23 April 2014

Back to school

Back to school today. . .

One more week of classes, then exams, and then graduation on May 8th.

I can't even look at the stack of stuff to be done before then. 

BUT. . .I did enjoy my Easter break reading novels and other non-NDS related books.  



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22 April 2014

Promises, gratitude

As promised, I remembered all my Book Benefactors at the Easter Mass.

My gratitude for your generosity is immeasurable!

I recently rec'd a copy of The Metaphysical Foundation of Modern Science from an anonymous benefactor. Mille grazie.

I know summer is arriving soon. . .my travel nerves are already jangling. Three out-of-state trips. Oy.

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Coffee Cup Browsing

What atheism can't explain. . . 

Infinitely malleable, undemanding metaphors are more powerful than the apostolic faith. . .

In related news: Left-liberal Christianity fails in the U.K.

This is what the West has become. . .getting an abortion to become famous

Well, maybe we aren't hopelessly circling the bowl just yet.

The original suggestion for a purge was satirical. . .but some are taking it seriously. 

Now you can spend even more time on Youtube! British Pathé puts thousands of hours of archived video on-line.


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20 April 2014

Why didn't you distribute communion, Father?

I hope you were able to watch the 8.00am Easter Mass from St Dominic's this morning. . .

A couple of HA readers have written to ask why I chose to sit down during communion rather than distribute the hosts as usual. . .

It was not a liturgical gesture or any sort of statement.

Simply put, my knee was hurting, and I didn't think I could stand that long. 

Ever since my knee went wild on me two months ago -- putting me face down on a short flight of stairs -- I've been nervous about distributing communion. I can just see my knee going out again and the hosts flying across the few first pews!


So, no worries about me going soft on the rubrics. . .just going soft in the knees. Harharhar. . .

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Where have you put Christ?

Easter Sunday (2014)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

No one sees him rise. The grave stone is rolled away. His tomb is empty. The burial shroud neatly folded and left behind. Our Lord is nowhere to be found. Mary Magdala finds all this, evidence of theft, evidence of sacrilege and runs to Simon Peter, reporting, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” Mary did not see him rise. Neither did Simon Peter nor John the beloved disciple. No one sees him rise. No one who visits the tomb that morning knows what happened. Why? Because “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” He had to rise from the dead. And because he emptied his tomb that morning, rising to new life with the Father, we too are raised to new life. His resurrection from an ignominious death gathers us all up and treats us to the possibility, the promise of deathless lives lived in the unfiltered presence of God the Father Himself. And so, Paul declares, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above. . .Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Seek what is above, and ask yourself: where have I put Christ?

Where is Christ? Mary finds the tomb empty. Peter and John find the tomb empty. Their Lord's body is missing, and they do not know where the grave robbers have taken him. These three disciples believe that Jesus' body has been stolen b/c they do no understand – yet – that he had to rise from the dead. Do we understand this any better? We do, but then we have a 2,000 year advantage: centuries of personal testimony, libraries jammed with theological treatises, the sanctifying assistance of the Holy Spirit, the magisterium of the Church. We certainly understand the resurrection better than Mary, Peter, and John did back then. But understanding is not believing. Understanding is not trusting. When we believe in someone, trust someone that someone becomes for us the measure and means of how we live. Not just the center but the very foundation, the whole structure of our being. Knowing this, Paul writes, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above. . .” If you truly seek what is above, then you can answer the question: where have you put Christ? Where is he in your life? Have you set him aside as a decoration? An observer? Have you placed him on a shelf to be seen but not heard? If we believe in, trust in the Risen Lord, he must be more than a necklace charm, more than a dashboard saint. He must be the Lord of our lives. The means and measure of our everyday thoughts, words, and deeds. Everything we have and are is his and his alone.

What does all this mean? The resurrection is all about new life, new beginnings, a fresh start in an old world eaten through with corruption and bitter disobedience. The resurrection is all about leaving behind our old ways and taking up The Way in Christ, following after him toward the perfection of holiness. Yes, all of that. But more. Much, much more. You see, if you believe in, trust in the Risen Lord; if you give everything you are and everything you have back to him for his use in bringing the Kingdom to fruition; if you follow him, sacrificing for love of him and giving that love a body and soul in this world; then, you become Christ. Not just a follower. Not just an attendee. You fulfill your baptismal vows and become Christ. Paul says it, “For you have died [in baptism], and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” To hide your life in the life of Christ means that you have placed Christ above you, over you, hiding within his life so that yours is indistinguishable from his. The resurrection makes it possible for us to hide in Christ. Our human nature is made new in the resurrection. We have joined him in death, now we can join him in life eternal.

That promise – eternal life – is our Easter promise. We hide our lives in Christ so that his work is our work, his mind is our mind, his body is our body. In faith, we are bound to him. So much so that Paul says, “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” But to be bound to him takes more than understanding. It takes much more than just knowing the story of the resurrection, knowing the details of the tale. The resurrection gives us the authority and the power to act, to speak, to think with the heart and mind of our Risen Lord. Until he comes again, we are his Body. Until he comes again, we are his hands and feet. We are not Pilate, fidgeting over politics, making carefully crafted decisions with an eye on our reputations. We are not the crowd in Jerusalem, frothing for blood and easy victory. We are not the Roman soldiers at Golgotha, just obeying lawful orders. And neither are we Mary, Peter, or John, despairing at the loss of Christ b/c we do not yet understand. We know what has happened. We know what is happening. Christ is risen. With the Father, he lives. In his Church, he lives. And if we hide ourselves in his risen life, he lives in this world. No one sees him rise. But everyone is watching to see if his Church will rise. Show the world the Risen Christ. In your words and deeds, show them Christ!

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19 April 2014

What do you and Pontius Pilate have in common?

Because he's just like us: postmodernist wienies

Pilate is not bloodthirsty.  Nor is he indifferent to justice.  If given the choice, he would prefer that the innocent not die, but neither truth nor justice are his highest priorities.  He is more concerned with keeping the peace and keeping his job.  Pilate fears the passions of the crowd and the opinions of his superiors.  He is a canny enough politician to know that it is best to stay the middle course.

This is an apt description of many of us: pastors, bishops, religious superiors, school principals, professors, just plain ole ordinary Catholics. . .

Easter is all about NOT being Pilate. 

Hmmmm. . .I feel an Easter homily theme coming on!

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Abysmal ignorance into execrable prose. . .

David Bentley Hart -- one of the best Christian writers alive today -- shreds a silly post from some nobody secularist. . .fun, fun, fun.

Journalism is the art of translating abysmal ignorance into execrable prose. At least, that is its purest and most minimal essence. There are, of course, practitioners of the trade who possess talents of a higher order—the rare ability, say, to produce complex sentences and coherent paragraphs—and they tend to occupy the more elevated caste of “intellectual journalists.” These, however, are rather like “whores with hearts of gold”: more misty figments of tender fantasy than concrete objects of empirical experience. Most journalism of ideas is little more than a form of empty garrulousness, incessant gossip about half-heard rumors and half-formed opinions, an intense specialization in diffuse generalizations. It is something we all do at social gatherings—creating ephemeral connections with strangers by chattering vacuously about things of which we know nothing—miraculously transformed into a vocation.

[. . .]
Which brings me to Adam Gopnik, and specifically his New Yorker article of February 17, “Bigger Than Phil”—the immediate occasion of all the rude remarks that went coursing through my mind and spilling out onto the page overhead. Ostensibly a survey of recently published books on (vaguely speaking) theism and atheism, it is actually an almost perfect distillation of everything most depressingly vapid about the cogitatively indolent secularism of late modern society. This is no particular reflection on Gopnik’s intelligence—he is bright enough, surely—but only on that atmosphere of complacent ignorance that seems to be the native element of so many of today’s cultured unbelievers. The article is intellectually trivial, but perhaps culturally portentous.

Simply said, we have reached a moment in Western history when, despite all appearances, no meaningful public debate over belief and unbelief is possible. Not only do convinced secularists no longer understand what the issue is; they are incapable of even suspecting that they do not understand, or of caring whether they do. The logical and imaginative grammars of belief, which still informed the thinking of earlier generations of atheists and skeptics, are no longer there. In their place, there is now—where questions of the divine, the supernatural, or the religious are concerned—only a kind of habitual intellectual listlessness.

Give yourself an Easter gift. . .read the whole thing!

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18 April 2014

Good Friday from St Dominic's Parish, NOLA

St Dominic's Good Friday Service starts at 3.00pm CDT.

Here's the link to watch the live-stream.

I'll be in The Box hearing confessions.

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Coffee Cup Browsing (Good Friday Edition)

A 2012 Good Friday homily featuring W.H. Auden. . . 

That Good Friday when I was within 20ft. of BXVI at St. Peter's. 

Excellent Good Friday meditation by NDS' academic dean, Prof. Tom Neal.

Beginning the Passion. . .

Reflections on our Good Friday readings. . .

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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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