesting things Catholic

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    Tuesday, July 31, 2007

    Prince of Darkness goes public

    The descent of humility, generosity, charity, meekness, chasity, temperance, perserverance.
    The ascent of pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, sloth.
    What would it look like in the extreme? It would look like us in our worst situations and opportunities.
    Thank Goodness that most countries' governments can keep the lid on our desires. Somewhere between feeding us, locking us up, repression, idol worship, or the moral dictates of the citizens, the genie of chaos can be contained.
    But not in the Congo it seems, where critical mass of evil has been reached.
    Africa is a wild continent where it is beast against beast for survival. But with the wild animals there is no evil, just hunger and the laws of nature. Only man can be good or evil. Animals are just animals, the animal-rights folks notwithstanding.
    But man is more. Filled with grace, or filled with darkness we have souls that dictate to our animal nature unless we are sleeping or dead.
    What's happening in the Congo is a proof of the sin we can exhibit when unrestrained by failed government. Take away the constrictions of neighbor and law, and good will pretty much seem the same, but evil will gain vibrant color and depth, red and deep.
    This is scary no? All those vices we treasure in private really look like the Congo in public. Anger becomes murder, lust becomes murder. Pride, avarice, envy, gluttony, and sloth become murder. And all of it a lie as to what we could be given our breath of life soul and grace.
    Let's not be too smug, that our little private vices suppressed by strong government makes us seem nice. Too many of us placed in the Congo would be doing Congo things to our amazement.
    Our little vices are only such because we are repressed by force of fear and society. Let us loose and their color would be vibrant too like the blood vice always calls for.
    Our sometimes friend, that Dark Prince, has only the two tools of murder and lies. Restrained as in most of us, or loose like in the Congo, it's the same thing, and to God the same sin.
    Saints are Saints because they recognize all sin as murder and injury, and everything not of God as a lie.
    Except for the grace of God, we are the Congo. We can hide that fact thanks to law and society, but hiding it is not the same as not being it.
    Sexual atrocities in Congo's volatile province of South Kivu extend "far beyond rape" and include sexual slavery, forced incest and cannibalism, a U.N. human rights expert said Monday.
    "The atrocities perpetrated by these armed groups are of an unimaginable brutality that goes far beyond rape," she said in a statement. "Women are brutally gang raped, often in front of their families and communities. In numerous cases, male relatives are forced at gun point to rape their own daughters, mothers or sisters."

    The statement continued: "Frequently women are shot or stabbed in their genital organs, after they are raped. Women, who survived months of enslavement, told me that their tormentors had forced them to eat excrement or the human flesh of murdered relatives."
    The Panzi hospital, a specialized institution in Bukavu near the Rwandan border, sees about 3,500 women a year suffering fistula and other severe genital injuries resulting from atrocities, Erturk said.

    Army units have deliberately targeted communities suspected of supporting militia groups "and pillage, gang rape and, in some instances, murder civilians," she said.
    The tactics include "pillaging, torture and mass rape," she said, citing a December incident when 70 police officers took revenge for the torching of a police station in Karawa by burning the Equator town, torturing civilians and raping at least 40 women, including an 11-year-old girl.

    No police officer has been charged or arrested in relation to the atrocities, she said, adding that similar operations have since been carried out in Bonyanga and Bongulu, also in Congo's northwest.

    "The justice system is in a deplorable state," Erturk said. "It is overwhelmed even by the limited number of cases, in which women brave all obstacles and dare to report sexual violence. Reports of corruption and political interference in the judicial process are widespread."

    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Malta teaches

    Who said it's OK for homosexuals to teach your children? You know, long days, long months, sharing, teaching... etc.

    Not in Malta perhaps.

    I still think that everyone knows homosexual men should not be around boys coming of age. That was the American Priest scandal of the 70's and 80's.

    I know, let's envoke 'safety'. That seems to trump all other rights lately. Safety of the kids... who can argue with that in 2007? We wrap them in helmets and knee pads and seatbelts 24/7. Surely they should be safe from teachers also.


    Malta's Union of Teachers is threatening to publish the details of four attempts to oust gay and lesbian teachers from Roman Catholic school posts, unless the government launches an independent inquiry into sexual orientation discrimination.

    According to the union, Church schools were under pressure from parents to fire the teachers, leading to four interventions in the past five years. Students even scrawled insults on one teacher's chalkboard, according to John Bencini, President of the union.

    "As long as these teachers do not try to influence students with their beliefs or lifestyles, their sexuality is a private matter," said Mr Bencini, speaking to Malta Today. "We have to ensure that the employment of these teachers is safeguarded."

    In 2004, Malta banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation after the Malta Gay Rights Movement lobbied for the measure to be included in an Employment Relations Act.Malta is one of the most socially conservative countries in the EU.

    98% of the population are Roman Catholics, and although homosexuality has been decriminalised, significant prejudice remains.

    I don't think it's prejudice, just discrimination. Good, healthy, knowledgeable, safe discrimination regarding what's right, what's wrong, what's safe.

    Besides, Catholics have no problem with homosexuals living a chaste life. Chances are instead, these pink folks are out there proudly advertising, which is something like teaching, which is never pretty. And as they should know by now regarding HIV, never safe.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    Too cozy

    A Priest I know keeps saying that 'those' countries use islum to keep control of their citizens.

    From my American viewpoint that sounded odd. It's just not in my living memory. A few hundred years ago we know that Europe and the particular churches identified with each other so closely that an act against religion was close to treason. But was it really the state that was using religion for control, or was it the people's strong identification with religion that merged church and state? I don't know.

    Anyway, it's good to see at least Egypt trying to escape from the deaths that occur when folks try to become Christian. Good for this Gomaa fellow.


    CAIRO: Egypt's official religious adviser has ruled that Muslims are free to change their faith as it is a matter between an individual and God, in a move which could have far-reaching implications for the country's Christians. "The essential question before us is can a person who is Muslim choose a religion other than Islam? The answer is yes, they can," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a posting on a Washington Post-Newsweek forum picked up by the Egyptian press on Tuesday.

    The case of the 12 Copts, whose request to revert was denied by a lower court in April, goes in front of the Supreme Court in September, and Bahgat said they will use Gomaa's posting to bolster their case.

    "Gomaa is a civil servant, the top religious adviser of the state, and technically speaking the deputy justice minister," he said. "So his views on the matter carry authority."

    "The punishment for apostasy is controversial," judge Ahmad Mekky, the deputy head of Egypt's Supreme Court, told AFP. "There is nothing in any Koranic text about this."

    Gomaa said that if the conversions undermine the "foundations of society" then it must be dealt with by the judicial system, without elaborating.

    "The posting is consistent with the mufti's past fatwas," he told AFP. "Apostasy is only punishable when it is considered akin to subversion."

    Subversion.. undermining society.. Looks like that treason attitude Europe of old had also.

    Government is God and God is government. Sounds odd to modern people. This is what causes fear to liberal Americans. Laws to enforce morals sound like God in government to them. And they're right.

    You can't have government killing people for religion, and you cant have government without morals. Where a society sits on that scale makes a difference to God and us.

    But as the Priest says, is Egypt really using islum to control their people, or is killing converts the will of the people? I don't know.

    I do know that the chasm between cultures is so wide I would never dare to visit Egypt, even to see the pyramids. I think I would even avoid Oregon with its euthanasia laws in case I should faint there and end up in that type of "health care" system.

    Too much God in government in Egypt, and not enough in Oregon. Looks like the correct balance is still an open question.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    You're in my way

    Christian Driving... The new opportunity for evangelism in the 21st century A.D.

    The Vatican has been made fun of for coming out with the 10 Commandments of Christian driving for Rome. But it's true. Most of the people we meet today are other drivers on the road. How better to present an example of adult Christianity to the unchurched?

    There are many reasons that driving brings out the worst in people, and I think the major catalyst is environment. Architects are perhaps most knowledgeable about the effects of environment. Stepping into a building instantly transforms the lived experience in a major way. The sounds, sights, and space change the person.

    For example, think how you immediately feel walking into a church (one at least 50 years old that is), hospital, prison, business, bank, movie theater, wal-mart, etc.. In an important way everything changes.

    Same with a car. Just inches outside there is heat, dirt, danger, and noise. But in your cozy car there is quiet, music, plush seats, and pleasant confinement. Oh, and always someone in your way... impeding your important progress... an 'idiot'.

    So many opportunities to show Christianity. The Rich Man helping Lazarus. A wave and smile to show recognition as a person. Humility. Consideration.

    And so many opportunities to break out of the 21st century trappings of safety and guaranteed long life into senility. It's not a game with a 'start over' button. Even with air bags and seat belts to ensure your safety, having nothing to do with the other person's safety, it's still a life and death risky krap shoot.

    Generally driving is all about me and my artificial environment. That's easily changed, although seldom considered.


    Drivers inconvenienced by a road-widening project subjected construction workers to so much abuse -- including death threats, BB gun shootings, even a flying burrito -- that the state revoked a rush-hour window and shut down the highway altogether.

    "If you have taken time out of someone's day and add more time to it, their patience levels go off the Richter scale," said Terri Kasinga, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation.

    The first sign things were going to turn ugly was after the transportation department allowed drivers to use the highway only during rush hour last summer, with traffic flowing in one direction at a time and creeping along behind escort vehicles.

    One person called and said he would climb a water tower and shoot workers. Next came angry exchanges, with one driver tossing a burrito at a construction worker. Vandals tore down barricades and construction equipment was stolen, and authorities threatened to shut down the highway.

    Last September, Charles Fenn was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon on allegations that he clipped a flagman with his vehicle on his way home to Wrightwood. When authorities finally caught up with him at his house, they noticed he had shaved off his mustache, said CHP Officer Jeff Perez.

    "I'm the victim," Fenn maintained in a brief phone interview, declining to comment further.

    Earlier this year, another worker felt a stinging sensation on the back of her leg. When she looked down, she found a BB pellet on the ground, Kasinga said.

    Citing the continued clashes and the need to expand the construction zone, the state shut down the road last month and made good on its threat to yank the escorts.

    Friday, July 20, 2007

    Walking together apart

    22 An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. 47 Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side 48 and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest." 49 Then John said in reply, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company." 50 Jesus said to him, "Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you."
    20 "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21
    so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.
    We do not prevent each other, but so that the world may believe we strive to all be one. It is not a discussion about who is greatest.
    The only losers are those who think that it does not matter.
    Bishop Farrell affirmed that "it is necessary to hold various affirmations all together at once" in order to correctly understand the document.
    "Of course, no Christian body likes to hear that we Catholics think they are missing something that is essential in the concept of Church," he said. "Just as we do not like to hear our Orthodox friends say that they alone are the true continuation of the undivided Church of the first millennium.

    "Likewise, at the center of the Reformation there is a radical critique of the Catholic Church as not having remained faithful to Christ and to the Scriptures.

    "So it cannot come as a surprise to our Protestant partners that there are different ideas of 'Church' at work in our views of one another."
    Bishop Farrell affirmed that ecumenical dialogue is an urgent task for Catholics and non-Catholics alike: "When 'Responses' reminds us that because of division between Christians, the Church’s universality is not fully realized in history, it is pointing to an unfinished task that cannot be neglected or delayed.

    "Far from feeling any sense of self-sufficiency, Catholics must feel that the situation of incompleteness inherent in division and separation is a tragedy for them too. It makes it all the more difficult to offer a convincing witness, so that the world may believe."

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007


    I like controversy because people say things they might otherwise be silent about. It's good to know what's cooking under the lid.

    Other than the Missouri and Wisconsin Lutherans and high church Anglicans, I don't think the thousands of denominations consider themselves the one true church.

    I think it's rather that they have the definition that all baptized Christians belong to the one church flowing from the true bible. A true church for them is going too far. Everyone just reads the bible which is true, and adapts the message in many forms. How else to explain all the different and conflicting adaptions? Whether these adaptions represent the truth is also going too far. It's enough that the bible starts out as true, and the adaptions are... well just adaptions.

    If enough people come up with the same adaptions, they you've got a denomination. In other words, a committee has been formed.

    Sometimes this committee is as large as the Baptists, or a smaller storefront, or as small as reading the bible on the front porch. Find a place to be comfortable and take a seat.

    The Catholics, including Orthodox, are the only ones that dare consider themselves the one true Church. One true Jesus, 12 true Apostles, and their successors. If they are what they say they are, then there is a bright line drawn. It's this line that is the controversy.

    Either it's the bible and me (and other like-minded people), or the bible and the Church. Good for Mohler for saying so.


    Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., one of the nation’s preeminent evangelicals, was also not surprised by the Vatican’s statement, and therefore “not offended.”

    In a recent blog, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship school – said the latest development “is not news in any genuine sense.”

    “It is news only in the current context of Vatican statements and ecumenical relations,” Mohler wrote.

    “No one familiar with the statements of the Roman Catholic Magisterium should be surprised by this development,” he also commented.

    Mohler further noted that evangelicals should appreciate the “candor” in the document.
    “I appreciate the document’s clarity on this issue,” he stated. “It all comes down to this – the claim of the Roman Catholic Church to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the Pope as the universal monarch of the church is the defining issue.”

    The Southern Baptist theologian argues that the issue is “worthy of division.”

    “The Roman Catholic Church is willing to go so far as to assert that any church that denies the papacy is no true church,” Mohler wrote. “Evangelicals should be equally candid in asserting that any church defined by the claims of the papacy is no true church."

    Boy, that papacy thing is important to all of us it seems.

    Is it like minded people who happen to be Baptist, or the single voice of the Pope and the Bishops united with him and the flock united with them?

    Jesus and the Apostles seem to indicate a hierarchy. A teacher and the taught forever on.

    Or is it the bible and me and other like-minded people.

    Nice bright line. May the controversy continue.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Detroit thoughts

    We Catholics know that other Christians often outshine us in works of charity. Good stuff.

    And with things like the recent $600 million payday for the now grown boys who played with now dead Father, a lack of responsible hierarchy and bank accounts can keep the lawyers at bay.

    Plainly, the Bible alone is a powerful message that can produce powerful results in persons and society.

    That said, Catholics see their history as the whole of 2,000 years in one long line of Truth. Jesus, the Apostles, ordained successors, the written Canon, Spirit guided development of Revelation. Looking back in time we see no rupture of Truth, and so think that Jesus continues to subsist in His Church.

    We are aware that fallen people in the Church do fallen things, yet can not destroy the Truth. We are happy, even though the Church hands out no free passes to accommodate changing times. And it's been long times.

    When you have hierarchy, then you have a brighter line between those who teach, and those who are taught. The necessary humility to be taught goes strongly against the grain of self-esteem. Detroit's Free Press give voice.


    Every time I find myself coming back to Catholicism, the faith I was reared in, something takes place to distance my own beliefs once more. Pope Benedict's holier-than-thou attitude speaks volumes for the infallible position the Catholic Church has long taken.

    The doctrine that states other Christian religions "lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church" is preposterous in lieu of the sanctity placed on the Bible in which all Christianity stems from, and in essence leads to, the same God. This lust for power by the Vatican can only be construed as an attempt at a unified one-world, Christianity-based religion that will further turn away believers in the concept of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

    Moreover, this could also be taken as an affront to the Islamic faith, that witnesses Catholicism strike out again in its flawed doctrine that it is the one true Church of Christ.

    Daniel Kowbell
    Toronto, Ontario

    Such nerve! Such pretension! He forgets that Rome drifted away from Orthodox Christianity and the original teachings and practices of the early Church by tampering with the Creed, fabricating the "primacy of Peter" and all that "vicar of Christ" stuff. Only when the Bishop of Rome renounces his errors and his papal pretensions will the churches of the apostolic succession be reunited. I'm not holding my breath.

    Pauline Costianes

    I hope those who read this who are from other faiths will accept my simple, single apology for the pope's comments. Please know, too, that I am likely not alone in saying that I do not or will not accept his way of thinking on this matter. I am sure my own father, a lifelong Lutheran who sang in the choir, led the church council and served the common good of his fellow congregation members for 60 years, is indeed enjoying salvation.

    I hope all of us will start acting more like Jesus -- without ego -- simply passing along love, peace and goodness to others.

    Dave Jacobson

    Permit me to cut and paste the church these people would feel comfortable in...

    Pass along love, peace and goodness like Jesus. Some marks of this are belonging to the choir and leading the church council. You will indeed enjoy salvation. Who cares?

    The "true church" is -- all people -- trying to live the teachings of Jesus Christ. These teachings are perhaps not what the Catholic Church says they are. Try to live the undefined whatever. Who cares?

    When the Bishop of Rome renounces his errors and his papal pretensions the churches of the apostolic succession can be reunited. Otherwise, who cares?

    Catholics could be taken as an affront to the Islamic faith. We'll have none of that! Oops, I mean... who cares? No i mean we'll have none of that!

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Me and the Bible and Me

    Sometimes I wonder just how lazy it is possible for me to be. It's been almost a week since the Pope declared that he was Catholic.
    Finally this nice gentleman comes forward on CNN to make all the usual counterpoints for me. Even better, he used to be a Catholic but has escaped.
    Well, good luck to him. Not that he needs it because he's studying Scripture now.
    For him to even suggest that only the Catholic Church can provide true salvation to believers in Christ shows that he is wholly ignorant of the Scriptures that I have known all my life.
    Sorry, let me take that back. I've really only known the Bible for the last 13 of my 38 years. That's because those first 25 years were spent as a die-hard Catholic.
    The Bible records in Matthew 28:16 that Jesus called his 11 disciples (the other, Judas, hanged himself after betraying Jesus) to Mount Galilee and decreed, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (New International Version).
    This gentleman perhaps missed the point that there were many followers of Jesus around when he made this statement, yet Jesus called only his 11 disciples to Mount Galilee.
    Hmmmmm... Sounds like the Apostles/Bishops to me. Not that I couldn't go out and make disciples of all nations if I really wanted to. But wouldn't a Church come in handy here? And if a church, which of the thousand churchs do you suppose? Perhaps the ones that can trace their lineage back to the Apostles.
    It doesn't matter what Pope Benedict XVI has to say, or for that matter, any other religious leader. A Christian believes in Jesus Christ and what He had to say, not what a man of God has to say. This is not an attempt to completely dismiss religious leaders, but is further evidence of what happens when ego is more important than the work of Christ.
    Ah yes, ego is sort of like Pride, and one of those 7 deadlies. It is precisely the effort to decide just what it is that Jesus has to say that created these thousands of denominations in the first place. The situation is hardly made better by millions of people creating their own little church by the fireplace reading the Bible and deciding for themselves. Talk about ego!
    It's hard work, made so much better by having access to an authoritative teacher with 2,000 years of commentary and thought and the Spirit's guidance.
    John 14:6 says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Nowhere does it say that Peter, Pope Benedict XVI or anyone else can supplant Jesus as the leader of the church.
    Right, exactly. And to tie things up in a tidy package, the Catholics believe that Jesus abides in the Church guided by the Holy Spirit. But you know what's next. Someone on earth would have to speak for the Church. Today that's Benedict and the Bishops united with him, and the Priests united with the Bishops, and the whole of the people in union with them.
    I should apologize for picking on the gentleman. It's just that there are so many like him out there. The comments on Benedict from organized religion were much more reasonable.
    And the reality is that we were never really encouraged to study the Scriptures. The standard practice was for all of us to read the same pamphlets passed out by the church, recite the readings from the New and Old Testaments, listen to the Scripture chosen for us in the Gospel and hear a normally bland homily.
    Ha, sounds like some sort of Scripture study to me. But yes, those homilies are sometimes bland.

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Bishops falling

    Weakland in Milwaukee, Lugo in Paraguay, government Bishops in China.

    Bishops are local by design, and being human despite being ordained, the flesh and human touch can overcome the spirit.

    Lugo is different because he looks willing to resign. Win or lose, after it's over and politics takes its toll he will be back to being Lugo.

    As prodigal sons indelibly ordained, they will return.


    A charismatic leader dubbed the "Bishop of the Poor" is an early favorite to make history as the first Roman Catholic bishop elected president of a country.

    The Vatican is not pleased, and it's not alone: Fernando Lugo's candidacy not only tests the church's strict prohibition on clergy seeking political office, it also challenges the established elites in Paraguay, where the poor majority feels disenfranchised after 6O years of unbroken rule by President Nicanor Duarte's Colorado Party.

    Lugo, who resigned as bishop in December to sidestep Paraguay's constitutional ban on clergy seeking office, sees politics as a solution to problems of his flock in the San Pedro region, where he spent nearly 11 years ministering to hungry peasants who toil in cotton and soybean fields of rich landowners.

    "We did everything possible there to help the people out of poverty and misery," he said.

    Pope Benedict XVI weighed in on the issue last month, telling a Latin American bishops conference that the "political task is not the immediate competence of the Church." Benedict also has taken a hard line against liberation theology, a Catholic movement that remains strong in Latin America, which holds that Christianity's central mission is to free the poor from oppression.

    Lugo said liberation theology is just one of many influences on his thinking, and noted that former popes have called responsible politics a "healthy and just activity."

    "I have freely and in good conscience renounced my priestly ministry," he said. "What I have freely decided to do cannot be judged by others."

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    My, what a big baby

    The Partial Birth Abortion technique is so gruesome, that even in liberty loving America, only the fringe pro-abortion fanatics support it.
    And I must hand it to Amnesty International's Larry Cox. Whereas most untrained people will save the point of an article for the last paragraph, he has placed all that is important in his letter to Bishop Skylstad in the third from last paragraph.
    A little but of style makes tit-for-tat very much more interesting.
    Mr. Cox would be a formidable Poker player, yet if you stand up to the bluff, eventually one must show one's cards.
    Finally, I want to set the record straight on AI's position on laws against partial birth abortions. The bishops' statement misstated the facts. AI does not seek to define gestational limitations on abortion. We recognize instead that states may impose reasonable gestational limitations on access to abortion. However, because AI does oppose imprisonment and criminal sanctions for women and providers, AI opposes the specific provisions of the federal law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart that criminalizes doctors who perform particular types of abortions.
    Amnesty International will allow no serious sanctions against this during birth abortion method.
    Thank You Mr. Cox. That's all I needed to know.
    The baby is half out of the womb. That would fit most people's definition of "reasonable gestational limitations". But for Amnesty International, applying serious consequences toward gestational linitations trumps everything.
    To me, disallowing consequences is not quite a neutral position, but rather liberty.
    And although I believe in maximum liberty for all things reasonable, abortion is not one of those reasonable things. Especially since the baby is likely to be staring the abortionist in the eyes.

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    The Latino branding iron is hot

    Poorly catechized folks going to poorly truthful churches. Catholic folk-style religion can not compete with the lure of customer satisfaction.

    And there's no one that understands customer satisfaction better than American Marketing. Well, at least on the initial temptation side.

    Companies are always excellent on drawing you in with noisy generated hopes of excitement and fulfillment. Yet, struggle as they might, fail to deliver the product or service as promised.

    From exciting Volkswagons that never make it to old-car status because of expensive quality problems (you won't find a 10 year old on the road.. they just disappear to car hell) to exciting Latino Style potatoes saturated with oil and a little spice, which are sure to plump up the husband-hopefuls right out of their exciting bikinis.

    If they knew better, they would turn off the TV and never be exposed to "drivers wanted" coolness. And if they could see a few years down the waistline, they'd avoid the grease chips in favor of a few hot peppers and salsa on their lettuce and tomatoes.

    Same for the lure of charismatics and prosperity and loud praise band feel-good churches. If the customers knew better, they would stick to what works from the hand of Jesus vs. what is initially attractive from the mind of marketing.

    Because when we're talking about modified churchs attractive to the ego, the failure to deliver is long lasting. Eternally long lasting.

    And like Volkswagons, one might unfortunately just disappear.


    The implications of the Latino religious shift are many. Just as the evangelical movements have done very well drawing Latinos, you as a brand manager must also create an experience and a home for them. Allow them to embrace and customize your brand, to be part of it. By doing this you will start building a foundation for a dialogue so that your Hispanic customers will become charismatic brand ambassadors for you. If you recognize what these trends in Latino spiritual life mean now, your marketing results might be of biblical proportions.

    At the very core of why Hispanic Americans are evolving in faith is a single notion: choice. Choice is at the foundation of why Latinos and immigrants of all types come to this country. They want options in employment, which will in turn determine their prosperity. Why would they not want the same variety of choices in the brands they purchase?

    The Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life collaborated on a major study entitled Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion. The report revealed some familiar truths—Latinos are avery religious demographic group—as well as some dramatic new findings. Foremost among those: Latinos are also a demographic group that's abandoning the Catholic Church in significant numbers. Frequently, they defect in order to join other, often Pentecostal or other revivalist, denominations.

    No doubt, the reasons for this religious and sociological shift present ample food for thought for the Catholic hierarchy. But Latino Americans' abandonment of traditional Catholic services also serves—or, ought to serve—as a serious wake-up call for leading brands and those who market them. After all, if Latinos (whose buying power is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2011) are willing to reassess what organized religion they subscribe to, would they be unwilling to apply the same kind of scrutiny to the brands they buy?

    The most common reason given for evangelical conversion is Latinos' expressed desire to be closer to their maker, something they equate with the church experience itself. One-third of the evangelical converts describe the "lack of excitement" as a deciding factor. Translation: They think Catholic masses are boring. Such a consensus should be of interest to retailers who are currently wondering if they should change any aspects of their in-store experience in high-density Hispanic markets.

    Meanwhile, many of the Hispanics who elect to remain with the Catholic Church are redefining their parishes—giving them a Latino makeover, if you will, by amalgamating traditional tenets with belief in the supernatural, such as miraculous healings. This kind of spiritual customization also evinces a surprising willingness on the part of Latinos to alter tradition. Pity the marketer still locked in the mindset that all Hispanics do is follow it.

    Besides the in-store (or, should I say, in-church) experience advantage of the evangelical movement, another strong point of attraction for Latinos is that movement's stance regarding economic and social mobility. Simply put, the Catholic Church has failed, in part, through its traditional stressing of acceptance of one's economic and social status. Evangelical churches—which often preach a "prosperity gospel" of financial progress and well-being for the faithful—are winning out over resignation. The marketers who are still following presumptions that Latinos are gentle supplicants in a hapless herd are risking their brands; messages of empowerment are what they should be working on.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    Our nasty buddy Lucifer

    The original Dr. Feelgood. The guy who dips his finger into our heart and wiggles it.

    2,000 years ago we didn't have cell phone cameras or tape recorders, but still, we have the demon's words captured.

    “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”

    “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”

    Today's Gospel is one of my favorites, but as always, the homily had nothing to do with devils. Most Gospels are amazing, but this one is right out of hell.

    First off we have 2 demonics. Now to meet one would be unusual no? But two! They must have been buddies. "They were so savage that no one could travel by that road." Now back then times were rough, and the people were rough, and no one could travel by that road? Now that's some rough demonics. This "no one" must have included soldiers, groups, criminals... no one.

    They "were coming from the tombs". Tombs carved into rock housing multiple old and new corpses per tomb. Hot, dry, rodent and insect infested tombs. We can only imagine what these 2 guys were eating to sustain themselves. I doubt they had day jobs.

    This episode is long after Jesus' encounter with the devil in the desert who asked "If you are the Son of God... cause these stones to become bread". By this time the devil and all his buddies were well aware who Jesus was. And they had common knowledge about what He intended to do.

    “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”

    They expected him to torment them, but this was not the appointed time. Somehow these demons knew the storyline. I wonder if it's Jesus' work with us that will cause them torment, or is it a special plan reserved for demons that will cause the anguish separate from men's destiny.

    I don't use the word torment often, so I looked it up. Assuming the English word is a good translation from Matthew, it's:

    1 : the infliction of torture (as by rack or wheel)

    2 : extreme pain or anguish of body or mind

    3 : a source of vexation or pain

    Even at its gentlest, they knew Jesus would cause vexation and anguish of mind. And at worst He would inflict torture.

    Now that's amazing isn't it? Our sweet Jesus the Butler, whom we ignore until we need something special, is the same man who will dole out vexation, pain, and torture. It certainly adds something to the Fear of God.

    Just how many demons do you suppose lived in these 2 guys? Plenty.. a whole herd full.

    “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned.

    It seems either that the demons did not find infesting the swine to be to their liking, or they craved the experience of drowning and death. Or both.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that most Priests are hoping that readings about demons will someday be dropped from the reading schedule altogether. But that's tough. The Gospel is just so full of Jesus and the Apostles driving out evil spirits, we keep tripping over the accounts constantly.

    Current clergy are embarassed who feel that most of these cures of Jesus were really just mental illness like schizophrenia, or maybe epilepsy. To miss the plain truth is self-deception. Otherwise doctors could just use herds of swine as a remedy for today's mental health issues and be done with it.

    In my many years I have met just 2 men that I thought were evil. I feared them, although they were popular in business. I have no idea, but wouldn't be surprised to find later that they were housing the devil's buddies. It was that corrupt.

    The rest of us probably have only Original Sin to deal with. Best not to draw too much attention to ourselves.. you never know where those demons are hiding.

    Abortion thinking

    What are they thinking? It's good to know.

    Some responses to a pro-child comment somewhere on the west coast.

    Hmmm...'Project Rachel' sound like the same folks who write "abstinence education" texts telling our youth that premarital sex makes you suicidal, and homosexuality is a psychiatric disorder. Anything to control people's sexuality, after all...

    Interesting no? This person sees no reason to control one's sexuality.

    I have had a dreadful experience with the "church" and abortion. It has been a story of induced shame, fear and deconstruction. My "problems" had to do with growing up in an alcoholic home and experiences of severe depression and social rejection. I was attracted to the "church" because they offered forgiveness and healing, but after I came into the church, along came the never-ending juggernaut of epithets. Somehow, abortion is a sin the people in the church can justify treating differently than other sins. They justify harming people in the name of being angry about abortion. They deny that they harm people, and replace their denial with projecting "PAS" on a person. Not healing, more like "heeling" or "helling." I've had it - my non-religious friends are much more christian in their attitude and behaviour towards me. I love the church, but I'm too suggestible and it is a crime to subject myself to the endless banging. How is it healing to say to me that I always have to feel dismal? Or if I don't "heal" in the suggested way like going to a retreat with the "correct" sort of mea culpas? What, confession and baptism wasn't enough? My conclusion is that the religious don't even believe in their own religion, that they don't believe forgiveness works, and that not only will God get you, but "we" will make sure you feel lower than a worm. That's what I can't stand the most, the offering of hope and the banging on it with a sledge hammer, thanks a lot! I don't suppose it would be possible to suggest that people be kind and mind their own business and especially not project onto others what they "should" feel and call people all sorts of names and other awful things. This wouldn't prevent being active against abortion, and it would be more Christ-like.

    Interesting, and I bet this mindset is very widespread among young women cast out on their own.

    "Somehow, abortion is a sin the people in the church can justify treating differently than other sins..."

    No differentiation between scales of sin.

    I don't suppose it would be possible to suggest that people be kind and mind their own business".

    A hurting person is experiencing a touch of insanity. This is something I will try to keep in mind.

    The extreme anti-abortion crowd interestingly enough, are also generally virulently opposed to birth control as well, saying it "degrades" a woman to use it. Basically, they want total control over women and their bodies. As an above poster called them: the American Taliban. These extremists would rather see a woman die from a coathanger-induced abortion than see a near-microscopic fetus die. No one likes the idea of abortion, and in a perfect world there would never be any. But this isn't a perfect world and therefore it is a very needed last option, should others fail. Sure, regret and maybe guilt may follow an abortion, but then we all have regret and guilt for something or another that has occurred in our lives. It is not mental illness.

    Again, these folks think religion wants to control them, or control all women in general. Is self-control not passed along to the new generation at all anymore? Maybe not. And with that big hole in their formation as adults, it takes a special approach to reach them I am sure. Something like approaching a 7 year old. More love than discipline perhaps.

    But if the 7 year old finds themselves out on their own in the world trying to act like an adult it must be a terrible situation. If their role models have been the characters on the hour long television shows, we might get what we got.

    Oh man!!! I am a post abortive woman. I also work with women who have had abortions and men who have been fathers to the children. For the PI to write such an biased article is amazing.I had a choice...and what was the choice? The choice was to kill my child. That was the choice. I had no regrets for years and years and years. THEN, one day I saw a fetal model of what my child looked liked when I had him aborted. Talk about shock! Talk about regret! Did I come to that with Project Rachel's information? No, I came to that regret all by myself and I understood for the first time in 20 years that I had been a party to the taking of a human life. A life that had been created within me.People, you can write all the rhetoric you want - you can call life 'fetus' which is latin for "little one" and you can deny all you want...that is your right.However, there are many women who do regret having had an abortion and there are many women who do suffer emotionally from having had an abortion. There are also women who do not suffer, as I did not, for 20 years...I do believe that those who castigate us who are working to help women and men are themselves trying desparately NOT to deal with having been part of the taking of human life. The involvement may be as simple as not saying anything when a friend comes and tells you that they will have an abortion all the way to having an abortion.The good news is that when the anger is over and the denial is gone, Rachel's Vineyard (which are the retreats) and Project Rachel, (which is NOT Rachel's Vineyard but one on one counseling) will be here - be here without judgement and without condemnation.Bless you all - Lee Anne

    God help us all. God forgive men for having much to do with these lonely and abandoned women. God forgive us parents for not being the models children learn goodness from. Mercy is required to continue.

    Perhaps we're at the bottom now, and the only way forward is up. That has not been the way of things, but nothing continues on a straight line with hope I hope.


    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    Beer in Missouri

    What is it about Missouri that figures into the "right" church?

    We have the Missouri Synod Lutherans who consider themselves the "one holy catholic apostolic church".

    Mormons, whose leaders have been told that Jesus will return to Missouri, oh.. and then Jerusalem later I guess.

    And then these no-beer folks.

    I really don't blame them much. Better safe than sorry. But should they decide someday to become Catholics, they will have to get much more earthy.

    Besides the central use of good wine in Cana, we use real wine which becomes real blood. That's a pretty good reference. Alcohol is one of those earthy things God knows all about.

    Good for the spirit, but don't get drunk. That's about the extent of it. Unless you're from Missouri.


    Church planters who receive money from the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) must now teach alcohol abstinence. The policy change was sparked by the Journey, a growing interdenominational church that borrowed $200,000 from the MBC to renovate a church two years ago. One of the Journey's outreach groups meets in a St. Louis microbrewery.

    Because the Journey received the money by loan, not by grant, the new policy does not affect the church. But future borrowers will be scrutinized more closely, Tolliver said. Previously, church planters were asked to sign a statement agreeing to abstain from alcohol. Now they must teach "the strong biblical warnings" against drinking beer and wine. Though the Bible does not expressly forbid alcohol consumption, the new policy states that alcohol consumption is not wise.

    "There is growing discontent, people saying that we shouldn't be mandating things that aren't spoken clearly about in Scripture," George said. "It's hard to argue that the Bible requires total abstinence."

    After heated arguments at the annual SBC meeting in June 2006, messengers passed a resolution affirming abstinence.

    Was it "they have no grape juice", or "they have no wine"?

    As noticed on Mirror of Justice.

    A normal Priest... what next?

    This might be interesting.

    Too many millions believe the fictional characters they relate to on television. As sad as that is, perhaps this will have good results.


    The fall television lineup will include a show about Catholic priests. But it won’t be a tale about corrupt or dysfunctional priests, as some shows in the past have been.

    Rather, “Vows” – now in production for the American Movie Channel – is about a priest who is faithful and is in love with the church.

    “When my agent asked if I was going to pitch an idea to the networks for a new series, I told him my only idea was really insane,” she said. Her agent thought a series about Jesuits in a formation house might be, as the agent put it, “outlandish enough to work.”

    “The orthodox priest-protagonist is a novelty,” she added. “Everything else has been done: the cool liberal priest, the gay priest, the drug-addicted pastor, priests who are pedophiles or who have lost faith. Networks are interested now in what is real, which seems weird enough to them to be compelling.”

    The Jesuits, Hall noted, hold a special place in her own life. Having been raised Methodist, she recalled that Ignatian spirituality played a central role in her conversion to Catholicism as an adult.

    “I didn’t seek out St. Ignatius,” she said. “He found me. I used to wonder why I had this irrational love for a dead bald guy from the Basque country, until I finally figured out that I have some kind of strange Jesuit vocation.”

    Plus, she said, the Jesuit charism remains unique and relevant for people today. “Ignatius was really the first to show people how to find God in all things. He set the Jesuits up to be in the world, to roll up their sleeves and get into the muck. This is still true of them and they are particularly accessible to the audience because most people know a Jesuit or have at least heard of them.”

    By the way, that younger Priest in the Excorsist was a Jesuit too.

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Sacred Mass, it takes great humility

    The Liturgy of the Church is a moment where all the dimensions of our lives come before the living God. It is the place where we have an active encounter with God. It is the place, therefore, where we can rediscover the sacred in our lives.
    Certain settings demand their own particular etiquette. Dress at a wedding reception differs from dress at a sports event. Conversation in a bar is louder than in a funeral home. The more we realize we are coming into the Presence of God in Church, the more respectful and reverent our whole person becomes. Chewing gum in Church, loud talking, beach attire and immodest dress simply do not belong!

    In church, we need to cultivate a sense of God who is present to us. This is why we are called to observe moments of silence. Both before Mass begins and during Mass. Liturgy is much more than our joining together. It is our opening ourselves to God. By our singing and praying, we respond to the God who addresses us in Liturgy. A constant torrent of words and songs filling every empty space in the Liturgy does not leave the heart the space it needs to rest quietly in the Divine Presence.
    We are not just spirit when we pray. We pray in our total reality as body and spirit. And so, to recapture the sense of the sacred, therefore, we need to express our reverence through our body language. The norms of the Liturgy wisely have us stand in prayer at certain moments, sit in attentive listening to the readings, and kneel in reverent adoration during the solemn prayer of consecration. These norms are not arbitrary nor are they left to the discretion of any individual celebrant.

    Creativity is not an authentic rule for celebrating the Church’s Liturgy. In many cases, it humanizes the Liturgy and draws attention from God to the celebrant. The priest is merely the servant of the Liturgy, not its creator or center.

    Commenting on this, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said: “The great¬ness of the Liturgy depends—we shall have to repeat this frequently—on its unspontaneity (Unbeliebigkeit)…. Only respect for the Liturgy’s fundamental unspontaneity and pre-existing identity can give us what we hope for: the feast in which the great reality comes to us that we ourselves do not manufacture but receive as a gift (Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 170). Since the Liturgy is a gift and not something of our own creation, it takes great humility to celebrate the Liturgy properly and reverently.

    Observing the norms of the Liturgy helps to create a profound sense of the sacred in each of us at Mass. Celebrating Mass and observing liturgical norms also makes us visibly one with the entire Church to which we belong. “Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52).

    Today it has become commonplace at the end of the Liturgy to recite a litany of gratitude for all those who, in some way or another, have made the celebration beautiful. No doubt there is a way to express gratitude at the end of Mass. But is it possible that each time applause breaks out in the Liturgy at the end of the Mass for someone’s contribution, we lapse into seeing the Mass as a human achievement? Sometimes even during the Mass after someone has sung a beautiful hymn, there is spontaneous applause. At such a moment, does not the real meaning of Liturgy lapse into some kind human entertainment?

    We can recapture more and more the sense of the sacred, the more we allow the Liturgy to be what it is. A gift from God that allows God to speak and act in our life. A gift that draws us out of ourselves and out of time into the eternal life of God even now.
    I work in a company of about 40 employees. It is informal knowledge just who can handle what job and which customers. The main concern is to match individual with customer.
    There are some customers where our best people have to be at their best, and some customers who themselves are at such a low level, that our low level employees relate very nicely there.
    The same is probably true regarding some Priests and their ability to conduct liturgy. They just suck. Add to that the minimum supervision possible by the Bishop, and over time they just suck more.
    And as time passes, these congregations get wilder. The parish's pastor, be him lax or proper, carries the congregation along because he is singular, rare and in short supply, and long lasting.
    These Priests can perhaps be reminded by their Bishop what is expected. I know it's hard for Bishops with not enough Priests to ask for discipline in the ranks. These low state Priests are already in jeopardy.
    In my parish, there is applause for baptisms and weddings and wedding anniversaries.. OK.
    This article reminds me that I have infrequently been at Masses where the music or singer has been applauded, which strikes me in the same bad vein as this Bishop mentions. It needs to stop. And will stop if the Priest will stop first asking for it, and secondly permitting it.
    It must be tough for Bishops to enforce discipline with these low Priests who are probably already in jeopardy of Faith. With the Priest shortage, and already under pressure to work multiple parishes, they might just leave. Sometimes I think it is just inertia that keeps them in their role.
    A Priest I always shudder at, showed up at a recent funeral as a fill in. I can only guess that as a concession to the mixed faith, or no faith crowd, he threw in a few bones to ecumenism as he homilied..
    "I don't think God stands at the gate of heaven and says.. you were not good enough, and have to spend some time in purgatory.."
    "And here I think the protestants got things right (I forget what the subject that was so right was)..."
    So what's a congregation to do? Put up with it I suppose. It's part of the punishment for not guiding enough of our sons to the Priesthood so that the Bishop could afford to assign these low Priests to administrative duty in some back office.
    Thanks to The Curt Jester for the link to the article.

    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    Free Poland

    Warsaw, Jun. 29, 2007 ( - The Polish government will not accept the portion of the the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that covers issues of discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.

    Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has announced that Poland will not grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, saying that the step would violate the country's cultural heritage. He pointed out that Poland had joined the European Union with the understanding that the sovereignty of the nation would be respected on matters of culture. The recognition of marriage, he said, falls into that category.

    The Polish government has been in conflict with leaders of the European Union over issues involving the treatment of homosexuality. The announcement by Kaczynski appears likely to bring that conflict to a head.
    Even Italy is too secular to have qualms about the ruination of morals. But here is Poland at a particular point in its history. Having survived not being a country for 100 years, then communism, it has been free just lately. Being Catholic and speaking Polish were what it held on to in order to survive.
    Poland is way behind the curve regarding all the little slides down the slope to abandoned moral concepts, so still is a strong voice of what used to be normal. Something like vinyl vs. digital.
    Of course, the already secularized are just waiting for Poland to catch up to the times, like Spain and Portugal. It would probably happen that way if not for the unique Polish clergy. They still take themselved seriously and are taken seriously by the people.
    On the one hand, the people in the pews are holy through a folk religion understanding of Catholic. More obedience than learned. That's OK in that it will get you to heaven's gate. But in the world it puts them in the same jeopardy as Mexicans and South Americans who it seems are escaping to charismatic feel good hype and prosperity preaching.
    On the other hand, being Catholic has been and still is what it means to be Polish. That will take a while to fade. Before it fades, like the South American Bishops have recently realized, it is time for learning and catechesis. Time is hopefully on Poland's side.
    And for the EU in the meantiime, they find themselves with an irritating Polish moral voice to deal with. How refreshing, and perhaps saving. A little remnant as it seems is the way of things Christian.
    Perhaps related is the often political sermons the Polish are fed, even here in the U.S.A..
    I have heard people from Polish groups complaining often that Father went on and on about politics... usually politics regarding things back in Poland. The young especially, who are ignorant of things political, don't get much of a meaningful message on Sundays when the topic is politics.
    So here is a Vatican represenative saying cool it. But I wonder. It would be a shame if removing politics from sermons would damage one of the things that might be making Poland nicely different.
    It is hard to know how many pieces of Polish Catholicism to change without becoming another Spain.
    WARSAW, Poland (CNS) – The Vatican's ambassador to Poland has called on Catholic clergy to stop preaching politicized homilies.
    "I wish liturgical services in Poland would not turn into public rallies and just dispose people to be more human and more Catholic," said Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, the Vatican's ambassador, or nuncio.

    "We need priests, not politicians – and if politicians, then politicians of God's word," said the archbishop, whose sermon was carried by Poland's Catholic information agency, KAI. "We also need evangelists, not economists – we have enough of those already in Poland to do the job. Let's work on their spirit and conscience so they'll become true professionals in serving all society. This is the mission of a priest."
    Preaching June 11 in Czuma, near Lublin, the nuncio said: "The times are over when people went to priests on every occasion, to arrange plumbing or telephones for their villages, and elected priests as council chairmen hoping they'd organize such things. This epoch has ended."
    The dean of Poznan University's theology faculty, Father Pawel Bortkiewicz, defended the right of Catholic bishops to "speak out on public issues." He told KAI June 14 that he believed Corpus Christi processions were a good occasion for "raising political and social questions."
    However, Dominican Father Maciej Zieba, a theologian, said church leaders should remember they were "preaching now in a free Poland, with freedom of speech and political democracy" and should be guided by "slightly different rules than in totalitarian countries."

    catholic interest.