Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sorry, I Can't See You, But I've Got This Log in My Eye

Boy, Father Reynolds must really be in tune with the Holy Father.
 Father Reynolds' Conversion, Penance and Prayer, Now!  (see A Video Meditation: Conversion, Penance and Prayer, Now! posted below) is a beautiful reflection on cleaning out the Church from within.  True, he based it on the Holy Father's reflection at the end of the Year of the Priest, but it seems that Pope Benedict is picking up this theme once again.   I think there's a pattern developing here.

At yesterday's Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Holy Father spoke of the greatest danger to the Church as coming from within:

“Indeed, if we think of the two millennia of Church history, we can see that - as the Lord Jesus had announced, Christians have never been lacking in trials, which in some periods and places have assumed the character of real persecution... These, however, despite the suffering they cause, are not the greatest danger for the Church, ... In fact, it suffers greatest damage from what pollutes the Christian faith and life of its members and its communities, eroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening its ability to prophesy and witness, tarnishing the beauty of its face.”
Then the Pope turned to the cause of much of the "pollution."  He said that the second Letter to Timothy:
"...speaks about the dangers of the 'last days,' identifying them with negative attitudes that belong to the world and can infect the Christian community: selfishness, vanity, pride, love of money, etc.”

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Return Of The Assistant Headmaster

Hello, dear Academicians!  
Your "Assistant Headmaster" has returned!
I'm glad to be back to the blogosphere (even though I 'd never truly left it)!

I know that it seemed like I have been playing hooky, not blogging a post since June 4th. However, I wasn't out under a shady tree drinking lemonade (hard or soft) with "The Faculty." 
No, dear Academicians, your cyber-Faculty and I have been very busy: working on a new project for our beloved Catholic Jedi  Academy.
To accomplish it, we've been honing our skills with video creation software.
We'll let you be the judges of the fruits of our cyber-labors, now on exhibit in the post immediately below this one, entitled "A Video Meditation: Conversion, Penance and prayer, Now!"

The Assistant Headmaster

A Video Meditation: Conversion, Penance and Prayer, Now!

The Catholic Jedi Academy offers this brief video meditation to all Catholics, and all Christians, to examine how our personal and collective sinfulness corrupt the Church's holiness and credibility -- and how we can respond now as individuals and as a community to prevent this.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Preventing Maternal Deaths - Why the U.S. Won't Help

Anna Halpine and Greg Pfundstein have a disturbing post over at National Review Online.  It appears that the agenda at the G8 economic summit in Canada includes promoting maternal and child health in developing countries.  Unfortunately, the U.S. is balking at providing funding to address this problem.  Why??  Because none of the funds can be used for abortion.

Hillary Clinton responded to a question on this issue by saying, “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.”

Even the Melissa and Bill Gates Foundation is providing millions to study the problem and to provide assistance with a caveat that none of the funds will be used to provide abortions.

Halpine and Pfundstein are puzzled:
It is surprising that Hillary Clinton would insist on funding for abortion and risk derailing an initiative that is poised to generate unprecedented commitments in both the private and public sectors. It is especially surprising considering the body of recent scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of various straightforward, uncontroversial, and achievable means to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the "sacrament" of abortion, nothing is surprising anymore.  The pro-aborts would rather women and children die than they lose the opportunity to drive the abortion wedge into another developing nation.  It sounds ridiculous and it is.  One more glaring example of the hypocrisy of so-called feminists.

The president may wonder why the rest of the world doesn't love us after he tried so hard to please them.  It's selfish, senseless attitudes such as this that show the world the corruption of our culture.  Please God we see the light and put an end to this stain on our nation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gonna Get My Picture on the Cover

Now this is bizarre...the head of the US Joint Forces Command, General Stanley McChrystal gives a month long interview to Rolling Stone magazine.  That's right, Rolling Stone!  Boy, am I getting old.  It used to be that Rolling Stone was the last place you would think a general would go to give an interview. And talking to this reporter for a month?  That didn't make sense to me until I learned it was the fault of that darned volcano - the one whose name dare not be spoken (or pronounced).  General McChrystal had initially given the ok for a two day interview, but then they were all stuck in Paris because of the volcanic eruption.  First of all, what was General McChrystal doing in Paris when the war is in Afghanistan?  And, second of all, just because you're stuck there because of the volcano, do you have to keep talking to this guy for a month?  And, come to think of it, does this mean that our military doesn't have any equipment that can fly through volcano dust?  Uh oh.

Oh Father, Where Art Thou?

A recent Atlantic magazine cover story was entitled "The End of Men", by Hana Rosin.  Another article in the same issue is "Are Fathers Necessary?"  Can you guess the answer that the author, Pamela Paul, gave to that question?  Not necessary.  In fact, she finds that two women do a better job than a man and a woman in raising children.  Ms. Paul's article ends with the following gem:
 "The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution. The good news is, we’ve gotten used to him."
 In our Father's Day post below, friend of the blog, John Laperuta, left the following comment reflecting on the role of the media in chipping away at the status of fathers:
"The denigration of the roles of mother and father and the glorification of promiscuity and lust have impacted the mindset of not only our society but of the Western World. What was once the spearhead of Christianity has now become a bastion of paganism.  Television can now be today's golden calf.  It preaches to us its immorality 24-7.  It now openly mocks and attacks everything Christian. How does God build His Kingdom on earth? Through the family.  What better way to destroy the family than through television.  Fathers are either non existent or made to look mindless and weak..."

How did we get to this point?  Selfishness, plain and simple.  It's not about the children, it's not about fidelity, it's not about's about ME!!  God is pushed into the background, otherwise we have to acknowledge that pesky concept that we were actually created by Him and that he ultimately is in charge of our lives.  And what is his "role" in the Holy Trinity??  FATHER.  What a great trick, we get rid of fatherhood and then we can ignore God.  These trendy modern elites think that we don't need fathers, what they're really saying is that we don't need God.  Wrong on both points.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's Art Got to Do With It?

Living here in the outer boroughs, we sometimes get a bad rap from those who live in the oh-so-sophisticated borough of New York a/k/a "Manhattan."  However, distance can provide perspective, especially when it comes to the stuff that's been passing itself off as "art" lately.

The latest is the brainchild of Luke Jerram, a British "artist", who has decided that it would be a wonderfully creative idea to place 50 pianos at various places in New York City.  These locations will include the Coney Island boardwalk and a waterfront park in Queens.  I hope these pianos can be stored somewhere when evening falls and the crowds die down, otherwise, there are most likely some who will decide that rearranging the pianos will constitute an even better artistic endeavor.

And, as far as the artist's belief that the placement of the pianos will provide a "blank canvas" for "creativity",  Ann Althouse notes,
So I just hope.... I just hope, if your apartment or office is within earshot of one of those pianos that you like "Chopsticks," "Für Elise," Billy Joel songs, and the way it sounds when someone drags their fingers the full length of the keyboard. Why do Jerram and Bloomberg think that saccharine everyman "creativity" will blossom?
This YouTube clip provides a glimpse of the type of creativity that will most likely be emanating from these artistic installations:

via Ann Althouse

Monday, June 14, 2010

How's That Executive Order Coming Along, Mr. President?

House Minority Leader, John Boehner, has asked President Obama to provide a progress report on the implementation of his Executive Order that purports to ban use of taxpayer dollars for abortion under the new health care lgislation.  Prior to that, the Congressman sent a letter to Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius, asking:
"Has the Department provided guidance to states to implement the president’s Executive Order on abortions?  When does the Administration expect to issue the directive on abortions?  Will the new federal high-risk pools touted by the Administration also ensure that abortions will not be covered?  Millions of Americans care deeply about this aspect of the new law and its implementation, and no progress report is complete without detailed information about it."
The reply so far?  [cue sound of crickets chirping].

And, where are those politicians who so vociferously claimed that the new health care legislation would not fund abortions?  Shouldn't they be asking for these guidelines, too?   Or perhaps they would rather remain silent because bringing attention to the matter might highlight the unfortunate truth that the Executive Order was a scam.

Kudos to Minority Leader Boehner for his persistence in holding the President to his promise.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Year of the Priest

At a vigil service last night, Pope Benedict addressed priests from around the world An estimated 15,000 priests have come to Rome to observe the conclusion of the Year of the Priest and to show their support and admiration for the Holy Father.

In his homily for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the pope emphasizes the role of the priest as the shepherd of the flock:
“Your rod and your staff – they comfort me”: the shepherd needs the rod as protection against savage beasts ready to pounce on the flock; against robbers looking for prey. Along with the rod there is the staff which gives support and helps to make difficult crossings. Both of these are likewise part of the Church’s ministry, of the priest’s ministry. The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which he protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor does it have to do with love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something that we ourselves had invented. As if it were no longer God’s gift, the precious pearl which we cannot let be taken from us. Even so, the rod must always become once again the shepherd’s staff – a staff which helps men and women to tread difficult paths and to follow the Lord."
 May God bless, protect and encourage our priests .

Thursday, June 10, 2010

“If You Don't Stand for Something - You'll Fall For Anything”

Today I witness more and more blatant offenses to Christianity. It is disturbing to me to see these attacks - particularly to Catholicism. Our Holy Catholic Church is being attacked from all directions. It would be considered impolite, offensive and politically incorrect to make jokes about Jews, Muslims, Atheist, Homosexuals or African Americans – but when it comes to Catholics it’s “Open fire” - If you disagree, just turn on your TV or open a newspaper or magazine. We as Catholic’s should not be afraid to publicly announce we are "proud to be Catholic”. We have a duty and an obligation to stand up and defend our Church, our Priests and our Catholic values. We shouldn’t have to be intimidated. We are living in a society that abides abortion on demand, has killed millions of innocent children, degrades the institution of marriage and often treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition. We should work to encourage our elected officials to respect human life, to honor marriage, and to treat people of faith fairly. After all, “If You Don't Stand for Something - You'll Fall For Anything”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Empire State Building: If You Have Money You're In, If You're Mother Teresa, You're Out

Anthony Malkin, owner of the Empire State Building, has issued a statement stating that he has a policy of not honoring  individual religious figures with the lights on his building. Who knew? I'd love to hear the rationale behind this.

But, it does seems clear that you can buy your way onto the lights of the Empire State Building. On the building's website, you can download a questionnaire for your group or event to be considered  as a "lighting partner." The trade off seems to be that you must provide "free" advertising for the building.  You have to provide information as to what kind of photo ops you'll have, what your advertising materials will be and how you'll market the event.  If you look at this lighting schedule, you'll notice that there are a number of corporate events that are being acknowledged, such as Crain's Business, NASDAQ, NASCAR, and the opening of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. 

The moral of this story may be, once again, follow the money. While the Empire State Building may seem to be an icon of New York that is charitably honoring different events by its lighting, it is, in reality a commercial enterprise. Mother Teresa may not generate enough revenue to qualify.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Japanese Developing Robots to Care for their Elders

Gecko Systems (?), an American company, recently announced arrangements with Japanese companies to develop its robots for use with the elderly.  According to Gecko:

The Japanese have their own eldercare crisis because of the size of their WWII widow population. Due to their understanding of the high costs of sufficient and appropriate eldercare, the Japanese government has spent one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) in grants (to Sanyo, Toshiba, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NEC, etc.) over the last eight to ten years to develop personal robots for their own eldercare crisis, yet no viable solutions have been developed by them to date.

I don't know about the WWII widow excuse.  It's pretty clear that Japan is suffering from a lack of young people to care for the elderly.  WWII doesn't have much to do with it.  It's that darn lack of desire to have children that is aided and abetted by the mainstreaming of abortion.  Where have all the children gone?  After a while, it catches up with a country.

As someone who grew up on the Jetsons, I'm pretty sure I don't want Rosie the robot taking care of me in my twilight years.

(h/t Ann Althouse)

Helen Thomas Was Speaking to Jewish Children !!

 Rabbi Nessenoff of has released the full video of the interview with Helen Thomas.  This makes the whole incident even more pathetic, if that's possible.  It seems that not only was Ms. Thomas speaking to Rabbi Nessenoff, but she was also speaking directly to two young Jewish kids who told her they were interested in journalism.  All three were wearing their yarmulkes when Helen made her bigoted remarks.  Not that it would have been ok if she didn't know she was speaking to someone who was Jewish, but you would think that she would have had some sensitivity about insinuating that the Jewish homeland is illegitimate to these kids.

It's clear from the video that the rabbi is taken aback and, all things considered,  is actually quite kind in his follow up questions.  He definitely gets the  better of the exchange when Helen tells him that she is an Arab and he asks her something in Arabic, which she pretty much can't understand.  She mumbles something about not knowing the language because she was trying to Americanize her parents.  Kind of interesting, huh?  Maybe we should ask members of the Navajo nation or the Comanches or the Arapaho about the legitimacy of Helen's parents coming here from Syria and occupying their land.  But, actually, Helen's family had no historic connection to this country, whereas the Jewish people have lived in the territory comprising Israel for thousands of years.  Using her own reasoning, Helen Thomas should be considered to be part of an illegitimate oppressive occupying force in this country.   Maybe she should brush up on her Arabic.

(h/t Gateway Pundit)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

D-Day Remembrance

Today the 66th anniversary of the Normandy invasion in World War II falls on the feast of Corpus Christi.

Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord.

Here are some of the people they were fighting to save:

Remember this, Helen Thomas.  Remember this.

Corpus Christi

Father Z points out that the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi should include a procession.  I love processions with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of the city.  Traffic comes to a stand still.  People stop and watch.

A quick Google search for the diocese of Brooklyn (and Queens) shows that a good number of processions were scheduled for today at local parishes.  The pictures in this post were taken a few years ago at Our Lady of Solace shrine church in Coney Island on the feast of Corpus Christi.  Christ going through the gritty streets of Brooklyn.

                                        Photos:  Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace website.

Uh-oh.."Sun Waking from a Deep Slumber": NASA

It seems like I'm becoming the chairperson of the Department of Apocalyptic Studies here at the Catholic Jedi Academy, but it's hard to ignore the weird stuff that keeps popping up.  The latest is a report from the head of NASA's heliophysics division (we may have to add a class on that here at the Academy!), Richard Fisher, who announced that, "The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms."

In other words, be prepared for trouble with power grids, air travel, radio communications, and GPS.  While I have some concerns about the first three, I'm not that troubled by GPS systems going down.  In fact, maybe it will help keep people focused on driving instead of drifting back and forth into opposing lanes of traffic while trying to read the miniscule GPS screen suctioned to their windshield.  But, I digress. 

There's nothing to fear, however, the government is right on top of this one.   Yep, NOAA (the oceans and atmosphere group)says they are making "rapid progress" on figuring out "space weather forecasting."  Can't you just see the evening news report, "Well, Larry what's tomorrow's forecast for solar storms?"  "There's a 50% chance of strong solar activity.  Make sure your generators are ready to go, avoid air travel, and you might want to take a map along in the car, just in case."

                                                        Photo: National Space Weather Program of NASA

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hey Rude....

I'm sure that Paul McCartney's mother must have taught him that it's bad manners to make fun of someone else in public.  Especially when you're making stuff up.  Now that he's all grown up, I guess he's beyond being polite.  Different rules for the entertainment royalty.

When McCartney told a captive and fawning audience at the White House how happy he was to be there and performing for a president who "knows what a library is," he got a lot of laughs.  Ha Ha, what a riot! It reminds me of those who take pot shots at Christianity.  Easy target.  Not much chance of getting a punch in the nose and, more likely, your post-modern cool person "cred" will be burnished.  So, what did he accomplish?  Those who loved him, will probably continue to love him.  But, those who just gave him props because he was a Beatle and a rock and roll icon, may be left with a different image.  Part of his legacy may now be that he had talent, but he didn't have class.  But, perhaps he can remedy that by apologizing.  If not, next time we may have to say good bye when he says hello and just give him a ticket to ride right back to the U.K. (or back in the USSR, if he prefers...I'm sure he could get some good chuckles telling Putin jokes over there).

Update:  As a commenter on the Ann Althouse blog said, rather than "Hey Jude", it would have been more appropriate for McCartney to sing "Taxman" to President Obama.

Friday, June 4, 2010

White House Correspondent Tells Jews to Go Back to Germany

What is it about anti-semitism that keeps it percolating right into our current times?  My jaw dropped when I saw this video of Helen Thomas, a senior (and I mean senior) White House correspondent, saying that the Jews should get out of Gaza and go back to Germany and Poland. 

 This woman should be banned from the White House and from any other polite society .  But, unfortunately she'll probably be given a seat of honor at the next "humanitarian" banquet.  And, I don't know about you, but I haven't heard a peep from the press or anybody else about Helen's ill conceived views.

Applying 'The Fun Theory' To Confession ... Sort Of

Here's an interesting and entertaining video, the result of a campaign called "The Fun Theory" run by the European car maker, Volkswagen.   The "Fun Theory" campaign's ruling principle is that fun can change behavior for the better.  Choosing the busy Odenplan train station in Stockholm, the "Fun Theorists" wanted to see if everyday commuters would give up using the escalator to exit the train station, and choose the stairs instead.  The "Fun Theorists" turned the stairs into an over-sized yet fully operational keyboard.  The video below shows the before, during, and after effects of their campaign.

Couldn't the "Fun Theory" be applied to the experience of Catholics going to Confession? Come to Confession! And when you leave the Confessional, go to your church's lobby, vestibule, foyer, etc., where you can dance toward the exit to your choice of "The Hallelujah Chorus" or "Walking On Sunshine" or another melody!  
Hey, we could have a Shuffleboard Game set up in the vestibule, where the absolved person can use a paddle to push weighted pucks with the names of the Seven Deadly Sins on them, sending them gliding down a long, narrow chute into a So Long Sin Bin, setting off flashing lights and bells!
[At this point, a note to Father "Z": Don't panic! I'm only jesting!]
Yes, the entire scenario detailed above is a jest and a gimmick to bring your attention to the following project and task:
We, Priests and Laity, should be frequently availing ourselves of the Sacrament that heals our selfishness, sets our intentions right, and removes the blockade of sin which keeps Our Lord and our neighbors alienated from us. 
And, in addition, we all should be encouraging others, especially Lapsed Catholics, to consider all the positives and graces inherent with the Sacrament Of Reconciliation -- telling them about our own positive and uplifting experiences of -- as it were -- shuffling our sins into the "So Long Sin Bin."  No need to tell them what you Confessed; just tell them how good you felt after it, and how Our Lord gave you the strength to make changes for the holier in yourself,  your activities, and your relationships.
On May 27th, our beloved Pope Benedict told the Italian Bishops Conference that the scandal of clerical abuse of minors "must inspire bishops and priests to rediscover the need for penitence, purification, forgiveness and justice.  The humble and painful admission of the sins of some of the church's members should not obscure the good and saintliness of so many others, including lay faithful and priests."  
God knows, and I freely admit, that I could not live without regularly Confessing my sins during the Sacrament Of Reconciliation -- can't even imagine how my life would be if I consistently avoided the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Back on May 11th, during the plane trip on his way to the shrine of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Benedict met with reporters.  (Fatima is where Our Blessed Mother appeared to three young shepherd children in 1917.)  Pope Benedict spoke about the Blessed Mother's message at Fatima being one of prayer, penance, and conversion.  Among the statements he made, Pope Benedict said that the worst attacks against the Catholic Church don’t come from outside. “We see it today in a terrifying way,” that the “greatest persecution of the Church doesn’t come from the enemies outside, but is born from sin inside the Church.”  The Church has a deep need to learn to do penance, accept purification, and to learn to ask forgiveness.
As Pope Benedict struggles to help the Lord to purify His Church, will you and I be doing our part?
Are you going to Confession?  Regularly? 
Are you telling others about your personal
need for penitence, purification, forgiveness and conversion? 
Are you telling others about experiencing mercy, forgiveness, and renewal from frequently presenting yourself at Confession and doing acts of penance and devotion?
You and I must communicate the positive meaning of Confession bringing us closer to God, rather than God punishing us for our bad behavior. 
The "Fun Theory's" ruling principle is that fun can change our behavior for the better. 
The Roman Catholic Church's ruling principle is that faith in the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ can change our behavior for the better, for the holier, forever. 
We don't need the useless fun of musical stairs or shuffleboard to attract each other to Confession to purify and improve our lives. 
We do need to emphasize our faith that Confession is really a positive, not a negative; that the Lord doesn't want us to walk around with guilt and regret oppressing us and darkening our lives and others' lives because of us. 
If you and I keep going regularly to this beautiful Sacrament and keep speaking positively about our blessings from the Sacrament of Penance -- expressing our joy and gratitude for having the burden of sin lifted off us -- then Parishes big and small will have lines for Confession which stretch out their doors and around the block: every Saturday!  Really!
Aah, what sweet music that would be -- without installing expensive keyboard stairs!
Oh -- for those who say that they do not need to go to Confession in the Sacrament Of Penance/Reconciliation, here is my usual pithy comment:

Unless the Blessed Mother has a statue of YOU on her bedroom dresser, YOU need to go to Confession!
Shall we get to work?
(Uh... ahem... you, in the back! Please stop dancing and put down the shuffleboard paddle, would ya?)

The Assistant Headmaster

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Catholic Hospitals and Nuns Promoting Futile Care Policies?

One of the euphemisms for euthanasia is terminating "futile care."  In other words, medical professionals make a decision that providing further care to a patient would be "futile", thereby giving the institution the right to remove such care.  Wesley Smith, in his always excellent blog "Second Hand Smoke", describes how in Texas a law was adopted permitting hospitals to refuse life sustaining care if the hospital determined, in its own discretion, that the care would be futile.  Unfortunately, the Texas Catholic Conference , under the influence of the Texas Catholic Hospital Association, joined in opposing the repeal of this legislation.

The Catholic Hospital Association, the same group that gave cover to Catholic politicians in voting for Obamacare, has also strongly promoted futile care policy, that would give hospitals rather than families and individuals the right to determine when care would be futile.

Now, the New Jersey Supreme Court has a case before it that may establish futile care policy in that state.  And who has written an op-ed supporting a hospital's right to refuse care?  Sister Patricia Codey of the Catholic Healthcare Partnership of New Jersey.

As Smith puts it, futile care theory and health care rationing are the evil stepsisters of euthanasia.  Rather than viewing the promotion of life as a good in itself, the futile care promoters take the following position:
The question our society must confront is: Should health care professionals be required to use technology to prolong a dying patient’s life when those interventions violate longstanding medical ethics and standards, while providing no relief or benefit to the patient?  (Sister Patricia Codey in her Op-ed)
 It's a bizarre perspective that places no value on prolonging life as a good in itself.  There are many procedures that keep a person alive without necessarily providing "relief."  Should that be the operative standard?  And whose definition of relief applies here?  Is there no concern that putting life and death decisions into the hands of profit making institutions will  present a huge conflict of interest?  And, why is the hospital in a better position to determine whether care should be provided as opposed to the family of the patient or the designated medical proxy?

We are already on the slippery slope to denying life sustaining care based on economics.  It is unfortunate that Catholic health care providers are helping to push us further down the hill.

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.