Friday, October 29, 2010

Trick??? or Treat???

For me, Halloween has always been a time of carving out pumpkins, fun costumes, trick-or-treating and candy.  There is the excitement of dressing up, whether cute, funny or scary; the scariness of ghosts, goblins and witches etc. I remember it being a time that I looked forward to.

Today, for little children, however, Halloween can be very scary. The emphasis has become so evil and gruesome.  It seems as if we went from celebrating Halloween dressing up as clowns, firefighters, nurses, construction workers, cats, bears, tigers etc,,, to costumes being ‘all about’ monsters, vampires, witches, demons, the grim reaper etc. 

A couple of weeks ago, I took my 6 year old daughter shopping. We were looking for a Halloween costume for her.  I was astonished at my daughter’s reaction when we walked in (what should have been) the ‘party’ store.  It should’ve been a fun experience.  Instead she was horrified!  We were greeted at the entrance by gruesome, horrific loud décor.  My daughter grabbed my arm and wanted to leave.  I encouraged her. I told her there are nicer costumes and we should continue looking.  To my surprise there was little to choose from other than many horrific costumes.

Halloween has become a big and frightening business.  For many it isn’t ‘fun’ anymore between costumes, scary décor, gloomy music, blood and gore, Halloween lights, when trick-or-treating grownups answering  the door in scary costumes and/or startling children with sound effects or saying “boo,” and people turning their front lawns into graveyards, complete with skeletons and the decaying dead.

When I was my daughter’s age a simple pumpkin carved with a happy face, some Indian Corn, a costume (usually home-made) and a group of kids and parents trick-or-treating would have been more than enough for a GREAT time.
Halloween and Its Christian Roots
The true origins of Halloween lie with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts, November 1 marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter. The night before the new year, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, Lord of the Dead. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead—including ghosts, goblins and witches—returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.
When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added their own touches to the Samhain festival, such as making centerpieces out of apples and nuts for Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards. The Romans also bobbed for apples and drank cider—traditions which may sound familiar to you. But where does the Christian aspect of the holiday come into play? In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.” Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.
The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the “communion of saints,” which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that through the communion of saints “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things” (#1475).

Perhaps it's time for Catholics to take control of the message we send. 
Halloween is not all about "hell and horror" Instead it should be a celebration of “good” over “evil”.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Institute of Catholic Culture

I want to pass on a link to a terrific organization, the Institute of Catholic Culture.  This group, which is an offshoot of Christendom College, provides podcasts of lectures by various Catholic professors, clergy and scholars on topics pertaining to the faith.  I have downloaded a bunch of them and have to confess that I am hooked!  According to the website, the Institute is a non-profit that is dedicated to evangelizing our society through educational and cultural programs that are offered free of charge.  And, wow, do they do a good job.

So far I've listened to hours of talks on topics ranging from the founding of Rome to the Protestant Reformation and everything in between.  As someone who has sat through many hours of lectures in academic settings and elsewhere, I can attest that these talks are exceptional.  The speakers not only know their stuff, they sincerely seem to enjoy teaching and passing on their knowledge.  Plus, they all have a great sense of humor.  Check them out at Institute of Catholic  You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gumby Goes Trick-Or-Treating

This is too cute!!


Paranormal State: (Dangerous) Adolescent Applications Of Laissez-Faire, Cafeteria Catholicism

During these days leading up to our society's increasingly perverted version of Halloween, I'm returning to the topic of the paranormal: Ghosts, Ouija Boards, Séances, and the Occult in general. This stuff can't be ignored -- especially when so many people are getting drawn into "ghost hunting" and other highly dangerous activities involving non-human spirits!

I've watched more than a dozen episodes of the A+E series Paranormal State.  It's a television series that showcases the exploits of the Penn State Paranormal Research Society ("PRS"), founded and directed by Ryan Buell.  I wanted to watch shows, not for entertainment, but to look for inaccuracies, especially in its presentation of metaphysical concepts and theological definitions.
Human beings attempt to get social with the discarnate (beings without bodies) generally out of a reckless ignorance of the dangers involved in playing around with these spiritual realities.  Generally, human souls do not comprise the majority of the population of discarnate spirits. Their dark realm  is inhabited by unsavory demons of lesser or more powerful rank among their own God-forsaken peers. 

But even the lowest-ranked demons are psychologically stronger than us, and smarter than us in some things, dumber in others. But, smart or dumb, they are hateful, devious, evil beings which* want to injure us and destroy us. They hate u(see The Book Of Genesis, Chapter 3) because we are the apex of God's creation. How much higher does God rank human beings above angels (good or bad) and all spirits?  God took on human flesh in Jesus Christ to save human beings, who fell into sin with the assistance of the leader of all evil spirits.  That's a pretty high rank, eh? 
*( I'm deliberately avoiding the use of "who" in reference to discarnate beings; who refers to people, and which refers to things or groups.  Discarnate beings are not human entities: they're bodiless creatures!  Okay -- now that the grammar is explained, I'll get to the point.)

Interestingly, PRS's Disclaimer on its website seems to indicate a concern about viewers taking their show seriously and being harmed in some way:

Please read the following Terms and Conditions of Use carefully before using this website. By continuing to access this website, you, the user, signify your acceptance of such terms. If you do not agree to any of the following terms, please discontinue your use of this website.
I. Informational purposes only
The contents of the Paranormal Research Society (“PRS”) website, including text, graphics, and images, are for informational purposes only. The PRS website is not intended to provide psychological and/or medical advice and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific plan, product, or course of action. Under no circumstances shall PRS be liable for any such reliance on the contents of its website."

According to its disclaimer, PRS takes no responsibility for any problems viewers develop from dabbling in the paranormal. The show's paranormal "SWAT routine" is presented for profit and fame with no warning of the spiritual and psychological fallout that can cling to a person after engaging in what is presented as a harmless foray into the spirit world. A susceptible viewer may casually stroll into this dark sub-world and leave it without knowing that something may have followed them home.

I've been frightened by the show.   Not frightened by its purported video or audio of paranormal activities in  haunted houses, but afraid for the young adults who comprise the PRS team, and who have, at times, waded in "over their heads" during some of their investigations.  I fear for their spiritual lives. 

Ryan Buell, the young founder of PRS,is a self-professed Catholic who puts a religious veneer on his exploits.  However, as reported recently in the Chicago Tribune, Buell's view of his Catholic faith is that the Church is whatever he wants it to be.   In the interview, he discusses his beliefs and the impact of the recent announcement of his bisexuality on his commitment to Catholicism: 
"I am not going to leave the church...I want the church to change for me and I believe it will. I will be there in the pews to make a statement.'"  And in a book he published, "...Buell asserts that paranormal research is spiritual itself: 'What I do is a modern way of looking for god [sic]. It is a way of connecting with something spiritual and other worldly.'"  You're kidding, right Ryan? Connecting with evil discarnate beings is  "spiritual", in the same way as going to Church for Mass? 

When interviewed in September 2008 by Busted Halo, Buell  also said that, "...his signs of the cross, his prayers and the blessed medallions are for real, too, with or without A+E’s cameras capturing them. He goes to Mass a couple of times a month, and sets aside time to pray and reflect on days that he doesn’t...He likes his Catholic faith to feel personal.   'I’m by no means a cheerleader Catholic,' he told me. 'I don’t go to Mass every week, I don’t pray the rosary, and I don’t think God is a Catholic God.'  But he does think God is calling him to be a paranormal investigator.  'I believe I’m meant to be helping these people,' Buell said. 'If anyone’s doing something morally wrong, God will figure that out.' ”
    Buell's statements reveal a wrongheaded attitude toward the Roman Catholic Faith and the Catholic teaching that leads people to an encounter with God in Our Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately he promotes an adolescent, laissez-faire application of the truths of Christianity with a  "pick and choose" mentality.  And  he is doing this within a dangerous minefield of paranormal investigation without the necessary protection of an adequate and fully developed practice of the Faith.

    The  Busted Halo article reveals Buell's feelings about mixing his faith with his paranormal activities and the concern of some Roman Catholic clergy:
    "Buell is aware some Catholics are uncomfortable with his combination of Catholicism and the paranormal. There are also the paranormal investigators who say he should leave religion out of it. Buell is firm on this issue. 'If you believe in spirits, there’s got to be a God,' he says.
    Still, some Roman Catholic clergy are concerned about his controversial use of psychics in dealing with haunted dwellings.  'Making use of someone who is frequently in communication with the ‘spirit world’ is extremely dangerous,' said Fr. Francis Tiso, Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 'The only preternatural voice that the people of God are to listen to is the voice of God. Other voices can be deceptive.'
    Fr. John Gerth, a pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, also sees the danger.
    'Dabbling in cooking or writing the great American novel are relatively safe,' he said. 'Dabbling in the spirit world is not, unless you are properly disposed in mind, body and spirit. If people were to get involved with evil forces unexpectedly and without proper disposition of their own souls, it can be really bad. Worst case scenario, they could be in need of an exorcist themselves.'
    Buell is aware some Catholics are uncomfortable with his combination of Catholicism and the paranormal, but he is firm on this issue. 'If you believe in spirits, there’s got to be a god [sic],' he says.
    Still, Tiso, who studied exorcism while ministering in Italy and assisted Fr. Cipriano de Meo, the Puglia region’s exorcist, said the worst can be avoided: 'I think the safest thing for Ryan to do is to confine his work to research on well documented case histories, to learn from experienced exorcists, to travel to other cultures where exorcism and trance states can be observed, to study the documentation on the lives of the saints.'”
    Amen, to that, Father Tiso and Father Gerth! 

    Unfortunately, PRS has found one member of the Catholic clergy who doesn't seem to see the danger in this dalliance and the way it is presented. Father Bob Bailey, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Roman Catholic Parish in Pawtuckett, RI, is quoted in the same Busted Halo article:
    "Not all members of the Catholic faith see Buell’s attitude as cause for alarm. Fr. Bob Bailey . . worked on two cases with the PRS during Paranormal State’s second season.   'I really support what they’re doing,' said Bailey. 'The usual occurrence after death is heaven, hell or purgatory. What we’re dealing with are anomalies. We don’t understand them right now.'
    Bailey does make a point of clarifying he doesn’t mean they aren’t real. 'Because so many people have had experiences, we have to admit there is paranormal activity out there, and that doesn’t go against our Catholic faith. I don’t find my work at all in contradiction to our Catholic faith,' he said.   Buell invited Bailey, who is not an exorcist, to bless a house for one episode of Paranormal State, and to pray for deliverance over a client in another. The difference between the rite of exorcism and the prayer of deliverance, Bailey said, is that exorcism is for people who are completely possessed by evil, who are violent and have lost free will.   Deliverance, he said, is for people who are oppressed by evil—and that attracted him to the paranormal long before Buell invited him to work with PRS. 'I’ve always had an interest in helping with the paranormal,' he told me. 'I have permission [from my bishop] to go out and help paranormal groups.'”
    Really?  Father Bob, have you also signed your name to the PRS Disclaimer?  I can only say that you are lending implicit approval of the Church to this very dangerous show and potentially leading many down a very dangerous path.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Man Saves Hundreds with Kindness

                                                         (photo:  Sydney Morning Herald)
    Don Ritchie of Sydney, Australia, is known as the "Watchman" to his neighbors.  He and his wife Moya live near the Gap Park, the site of a famous cliff with a spectacular view of Sydney harbor.  From his home, Mr. Ritchie can see those who would scale the cliff to use as a jumping off point for suicide.  Over the 45 years that he has lived in the area, Mr. Ritchie is credited with saving up to 400 people who were attempting to kill themselves.  His secret?  Kindness, a smile and an offer to listen:
     "I used to sell kitchen scales and bacon cutters, then I was state manager of a life insurance company," he told the AP. "At the Gap I'm trying to sell people life."  Ritchie says he doesn't pry or preach, but rather smiles and offers to listen.  It's a technique that often works, though not always. He has lost many to the cliff, but says that he has saved more than he has lost, and doesn't suffer feelings of guilt for his failures.  "You can't do much about it," he says.
    After he approaches those who are despairing, he invites them to his home for a cup of tea.  As reported by Lifesite news, Ritchie was awarded the Order of Australia for his efforts.

    Know The Truth: Obamacare Pays For Abortions

    Please take the time to view the following video by the Population Research Institute (PRI) which presents a clear and thorough analysis of whether abortion coverage is included in Obamacare.  The conclusion?  Obamacare is the biggest expansion of abortion coverage ever.

    Honestly, it should have been obvious that the legislation would include funds for abortions when Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, had no objection to the law, even when the President signed an executive order which supposedly restricted the use of funds for abortion.

    Please keep this in mind when casting your votes on November 2nd.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Boo! Part Five: Redux: About Ghosts, Ouija Boards, Séances, And The Occult In General

    'Tis now the very
    witching time of night,
    When churchyards yawn
    and hell itself breathes out
    Contagion to this world… .
    William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2

    "Redux" is an adjective which means "brought back, restored" (from the Latin reducere - to bring back).
    Welcome to Boo! Redux! 
    Since Halloween is fast upon us, and so many people are going to do so many stupid and dangerously sinful things, I felt it apropos to resurrect portions of my original series, Boo! About Ghosts. Here are links to the original Series, if you're interested: 
               Boo! Part 1: About Ghosts.
               Boo! Part 2: Ghosts? Really? Really!
               Boo! Part 3: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
               Boo! Part 4: Swimming With The Spiritual Sharks.

    Our Lord Jesus and His Apostles taught the Church that each individual will appear before God immediately after death, receive judgment, and be assigned to one of three states of existence: Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell.

    The souls of deceased human beings, immediately after death, encounter God, are judged individually, and then dispatched to Hell, Purgatory, or Heaven until the Last Judgment comes.  The souls of human beings after death are present and accounted for in Hell, Purgatory, or Heaven.
    So, human souls do not cause paranormal events.  The only agency involved are Evil Spirits: Demons masquerading as the souls of deceased human persons.  Neither your deceased Aunt Tilly nor any other human soul is moving the planchette around on the Ouija Board, nor speaking through Mediums. “Dead men tell no tales.”

    There are reasons why God says “No” to human beings involving themselves with "ghosts" and spirits. Simply put, when we human beings get involved with discarnate spirits, like demons, we are swimming with spiritual sharks, playing with incredibly dangerous spiritual powers.
    • They are psychologically stronger than us, smarter than us. 
    • They are hostile, angry, devious, evil beings which want to destroy us. 
    • They hate us. 
    • They want to pull us into the eternal misery and hopelessness that they exist in for eternity (see Chapter Three of The Book Of Genesis)
    Evil spirits manage to capture us through our freely chosen, altered state of consciousness in which we must place ourselves in order to sense them.
    For example: When we pray, especially in contemplation, we voluntarily shift our brain activity to a higher consciousness, a concentrated, intentional openness of our intellect and emotions, in order to discern the presence of God and permit Him to enter our hearts and minds.
    In activities like séances, using a Ouija Board, or ghost hunting, you must place your mind into a state of consciousness which mimics -- rather, mocks -- the form of consciousness which you should be offering to God, and God alone: A concentrated, intentional openness of our intellect and emotions: receptive and unprotected. You have now intentionally unlocked all the doors and windows of your conscious and unconscious mind and emotions, and have invited these monsters into your being.  It won't be long before you feel the effects of these diabolical squatters in your life.  They will start destroying your mind, emotions, and faith. Demons accomplish their goals by “messing with your head.”

    Sinful human pride is what coaxes people’s fascination with the Paranormal and Occult.  Spiritualism and obsession with the paranormal are pseudo-religions: religions without God ― because, in these false religions, you are god.  Implanting tiny, poisonous seeds of temptation in your heart:
    • Demons and toxic spirits will stimulate feelings of omniscience in you, feelings that you are special, apart from and better than other people ― because you have special knowledge given to you by these spirits.
    • They will stroke your ego and help inflate it.
    • Then, when you are so pleased and comfortable with all your “specialness,” comes the catch:
    • You messed with discarnate beings who have fallen from God's grace! And, in doing so, YOU have fallen from God's grace!
    Those tiny seeds of temptations just mentioned above may soon dissipate and seem to be gone. But in their places, will erupt demonic vines which will coil around you and hold you tight.
    • You will be afraid!  I mean AFRAID FOR YOUR LIFE!
    • You will know a ruinous fear like you’ve never experienced before -- inescapable fear.
    • The demons will keep attacking you intellectually and emotionally: At any time or any place they desire.
    • They will terrorize you over and over with feelings of terror, isolation, paranoia, indecisiveness, helplessness, defenselessness and vulnerability.
    • You may hear their voices.
    • You may see things.
    • You may experience objects moving, physical touches, or violent physical abuse from them.
    • Your emotions will suddenly change from normal and balanced into angry rages or weepy, lonesome, deep despair -- even hopeless, suicidal sadness!
    You will especially feel these attacks in regard to your relationship with God.
    • The demons will tell you that God will not forgive you;
    • That they own a piece of you now, and that no one can help you.
    • Your faith will be attacked – beaten to a bloody pulp.
    • And finally comes the despair and thoughts of suicide.
    Isolation, rage, despair, and hopelessness are what these evil beings will feel for eternity. And misery does love company ― especially captive human company.

    No one should deceive him-/herself about the spiritual dangers involved.
    These evil spirits truly can hook one of their claws into your soul.
    Hey, after all, you did invite them to come in!  You intentionally poked a hole through one of the shingles on your roof to give them access. And, now, they will come and go as they please.
    But, they mostly do not go. And getting them out is intensely difficult.
    Ask any exorcist, or anyone who has been delivered from these unseen monsters.

    "If you play with fire, you are going to get burned."  You will eventually suffer losses:
    • The loss of your faith and hope;
    • The loss of peace and balance in your life;
    • The loss of your feeling loved by friends or loved ones (whom you will unconsciously push away from you to produce that loss of love);
    • The loss of self-confidence and decisiveness, and in some cases,
    • The loss of your sanity!
    Any attempt to communicate with unseen-entities through spiritualistic practices, psychics, the Occult, etc.,  is extremely dangerous and a very serious a.k.a. Mortal Sin.  The Church, down through the ages, has very wisely forbidden it.

    So, dear Academicians, here is a short summary of the directive principles of Catholic Teaching on “ghosts,” Spiritualism, Mediums, and the foolish pursuit of ANY paranormal activities. Simply stated:
    “Do not have recourse to the spirits of the dead or to mediums: they will defile you.”
    Leviticus 19:31
    “Any man or woman who is a necromancer or magician must be put to death by stoning; their blood shall be on their own heads.”
    Leviticus 20:27
    “There must never be anyone among you who practices divination, who is a psychic, augur, or sorcerer, who uses charms, consults ghosts and spirits, or calls up the dead.  For the man who does these things is detestable to the Lord your God!”
    Deuteronomy 18:10-12

    The Church has not dogmatically pronounced upon the essential nature of spiritualistic phenomena.  Nonetheless, the Church forbids the general body of the faithful to take any part in spiritualistic practices.  When paranormal manifestations occur, the Church suspects that diabolical agencies are intervening. [ Religione Spirite,  by Pere Th. Mainage, O.P. (Paris, France: Revue Des Jeunes, 1921; page 176).]
    Historically, there are two decisions rendered by the Holy Office which deal directly with the question concerning Catholics being involved with spirits, Spiritualism, and Mediums.
    The first decree is is dated March 30, 1898. It is a reference to the practice of automatic writing. The question was:
    "(A man named) Titius, while excluding from his purpose any compact with the spirit of evil, is accustomed to evoke the souls of the dead. His method is this: Being alone in his room, without any kind of external ceremony, he prays to the leader of the heavenly hosts to grant him the opportunity of conversing with the spirit of some definite person. He waits for a little time and then he feels his hand moved, and by this he learns the presence of the spirit. Then he explains what he wants to know and his hand writes the answers to the questions proposed. All these answers are in accord with the Faith and with the Church's teaching regarding a future life. For the most part such replies relate to the state of the soul of some dead person, the need that it has of prayers, and complaints of the negligence of its relatives. In the circumstances explained it is asked whether this practice of Titius is permissible."
    The answer was: “In the circumstances explained it is not permissible.” This decision was ratified by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII. [Analecta Ecclesiastica, Vol. VI, p.187]
    Twenty years later, in a full assembly of the Congregation of the Holy Office, the following question was discussed:
    "Is it lawful by means of a medium, or without a medium, whether hypnotism be employed or not, to take part in any sort of spiritistic communications or manifestations, even such as present an appearance of sincerity and piety, either by questioning the souls or spirits, or by listening to the answers received, or merely by looking on, even with a silent or explicit protest that one has no wish to have anything to do with evil spirits."
    The answer was: "The most Eminent and Reverend Fathers decided that in every one of these suppositions the answer must be in the negative." This decree was ratified on April 26, 1917, by His Holiness Pope Benedict XV. [Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. IX, p. 268.]

    If you or any friends or family members have been involved with the paranormal/occult --- Psychics, Mediums, Fortune-Tellers, Séances, Channeling Spirits, Spirit Guides, Ouija Boards, Automatic Writing, Table Tipping, Ghost Hunting, Astrology, Tarot Cards, Astral Projection, Satan Worship, Wicca, or Witchcraft --- please urge your friends or family members:                                        
    • Give these up: completely renounce them;
    • Start or restart living Christian lives;
    • Admit these Mortal Sins in Confession;
    • Perform acts of Penance and Charity in reparation for these sins;
    • Begin going to Daily Mass and Holy Communion (after Confessing these sins);
    • Strive to become and remain holy and in a state of Grace...
    ... Because spiritual and psychological aftereffects and a weakness toward surrendering to sinful temptations -- stemming from mortally sinful activities with the paranormal -- will literally haunt your friend or family member for years! 
    Terry Modica and husband, Ralph Modica

    Consult the book, Overcoming The Power Of The Occult, (
    Queenship Publishing 
    Tel. 800-647-9882
    188 pp.  $7.95 + s/h) written in 1996 by Terry Ann Modica,  who was personally involved in several of these mortally sinful activities and returned from them through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Sin: A Fifty-Point Earthquake

    In 1906 an earthquake and subsequent fires leveled the proud and beautiful city of San Francisco.  More than 30 years after, scientists could estimate that the earthquake measured at least 8 on the Richter Scale of Earthquake Magnitudes. A magnitude 8 earthquake releases as much energy as detonating 6 million tons of TNT.
    Not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty or danger, the people of that city went to work at rebuilding. From out of the deaths, rubble and ruin rose a more beautiful, modern city.  And the natives of San Francisco were very proud of their city.
    The human race came forth beautiful and sinless from the creating Hand of God.
    In granting human beings the gift of freedom of will, God opened the possibility of sin.
    He gave us to power to choose -- to choose even against Him!
    Sin became a reality, shook the human race to its foundations and almost devastated us.
    Original Sin was a 50 on the "Metaphysical Richter Scale" -- a super-quake which destroyed the unity of the human body and soul, the unity between human beings, and the human race's unity with God.
    But God was not discouraged, and taught us not to be discouraged.

    Included in His overall plan of redeeming us and all creation of the effects of our sins, He devised a way of rebuilding the human race into an even more beautiful work of His art and wisdom.
    To accomplish this, God Himself came to our rescue by His power as God, but He wanted us to be saved by one like us; that One is the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Only Son.

    Brothers and sisters:
    Through one man sin entered the world,
              and through sin, death,
              and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.
    If by that one person’s transgression the many died,
              how much more did the grace of God
              and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ
              overflow for the many.
    For if, by the transgression of the one,
              death came to reign through that one,
              how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
              and the gift of justification
              come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
    In conclusion, just as through one transgression
              condemnation came upon all,
              so, through one righteous act
              acquittal and life came to all.
    For just as through the disobedience of one man
              the many were made sinners,
              so, through the obedience of the one
              the many will be made righteous.
    Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,
              so that, as sin reigned in death,
              grace also might reign through justification
              for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    The Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21

    Saint Paul reminds us that, through a man, SIN entered the world, and through a Man, God's  Grace would be plentiful in a measure beyond imagining. That Man is Jesus Christ.  But He was more than a human person, He was God's own Son: Jesus was divine Himself.
    Because Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, is greater than any human person, likewise, the restoration He brought to mankind is greater and more powerful than the devastation we caused by sin.
    To be redeemed by God’s Son Himself should be a source of great joy for all of us.
    God thought enough of us, that He sent His own Son to repair what our sin damaged.  Sending His Son is something we could never have guessed would happen.

    Because of His Son’s work, God our Father is very proud of His redeemed children.
    In us, He sees the handiwork of His almighty power and love.
    He sees the image and likeness of Christ in us.

    But, WE must not be proud of ourselves. We leave pride to God – because HE has accomplished all the good that is within us — through His Son, Jesus Christ.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Living the Good Life in Rome

    As previously mentioned, I will be heading for Rome in a couple of weeks.  I'm not sure how this happened, but we are staying in a place that is quite mind boggling for this humble layperson.  Here's a hint:
    And here's another hint:
    I'm almost afraid to say too much, for fear that someone over there will be looking at this and going, "Wait a minute, how did she get in here?  This is a mistake!"  Not that I think anyone at the Vatican is reading this blog, but, hey, you never know.

    So, here it is... the actual hotel where we will be staying inside the Vatican:
    It may not look like much, but it is inside the walls of Vatican City (!!).  It's the Domus Sanctae Marthae and it was constructed by Pope John Paul II back in the late 1990's so that the cardinal-electors would have a place to stay while at the Vatican for a papal conclave.  Evidently, at previous conclaves the cardinals would have to set up cots near the Sistine Chapel and live in crude quarters until the new pope was elected.  It's pretty exciting to think that we'll be staying in rooms that house the princes of the Church for such an extraordinary function.  I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and share them here at the Academy upon my return.

    Just so you don't get the wrong idea about the accommodations, here is a picture of one of the rooms:
                                                        (photos of Domus S.M. from Fr. Finigan at Hermeneutic of Continuity)

    Monastically simple!

    The Red Mass (with the bigwigs!)

    We had our annual Red Mass to start the new judicial year a couple of weeks ago.  It was a beautiful Mass and the dinner that followed was magnificent, topped off with an award to Tom Monaghan, the founder of Ave Maria College.  It was encouraging to be together with a couple of hundred lawyers and judges who were talking about First Friday Masses at the bar association and monthly adoration for members of the Catholic Lawyers Guild.

    However, I didn't realize that we were missing out on something until I saw this photo from the London version of the Red Mass:
    We need wigs!

    Duh?! It's God's Goodness, Not His Wrath!

    I find it hard to imagine what life would be like without faith in God.
    I have met people who claim that they are quite content with the idea that all there is to life is what appears on the surface.
    To them, life means being born, growing up, and searching for some drop of happiness within an ocean of sorrow. And death is nothing more than falling asleep, never to awaken.
    They insist that there is no God and they protest that there is no need for one.
    Some atheists explain that their moral code is to do no harm to anyone.
    They also boast that their lives are based on human-centered principles which they vaunt as higher, more noble than our Christian moral code, because our morality is based on
    fear of being damned to Hell. 

    Jesus said to his disciples:
         “Be sure of this:
         if the master of the house had known the hour
         when the thief was coming,
         he would not have let his house be broken into.
         You also must be prepared,
         for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
    Then Peter said,
         “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
    And the Lord replied,
         “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
         whom the master will put in charge of his servants
         to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
         Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
    Truly, I say to you, he will put him 
         in charge of all his property.
    But if that servant says to himself,
         ‘My master is delayed in coming,’
         and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
         to eat and drink and get drunk,
         then that servant’s master will come
         on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
         and will punish the servant severely
         and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
    That servant who knew his master’s will
         but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
         shall be beaten severely;
         and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
         but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
         shall be beaten only lightly.
    Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
         and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
                               The Gospel According To Saint Luke 12:39-48

    If our secular humanist antagonists only do a superficial reading of this Gospel passage, they might say that it confirms their view that fear is the motive for our Christian living.

    They would be preoccupied with
    the punishment the unworthy servant receives.
    And, by focusing only on that, they will miss the point of the parable -- which comes at the end of the parable.

    Our Lord Jesus states,
    "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

    • Our Christian living is a response to God's goodness, not His wrath! 
    • Our motive for Christian living is based on what we have received from God! 
    • Our Christian living is a response to God's manifold gifts, freely and liberally showered upon us, entrusted to us -- to be used and freely offered for the benefit of others and of ourselves, in that order. 
    There's an old saying:  Blood is thicker than water.  Friends may be very loving, but it is quite right to expect even greater love among members of our family.
    And children especially should respond in great love to their parents, from whom they have received the gift of life.
    More devotion and dedication to a family is expected from
    the members of that family than from people outside of that family. Those in the family share a common life, a common affection, and a common home.

    God is our Father. We are His children. He has given us everything -- our being/existence, our food, clothing, possessions, intelligence, insight, curiosity, laughter, joys, peace, individuality, each other -- and our faith, our hope, and our love!

    It is right that He
    expects us to respond in love to Him and to reach out in love to our brothers and sisters in Christ and to those without faith and hope.

    Our motive for Christian living is based on God's goodness to us, on what we undeservingly, continually receive from God.

    And since we have received
    EVERYTHING from Him, our response must be total and without reservation.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Going to Rome

    Heading off to Rome in a couple of weeks.  Will post more details soon, but right now I just feel like...... kicking up my heels!!

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Rescue of Chilean Miners: The Hand of God

    What most secular media outlets have not reported about the rescue of the miners trapped in the Chilean copper mine is the faith of the miners and the interesting "coincidences" that occurred along the way to their rescue.

    The mine collapsed on August 5th, the feast day of Our Lady of the Snows.  The miners were not sure if they would ever be found.  However, a white butterfly that found its way down into the mine is credited with saving two of the miners, and gave them hope that their prayers would be answered.  On August 22nd, the feast of the Queenship of Mary, a drill broke through from above and they were able to communicate with their rescuers.

    One of the people whose role was crucial in the rescue was Greg Hall, a co-owner of Drillers Supply International, the company that was able to supply equipment that could go down to the needed depth.  Hall describes the mental attitude he took while participating in the rescue on a daily basis:

     “During the actual drilling, I had to be very careful not to get too emotionally attached.” In communicating with the miners, he “kept it very, very technical” and  “wouldn't go to Camp Esperanza and see the families-- because I was petrified that I would make a decision based on emotion.”
    The 17 days of drilling took steel nerves, and strong faith. Hall highlighted “one particular time when we were stuck, and really, I had no more answers. I was standing on the drill rig, and there really wasn't anything, technically, we were able to do. So I just started praying.”
    Explaining how his faith continually “shaped this job,” Hall recalled the day he left his parish in Houston, Texas to travel to the mine. “Our priest called me up on the altar ... we had probably over a thousand people. He told them that I was leaving right after Mass to go to Chile, and what we were going, and had them pray for us.
    “And I can guarantee you, I could feel that prayer while I was on the drill site.”
    Experts and colleagues called the project “impossible”-- both before and after its completion. One told him, when the operation was over: “There is no way you could have drilled that hole. God drilled that hole!”
    Interestingly, the patron saint of miners is St. Lawrence, a deacon.  Hall will be ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Houston next February.

    The miners were also sustained by prayer from around the world.  The holy father, Pope Benedict XVI kept a flag signed by the miners in his private rooms to remind him to keep the trapped men in his prayers.  The miners themselves set up a shrine in their confinement.  A crucifix and other religious articles were sent down to them.  As one miner put it after his rescue, "There were 34 of us down there.  God never left us."

    God certainly never left them.  And the intercession of the Blessed Mother was clear.  When were the miners rescued?  The first miner was brought up to the surface on October 12th, the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, whose shrine is maintained in Zaragosa, Spain.  When Pope John Paul II visited there, he called Our Lady of el Pilar the "mother of Hispanic peoples."

    As they say, for those who believe, no explanation is necessary.  However, for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.

    Deo Gratias.

    Update: The last of the miners were rescued on October 13th, the date of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima and the miracle of the sun.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Nurse Spots Cancer from Facebook Posting

    Out of the UK comes a story about about Nicola Sharp, a school nurse who was browsing her friend's Facebook profile.  Her friend, Michele Freeman, had posted a flash photo of her little girl, Grace on her profile page.  When Nicola saw the picture of Grace, she noticed that the little girl's eyes reflected red in only one of her pupils.  The other pupil reflected white.  As a nurse, Nicola knew that this could indicate the presence of a tumor. 

    Nicola immediately contacted the little girl's mother who brought her to to the doctor for assessment.  It was determined that she had retinoblastoma and there were two tumors behind her left eye.  Although little Grace lost the sight in her eye, the quick diagnosis and treatment made it much more likely that she would not lose her life to the disease.  As Grace's 37 year old mother put it:
    "There is no doubt in my mind that Nicola saved Grace's life.  There were no signs she had any problems and we never would have known without her looking at the picture.
    Grace.  Pure and simple.

    Saint Teresa of Avila

     Today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, a great Carmelite saint and one of the doctors of the Church.  Here at the academy we've always had a special place in our hearts for St. Teresa.  Our Assistant Headmaster spent his formative years in the parish of St. Teresa of Avila in Sterling Place, Brooklyn, NY.    My mother received her first kidney transplant on the feast of St. Teresa a number of years ago, and my niece, Emily was born on the feast 15 years ago (happy birthday, Emily).  And, last but not least, as a sufferer of migraines I have frequently prayed for St. Teresa's intercession as the patron saint of those with chronic headaches.

    We recently lost one of the great spiritual writers who published a great work on Teresa and John of the Cross, Fr. Thomas Dubay.  His book, Fire Within: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and the Gospel of Prayer is a "must-have" for any Catholic who wants to advance in his or her prayer life.  As Father Dubay wrote of St. Teresa:
    “She left a large, flourishing order that still today is doing a tremendous amount of good. She also left her writings, which are extremely rich. As you can see, I’m in love with Teresa. She’s really something. She and St. John of the Cross are, in my judgment, the best we have on the whole subject of intimate union with God.”
    Saint Teresa (and Father Dubay) pray for us!

    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.