17 April 2014

More thanks for Easter

Just in time for Easter. . .

Books arrived today from Jenny K and Evandro M. . .many, many Mendicant Thanks to you both for visiting the Wish List and shooting these my way.

Jenny K. has been on my Book Benefactor Prayer List for years now, and Evandro M. gets a spot now too.

Happy Easter Everyone!

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Coffee Cup Browsing (Holy Week Edition)

The forces of death lose in Colorado! Of course, they won't give up. Remember how they operate: one tiny step at a time.

Flannery on Good Friday & Easter. . . 

Choosing Christ: On Pilate's postmodernist wishy-washiness.

Where is the Holy Spirit in the New Evangelization

Facing down "ambient universalism."

Good Friday Way of the Cross meditations from Rome.
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16 April 2014

Easter Mass. . .

Father Michael gave me a choice of Masses to celebrate on Easter Sunday. . .

I chose the 8.00am Mass. 

I'm up early, so why not?

The live-stream link is working now, so come on over and watch me sweat and gimp through Easter Sunday Mass!


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Coffee Cup Browsing

Gym in D.C. = Church in the South. I knew it! I just knew it!

Having Zilch-Zero-Nada to acclaim, B.O. campaigns on racial and sexual resentment

Fundamentalist anti-theist leads honest atheists back to the Church. Good job, Dick! Keep spewing your harebrained nonsense.

The U.N. is getting nuttier and nuttier. Someone please give these people a real job. . .like cleaning up public parks, or a Burger King cashier.

Slipping down the secular slope: a time-line of social de-evolution.

The Dems learned this tactic from the UK Labour Party: more immigrants, more votes for them at election time.  

Warning against Maria Divine Mercy. We do not need visionaries to be good Catholics. We have Scripture, the Sacraments, and the Magisterium. Nothing more is needed.

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15 April 2014

Thanks and Easter Mass

A few kind and generous souls have been peeking at the Wish List and sending books my way. . .

Always appreciated!

I will be celebrating one of the Easter Masses at St Dominic's this weekend, so my intention will be for my Book Benefactors. . .may God bless them abundantly!

Once Fr. Michael assigns a Mass to me, I'll post the time. All of St Dominic's Masses are lived-streamed now. Check it out.*

* We had a power outage in NOLA early this morning, so the server isn't working properly just yet.  It will be ready by the weekend.
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Knee Doc Report

Just got back from the Knee Doc.

Verdict: moderate arthritis in my right knee, mild in my left.

Doc shows me the x-rays, "Father, you can see here and here that there's not much cushion btw the bones. . ."

Me, "Great. Only place on my body w/o enough cushioning."

Sooooo. . .who knows anything about Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate?

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14 April 2014

Pastoral Responses to the New Atheism

Dr John Cavadini, McGrath-Cavadini Director, Institute for Church Life, presented at the Symposium: Pastoral Issues in Science and Human Dignity, University of Notre Dame, February 12-14, 2014

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No conflict btw Faith and Science

A longish video on the false conflict between faith and science.

Fr Robert Spitzer, S J, Magis Center of Reason and Faith, presented at the Symposium: Pastoral Issues in Science and Human Dignity, University of Notre Dame, February 12-14, 2014

Fr. Spitzer is also the author of New Proofs for the Existence of God. I've read it. It's tough going if you don't have a background in physics. 


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13 April 2014

Can we survive our fools?

A great quote from Cicero:

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.

Change "nation" and "city" to "Church" and it still make perfect sense. 


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Coffee Cup Browsing

Younger priests prefer older Mass. . .well, if NDS is any indication, they prefer a reverent Mass w/o the clerical-egocentric goofiness of the 80's. 

Another instance of the Pope being All Catholic and Stuff. This time he's on the Devil! 

Crdl. Dolan learns the value of a politician's word. Zero. Nada. Nil. Zilch.

10 essays about death. . .

Noah takes a dive; God is Not Dead takes wing. . .

Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse. . .Five Best/Worst States. Thankfully, I'm an honorary citizen of the Republic of Texas.

Here's what the push for same-sex "marriage" is really about: the destruction of the family and the growth of gov't power.  Totalitarianism must always destroy the faith and the family. No competition allowed.

Why is B.O.'s press secretary's home decorated with Soviet propaganda?  Yeah, I know. . .rhetorical question.

Americans, look to Sweden for our future. . .we're on Supreme Court ruling away from it happening here.


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"Hosanna" then "Crucify"

My traditional Palm Sunday homily. . .a tradition since 2007!

Palm Sunday 2014
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Lay Carmelites/Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Paul says that Jesus, emptying himself, took on the form of a slave and became one of us to die as one of us for all of us. We can cheer all we want. Wave palms all we want. No one here will ask Jesus to let his cup pass. No one here will volunteer to hang on that cross and let Jesus go free. Are we cowards? No. We know that Jesus must die so that we might live. The certainty of his death is the only possibility of our eternal life. Only he is Son of God, Son of Man; fully human, fully divine. His death pulls us down into the grave and his rising again draws us up with him. Everything that needs to be healed will be healed. All repairs will be made. Nothing will be left broken or hurt. 

But today, just today, knowing what we know about his journey from here to the tomb, even still we must cheer and whistle. And wave palms. And shout “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” And we want so much to grab the tail end of his departing scene and pull it back, just yank it back to the garden or the roaring sea or the mountaintop or the desert or to any of the dozens of places where we sat with him to listen to God’s wisdom, to see the radiant glory of his love for us. 

We want him anywhere but here in Jerusalem. He rides to the cross, ya know? And we must cheer. We must cheer because later we will shout, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” What did we forget between our cheering him into the city and our heckling him to the cross, between our exuberant welcome and our jeering blood lust? To be Christ we must follow Christ. Who wants to follow Christ to the cross? Who wants their flesh torn and bleeding? Who wants the thorns of a mocking crown piercing their scalp? I deny him. I do not know him. No, I’m not his disciple. Never heard of him, never met him. Who? Who? No, sorry, doesn’t ring a bell. 

We’ve come too far for that now, brothers and sisters! That desert was forty days long. Along the way we dropped coffee and tea, booze and cigarettes, TV and shopping, email and chocolate. We dropped gossiping, nagging, sex, meat, cussing. We picked up extra hours of prayer, daily Mass, weekly confession, spiritual reading, volunteer hours, being nice to little brother and sister, obeying mom and dad, obeying husband or wife, extra money in the plate on Sunday. The devil bought out his best temptations to show us our weaknesses and sometimes he won and sometimes we won. But he knows and you need to know if you don’t already: God wins all the time, every time, for all time! And He has given us Easter to prove it. But now…if you will be Christ you must follow Christ. Walk right behind him. Feel the stones. Wipe the spit. Hear the curses and jeers. Taste the salty iron of blood. See the cross on his shoulder. And know that he carries for you the only means of your salvation. The sacrificial victim carries his own altar to the church of the skulls. 

How far will you follow?

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12 April 2014

An atheist and I go toe to toe. . .

Here's the link to the vid of my discussion with the prez of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Society.  

I watched it, and I can say that I was MUCH too polite and accommodating.  

The best part of the discussion happened after the taping ended.  Too bad.


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Coffee Cup Browsing

More proof that "hate speech laws" are really just anti-Christian laws enforced by the Left against the Church.

Speaking of "hate speech," here's some from a certified genocidal eco-fascist: "I’d like nothing better than if thousands of middle-class white people died in an extreme weather event—preferably one with global warming’s fingerprints on it."

(Love this line: "Joe Q. Flyover doesn’t understand science. He wants evidence." So, according to this genocidal eco-fascist, science is something other than evidence.)

Another Catholic high school is terrorized by the truth of the faith. Note the effective use of the Heckler's Veto in controlling the narrative.  

Fr. Robert Barron on the breakdown of the moral argument in the same-sex "marriage" debate

Here's the Pope being all Catholic and stuff.  Remember when we had to remind folks every other day that the Pope was still Catholic? Good times. 

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11 April 2014

Coffee Cup Browsing

Best definition of "climate change" ever? Oh yes! ". . .a cocktail of ideas which includes anti-industrial nature worship, post-colonial guilt, a post-Enlightenment belief in scientists as a new priesthood of the truth, a hatred of population growth, a revulsion against the widespread increase in wealth and a belief in world government." 

There is a certain liberation in losing these political battles

Yeah, the bishop's statement could've been a lot stronger and much clearer

Strange Notions: great site for Atheist/Catholic discussion. Most Internet Atheists reject the existence of a god Catholics themselves do not believe in.

20 Arguments for God's existence. . .generally, I don't think arguments for God's existence are good evangelizing tools for the vast majority of folks. Reason will defend the faith, but it is rarely useful in bringing people to the faith.

Right on cue! MSM dredges up "evidence" against Church tradition just in time for Easter. They have Must Find Something Scandalous to Report written on their calendars the week before Palm Sunday.  

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08 April 2014

Knee Doc Fail

I missed my knee doc appointment this morning.

Made three mistakes:

1). Made the appt for 8.00am at a clinic near a university.

2). The university is in the trendy part of town.

3). The town is New Orleans. 

All this means that when I got somewhere near the clinic,* I encountered:

1). Tiny, 19th c. streets with cars parked on both sides of the street.

2). Half of those streets are one-way.

3). More than half have no signs indicating the name of the street. 

4). Two way streets randomly turn into one way streets.

5). When a street does have a name, that name will randomly change.

6). The sanitation dept picks up garbage on these tiny unnamed one-way streets during rush hour. 

7). New Orleans drivers love to block oncoming traffic in order to turn left across the blvd. median (i.e., "neutral ground"). 

8). Every student at this university MUST drive to class and find a parking space within 3ft. of the front door. 

Lesson learned:

NEVER make an appt in any part of town south of I-90.

* I never found the clinic. I never found the street that it's on. . .allegedly.

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07 April 2014

Am I committing adultery?

5th Week of Lent (M)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Notre Dame Seminary, NOLA

So, to continue these morning's lecture in homiletics. . .it's always good homiletical practice when preparing a homily to ask: why does this reading appear on this day in the lectionary cycle? It might be where it is just by accident, but that's no reason not to think about why it might be where it is. Why is the story of the woman caught in adultery assigned to Monday of the 5th Week of Lent Year A? Well, it's Lent, so we have an occasion to reflect on the nature of sin. Palm Sunday is coming up, and we are given a chance to ponder on the mercy Christ shows the woman, a function of his Lordship. Easter is just two weeks away, and we're given a chance to chew over whether or not we're exercising our own kingship in Christ by showing mercy to those who have sin against us. All good reasons. But focus for a moment on the sin involved in this story: adultery. Here it's obvious that we're talking about marital infidelity of a sexual nature. However, Scripture calls out another sort of adultery, one we usually name “idolatry,” that is, the infidelity we live when we worship smaller gods. This last week of Lent is a chance for each one of us to stare w/o blinking into our marital relationship with Christ and ask: am I committing adultery?

Skip over all the questions about who's the bride and who's the groom and focus on the fidelity required to live out a fruitful marital bond. If marriage is the sacramental sign of Christ's love for his bride, the Church, then we know that fidelity to Christ and his mission must come first. Whether we identify more closely with Christ the Bridegroom, or with the Church, his Bride, we are still bound by a love that radically alters every other relationship we might find ourselves in. What every faithful married couple knows is that being married is all about living the world of other-relationships in terms of the marriage bond. Husband or wife come first. Before friends, family, neighbors. Always first. To do anything less creeps toward adultery. Maybe not actual sexual infidelity, but something potentially worse: spiritual infidelity. Christ loves the Church, and the Church loves Christ. All other loves are ordered to this spiritual architecture. If another love intervenes, if another love takes precedence, then the sacramental witness of the marriage is threatened by idolatry, the love of smaller gods. The threat to the individual who is wedded to Christ is hardly less serious.

Spend this last week of Lent asking yourself: as I committing adultery? That is, am I loving something or someone before I love Christ? To put it another way: am I loving Christ in terms of another love, a smaller love? What might this look like? We have all the traditional suspects: pride, lust, wrath, envy, etc. We also our more modernist sins: racism, careerism, celebrity. And on top of these we have the postmodernist sins: techno-addiction, combox vigilantism, Facebook exhibitionism-voyeurism, and cyber-rumor mongering. We could throw in a couple of hundred more, but they all lead down the same dank and dreary path: spiritual adultery. If you find that you are indeed committing adultery, think back to the woman Jesus rescues from the righteous mob. There should be no one around to throw the first stone b/c not one of us is w/o sin. It should be just you and Christ in the sacrament and him saying to you, “Go and sin no more.” As many times as it takes to take hold, “Go and sin no more.” When our fidelity to him fails, his fidelity to us only strengthens. And he is strong enough to get us to Easter. Not just this coming Easter. But all the way to Easter on the last day.

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Coffee Cup Browsing

How the West lost God. Two words: artificial contraception. Destroy the family, destroy the faith. Lenin would be proud. 

Put an end to traffic/red light cameras! Yes, yes, and more yes. 

Fascism and the Liberal Gulag: a convocation of clowns, dangerous clowns.

Here's how you can respond to Mozilla's UnGood Thought thuggery.

Passive-aggressive bullying. . .a plague in the Church too. Best response to this kind of bullying: "I hear that you are offended, but have you been harmed?"

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06 April 2014

"Yes, Lord, I have come to believe. . ."

5th Sunday of Lent (A)

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Jesus is perturbed. Very upset. The Greek word here – embrimaomai – means something like “angry within himself.” John uses this word twice in the reading. Once when Mary falls at his feet weeping. And again after the Jews wonder aloud why he couldn't save Lazarus' life – he healed the blind man after all! Why is Jesus angry? What's more, why start a homily on the last Sunday of Lent by pointing out Jesus' anger? The Sunday readings of Lent build to this Sunday. Jesus is tempted in the desert for 40 days. He is transfigured on Mt. Tabor. He meets the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Then he heals the Man Born Blind. With our readings this morning, we see a theme: Jesus' humanity – his consistent, undeniable humanity. And the interaction between his humanity and the physical world he inhabits. As we rapidly approach the solemn celebration of his resurrection from the dead, the gospel writers want to point us back again and again to Christ's human nature, back to his body and bones and blood. Lest we forget that Christ's resurrection was a physical, historical event, we are reminded – by his anger – that is he one of us, like us in all ways but sin. And like him, we too will be resurrected.

As strange as it is to think of Jesus as an angry man, it is even stranger to think that he allowed Lazarus to die in order to raise him to live again. But it appears that this is exactly what happened. John reports that Jesus waits for two days after hearing about Lazarus' deadly illness before he leaves for Bethany. Two day delay plus two days of travel and our Lord arrives four days after his friend has died. When Jesus arrives, Martha says to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Her words may sound accusatory, so she quickly adds, “But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Imagine Martha's emotional state. Mourning her brother's death. Upset with Jesus for not arriving sooner. Relieved that he is there. And trusting that he will be able to do something miraculous. Riding this roller-coaster of pain and barely suppressed joy, Martha believes. And Jesus chooses this moment to reveal a mystery. To the grieving sister he says, “Your brother will rise.” This is why our Lord waited to attend Lazarus: to uncover the mystery of faith, to reveal an eternal effect of believing that he is the Christ – new life out of death.

Jesus even spells it out: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Then he turns to Martha and asks the fundamental question of faith, “Do you believe this?” Martha's answer is exemplary. Is ours? I mean, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the resurrection and life? Do you believe in him? Do you believe that by believing in him you will rise again to new life? And let's not piddle with spiritualized metaphors or psychological interpretations here. Jesus means exactly what he says. Do you believe that you – body and soul – will be given an eternal life after you physically die? The whole point of waiting for Lazarus' death is to reveal the mystery of life after death. The whole point of showing Jesus at the tomb with a four-day old corpse is to reveal the mystery of life after death. Martha warns Jesus when he orders the tomb opened, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Spiritualized or psychologized metaphors do not emit a stench, much less a stench that deserves a warning! We're talking about a corpse. A dead human body. No embalming. No refrigeration. Martha's warning about the smell is not just a courtesy to Jesus. She deadly serious. 

And so is Jesus when he answers her warning, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” He did tell her that. Martha believes. So, she sees the glory of God. Lazarus walks out of the tomb when Jesus calls his name. Lazarus risen from a four-day old death is the glory of God that Jesus promises. That's the same promise he makes to us: believe and be raised. And not just on the last day either. But raised again and again from the little deaths that sin inflicts on us daily. Yes, there will be one, final resurrection – some into eternal life and some into an eternal death – but there is also an ongoing, daily resurrection that we experience along the way to perfection. As our joy is being completed along the Way, we experience everything that Martha and Mary experience after Lazarus' dies – joy, anger, disappointment, wonder, grief. And with Christ among us we experience each one of these passions as a whole human person, a complete creation made complete by Christ's miraculous resurrection from his tomb. But our perfection in him must wait until the last day and our job 'til then is to do as Martha does – to believe that Christ, the Son of God, “the one who is coming into the world.” 

And to not only believe that Christ is the Son of God, “the one who is coming into the world,” but to live every imperfect day in the full knowledge that everything we say and do shouts to the world around us what it is we believe and who it is we believe in. Keep in mind, no one has to be a Christian or even a theist to be a good person. No one has to be a Christian or even a theist to do good works. No one has to be a Christian or even a theist to work for justice and peace. Every good thing a Christian or theist can say, do, or think can be done by a non-believer. However, only a follower of Christ can give him praise and call him Lord. Only a follower of Christ can claim an eternal inheritance, one bequeath to us as God's adopted children. Only a follower of Christ can say with Martha, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” If we cannot or will not make this simple proclamation, then we cannot claim to believe that the Christ is Lord, that he is risen, or that we will be raised with him on the last day. In other words, our claim to be followers of Christ is a lie. And we are living an even bigger lie.

Our Sunday readings in the season of Lent draw us toward Lazarus' emergence from his tomb in order to prepare us for Christ's resurrection on Easter morning. Each Sunday reading pounds on the theme of Christ's humanity so that the glory of his miraculous resurrection doesn't outshine the truth that he is one of us in all but sin. He cries. He bleeds. He feels and expresses anger. He mourns and believes. And he loves. Just like we do. And if we place our trust in him, believing in his Lordship and acting on that belief in our lives, we will rise as he rose. With just one week of Lent left before we begin the Easter season, let this be the question you ask yourself all day everyday: do I believe? Do I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, risen – body and soul – from the dead on the third day? If you say yes to this question, our Lord will say, “Untie him, untie her and let them go.”


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Just a little modesty, please!

This is going to get me into trouble. But it must be said.

Catholic Women, this. . .

. . .is not appropriate attire for attending Mass!

Yes, I've seen these (and worse) at Mass on more than one occasion. I've seen pregnant women wearing shorts and flimsy blouses that just barely covered their belly-buttons.

The worst examples of this casualness at Mass occur at the so-called Youth Mass where teenaged girls seem to compete with each other over how short they can go.

I'm not saying that you should be wearing prairie skirts or ball gowns, but wearing shorts to Mass is a step too far toward casual.

Same goes for men.

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We need better atheists. . .

 This is NOT Mr. Greenberger's attitude.

After my article attacking secularism was published in the Times-Pic on March 20th, I received an invitation from Mr. Harry Greenberger of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Society to appear on his public access TV program for a discussion. 

We taped that discussion yesterday morning. I'd watched a couple of Mr. Greenberger's vids on Youtube so I knew he wasn't going to be abusive or mocking. He's an atheist with a sense of humor. Very rare, indeed.

(The vid will be on-line a week or so, and I will link it.)

Within the first two minutes of the discussion it became clear to me that Mr. Greenberger is a capable advocate for secular humanism. However, because he knows next to nothing about theism, he is not a capable critic of Christianity. 

Like most contemporary atheists, he rejects theism based on a strawman argument; that is, he rejects a view of God that even most Christian middle-schoolers know is inadequate.

Rather than critique a strong version of Christian theism, he lumped God in with "all the gods" and staked his argument on the strength of "reason and evidence." When I replied that the Church also supports reason and evidence, he seemed genuinely confused. 

Towards the end of the discussion, I more or less gave up trying to argue philosophically and replied point for point to his historical errors. E.g., Hitler claimed to be a Christian, therefore, WWII was a Christian war, etc. 

After the cameras stopped rolling I noted to him that he was consistently conflating "reason" with "empiricism," leaving him open to a basic challenge, which I then made: if you only accept as true that which can be empirically proven, then you will concede that there is no such thing as the human mind. He said that he did believe in the existence of the human mind. I said, "Show me your mind." He couldn't answer that. I noted, "So, you do believe in the existence of something which cannot be empirically proven to exist. You believe in the effects of an unseen/untouched cause." 

The whole event was a very good experience for me. Mr. Greenberger invited me to attend the next meeting of the NOSHS, and I agreed!

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Coffee Cup Browsing

True for the academy, the corporation, the religious order, etc: ". . .progressives are for diversity in everything but thought. . ." Because real diversity of thought would expose them to reality and -- as we all know -- reality trumps illusion.

True for the academy, the corporation, the religious order, etc: ". . .there is a gay mafia. I think if you cross them, you do get whacked." 

WaPo finally notices something fishy about the IRS. . .a year later. That is, a year and more after the 2012 election. 

Some intriguing quotes from V.I. Lenin. I bet the Brownshirts at Mozilla would applaud most of these.

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05 April 2014

Books Lost in Space

On March 19th, someone purchased three books from the Wish List.

If those books were meant for me. . .they never arrived. 

If they were meant for the purchaser's library, please let me so I can add them back.

The three books:

The Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt

The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, E.A. Burtt

Surprised by Meaning, Alister McGrath


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Coffee Cup Browsing

Female reporter for conservative news site is bullied at a feminist conference. Yea, tolerance. 

Noah is Jewish gnosticism. Basically, spirit good; body bad. 

Here's a first: I agree with Andrew Sullivan!  "If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us." 

Purge the 7 million! Why do the seven million voters in CA who voted for Prop 8 still have jobs? Why haven't the Brownshirts targeted black churches? 

Bishop backs his priest in denying communion to pro-abortion politician. Gotta be a first these days. 

Concealed carry law drops gun violence rates in IL.

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02 April 2014

Live Streaming Daily/Sunday Mass

Daily and Sunday Masses at St Dominic, NOLA. . .

Now with sound AND video!

Video begins 10 mins before the start of Mass:

Mon - Fri.  8.30am & 5.30pm

Sat.  8.30am, 4.00pm (vigil) 

Sun.  8.00am, 10.30am, 12.15pm, 5.30pm 

NB. All times are Central. 

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01 April 2014

Coffee Cup Browsing (Conspiracy Edition)

Why is the V.A. hiding the names of hospitals where delays caused the deaths of our veterans? It's almost as if they're afraid we'll discover that gov't health care is incompetent.

Why is this sheriff's office hiding a search warrant? It's almost as if they searched the wrong house.

Why is a gun-running, pro-gun control CA state senator not making headlines in the MSM? It's almost as if. . .because. . .Democrat. Oh.

Why have the Dominicans taken over The Jesuit Post? Because. . .Jesuits. Oh.

Why have the Jesuits taken over Dominicana? Because. . .Jesuits. Oh.
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31 March 2014

Coffee Cup Browsing

Noah is a movie-length ad for the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Definitely not wasting my money on this.

Looks like France is waking up. . .finally

Abuse scandal: $2.74 billion. This doesn't include the cost of the lost reputations of the falsely accused, or the cost to the Church in lost souls and moral credibility.

The "Instant Karma" video. . .my question: was she texting while driving? I was almost hit three times last week by drivers who were texting. 

Conscience: it's real.

100 Pro-Catholic movies. . .

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30 March 2014

Awake! Rise from the dead!

4th Sunday of Lent (A)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Jesus passes by and sees him. Everyone in town has seen him. But Jesus sees him for who he is and not as his sin makes him appear. Jesus sees a shining soul bound by sin, a man born blind and in desperate need of sight. Spitting on a handful of dirt, Jesus makes a paste and smears it on the beggar’s darkened eyes. He sends the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam. The beggar comes back wet and smiling. He can see! His eyes are open, and he is blind no more. How is he healed? Magical dirt? Holy spit? Blessed water in the pool? None of these. Jesus says, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam. . .So he went and washed. . .” He is healed by the grace of obedience; he listens to Jesus and does as he is commanded to do, making his work righteous and fruitful. The Pharisees—always out to catch Jesus doing something illegal—question the man about his healing miracle. The man describes what Jesus did, and some of them say, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” Other among them anxiously disagree, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” Confused, worried, looking for an explanation, the conflicted Pharisees ask the man, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” We can imagine the man grinning, knowing that the men will not like his answer. He says with solemn assurance, speaking the truth despite the consequences, “He is a prophet.” When we live as children of the light, we produce “every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”

The miracle of the man born blind is a story about a man regaining his sight. It is also a story of ignorant man finding enlightenment through faith. He is both physically blind and spiritually blind. His eyes do not function as they should and his soul is cast in the darkness of sin. Jesus heals his eyes so that the man can see, and Jesus heals his soul so that the man can proclaim the truth free of sin. He freely admits to the Pharisees that he believes Jesus to be a prophet sent from God. The Pharisees reject this claim b/c the miracle is performed on the sabbath. How can he be of God if he violates God's law? But what they are really worried about is the possibility that Jesus may really be who he says he is. But why would God allow a blasphemer to perform miracles? Rather than seek the truth, rather than see the truth right in front of them, the Pharisees ridicule the poor man and throw him out. Darkness—whether it is physical or spiritual—cannot tolerate the light. When we flip on a light switch, darkness flees. When we expose those who live in darkness to the light of truth, they often become angry, intolerant, and violent. The truth hurts. It also heals.

As children of the light, even as we struggle and often fail, our ministry to the world is to bear the truth. Paul urges the Ephesians, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. . .Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them. . .” Like the man healed of his physical and spiritual blindness, we are sent to the Pharisees of our generation to speak a simple yet powerful truth, “Jesus is Lord.” And like the man Jesus heals, we are ridiculed and thrown out by our own Pharisees. We are thrown out of the public square and told that our faith has no place in a secular society. God's truth, we are told, is narrow-minded; it's sexist, racist, homophobic, cold-hearted, thick-headed, and probably violent. Faith is an intensely private and highly subjective matter that should be practiced only at home, if at all. Keep your religion out of our schools, our universities, our courts, our legislatures, and keep it out of the White House. Keep your morality out of our bedrooms, our hospitals, and our boardrooms. In fact, your “truth” is so dangerous to the liberty of our civil society that we think it's best for you to just shut up altogether and pretend that you actually live in the 21st century with the rest of us! How odd that such a simple-minded faith steeped as it is in so much medieval superstition can evoke such a heated overreaction, so much hatred and venom. Truly, the truth hurts. But it also heals.

Paul challenges the Ephesians (and us) to expose the works of darkness to the light of Christ b/c “everything exposed by the light becomes visible.” And everything made visible becomes light. In other words, when we expose the works of darkness to the light of truth, these dark works are transformed into tools useful to the work of telling the truth. So long as they remain in darkness, they do their work in secret. Once exposed to the light, we see them for what they really are: corruption. And not only do we see them for they are, we see the extent of their corrupting influence, all the ways in which they have secretly labored to destroy the goodness, truth, and beauty of God's creatures. With God's help and their faithful cooperation, workers in darkness can and will come to the light of Christ. This is our fervent hope. And not b/c we want higher numbers for the church rolls, or more voters “on our side” at election time, or more money in the collection plate. But b/c we are vowed to spread the light of the gospel, and we rejoice to welcome anyone healed of their blindness.

Lest we start to take sinful pride in the work of shining Christ's light into the darkness, we must remember that we are ministering to a sinful world out of a deep conviction of our own capacity for sin. It is not our job to pass judgment the world. It is not our job to hand down a verdict on the sins of others. Leave that to God to do in His own time. Our job is to tell the truth, the whole truth; to spread the news of God's merciful goodness; and constantly to point to the sacred beauty of all life His creation. Our job is live lives that clearly, without compromise or hesitation, proclaim to anyone who will listen, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Our credibility as witnesses to God's merciful love is directly tied to our ability, our willingness to be merciful. . .even when all we want is cold justice, especially when all we want is cold justice. Notice what Jesus does not do when he hears that the man he healed has been ridiculed and rejected by the Pharisees. He doesn't rail against the Pharisees. He doesn't sue them, or start a petition drive to get them fired. He doesn't take a special interest lobbying group to get laws passed against bullying those healed of blindness. Instead, he goes to the man and asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answers, “I do believe, Lord.” Jesus asks the man the one question that matters most, giving him the chance to offer the worship due to the King of Kings. 

When we live as children of the light, exposing the works of darkness to the light of Christ, we produce “every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” Are we producing goodness, righteousness, and truth? More specifically, are you producing goodness, righteousness, and truth? Is the life you are living proclaim for all to see and hear, “Awake! Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”?

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