Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Get Ready For the Yearly Christmas Debate...

Here we go again. It seems like these battles begin earlier and earlier every year. This time it's hitting a little closer to home...

A citizens' petition drive to re-establish a Christmas tradition has begun in Berkley, Michigan. Under pressure from the American Civil Liberties' Union, the Berkley City Council voted to remove a decades-old nativity display.

Berkley resident Georgia Halloran launched a successful petition drive to place a Charter Amendment on the November ballot. The amendment would overturn the city council's decision and would model the Nativity scene on a holiday display ruled constitutional by the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court that governs Michigan.

Ms. Halloran described her efforts: “Christmas is a national holiday. And we’re not going to let ACLU threats dictate how we publicly celebrate it.”

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provided legal assistance to Halloran’s group. It also offered to represent the city without charge should it be sued by the ACLU.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commented: “Despite all of their public rationalizations of why the Nativity should be removed from city property, it is clear the city council acted out of fear of an ACLU lawsuit. The council made the wrong decision, and Berkley citizens are working within the political system to correct that wrong.”
Of course the Thomas More Law Center is involved. These God-fearing lawyers have been defending the rights of Christians for some time now from those who are hell-bent on removing the civil liberties of Christians in this country.

I hope the good people of Berkley get their nativity back. This should be getting more press as the vote draws near...


Saturday, September 22, 2007

"Seminarians" Gets Nod From TIME Magazine

In covering the story of a certain Dr. Lina Pavanelli's opinion that John Paul II was euthanized, (She makes this judgment on "on her medical expertise and her own observations of the ailing pontiff on television, as well as press reports and a subsequent book by John Paul's personal physician.") TIME Magazine refered to a story I did about a week ago. Naturally, I was honored to receive a hat tip from a source as noteworthy as TIME so I thought I'd link to their story.

I'm not exactly sure what to make of this story. The doctor they are refering to had no contact with the dying pontiff, except for what her T.V. was telling her. In addition, she didn't seem to care three years ago when it happened but only became interested after a largly contested case of euthanasia in Italy last year.

It seems to me that they are giving attention to someone who doesn't really deserve it. (Which is kind of ironic, don't you think...haha) In the end the story serves no purpose but to raise doubt about the integrity of the Church and her teaching. However, the article did end on this note:
The medical aspects of the Pope's final days are clearly difficult to verify from afar, and the Vatican is convinced that the actions of the both its doctors and its Pope were in absolute good faith. Of course, medical opinions can often vary. So too can those on bioethics.
Not sure what to make of that last sentence though...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Always the Last to Know...

A few months ago, when the NFP vs. Contraception Vids were really popular CNA did a story about them. Obviously, I never knew about this...

So, I figured I'd run their story and link to all six videos in case I have any new readers who didn't have a chance to see them the first time.

Saginaw, Aug 2, 2007 / 09:59 am (CNA).- A group of seminarians has joined the YouTube phenomenon and posted three one-minute videos on the Church’s teachings about contraception.

The videos, entitled "NFP vs. Contraception", are a take on the popular Mac-PC commercials.

The three videos have already had nearly 9,000 views combined. According to Nielson/NetRatings, the website has nearly 20 million visitors per month, with the dominant age group being 12 to 17 year-olds.

The actors are seminarians for the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, Dan Kogut and Jeremy Meuser.

Kogut, who mimics the cool Mac personality in the popular commercials, plays the part of “NFP” and represents the Catholic position on sex, sexuality and natural family planning. Meuser impersonates the PC personality as “Contraception”. Eddie Dwyer, a seminarian for the Diocese of Saginaw, wrote the three skits.

The seminarians decided to make the videos while at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska, this summer.

“Eddie definitely had evangelization in mind with the skits, but we also just thought it would be fun to do and that people might get a kick out of it,” Kogut told CNA.

The seminarians’ videos join hundreds of other pro-life videos are posted on YouTube.
Here are the Vids:

NFP vs. Contraception I
NFP vs. Contraception II
NFP vs. Contraception III
NFP vs. Contraception IV
NFP vs. Contraception V
NFP vs. Contraception VI

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Amazing Coverage of Planned Parenthood Fraud on Sean Hannity

This coverage is amazing for a mainstream media source. Thank God for helping us to get the word out about the evils of Planned Parenthood!

I covered the example of statutory rape in the video back in May. Here's the link.

Pope Offers Advice To Couples For Avoiding Divorce

CNA: Pope Benedict XVI continued in his series of catecheses on the subject of the Fathers of the Church today in his General Audience. The church father that the pontiff drew upon is the saint known as the “Golden Mouth”, or perhaps more commonly as St. John Chrysostom.

The Holy Father stressed how St. Chrysostom teaches that if young couples want to avoid divorce, then they should be formed in their faith before marriage and once married, they should form their children from a young age.

Modern message of St. Chrysostom

Benedict XVI focused on how "St. John Chrysostom was concerned that his writings should accompany the integral - physical, intellectual and religious - development of the person." The Pope then explained how St. John thought a person should develop in their faith as they grow.

In his works, the saint highlighted the importance of childhood because it is then "that inclinations to vice and virtue appear. For this reason the law of God must, from the beginning, be impressed upon the soul 'as upon a wax tablet'."

Childhood, said the Pope referring to the saint's writings, "is followed by the sea of adolescence in which the gales blow violently as concupiscence grows within us."

For an age such as ours, that is witnessing constant attacks on the family, St. John Chrysostom had great words of wisdom for couples planning to marry. The eloquent church father said, "that a well prepared husband and wife close the way to divorce: everything takes place joyfully and children can be educated to virtue. When the first child is born, he or she is like a bridge: the three become a single flesh because the child brings the two parts together and all together they constitute a family, a little Church."

The Pope also recalled how the saint used to address his writings to the lay faithful who, "through Baptism, take on the priestly office, royal and prophetic. ... This lesson of Chrysostom on the authentically Christian presence of the lay faithful in the family and in society is today more important than ever."

For the complete story...

299 and counting

Less then 300 days...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Vatican: Feeding Tubes Obligatory

In case there was any doubt...
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarified that the administration of nutrition and hydration to people in the so-called vegetative state is, with rare exceptions, morally obligatory.

The document and accompanying note, released today and approved by Benedict XVI, came as an answer to questions presented to the Vatican by the U.S. bishops in 2005.

The questions were sent just months after Florida woman Terri Schiavo, who was living in a vegetative state after having sustained brain-damage, died 13 days after having her feeding tube removed.

Schiavo's estranged husband requested that her feeding tube be removed, but her Catholic parents said this would constitute murder. After years of legal battles, a judge decreed that the tube should be removed.

Edward Furton, ethicist and director of publications for the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center, told ZENIT that the Vatican statement "speaks directly to the Terri Schiavo case, stating flat out that the removal of food and water from her was not the right thing to do."

He added that the statements "are a reaffirmation of John Paul II's 2004 statement which calls Catholics to provide food and water to patients in PVS [persistent vegetative state]. It affirms that food and water are ordinary care and not considered medical treatment."

Furton explained that there has been "considerable debate about this issue among theologians in this country, with two different schools. Many thought that after John Paul II's statement, the case was closed, but doubts persisted."

He continued: "Some said John Paul II was breaking with Pius XII's teaching, which is mentioned in the Vatican clarification. Pius XII had a lot to say about these issues and was well ahead of his time.

"But the [Vatican] commentary makes pains to say that there is no contradiction between what John Paul II said and what Pius XII taught. Pius XII was speaking about patients who were near death or even already dead. John Paul II was talking about patients who are not dying."
The Zenit.com story then gives some examples of possible exceptions as well as the reason for the Vatican's ruling. Human dignity demands this basic treatment and this dignity is from God, it is not something we give ourselves or even earn.

Lets hope this clarifies the issue for Catholics dealing with difficult end of life issues.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Saginaw Seminarian Update...

I have received several e-mails recently asking for news on the current statistics for priestly vocations in Saginaw (a.k.a. Seminarians). So, I figured now would be a good time to run a post. The picture above was taken August 15, at the Rite of Candidacy Mass and includes, along with the 24 seminarians, our vocation director Bishop Carlson, his assistant vocation director Mark Graveline, and Permanent Deacon Al Oliver

Here is a bit that was written up by the Diocesan communications office on the occasion of the Rite of Candidacy, August 15, the patronal feast of the diocese.
SAGINAW – Nine diocesan seminarians appeared before Bishop Robert J. Carlson to receive the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders today, the feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St. Mary Cathedral.

The rite of candidacy publicly acknowledges the intent of those aspiring to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. During the celebration, the bishop publicly accepts them as candidates for the priesthood.

The seminarians who participated the rite include:

Eddie Dwyer, 25, of Escanaba, who is entering his first year of theology studies at Mundelien Seminary in Mundelein, Ill.;

Nate Harburg, 26, of Ann Arbor, who is enrolled for pre-theology studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit;

Wilfrid Houeto, 48, of Benin, who is enrolled in Licentiate studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and serves as director of religious education at St. Mary Cathedral in Saginaw;

David Jenuwine, 45, of Detroit, who is entering his third year of theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.;

Joseph Jiang, 24, of China, who is entering his first year of theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.;

José Parra, 30, of Colombia, who is participating in a formation year at the St. John Vianney Formation House in Saginaw;

Marcel Portelli, 44, of Waterford, who is entering his first year theology studies at Mundelien Seminary in Mundelein, Ill.;

Prentice Tipton, 53, of Detroit, who entering his third year of theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.; and

Rick Varner, 40, of St. Agnes Parish in Sanford, who entering his fourth year of theology studies at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.

In total, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has 24 enrolled as seminarians this academic season, including five transitional deacons, who are on track for priestly ordination during the next year.
Please keep us all in your prayers as we continue to discern God's Holy Will for our lives.

This might help...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Author of Lastest Mother Teresa Book Offers Clarifications

In an interview with the Spanish daily “La Razon,” Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, author of the book “Come Be My Light” and postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause of canonization, said the revered nun “lived a trial of faith, not a crisis of faith,” and that she overcame it showing that the love “is in the will and not in feelings.”

“Come Be My Light” is a collection of letters Mother Teresa written about various aspects of her life, some revealing that she suffered spiritual darkness for decades. Father Kolodiejchuk expressed regret that Time Magazine twisted the meaning of the book, whose title comes from “the words Jesus spoke to Mother Teresa in 1947. Time Magazine, even with the cover photo (of a Mother Teresa who appears depressed), has greatly manipulated world opinion. The book is about a trial of faith that Mother endured for 50 years, which is very different from a crisis of faith. This is not something new in the saints. This phenomenon of the dark night is well know in spiritual theology,” he said.
A very good article which will hopefully clarify the possible scandal that was caused by TIME Magazine. It goes on to explain what a trial and a dark night are. (click here for the full story) Hopefully, this will reach many of the people who were confused about Mother's faith life...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pavarotti Returns to the Catholic Faith Before Dying

Well, after taking a bit to get settled back in the seminary for another academic year,
Seminarians is back and I couldn't think of a better story to start with then Pavarotti returning to his Catholic Faith before going home to the Lord. CNA has the story:
Luciano Pavarotti, the world renowned tenor was laid to rest in Modena’s cathedral with a grand funeral which paid tribute to the opera legend and gave witness to his return to the Catholic faith.

The diocese had received criticisms that it had gone overboard in honoring a remarried divorcé. But Pavarotti's parish priest, Fr. Remo Sartori, said the twice-married singer had been reconciled with the Catholic faith, reported the Sydney Morning Herald. Pavarotti had received the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick before losing his battle against pancreatic cancer last Thursday, aged 71.

Church leaders and pastors, including Pope Benedict XVI, sent messages conveying their condolences. The Pope’s message expressed his sorrow at the loss of "a great artist who with his extraordinary interpretative talent honored the divine gift of music".

In his tribute, Archbishop Benito Cocchi of Modena recognized Pavarotti as an exceptional talent and as someone who “expressed himself in charity towards those who suffered."

One of the emotional climaxes of the funeral was a 1978 recording of Panis Angelicus (Bread Of Angels), performed by Pavarotti and his father, Fernando.

Another followed a prayer composed by Pavarotti's three eldest daughters from his first marriage, which said: "We thank God for having given Dad the gift of a great voice and we pray that he will allow him to use it in heaven to sing his praise."

Pavarotti's musical talent emerged in a church choir, where he sang with his father, Fernando Pavarotti, who was a baker. His father also had a terrific tenor voice, but stage fright prevented him from developing his talent.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pope Encourages Young People To Put Their Lives In The Care Of Mary

Benedict XVI invited young people to put themselves under the protection of Mary.

The Pope said this today at the end of the general audience in Paul VI Hall, on the memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"We raise our gaze to heaven to contemplate the splendor of the Holy Mother of God, who the liturgy invites us to invoke today as our queen," the Pontiff said.

"Dear young people," added the Holy Father, "put your lives and each of your projects under the maternal protection of the one who gave to the world a savior."

Speaking to the sick, Benedict XVI continued: "As you wait to regain your health, ask her each day for the strength to confront with patience the trials of suffering."

To the newlyweds present, the Pope said: "Cultivate a sincere devotion to her so that she will be at your side in your daily life."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Michigan Governor Removes Petition From Website

As reported earlier, Governor Granholm of Michigan had placed a petition on a public website for the overturning of Michigan's law against embryonic stem-cell research. Now, it seems, she's backed off:
Michigan Gov. Jenifer Granholm’s office has removed its petition supporting embryonic stem-cell research from the governor’s publicly funded website.

The governor’s action came less than a week after the Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to either ban the petition or allow pro-life groups to place their own petition supporting the ban on embryonic stem-cell research on the website.

“The battle is not yet over. She [Granholm] has not yet answered our lawsuit,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Law Center. “It’s important to keep in mind that the website in question is paid for and owned by the people of this state; it is not Gov. Granholm’s personal property. Yet, she only allowed people who supported her position to use the website to petition the leaders of the legislature -- a clear case of discrimination against citizens who are pro-life.”

Law Center spokesperson Mallary Hernly said the issue is one of “fundamental fairness.”

“It is not about Governor Granholm voicing her opinion,” he said in a press communiqué. “It’s about only allowing persons who agree with her position to use a publicly funded website to communicate with their legislative representatives.”

The Thomas More Law Center filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Lansing on behalf of the Lansing Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, Flint-Area Right To Life, and Right To Life – Lifespan.

The lawsuit also seeks a declaration that Granholm’s policy violated the constitutional rights of those citizens who were denied equal access to, and use of, the website.

Further, it is not yet apparent whether the governor’s action is a principled end to the discrimination or simply an attempt to put the lawsuit to rest.

329 Days and Counting...

Vatican Plans Pilgrimage Flights To Various Destinations

From The Guardian:
The Vatican may have territorial limits, its own post office and even a football tournament, but it has hitherto lacked what all real states offer: an airline.
That will be put right this month as the Vatican launches its first charter flights for pilgrims from Rome to Lourdes, with some of the world's top religious destinations to follow, including the shrine of Fatima in Portugal and the shrine of the Madonna of Guadalupe in Mexico.

"The spirit of this new initiative is to meet the growing demand by pilgrims to visit the most important sites for the faith," Father Cesare Atuire at the Vatican pilgrimage office, the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, told La Repubblica. He said that with 8 million visitors a year, Lourdes was an obvious first destination.

The flights come thanks to a deal with Italian charter airline Mistral, whose blue and yellow colours coincidentally match the Vatican's, noted CEO Valerio Vaglio.

Mr Vaglio said the headrests on passengers' seats would sport the logo "I'm Searching for Your Face, Lord", while religious guides would be on hand, alongside the usual stewards.

The inaugural flight will include Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former head of the Italian Bishops Conference, La Repubblica said.

Mistral was launched by the Italian action and comedy film star Bud Spencer and today it is controlled by the Italian post office. Mr Vaglio said that at night, the aircraft flying pilgrimage routes will have their seats removed and be converted back to flying sacks of mail.

Father Atuire hinted that luxury would not be a selling point. "The cost of the packages will bear in mind that the customers will be pilgrims," he said.
H/T American Papist

Monday, August 13, 2007

This Is Just Sick

FoxNews.com: A service offering a complete "revenge package" in which people can destroy the financial status and relationships of their enemies at the click of a mouse is being offered over the Internet.

For as little as $20 a month, customers of the confidentialaccess.com Web site can make the credit ratings of people they dislike plummet, and even have them suspected of fraud.

Victims' bank accounts can be shut down remotely and all their essential utilities cut off.

Fake e-mails and text messages which purport to come from someone else, such as the victim's spouse, can be sent containing false accusations of affairs or sexual liaisons.

The new "revenge" services are the latest example of the harm the Internet can cause individuals.

A British House of Lords committee report published last week described criminality on the Web as so bad that it was like "the Wild West."

The Web site, which also offers to create perfect "novelty" copies of any documentation necessary to enable the customer to gain revenge, promises its services "can create mayhem."

"CA [Confidential Access] can make it so someone couldn't even get an ice cream cone on credit again," the site promises.

One way of doing this, it explains, is to apply repeatedly for credit using the victim's name and multiple addresses, leading inevitably to a red flag from Britain's Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (Cifas) or similar agencies.

Credit is then stopped until an investigation by Cifas decides whether the subject has been the perpetrator or victim of fraud.

The story continues...

In addition, there was provided this Editor's Note:

At one point Monday morning, the front page of www.confidentialaccess.com had been replaced by a lengthy ad offering content optimization on RSS feeds.

What appeared to have been the original front page later reappeared, with "revenge" services no longer offered, but many other fraudulent documents such as fake driver's licenses and bank statements still available.

People who provide "services" like this should be in jail. Period. The world has become almost un-navigable outside of the Internet so when people can destroy lives this easily, you can't help but be a bit frightened...

Michigan Governor Being Sued for Discrimination

CNA: The Thomas More Law Center has filed a federal lawsuit against Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for discrimination against citizens who oppose embryonic stem-cell research. The law center is a national public interest law firm, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The governor is allowing citizens to use her office’s website to submit a petition urging legislators to lift the state’s legal restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research.

However, the governor has refused the request of pro-life groups to place a petition on the same website opposing efforts to lift the ban.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of three pro-life organizations, the Lansing Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, Flint-Area Right To Life, and Right To Life - Lifespan, after the governor refused their request.

“Governor Granholm’s decision to use public funds to discriminate against citizens who disagree with her on the issue of stem cell research violates our clients’ constitutional rights of speech, association, equal protection, and petitioning,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, in a press release.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Lansing. It seeks a declaration that Granholm’s policy violates the constitutional rights of those citizens who were denied equal access to, and use of, the website.

It also seeks injunctive relief ordering Granholm to cease discriminating against citizens based on their views about legal restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research in Michigan.

Monday, August 06, 2007

NFP vs. Contraception IV

As promised, here is number four...enjoy

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Those NFP Videos...

Lots of people have been asking when the next installment of NFP vs. Contraception is due to arrive...keep your pants on. We're working on it. Expect at least 2-3 more videos, here at Saginaw Seminarians of course...

Monday, July 30, 2007

5000 Visits! 8000 Page Views!

Seminarians passed a new milestone today as we received visit #5000!

Thanks to all the readers of Saginaw Seminarians for making us a part of your reading enjoyment!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

NFP vs. Contraception III

Here is the third in the NFP vs. Contraception series by some of us seminarians participating in the Institute For Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska. The first was posted here and the second was posted here.

Enjoy and leave feedback!

New Addition to "Saginaw Seminarians"

Look to your right --------->

Notice anything new?

That's right. Now you can give your input in a whole new way here at Saginaw Seminarians. Periodically there will be a poll question to discuss a current issue in the news or on the blog. Join in the fun and cast your vote!

p.s. you are also always encouraged to leave feed back in the comments box under each post as well as email me comments and suggestions at

Credit Where Credit Is Due...

For the readers of Seminarians who live in the Saginaw area, you are in no doubt familiar with TV5 News. Every weekend they have a video opinion column from a local radio personality, Mr. Jonny Burke. Now, I can't say that I always agree with Mr. Burke's opinions and beliefs but I have to applaud him this week. While commenting on the recent Michael Vick dog fighting case, Mr. Burke questioned the amount of enthusiasm that is being thrust into protesting Mr. Vick. He was not questioning the validity of the protest, but rather the priority people were giving to tortured and killed dogs over the tortured and killed babies of abortion. Yes, you heard right, ABORTION! I was thrilled to hear that the case against abortion was defended right over the airwaves on a secular news station. If you didn't get the chance to see the video, click here.

If you get a chance, write, call, or e-mail TV5 and let them know that you appreciated this latest defense of life.

NFP vs. Contraception II

Here is number 2 in the series...enjoy!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

NFP vs. Contraception

Have you seen those funny Mac commercials that personify the Mac computer and the PC and then proceed to inform you why Mac is the better choice by comparing the two? Some seminary friends of mine got the brilliant idea of doing the same thing, imagining what a conversation between Contraception and NFP would look like.

More to come...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

39 Years and Counting...

My friend Jeremy Priest, who writes the very interesting blog Turning Towards The Lord, reminded me that we are celebrating 39 years of Humanae Vitae today! He has written a quality post about the historical encyclical on his blog. Here is a highlight:
It was not to be. Pope Paul VI received both the majority report and the minority report from the papal contraception commission. The majority report said that the Church should change its traditional stance against contraception. This report was leaked to the press, it is thought, in order to pressure an affirmative decision from the Pope Paul. The minority report, penned with the help of a certain Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, stated that the Church should reaffirm the traditional teaching with new language. Pope Paul agreed.
Enjoy the post and then go get some ice cream and cake to celebrate!

Oh, and in case you wanted to brush up on your Humanae here it is...

The Evolution of the Young

A recent report on a prominent Catholic website reported the current numbers of those registered for World Youth Day and promise, yet again, high numbers:
SYDNEY, Australia (Catholic Online) – More than 80,000 pilgrims are now numbered among those groups registered to attend the World Youth Day Sydney 2008, according to organizers of the 23rd annual event.
This being reported over a year before the actual event takes place. Organizers expect upwards to 500,000 people all between the ages of 18 to about 35 to descend on Sydney for the event that takes place every 2-3 years. The event looks to eclipse the amount of people Sydney hosted during the Olympics back in 2000 according to this legislative document from the Parliament of New South Wales.

However, even with such impressive numbers, this World Youth Day looks to actually be a bit smaller than previous ones. Numbers vary from year to year and from place to place but if one were to take a cumulative average of the international event's attendance they would find that it sits at almost 1.8 million. This was helped, in part, because of the 1995 Philippines WYD which hosted around 10 million. Without the 1995 celebration however, WYD generally attracts about 1 million youth to its celebration.

What do these young people come for?

Well, to be honest, they come to see the Pope. But there are so many other reasons they come as well, including the whole spirituality of pilgrimage and a chance to come into contact with youth from around the world and more importantly with Jesus, Mary, and the Sacraments.

Why do they come?

This question could be answered by simply restating the above paragraph but I think that the World Youth Days are symptomatic of another growing phenomenon in the Church throughout the world. Young people are embracing the Faith. Young People are embracing the Church and what it has to offer them. They are not seeking to "reinvent" the church or even "Sing a New Church Into Being." Young people are rediscovering what was thrown off in the sixties and seventies as pre-Vatican II and finding a faith that has existed for 2000 years. Now, I'm not saying that they are running to Masses celebrated according to the Missal of John XXIII, they are simply discovering that the Church of Vatican Council II IS the Church of the past 2000 years and what was handed on to them from their parent's generation was a church invented, who knows where, sometime after the Council but blaming all of its "ideas" on the Council.

They are taking the words of Paul to Timothy very seriously:

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.

What brings up this current commentary? A few things, actually. One is the book I have begun to read by Colleen Carroll called The New Faithful. It is her attempt to chronicle the very phenomenon I have just spoken about. But more recently there is an editorial written for the National Catholic Reporter in which Rita Larivee comments on this growing trend as well.

She immediately calls into question her own credibility when, in naming universal principles she has learned in her life, says that "authority is relative." Obviously she has not read Romans 13:, "whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves." But I digress...

What she is really concerned about is the fact that the average age of her publication's readership continues to rise. Take it away Rita:
The average age of an NCR reader is about 68. This average has been on a continual rise since the late ’60s, when the average age was about 36. During Vatican II, most of our readers would have been in their mid-20s to mid-30s, formative adult years.
So, if I get this right, in just under forty years, the average age of their reader ship has grown by 32 years. It seems to me that they found an audience that was locked in time. The ideas they promote do not give life but are only progressing towards death.

She then draws the line in the sand saying,
there’s a new battleground taking shape. It’s hardly life-giving for anyone, regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. Many Catholics, particularly the young, have left quietly in search of something more meaningful.
Well, maybe it is a battleground and this is sad indeed. We should be moving toward the future as one united Church that, amidst the differing ideas, doesn't describe their differences as "battle ground." And I don't mean to address those words to Rita Larivee, I have heard plenty of "conservative" catholics speak with the same tone. This so-called "battleground" does not bring forth life, as she said, but only causes more division.

However, one should look at the two sides of what she calls the "polarized" church. One, seemingly the reader of her publication, is getting older and losing a presence, while the other, represented by the World Youth Day crowd, is growing and finding its voice.

The young Church is listening to the advice of Paul to the Thessalonians "Test everything, hold fast to what is good." To say that one needs to throw off the Church before the Council is just as wrong as saying one should throw off the Church post Vatican II. This is not what the Council envisioned. It worked for a renewal through resourcement and aggiornamento. (The new and the old.) Those who seek to embrace both are living in the true "Spirit of Vatican II" not the ambiguous spirit that is always referred to when someone is advocating their agenda.

The Church of Vatican II is the Church of Jesus Christ. It is the Church of the Apostles, the Fathers, and the Martyrs. It is the same Church as Ephesus and Nicaea, Constantinople, and Trent. It is also the Church of Mother Theresa and John Paul II. It is a Church in a New Springtime and a New Evangelization. It is a young Church, it is a vibrant Church. It is a Church that must learn from her elders and her past (including the sixties and seventies) and must be open to the Holy Spirit's guidance to the future. It is the Church that I am a member of, the Mystical Body of Christ

What Ever Happened To The Flying Cars They Promised Us?

I remember when I was a kid everyone waited for the year 2000 because that was when we were gonna get flying cars and computers that had personalities and could hold their own in a conversation. Well, 2000 has obviously come and gone and there are no flying cars to speak of, yet there is something about looking at concept cars and what they promise for the future. AOL.com has a neat story about concept ideas from the past that never panned out. I think my favorite is the one that ran from a little nuclear reactor in the back of the car...yeah, great idea guys...

Anyways, check it out, it's a fun little article.

photo credit

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And It's Catholics That Suppress Women...

On patrol with Iran's fashion police

Paul Potts

I used to watch American Idol because I am generally a fan of the rags to riches story as well as a lover of music & singing. However, I soon became disillusioned with the show as I watched contestants voted off who clearly had more talent than folks who moved on to later rounds. It was simply a popularity contest in which the contestant who impressed the most teenage girls or had the most sex appeal won. My faith was lost in the ability of people to truly be presented with beauty and talent and recognize it. It seems all people are interested in is the glamor and the glitz, even if there is a hollow pot behind it.

I stopped watching.

A few moments ago, however, my faith was renewed as I was introduced to the story of Mr. Paul Potts the recent winner the TV contest Brittan's Got Talent. He was a cell phone salesman who had a dream to sing opera. He showed up at the set for the auditions and announced his plan to sing opera for the judges while, Simon Cowell, of American Idol fame, rolled his eyes and was visibly exasperated that he was going to have to sit through another mediocre performance.

The performance that followed made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and tears come to my eyes. Even Mr. Cowell was visibly moved by the performance

Pure beauty flowed from this man's mouth.

What restored my faith was how the public fell in love with him. I wager that the people who listened to this man sing and voted for him to win rarely listen to opera and can not explain the differences between a good opera singer and a poor one. Yet, the thing they could recognize was the goodness and beauty in this man. The human heart still seeks and longs for beauty even though it sometimes gets mixed up as to what true beauty is.

To watch this man, who is not physically attractive, receive standing ovations during his performance because the audience was caught up in his beauty is a definite example of contemplation. Without knowing it, these folks caught sight of the beauty of God and they lost all sense of themselves. They were totally caught up in the other. And Mr. Potts signifies the true performer. He is filled with humility and gratitude. GRATITUDE! I couldn't believe it.

It is we who must thank you Paul Potts...

Please watch and give thanks...

His Audition for the Show

The Semi-Final Performance

The Competition Finals Performance

The Conclusion of the Show

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mary Did You Know?

A beautiful combination of clips from the Passion and the classic Christmas song "Mary, Did You Know." Expect to see this back here around Christmas time...

Vatican State Publishes New Website

This week the Vatican released its first attempt at a website. Now, I know you are thinking, "Wait a minute, the Vatican has had a website for years. In fact, don't you have a link to their website here at Seminarians?"

Well, the answer to all of that is, "yes." However, the Sovereign State known as the Vatican has not had a website, the Church has had a website. This site is less geared to the religiously minded and more to the coin collector.

Ok, so that was a gross over-simplification. Let me expound. The site is set up to be your typical government webpage with links to explainations of the history of the state as well as explainations to the governance of the smallest country in the world.

There are links to the phone service, the pharmacy, the radio and tv stations and the Philatelic and Numismatic Offices (stamps and money collectors welcome.)

There are links to purchase your very own piece of Vatican Art or find your very own proof set of 2007 Vatican issued Euros.

Finally, in what I (in my shallowness of mind, I think) find to be the neatest part of the website, you can see live webcam shots from in and around the Vatican. (looks like it was a nice sunny day there today...)

I think it is still work in progress and as intersested people flood their server it can be a little slow but it is definately worth the visit.

Here is what some of the news sources are saying:
CNA: Vatican City State enters the digital world
CNS: Vaticanstate.va: Navigating the world's smallest country
CWN: Vatican city-state launches web site with virtual tour

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pittsburgh Receives an Old Friend as a New Shepherd

CNA reports:
This morning the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI has named the Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Most Reverend David A. Zubik as the Bishop of Pittsburgh. The Bishop Zubik’s reaction to the news was that he was “stunned” to hear of his appointment by the Pope.
Personally, this appointment is interesting to me because I was born in the diocese of Pittsburgh and have family still living in the area. From all reports, this seems to be a great fit for the diocese. Bishop Zubik grew up in the diocese, served as a priest and then as an auxilary bishop before moving to Green Bay. More of his "stats" can be found in a story the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did about this time last year:
A Sewickley native, he was ordained in 1974. He spent five years in parish ministry before becoming vice principal of Quigley Catholic High School in Baden. He has a master's degree in education and is an excellent homilist. He is noted for his deep spirituality and life of prayer.

He became secretary to then-Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua in 1987 and rose through the chancery ranks. He was a key player in the diocesan reorganization that closed and merged parishes. He was made a bishop in 1997.

He was sent to Green Bay in 2003 to overhaul its administration. He has undertaken a Pittsburgh-style reorganization, but protests do not appear to have harmed his reputation. His Bishops' Appeal last year surpassed its goal of $4.8 million.

In 2004, he urged Catholics to make opposition to abortion and gay marriage top priorities when they voted, but he did not advocate denying communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.

He has made outreach to Hispanics a priority and issued a strong statement urging compassion for all immigrants.

In church, "people are not illegal. People are people," he wrote.
He is a man who is well loved by the people and will be able to slide right into "the flow of things" because of his familiarity with the diocese and the friendships he already has with many of the priests there.

Wraping up his press confrence this morning he spoke about the future:
The newly appointed bishop says that his plans for his new diocese are to continue to try and involve the laity in leadership within the diocese, foster good relationships with people of other faiths, and to continue to strengthen the already strong Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Bishop Zubik closed the press conference by saying, “I beg for your prayers, patience, and your participation in the sacred service of leadership. I ask you to walk with me toward the kingdom.” He also invoked the protection of Mary the Mother of Jesus and offered God’s blessing to those gathered—“May God bless us always and in all ways.”

Bishop Zubik will be installed as Bishop of Pittsburgh at Saint Paul Cathedral, Oakland, on September 28, 2007, which he noted is the 49th anniversary of the late Pope John Paul II’s ordination as a bishop.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Out of the Office...

I will be away for the weekend at the beautiful Broomtree Retreat Center in Irene, SD visiting some priest-friends of mine. The name of the retreat center comes from the story of Elijah, how he found rest under the broomtree for the journey he had ahead of him.

Anyways, see you on Monday...

Friday, July 13, 2007

hmm, yeah, this is a bit disturbing...

...considering I was just in Boulder, CO and DRINKING the water...
BOULDER, Colo. (National Catholic Register) – When EPA-funded scientists at the University of Colorado studied fish in a pristine mountain stream known as Boulder Creek two years ago, they were shocked. Randomly netting 123 trout and other fish downstream from the city’s sewer plant, they found that 101 were female, 12 were male and 10 were strange “intersex” fish with male and female features.

It’s “the first thing that I’ve seen as a scientist that really scared me,” said then 59-year-old University of Colorado biologist John Woodling, speaking to the Denver Post in 2005.

They studied the fish and decided the main culprits were estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth-control pills and patches, excreted in urine into the city’s sewage system and then into the creek.
Boy, who would have thought? Breaking the laws of nature and nature's God (I think I've heard that phrase somewhere before...) causes chaos. The story continues...
Since their findings, stories have been emerging everywhere. Scientists in western Washington found that synthetic estrogen – a common ingredient in oral contraceptives – drastically reduces the fertility of male rainbow trout.

Doug Myers, wetlands and habitat specialist for Washington State’s Puget Sound Action Team, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that in frogs, river otters and fish, scientists are “finding the presence of female hormones making the male species less male.”

This summer, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the American Pharmacists Association will begin a major public-awareness campaign regarding contamination that’s resulting from soaps and pharmaceuticals, including birth control.
So, you'd think there would be a mass outcry from enviromentalist to stop this problem? Nope. It just has "too much competion" with other enviromental issues.
Dave Georgis, who directs the Colorado Genetic Engineering Action Network, took to the streets of Boulder on several occasions to hold signs demanding that Boulder County regulate genetically modified crops from existence.

When asked about the genetically modified fish and the contaminated drinking water, however, he said: “It just has so much competition out there for stuff to work on.”

He told the Boulder Weekly that nobody needed to consider curtailing use of artificial contraceptives out of concern for the creek.

“You can’t have a zero impact, and this is one of the many, many impacts we have on the environment in everyday life,” Georgis said. “Nobody is to blame for this, and I don’t have a solution.”
um, I do. I think it is pretty obvious in fact...

How can this be a minor enviromental issue especially if purification systems can't remove it? Not only are the fish in danger, Mr. Georgis is as well. But, maybe he likes being "less male."
Catholics shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for environmentalists to advocate a boycott of contraceptives, said George Harden, a board member of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, based in Steubenville, Ohio.

“If you’re killing mosquitoes to save people from the West Nile virus, you can count on secular environmentalists to lay down in front of the vapor truck, claiming some potential side effect that might result from the spray,” Harden said. “But if birth control deforms fish – backed by the proof of an EPA study – and threatens the drinking supply, mum will be the word.”

Harden said the growing knowledge of estrogen-polluted water may expose the cultural double-standards that protect birth control from the scrutiny given to other chemicals and drugs.

“It’s going to start looking funny,” Harden said. “The radical environmentalist won’t eat a corn chip if the corn contacted a pesticide. But they view it a sacred right and obligation to consume synthetic chemicals that alter a woman’s natural biological functions, even if this practice threatens innocent aquatic life downstream.
So, won't ANYONE do anything about this?
Despite growing and nationwide knowledge of birth-control pollution in rivers and streams, leading environmentalists remain unfazed – even in Boulder, where it’s been known about for years.

Curt Cunningham, water-quality-issues chairman for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Sierra Club International, worked tirelessly last year on a ballot measure that would force the City of Boulder to remove fluoride from drinking water, because some believe it has negative effects on health and the environment that outweigh its benefits. But Cunningham said he would never consider asking women to curtail use of birth-control pills and patches – despite what effect these synthetics have on rivers, streams and drinking water.
Norris said hormones have been detected in municipal water supplies, but he said the jury’s out on the long-term effects the chemicals might have on humans and human sexuality.

Research by New Jersey health officials and Rutgers University scientists found traces of birth-control hormones and other prescription drugs and preservatives in municipal tap water throughout the state in 2003, and they don’t know the effects long-term exposure may have.
Frankly, I don't want to find out. I think the fish are telling us what the long term effects will be.

In the end, to fix this problem people would have to change their lives and find alternative ways of regulating their births. They might have to work with nature on this one. Isn't that what the enviromentalist is always encouraging us to do anyways?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nation's First Diocese Receives Its Fifteenth Bishop

CNA reports:This morning, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien as the Archbishop of Baltimore and the acceptance of Cardinal William Keeler’s resignation.

Archbishop O’Brien was previously the head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services which has 1.5 million Catholics, two auxiliary bishops and 300 priests in uniform.

At a press conference in Baltimore this morning, he was asked what he saw as the reason for his selection as the new head of the Archdiocese. He responded, “I’ll give you the Pope’s number (laughter)… They talk about seminary experience? I don’t know.”

Prior to his ordination as bishop, Archbishop O’Brien served as Rector at two seminaries, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, NY and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

On a more serious note, Archbishop O’Brien noted that he looks forward to working with the two seminaries in the archdiocese and that he sees Pastor Dabo Vobis, a post-synodal exhortation from the late Pope John Paul II on priests, as his model.

Asked about the benefits of coming to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, O’Brien responded, “The historic nature of the archdiocese is a great benefit.”

The Archbishop sees his greatest challenges in leading his new flock as, “making known the benefits of our Catholic schools, recruiting young men for the priesthood, and serving the poor.”

Archbishop O’Brien succeeds Cardinal William H. Keeler, who has served as Baltimore’s 14th archbishop since 1989. The replacement of Cardinal Keeler is more than likely due to health reasons, since he underwent brain surgery in June for a non-life threatening condition and appeared visibly weakened at today’s press conference.

When questioned about his priestly background, O’Brien said, “I’m the only priest in family… I would say that it [the inspiration to become a priest] was the example of the Catholic community around me.

Archbishop O’Brien was ordained a priest in 1965 by Francis Cardinal Spellman and a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1996, serving as Archbishop for the Military Services since 1997. During his priesthood, Archbishop O’Brien has served as chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Vietnam.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Missouri Bans Planned Parenthood in Favor of Abstinence Only Sex Education

The war on terror (the culture of death, that is) just took a positive turn:
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed a bill into law this week that reclassifies abortion clinics as "ambulatory surgical centers" and places them under stricter regulations and the scrutiny of state officials.

The law, promoted by Missouri Right to Life, permits abstinence-only sex-ed classes and makes it illegal for Planned Parenthood or other pro-abortion groups to teach school sex education classes. Currently Planned Parenthood teaches in up to 40 St. Louis-area schools, reported LifeSiteNews.com.

The new law is "one of the strongest pieces of pro-life legislation in Missouri history," said Blunt at the July 9 signing ceremony.

Planned Parenthood of Missouri complained that the new law will require them to spend up to $2 million to refit their abortion centers to meet the new standards.

Paula Gianino, president of Planned Parenthood for the St. Louis Region, said the new law could leave only one abortion facility in the state.

"I say if they can't meet the same basic requirements that other (medical) providers do, then they should shut down," Blunt stated.

Gianino told St. Louis Today that the group is considering legal action to stop the law from taking effect.
Isn't this just great news? I gotta say the Planned Parenthood officials are so sympathetic with their new problems. As if they don't have the cash to "update" their facilities. And if they can only leave one abortion clinic open in the whole state..whoohoo, praise God. I don't know much about about Blunt, but he seems like a pretty level-headed guy, "if they can't meet the same basic requirements that other (medical) providers do, then they should shut down," seems pretty logical to me.

But apart from them having to close down the abortion clinics, the great news here is that they are not going to be able to teach hundreds, if not thousands, of children the lies of contraception and abortion as they are losing their murderous grip on up to 40 St. Louis schools alone. Praise God, again!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CDF Issues Clarifying Document of the Theology on the Church

Today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document meant to continue clarifying a phrase from the Second Vatican Council which stated that the fullness of the faith "subsisted in the Catholic Church." You can imagine that this phrase draws some "dialogue" from those who are taken up in the relativist view that all churches are the same.

The document does not present any new teaching but simply restates what the Church has always taught about itself. In the Catholic faith resides the church as it was intended by Christ.

Mainly the five questions break down into two subcategories: what does the Council mean by "subsist in" and what does the council mean by "church"?

In summary, one could understand it in this way, there are truths and means of sanctification found outside of the structure of the Catholic Church but ultimately those belong to the Church. In addition, the fullness of these ways and means can all be found within the Church. As to the word "Church" itself, only those communions which have sacraments and apostolic succession can be called churches because they contain constitutive elements of a "church." They contain priesthood and eucharist. This means that only the Catholic Church and those churches in the East can claim to be churches. Associations and communions formed out of the Reformation, because they do not have apostolic succession, can be called Christian in as far as they hold the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity, yet because they are not in the succession of the Apostles they cannot be called Churches.

The Congregation was quick to point out that this is not a pull back from attempts at ecumenism, nor is it a change in her policy toward other faiths, only, to be authentic in our work toward eventual communion we must be clear about our identity as the Church founded by Christ.

This is a well documented and developing story, especially as the media gets a hold of this and starts twisting it. My good friend Thomas over at American Papist has done a great job covering the story and so I'll direct you to him here.

You can find the document here

and an unofficial english translation of the accompanying commentary here (scroll down a bit)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Simply Hilarious...

I had the pleasure of discovering the very funny blog: Alive and Young today and just had to pass along some of the brillance. Expect links in the future...

More Motu...

There are some quality sources for commentary on the Motu around the internet right now, so I thought I'd provide some links:

Radio clip from the show Kresta in the Afternoon of an interview with Fr. Joseph Fessio of Ignatius Press fame. (If it is not up yet, check back soon, it aired this afternoon.)

A special on EWTN tonight at 9 pm Eastern you can watch it on the internet live and a taped version on July 13th here.

EWTN also offers an index page with links to the documents and other documents referred to by Pope Benedict

A very quality post by Fr. Micheal Fox from an Ohio parish about what this does and does not mean on the local level.

Vermont Bishop Matano's willingness to get Motu Mania going...

Nice Explanation Over at CWN

All I can say is educate yourself about what the Motu Proprio does and does not say. There are plenty of rumors and distortions flying around out there and I would hate for anyone to get caught up in them. Be responsible. Find out the truth, which basically means don't go to NBC (or CBS, ABC, CNN, youget the point) for your news.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Motu Mania Rages On...

Well, the blogosphere is a buzzin' as folks digest the Holy Father's initiative and begin the inevitable debates about what Summorum does and does not say.

Immediately questions started to pop up as to how this will all play out and the secular media was quick to throw their hand into it as well. The AP and other secular sources from around the world have tried to power play this into a story of Catholic-Jewish relations because of one prayer in the John XXIII Missal which is prayed one time a year on Good Friday.

I have compared the text in question to the present-day prayer for the Jews in the Good Friday Liturgy and, while the John XXIII is a bit more blunt in its language about the Jews (phrases such as: "take the veil from their hearts," "hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people," and a prayer that they be "delivered from their darkness."), the John Paul II Missal prays for their conversion as well, albeit with a bit gentler language (prayers that they "may continue to grow in the love for his name and in faithfulness to his covenant," and "may arrive at the fullness of redemption").

But beyond the expected twisting and distorting we always expect from the secular media, I have been saddened to see the ways in which Catholics themselves have reacted, making this "event" have the opposite effect the Pope had hoped for. The Holy Father stated in his cover letter to the bishops that "There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture." The way some individuals are reacting is embarrassing to say the least and I direct this at both "sides" of the issue.

For example, I read in a Reuters article this snippet:
"I can't fight back the tears. This is the saddest moment in my life as a man, priest and bishop," Luca Brandolini, a member of the liturgy commission of the Italian bishops' conference, told Rome daily La Repubblica in an interview on Sunday.

"It's a day of mourning, not just for me but for the many people who worked for the Second Vatican Council. A reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church, has now been cancelled."
Good gosh, man, get a hold of yourself. "It is a day of mourning"? Vatican II "has now been cancelled"? Jeez, Bishop, the world is not ending. One of the very reasons the Holy Father is doing this is to continue the reform of VII, not blow forty years of work out of the water. Proof:
in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.
The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.
I think it is very important that we use this letter to aid in the implementation of the mandate as well as interpret it. It is of utmost importance to approach this document with the mind of the Holy Father and not see this as throwing away VII but only a living out of the organic development that is part of this Church's history.

However, this is not the only place I have heard/read what, in my opinion, seems to be a poor attitude regarding the "Motu." Those who are welcoming the declaration joyfully are betraying, I think, inner attitudes that need to be purified as well. Now, I'm not referring to those who are simply celebrating (see this blog post), but rather those who use language like, "We've won!" or "Thank God he didn't leave it up to the bishops!" or "Finally, we can have a holy mass again." I have also heard, in many places, talk of people wanting to set up new parishes exclusively for "traditional mass communities" based on article 10 of the Motu. This article is not intended for division but as a special circumstance. Both should exist as one parish family. The Pope's aim here is unity: "the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching." Again, the cover letter is helpful here.

These attitudes do not help to bring about the intent of the Motu Proprio: unity. Instead they help to further break the unity that Pope Benedict is trying create. To these attitudes the Pope says this
Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.
To view the missal of John Paul II as somehow "less" than the missal of John XXIII is to degrade the Mass and not afford it it's beauty, glory, and power. Will the older missal enrich the newer, I think so, but that in no way makes it a "better" missal. It points to the fact that the church grows out of her past into a more glorious future. The newer missal relied on much of the early church's method of worship, hopefully now it can rely on how the church prayed after the Protestant Reformation, a time of saints and heroes in the Church's history.

Beyond all this, I do think some interesting questions are beginning to pop up. These questions mainly revolve around how these two will influence each other because they most certainly will. Will the extraordinary expression allow communion under both species? Will the ordinary expression move the Asperges before the mass? How will the extraordinary adapt to churches with a more "alternative" construction. eg. an altar in the middle of the church? Will the practical use of the ordinary use more Latin?

It is certainly a most historical time for our Church and I pray that people can receive this with proper attitudes. This is a time of joy because the church is worshiping God. It is not a time for wallowing in defeat or celebrating with a victory dance.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

Well, its here. I will finally blog about what has become known as "The Motu Proprio." Unlike my fellow bloggers out there, I refused to write anything before now about it because like my fellow bloggers, I had no clue what was going to be in it. That has all changed now. I will not say that I haven't anticipated the document's release since it first was rumored to exist but I simply did not let myself get swept away by something that I knew absolutely nothing about. But enough about me...

The Pope released the document today at noon Rome-time and included with it a cover letter explaining why he chose to take such action. The cover letter basically provides answers that many expected but in many ways I think the letter is just as important if not more so than the actual document itself. The Pope reflects on the past rendings in the church and wonders if they could have been prevented by church leaders. In reflecting on this he states that he wishes to open up doors for unity with the schismatic Pius X Society. However, he doesn't just swing open the doors. He specifically states that priests cannot exclusively say the mass expressed in the missal of John XXIII and that it cannot be said during the sacred triduum. (Which I'm happy about because I prefer the current rites, if they are celebrated fully and completely.) He also states that it cannot be celebrated more than once on a Sunday or feast.

He also looks at the benefits the old expression can offer the new. He reflects at the history since the renewal of the liturgy and sees how many saw the renewal as "authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear." He further reflects on the experience:
I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.
The hope, then, is that the "extraordinary" expression of the one Latin Rite will influence the use of the "ordinary" so that "the celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage." This is not saying that the missal of Paul VI lacks "sacrality," only, that the way it has been prayed has not been what the Council had hoped for.

One thing, which was surprising for me, is that he not only opened up the "old" Mass, he also opened up the older expressions of the other sacraments, "for the good of souls." He did make some qualifications however and said that it was the ordinary of the diocese who could celebrate the previous rite of Confirmation and among the sacraments he did not mention Holy Orders as one that could be celebrated according to the old rite.

The Pope did remind Bishops that they are the governors of the Mass in their diocese and so they are to see to it that only those who can celebrate the Mass "worthily," having proper understanding of the language and rubrics, should do so. He also asked the Bishops to send in a report in three years about the experiences with this new approach so that any "kinks in the chain" may be worked out. (my expression, not the Pope's)

Some interesting notes: The Pope wrote the document in the tone of the Papal "we" which isn't inappropriate but certainly not used as much any more. In addition, the date included in the document is actually today's date 7-7-7, which is very unusual as documents normally bear signing dates weeks and sometimes even months in advance.

This is certainly a fascinating time, especially for those of us preparing for Holy Orders, and it will be interesting to see where the Holy Spirit takes this. I wouldn't expect mass celebrations of this expression of the Latin rite simply because no one knows how to say it. But, as time goes on I think the momentum will grow until it is not strange to see a John XXIII Mass celebrated on Sunday morning in your parish. Only time will tell.

Letter to the Bishops Here

Summorum Pontificum
(the motu proprio) in an unoffical translation because the only official version at this time is, ironically enough, in Latin.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Alzheimer's Vaccine?

From the Brittish news source, Daily Mail:

A revolutionary drug that stops Alzheimer's disease in its tracks could be available within a few years.

It could prevent people from reaching the devastating final stages of the illness, in which sufferers lose the ability to walk, talk and even swallow, and end up totally dependent on others.

The jab, which is now being tested on patients, could be in widespread use in as little as six years.

The most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer's affects around 500,000 Britons, with about 500 new cases diagnosed every day as people live longer.

Treatment costs the NHS up to £14billion a year - more than it spends on strokes, heart disease and cancer combined.

Existing drugs can delay the progress of the symptoms, but their effect wears off relatively quickly, allowing the disease to take its devastating course. In contrast, the new vaccine may be able to hold the disease at bay indefinitely.

Professor Clive Ballard, of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "A successful vaccine would be a groundbreaking treatment advance for the 25million people with Alzheimer's disease worldwide."

Vaccines are typically used to provide immunity to a disease as a preventive measure before it can develop, but this is an example of a therapeutic vaccine, used to treat a disease which has already developed.

Known as CAD106, it is the brainchild of scientists at Zurich-based biotechnology firm Cytos, which is also developing anti-smoking, obesity and flu vaccines.

Cytos chief executive Dr Wolfgang Renner said: "If it could prevent the progression of Alzheimer's, it would be fantastic."

Early tests showed the vaccine is highly effective at breaking up the sticky protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimer's, destroying vital connections between brain cells.

When the jab was given to mice suffering from a disease similar to Alzheimer's, 80 per cent of the patches of amyloid protein were broken up.

The vaccine is now being tried out on 60 elderly Swedish patients in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer's. Half of the men and women are being given the vaccine while half are being given dummy jabs.

Although the year-long trial is designed to show that the treatment is safe, the researchers will also look at its effect on the patients' symptoms.

While the results are not due until early next year, the initial findings are promising. Dr Renner told a Zurich conference earlier this week: "I am glad to report that the vaccine is very well tolerated."

If the trial is successful, larger-scale trials will follow, in which researchers will work out the best dose to give and how often it should be given. The finished product is six to eight years from the market.

The vaccine uses a tiny section of the amyloid protein attached to an empty virus shell to trick the immune system into attacking and breaking up deposits of protein clogging the brain.

Scientists at Cytos, who have sold the rights to the vaccine to Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, say the vaccine is likely to be given to those in the early stages of Alzheimer's, to stop the disease from progressing.

The development of tests capable of detecting the disease in its earliest stages would allow the jab to be given at the first possible opportunity.

It could also be used to keep the disease at bay in those with a strong family history of the illness, and even for the mass vaccination of people in late middle age.

However, while the jab may stop the disease in its tracks, it is not expected to repair dead tissue, and so will not be a cure. Nevertheless, preventing the disease's progression would have an enormous impact on sufferers' lives.

British Alzheimer's experts welcomed the research.

Professor Ballard of the Alzheimer's Society said a previous development, the Elan jab, which failed due to severe side-effects, "was seen as the most exciting treatment development ever investigated for the treatment of dementia".

He added: "This new vaccine is potentially promising as scientists hope they have found a way to limit adverse reactions."

Rebecca Wood, of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said the vaccine is still many years away from the pharmacy shelf.

But she added: "This is very exciting research and brings us a step closer to finding an answer to this terrible disease.

"With 700,000 people with dementia in the UK - a number forecast to double within a generation - we urgently need to find ways to halt this devastating disease."

Experts forecast that the ageing population will result in a "global epidemic" of Alzheimer's, with one in 85 people being sufferers by 2050.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Since Pushing Those Little Buttons On The Remote Control Is So Hard...

...a company in Japan is developing technology to change the channels with your mind. That's right, I said mind.

FoxNews.com posted a story today about a couple Japanese companies who are developing technologies to controll electronics with simply thinking:

The "brain-machine interface" developed by Hitachi Inc. analyzes slight changes in the brain's blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals.

A cap connects by optical fibers to a mapping device, which links, in turn, to a toy train set via a control computer and motor during one recent demonstration at Hitachi's Advanced Research Laboratory in Hatoyama, just outside Tokyo.

"Take a deep breath and relax," said Kei Utsugi, a researcher, while demonstrating the device on Wednesday.

At his prompting, a reporter did simple calculations in her head, and the train sprang forward — apparently indicating activity in the brain's frontal cortex , which handles problem solving.

Activating that region of the brain — by doing sums or singing a song — is what makes the train run, according to Utsugi. When one stops the calculations, the train stops, too.

Underlying Hitachi's brain-machine interface is a technology called optical topography , which sends a small amount of infrared light through the brain's surface to map out changes in blood flow.

Although brain-machine interface technology has traditionally focused on medical uses, makers like Hitachi and Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. (HMC) have been racing to refine the technology for commercial application.

Hitachi's scientists are set to develop a brain TV remote controller letting users turn a TV on and off or switch channels by only thinking.

Honda, whose interface monitors the brain with an MRI machine like those used in hospitals, is keen to apply the interface to intelligent, next-generation automobiles.

The technology could one day replace remote controls and keyboards and perhaps help disabled people operate electric wheelchairs, beds or artificial limbs.

Initial uses would be helping people with paralyzing diseases communicate even after they have lost all control of their muscles.

Since 2005, Hitachi has sold a device based on optical topography that monitors brain activity in paralyzed patients so they can answer simple questions — for example, by doing mental calculations to indicate "yes" or thinking of nothing in particular to indicate "no."

"We are thinking of various kinds of applications," project leader Hideaki Koizumi said. "Locked-in patients can speak to other people by using this kind of brain machine interface."

A key advantage to Hitachi's technology is that sensors don't have to physically enter the brain. Earlier technologies developed by U.S. companies like Neural Signals Inc. required implanting a chip under the skull.

Still, major stumbling blocks remain.

Size is one issue, though Hitachi has developed a prototype compact headband and mapping machine that together weigh only about two pounds.

Another would be to tweak the interface to more accurately pick up on the correct signals while ignoring background brain activity.

Any brain-machine interface device for widespread use would be "a little further down the road," Koizumi said.

He added, however, that the technology is entertaining in itself and could easily be applied to toys.

"It's really fun to move a model train just by thinking," he said.
Well, I can't disagree with that, it would be cool, on a certain level and just think of the freedom this could provide people who are physically unable to communicate but cognatively perfectly able to, the possibilities for this are positive. Let's just hope it doesn't give us a reason to be more lazy...

[photo credit]