Thursday, June 30, 2005

My Lord Archbishop


Our local archbishop (the first of the newly-minted Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston), Most Rev. Joseph Fiorenza, now has his pallium [story]. I don't care who you are, that's pretty cool, right there, I'll tell you what!


"We must take care lest, by exalting the merit of faith, without adding any distinction of explanation, we furnish people with a pretest for relaxing in the practice of good works."
-St. Ignatius de Loyola, SJ

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Michelle's Photo Caption


Sometimes even an apologist needs an apologist, it seems. Yesterday, Michelle Arnold, of, put up a post with a photo edited to have President Clinton's face on a Sacred Heart image. My own post at what is currently the bottom of the combox for the post:
For those out there that didn't like it: lighten up. It wasn't sacrilege, it wasn't a sin. It was incredibly absurd, and because of that very absurdity, pretty doggone hilarious, in my humble opinion.

For the person who thinks that President Bush deserves to be at Jesus' right hand (aptly named "farrightfan"), two things:
1) You're telling me that of all the saints and devoted servants that have lived and are now in heaven, including John Paul and other popes, St. Thomas Aquinas, all the Apostles and martyrs, St. Augustine, etc., GWB tops them all? Forgive me if I'm not a tad dubious about that.
2) Read Matthew 20
Some of those comments were just plain mean. No other way to put it. You have an opinion, that's fine, go ahead and express it. This is America, so you can do that here. But if you are going to express that opinion, do it politely. Otherwise, people just don't listen to you. Being from the South, good manners are quite important to me, you see. For those who have a mind to go and make another harsh comment expressing your displeasure: lay off.

Anyone who is a parishoner here at St. Blog's can tell you that it's not always easy, and sometimes you can put a lot out on the line when you go into a potentially controversial issue. I take constructive criticism gratefully, since it helps me better get out the idea that I am trying to get out, and also helps me better find the Church's own views sometimes. But helpful admonitions, gentle rebukes, and yes, even the playful ribbings that are so common in the Parish are different than some of the stuff I saw there that I can only describe as nasty.

Forgive my abruptness and unusual lack of civility, but as you can see, this has me extremely incenced.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."
-St. Augustine (emphasis mine)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pope's stargazers teach tomorrow's astronomers

I thought this was pretty neat:

"For the past 20 years, the Vatican Observatory, one of the world's oldest astronomical institutes, has selected young, promising scholars for courses at the papal summer palace. "The Vatican wants to show its appreciation for science," said Father Chris Corbally, a soft-spoken Jesuit from Britain who is the observatory's vice-director and dean of its international summer school. "Science is an important value in human life and therefore it is important to the Catholic Church," he said on the palace terrace during a break in classes. Popes have been intertwined with astronomy for centuries.

Father Emmanuel Carreira, a Jesuit who taught physics for decades in the United States and his native Spain, is a link between the old and the new worlds. He shows a visitor the giant telescope -- built in 1935 but still going strong -- with the pride of someone showing off a vintage pre-war Rolls Royce that no-one would ever dream of equipping with an on-board computer. "

Ignoring the jabs at the Church about Galileo- who was condemned not because of his Copernican beliefs, but beacause he used these to call into questions certain theological dogmas, such as transubstination- this article is pretty neat!

Ok, I can't ignore...If he hadn't tried to mix his science with theology, he wouldn't have had any problems. The main belief at the time was the Ptolemaic school of thought, and it wasn't just Galileo who would have been ridiculed a bit for the idea of heliocentrism (which had been around since Aristotle), but Johannes Kepler at the University of Tübingen (a protestant uni.) was condemned by Tübingen this belief. It wasn't until Galileo began pushing the theology along with heliocentrism that he got in trouble.

If you want to read more about him, here is a good place to begin.

Anyway, I'd like to find out more about the Observatory. I wonder if they have published any pictures they have taken? That would be awsome! I also wonder what the reactions of the students learning there are; they are being taught by a bunch of Jesuits to boot, that's not even fair!!! I would love that!

JPII Intercessions: Apply Here

Remember the prayer Zenit reported for the intercession of JPII?

"The cause for beatification begins solemnly this Tuesday in Rome. Monsignor Slawomir Oder, postulator of the cause, explained that the Web site "already has different sections in several languages, which will gradually be completed, to give visitors worldwide the possibility to follow directly the development of the cause for beatification."

Here is the website for anyone who wishes to report miracles! It is exteremely slow for me, I imagine it is recieving more than a few hits, especially since Zenit has linked to it.

JPII, we Love you!

St. Irenaeus

WHOOP! It's the feastday of St. Irenaeus!

I'm currently reading book which deals with several ECF's, including him. What struck me today was this passage from his Against Heresies.

"As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if she occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything differenct, not tdo those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throguhout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightends all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth."

Much of his writing deals with various heresies, especially the Gnostics. This footnote in my book (Four Witnesses, by Bennett) I found especially humorous, "The English word 'heresy' comes to us through a Greek root that means 'to pick and choose.'

Now what does that sound like to ya'll?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Texas My Texas

You know you are from Texas when...

You see more Texan flags than American flags.
You know someone who ate the 72 oz steak and got it for free.
You attend a formal event in your best clothes, your finest jewelry, and your Cowboy Boots. [Yep- I wear my paddock boots to church if I want to dress up, with clean pressed jeans and a pearl-snap. -As well, every wedding I have been to the bride wears her boots under her dress.]
You can write a check at Sonic for a chili cheese and fries . [I LOVE Sonic. Hooray, yum, and THEY TAKE CHECKS!]
You dress up to go shopping at the mall. [Yup.]
You've hung ornaments and tinsel on a tumbleweed and used it as a Christmas tree. [Among other longhorns or cactus.]
You're disappointed when a food doesn't come in spicy flavor. [Or the "mexican food" is cheese and a corn product....Yeeech! My other pet peeve is when the fajitas are made with some beef that is not the diaphram muscle- it is supposed to be the diaphram muscle people!]
You know from experience that rattlesnake meat tastes like chicken. [And oppossum, squirrel, armadillo, and wild hogs (well, they taste more like pork for some reason...)]
You can tell a rock from an armadillo at 300 yards. [and rope or shoot it, depending how much time I've on my hands].
You know what a 'Cowboy Cadillac' is.
You have both a dog and a brother-in-law named Bud.
Your local grocery store sells cactus in the Fresh Produce department [Pear Cactus, yep they do! Go HEB!]
You watch the movie Urban Cowboy and laugh at the phony Texan accents. [Need I say more?]
You choose a brand of Mexican salsa with the same care that another might use to select a bottle of fine wine. [Yep. And who in their right mind says "mexican salsa?"]
You think that the 4 basic food groups are nachos, bar-b-que, fajitas, and Copenhagen. [... it's called "chaw"]
You know whether another Texan is from South, West, East, North, or Central Texas as soon as they open their mouth. [Actually, it'd be the Panhandle, Hill Country, North Texas, or the 'Border]
You don't consider people from Austin to be real Texans. [WHOOP!]
Your Priest wears boots. [I've known a few :D]
The Blue Book value on your truck goes up and down depending on how much gas it has in it.
You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Texas. [and point out all the things wrong in them, delete the ones which really don't apply, and marvel at the fact a non-Texan wrote it and managed to even understand that much about our culture!]

Texas, our Texas, all Hail the Mighty State...!
...You know the Texas state song.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


I am Yoda! I think he would make quite the Franciscan.


Don'cha just hate these things?!

The Pope Would Like to Land!

Down in Harris County, TX (home to Houston, and next door to my own Galveston County), one of the commissioners, Steve Radack, has been getting a bit of flak lately from the ACLU for deciding to name a park "John Paul's Landing". Since he himself is Catholic, they feel that he is using his position to promote his own religion. In the Sunday edition of the Houston Chronicle, he gave a pretty good response (Unfortunately, I am unable to link to the source, so just trust the Eagle Scout turned Jesuit, and all will be well):
I have named two other parks for local Catholic leaders. There was no controversy then. There was no controversy when I named a park for the Steins, a local Jewish family that has contributed to our community. In 1996, when we placed a plaque along the Brays Bayou hike and bike trail honoring slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, there was no outcry.

If the test being used by critics in this situation were applied on a proader scale, there would be no streets, parks, or schools named for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

There are cities and streets named for saints. Should we change them?

The legacy of Pope John Paul II should be remembered. There's nothing wrong with doing that at a public park. His name is going there not because he was a great Catholic, though he was. It will be there because he was a great man and he stood for great things.

And even though political correctness would have us forget such giants or belittle their faith, we must not forget them. Our leaders shoudn't let us cast aside their legacies.

Before the end of my term, I anticipate it will be necessary for me to change the name of the park to Saint John Paul's Landing.
My question: why can't more Catholic politicians make promises like that?

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"It is a very sad thing that nowadays, there is so little useless information."
-Oscar Wilde

Friday, June 24, 2005

Giant popsicle melts, floods New York park

"AP- NEW YORK — An attempt to erect the world's largest popsicle in a city square ended with a scene straight out of a disaster film — but much stickier.

The 25-foot-tall, 17 1/2-ton treat of frozen Snapple juice melted faster than expected Tuesday, flooding Union Square in downtown Manhattan with kiwi-strawberry-flavored fluid that sent pedestrians scurrying for higher ground.

Firefighters closed off several streets and used hoses to wash away the sugary goo."

Wow! I love stories like this one :)


"O Blessed Trinity, We thank you for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him.

Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.

Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints.

Ooooo now what is this pretty prayer all about?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Body of Christ


Part of Maria's query involves our relationship to the body of Christ, as indicated here:

Yet we are the body of Christ. No part of the body can exist without the others says St. Paul. We are the light of the world says Jesus. Christ has no body but ours says St. Teresa.

In the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Sign of the Four, Holmes once said to Watson "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improblable, must be the truth." Several centuries later, Mr. Spock said this to Scotty in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country while trying to find evidence that would exhonerate Capt. Kirk (making the claim, incedentally, that he was quoting an ancestor of his). All in all, its a pretty good rule of thumb. We know that we ourselves do not have a divine nature (from the previous post), so now what remains is the question of how we can be members of the body of Christ.

The first thing to be mindful of is that the fact that we are the body of Christ is almost always expressed with the word "mystical" in front of it, indicating something of a mystery. The exact and precise nature of it is not known, although certain things about it can be deduced. Unless a council or pope decides to comment further on this in an infallible manner, the mystery of it all is quite likely here to stay.

I am by no means a trained or expert theologian. If you want a more professional opinion, I would suggest going to EWTN or Catholic Answers. Lord knows they're a lot better at this than I'll be for a very long time, if ever. It seems to me, though, that what St. Paul and others who refer to the Church as the body of Christ (and if you look at Colossians 1, it does become clear that the Church is what St. Paul is describing by that phrase) are trying to express is that the Church is united in a very special way, not just to its members, but also to Christ Himself. She is a living institution. Christ did not just wind her up like a clock and let it tick, but constantly guides and sanctifies her through the Holy Spirit. Through membership in the Church, we "partake in the Divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4) This would not indicate that divinity is naturally a part of our essence, but that God, for the sake of our santification and out of His infinite love and mercy, allows us to partake of His own essence, which is divine, so that we may be perfected and made worthy to be called His children.

I have given the matter of just how God makes this occur quite a bit of thought, and no matter what explanation I think of, there is one constant in every variation: the sacraments. However this wonderful mystery occurs, it is almost certainly done through the exemplars of Christ's love, the seven sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which St. Paul called "a sharing in the body of Christ" (1 Cor. 10:16). And that is about as far as my own limited skills take me in attempting to explain the matter.

Now, like the true Thomist that I am, comes everybody's favorite part, the "reply to the objections", as it were.

I think I'll address sentence three of that paragraph first. To put it bluntly, that has nothing to do whatsoever with the issue.

The line from St. Teresa is actually a misquote. It should actually read: “Christ has no body now on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours." (emphasis added) With that, the meaning of what she said becomes fairly clear, that we must carry on the work of Christ here on Earth because He is not here, or in other words "As the Father sent me, so I send you."(Jn. 20:21)

With regards to the St. Paul quote, I used a concordance, I used the Douay-Rheims search engine, and with neither could I find that particular arraingement of words. 1 Corinthians 12 perhaps comes the closest (though there were many like it), saying "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink. For the body also is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?" In this, St. Paul is speaking of the necessity for unity among the early Christian communities, and of the importance of using the diversity of gifts and talents the people have for the common good, and not solely their own.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"If I have taught anything false, I leave correction of it to the Roman Catholic Church."
-St. Thomas Aquinas, In Articulo Mortis

Clarification: Ok, I've been getting a few comments and questions about the post as of late, so I'm going to make a clarification on the matter, lest I be known as a heretic. The post is loosely based on the layout of any given article in Aquinas' Summa. First the opposing arguments, then the main argument, then responses to the arguments presented. For me, the main argument, the corpus, occurs after the block quote of Maria and ends with me saying "And that is about as far as my own limited skills take me". So the majority of my thoughts on the Mystical body of Christ are contained there. With the rest, I am responding to her own arguments, which do, yes, focus exclusively on one particular facet of the MBOC (and then mis-interprets the aspect). Such is the nature of errors, that all truths about a thing are not balanced, and are the meanings likely distorted. Were I Aquinas, I probably could have (and should have) presented an array of arguments which brought out more than one aspect of the doctrine, but alas, I am merely David. Many apologies about the confusion.

The Forgotten Vice


This article is pretty interesting. I'm usually not one to pick things up from other blogs and put them on here- someone already wrote about it, and unelss I have an entirely different view, or it is something that needs all the coverage it can get, you won't see me doing that.

This, however, was one of those things that very much caught my attention, and I feel it could use the publicity. I've heard, and been apart of, many conversations over this very subject; and this is the first published thing I've seen that is less than a couple hundred years old. It's an exteremely well-done discourse- go read it!

Thanks for pointing it out, Seeker!

Pray for Us...

Pray for us, JPII!

"The Vatican is urging Roman Catholics to contribute to the late Pope's beatification by sending e-mails about miracles performed after his death.
The website for the Diocese of Rome will soon start publishing the readers' messages under several categories. "

Take note that it is not yet up, but the website it should appear HERE. After searching instead of going to class (gasp!) this seems to be the website. Of course, it all seems to be in Italian (could that be because it is in Italy?)...which I can't read; nor could I find anything for switching to English, so good luck :).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"God became man so that man might become God"


The title there is a title of a sermon by St. Augustine (at least, acording to my breviary), and it's pretty appropriate. Late in May, Maria at Catholic Conversations put up a post that asked if we were divine. Her exact question was

Does God exist outside us? Can there be a God without every part of creation? [...]When we look at our kids, we see God alive. When we see the beauties of nature, we feel the breath of God. God is within these wonders of creation. God is living in this crazy conversation that we're having on this blog! As we used to memorize in the Baltimore catechism, "God is everywhere."So are we not divine? Or is that word so frightening because it conjures up all kinds of responsibilities that we are not ready to take on[?]
Speaking as someone who hopes to make a living as a philosopher/theologian, its an interesting question, not necessarily because I agree with what I think is her answer (allow me to assure people reading this that I don't, and that this smacks of pantheism to me) but because it allows (gives me an excuse) for a further exploration into that wonderful mystery of the Church's role as the mystical body of Christ. I like her question in the same way I like the Gnostics. Yes, it was a heresy, no, I don't even come close to accepting it as true, but the Church did give us an official list of Scriptures because of Gnosticism, and I like the Bible, so there we go.

Speaking as a very-soon-to-be Jesuit, I can almost sympathize with this question. Almost. After all, part of Jesuit spirituality is to "find God in all things." But what does that mean, exactly? The most basic explanation is that we strive to find the Creator in the handiwork of His creation, so gaining a better knowledge of and coming closer to God. As the source of all goodness and perfection, when we see that which is good, our thoughts should be led to God. When I see the beauty in nature, I am reminded of the beauty in God. When I rejoice in watching my younger cousins and my friends' younger siblings, I am reminded of the joy I will experience in heaven, and know that the joy of heaven is a thousandfold greater than the joy I have here, and the beauty of God is infinitely greater than any beauty found on Earth. God is the source of all these things, but He still remains distinct from these things. To say that "God is everywhere" and to say that "God is everything" are two distinct statements. The first concerns location, the second modes of being.

That God exists necessarily without any of the rest of creation is made obvious by the simple fact that the Universe has a finite existance, whereas God is without beginning or end. Even after the beginning, it would be inappropriate to say that God is now a part of creation, since that would imply that He was created, which is incorrect.

Genesis tells us that we are made in God's image. St. Thomas is quick to note, however, that the Psalms and Isaiah also tell us that God is not like us. (Sum. Con. Gen. I:29) Statues and portraits are made of people, but it is not usual for people to be said to resemble statures or portraits, even though the reverse is not uncommon. After the Fall, this likeness still existed, since our nature had not changed, but given its fallen state was less apparent (for lack of better words). Christ came to restore mankind to the exalted perfection and dignity of nature once had. When the word "gods" is used to describe us, then, it is emphasizing not that we ourselves are divine, but refers to the great diginty that our restored nature has.

I anticipate the next part of the question, on the body of Christ and our relationship to it requiring a lengthy answer, so I will give it its own post.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Watercooler Gossip


Got this great story about Cardinal Dulles, S.J., and the Jesuit vow of poverty in general, thanks to Fr. Kitten (the vocations director for my province), and a Jesuit discernment e-group which I am a part of.
"I drove Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ," writes Fr. Claudio Burgaleta, SJ, professor at Fordham University, "to Kennedy Airport for a flight to Rome for the meeting of the cardinals and the pope on sex abuse. We were to stop at the police building and arrange for the cardinal's escort through security. The officer at the parking lot was skeptical. Just a few minutes before, Cardinal Egan had been through and had just left in his limo with a police escort for the terminal. I explained there were two cardinals in New York. The explanation satisfied him; I left Cardinal Dulles in his ten-year-old Toyota Tercel in the lot and went in to find our contact. A sergeant appeared and wanted to know where Cardinal Dulles was. I told him he was in his car. He looked through the glass doors, then sternly stared at me. ‘What car?' I pointed out the Toyota. The sergeant shook his head. ‘What, is he poor?' I responded, ‘Something like that.' Soon after, we lined up the old Tercel behind a cruiser and were escorted to the terminal where the cardinal caught his flight for Rome."

Go Cardinal Dulles, and go Jesuits! That story deserves a big ol' (ol' Army, I should say) Fightin' Texas Aggie WHOOP!

Speaking of Jesuits, by the way, today is the feast day of St. Aloysius Gonzaga (For a great website on him, click here), Patron of Christian Youth and namesake of yet another Jesuit University that sports (pun most definitely intended) a crackerjack basketball team (second specialty, remember?). Be a good Catholic and become a Jesuit saint and perhaps you too can have your feast day remembered on this site!
+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny...' "
-Issac Asimov

Monday, June 20, 2005

Oh, Sweet Mysteries of Life...


Quite frequently, when I am reading something out of the Bible, I like to check it against the translation of the Douay-Rheims version. Not owning one of my own, I use the one that is linked off of the New Advent website, A few days ago I was looking around at some of the features that they have at that site, such as the preface, note on the translation, etc. It didn't take me more than a few minutes to suspect that it was kept up by someone affilliated with the SSPX. Probably the biggest giveaway was the link to Angelus Press, where it said on the side "offers books pertaining to the modern errors in the Church."

The moment I read the tag, I laughed pretty hard. The first thing that came to mind, actually, was this line from the Summa that deals with the mass. For those who are unfamiliar, after Aquinas gets done presenting the opposing arguments on any given topic, frequently he will introduce a contrary opinion, possibly a quote from Scripture or an authority, or some pertinent piece of information. This isn't necessarily to prove his point, but more to get his foot in the door so that he can proceed to do so. In that particular section, Aquinas is examining whether or not the liturgy is improper or defective. The contrary that he gives is
On the contrary: The custom of the Church stands for these things: and the Church cannot err...
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it really is the little things in life that make it so enjoyable.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"All in all, no human thing is of serious importance."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Ave Maria

Wow... listen to THIS Ave Maria!

It is sung by the St. Michael’s Abbey Choir.

Mmmm there is nothing like good gregorian music.

'Course, country is close. If you want some good 'ol country music, you can listen to Ghostriders- this by Monty Robins, or the version by Willie and Jonny HERE. If you like Cash, his version is HERE! I'll refrain from listing all the other versions! I do LOVE Willie Nelson's voice, though. And The Highwaymen. And Hank Williams- all 3 of them. And, well, I suppose I will stop now 'cause I could go on for awhile. I do think Willie could pull off Ave Maria, and sing it well, though!

Cultural Creative???

You [fj] scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative 37%
Romanticist 16%
Existentialist 15%
Postmodernist 13%
Fundamentalist 10%
Materialist 9%
Idealist 0%

I what? I "tend to shy away from organized religion [...] Spiritual but not religious?" I'm not even going to ask. Please, someone, explain that one to me! No, Catholic cannot be considered an organized religion in the least! This has got to be one of the worst quizzes I've ever seen.

My favorite question, of course, was "There is no truth." ROTFL. I do so love statements like that. It's little things like that which make my day!

And what in the WORLD does "cultural creative," even mean? LOL!

A Great Place To Go!


As much as I take pokes at the Jesuits (which runs along the same vein as the self-depreciating jabs I like to make of myself), I really wouldn't go to any other Order. The same method of formation and spirituality that has given the Church the occasional thorn in the side such as Fr. Andrew Greeley has given her far more devoted servants and great minds, such as St. Ignatius and the original companions, Peter Canisius, and Robert Bellarmine, to name but a few.

One of the really great examples of a good Jesuit ministry is the Online Ministries Page over at the Creighton University website. I've been going there for quite a while now, and its an excellent site. My personal favorite there is the daily reflection where a faculty member (not necessarily a Jesuit, except for Sundays, when it is always a preist) writes a page or so long reflection on the Scripture readings of the day. I have not personally been to their online retreat section, but if there is one thing the Jesuits excel at, it is retreats (second, of course, is founding colleges and universities with top-notch basketball teams), so I'd whole-heartedly recommend it as well. Definitely something worth looking at.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit."

I'm Not So Bad...

I took a quiz provided by Cnytr to find out how evil I was. I came out at 7% (one less than her. Go Jesuits!)
I am 7% evil.

I am an Angel. I rarely sin which makes my life pretty boring. But if there is a god he will likely reward me in the afterlife.

Are you evil? find out at

I'm going to have to amend that third sentence to "God will likely reward me in the afterlife." To the theological credit of the maker of that quiz, though, the highest I could get on the evil scale (when I started messing around to see various answers) was 99% evil (The lowest being negative 2%). So go ahead, take the quiz. I dare ya'!

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"Evil, be thou my good."

-Satan, (According to John Milton), Paradise Lost IV:i:131

Friday, June 17, 2005

Susan Torres


Hats off to Jimmy Akin for alerting me to the following story:
A 26-year-old pregnant woman with cancer whose brain function ceased last month is being kept alive with a respirator in hopes she can have a very premature baby who has a chance to survive.

Against long odds, the baby Susan was carrying when she was stricken appears to be thriving after nearly 21 weeks of gestation, Torres says. If she can stay alive another month, and the cancer stays away from her uterus, the baby could be delivered and have a chance of surviving, he says.

Right now, the target is mid-July, when Susan will be about 25 weeks pregnant — 15 weeks short of a full pregnancy. That's the gestation age,doctors tell Torres, where a baby can survive though with a heightened risk of brain damage and vision and developmental problems.

Torres knows that the baby's delivery date, when and if it comes, will be bittersweet. After the baby is born, Susan's body will be anointed in the Catholic tradition, and she'll be allowed to die.
Not surprisingly, the man, although still a devoted Catholic, finds his faith wavering from time to time in the face of all this suffering within his family. The major problem with keeping her alive at the moment is the incredible cost of the health care, which comes in at around $1,500 per day that is not covered by insurance. Anyone who wishes to make a donation to help defray these massive expenses may go to If you cannot afford to donate money, prayers are always helpful. I will update this post as I get new information.

Susan's parents have reported feeling the baby kick for the first time, and anticipate being able to determine the sex very soon. Her condition remains stable and all remain hopeful.
SECOND UPDATE: They have finally been able to determine the sex of the baby- it is a girl. The cancer is still progressing, but it seems like Susan should make it, so long as they can afford to keep her on treatment.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloraim+

"D'you call life a bad job? Never! We've had our ups and downs, we've had our struggles, we've always been poor, but it's been worth it, ay, worth it a hundred times I say when I look 'round at my children."
-W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

Thursday, June 16, 2005

B16's New Look

Pope Benedict XVI took an unexpected call yesterday while on walkabout at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square. An elderly man handed over his mobile and asked the pontiff to say a few words, which he did with good grace. Later, a group of Vatican firemen offered him a helmet engraved with the name Ratzinger to try on.


A New Cause for Canonization


I've got a fantastic idea. Bear with me, please. Normally, when a Jesuit starts off a sentence with these words, a request for priestesses, a suggestion for more liturgical dancing, or perhaps incorporating time into the mass for some quality yoga will follow. Fortunately for us all, I am reliably informed that I am far from normal.

I was thinking yesterday evening, and the question occured to me: is there a cause for cannonization for G.K. Chesterton? I checked it out, and sure enough, there is not. Personally, I can't think of any reason. From all I know of him, he lived a good and virtuous life following his conversion and was a devoted Catholic, giving vigorous defenses of the faith, particularly against skeptics and modernists.

I'm dead serious. I really do want to see a cause for cannonization opened for G.K. Chesterton. The process calls for Chesterton's home diocese to begin the inquiry. Near as I can figure, this is the Archdiocese of Westminster, which contains within it the greater London area. I urge you all to contact them to suggest that an investigation be opened. Lacking any permanent tribunal for the matter, their contact is If you could please, any fellow bloggers here in St. Blog's Parish are also asked to encourage their own readers to join in the petition. (While we're at it, perhaps we should ask if they would look into getting Westminster Abbey back from the Anglicans? Seems only fair to me.)

Perhaps the biggest hurdle for the cause is his name. St. Gilbert? He never went by Gilbert that I know of. St. G.K., then? Perhaps we can just keep calling him G.K. Chesterton and remember he's a saint without actually putting it on any of his books and such. If he were to be canonized, though, I think he would be a good patron for apologists, Thomists, and of course, common sense (That really goes hand in hand with Thomists, though).

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+
"Psychoanalysis is confession without absolution."
-G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Pope's discourses defy simplistic headlines

"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has once again weighed in on pro-life and family issues in a way that offers clues to the style and substance of his still-young papacy.To judge by media reports, the pope's talk June 6 to the Diocese of Rome was no less than a declaration of war against gay marriage, abortion and birth control. Newspapers plucked out phrases like "anarchic" and "pseudo-marriages" for some zinger headlines.But that's one of the problems with Pope Benedict: Often, his well-reasoned discourses don't break down easily into sound bites and headlines.As one veteran wire service reporter recently lamented in the Vatican press office, the new pope is hard to write about because short citations don't do justice to his complex arguments. You can't just cherry-pick quotes.That was especially true when the pope spoke about the family to a packed Basilica of St. John Lateran. His 3,000-word speech was a seminar, not a tirade."

Here, I'll help the press: "Sin Less!" "Abortion Bad! "More Prayer!" "Adoration Good!"

Monday, June 13, 2005

Yet Another Book Review...


Lauren B. over at Cnytr wrote a great review on The DaVinci Code. I've been meaning to get to it myself, and given her review, it looks like a thing to dread since, so far as I can tell, our opinions regarding literature are fairly similar. My favorite line in the whole thing, though, had to be
I mean, everybody *knows* it's the Jesuits who are behind the conspiracy, not Opus Dei or the invented-in-1950-by-a-mad-Parisian "Priory of Sion".
Let's just all be glad that I am a mere inbound novice (postulant, technically, but the postulancy period is so negligibly brief for the Jesuits that it is generally just all called the novitiate) and not yet one of the master Jesuit assasins of Jack Chick fame, or she might just have to be "silenced"... if you know what I mean.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
-Douglas Adams

West Meets East


I have just finished reading a book given to me by a friend who is Greek Orthodox entitled The First-Created Man: Seven Homilies by St. Symeon the New Theologian, and I can say right now that it is pretty dang good (In the great state of Texas, that is very high praise).

St. Symeon is primarily used by the Orthodox (before I laid hands on this book I had never heard of him) but he lived shortly before the Schism between the two Churches (949-1022), so he's a good read for Catholics as well, especially those who would like to involve themselves in a re-unification of Catholics and Orthodox. While there are a few points of doctrine that he errs on, I would give that a "grandfather clause", attributing it to the stage of development of doctrine at the time rather than him being heretical (not unlike when I read Aquinas' treatments of the Immaculate Conception).

One of the interesting things about St. Symeon is that he writes in a style very similar to that of the Early Fathers, despite the thousand year time difference. As the title might indicate, he focuses primarily on the Original Sin and the Fall, making wonderful parallels between the Fall of Adam and the redemption of Christ, some obvious, such as the comparison of tree of forbidden fruit and the Cross of Christ, others not so obvious, such as that of the tasting of the fruit by Adam in Eden and the tasting of the bitter vinegar by Christ as He hung on the cross. He writes magnificently on the role of grace and works in our salvation and how they liken us to Christ, a must for salvation.

Perhaps the strongest thing going for St. Symeon is that because his aim is the instruction of the Everyman, and also because he shuns the works of the philosophers, his writing is very straitforward and accessible, lacking any terms or technical vocabulary that can sometimes be confusing for the beginner. At the same time he covers areas of great depth in a way that is very easy to understand. This would perhaps be ideal reading material for the person who wants to gain a greater knowledge of the faith but may lack the backround to master a "heavier" book (for lack of better words). Symeon's work itself is around 70 pages, and with the preface, introduction, and biography comes in at around 118 pages, so it is a fairly quick read for anyone.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+

"And so let no one invent excuses for his sins and say that we, by virtue of the transgression of Adam, are entirely subject to the action of the devil and are dragged by force into sin. They who think and speak thus consider that the dispensation of the Incarnation of our Master and Saviour [sic] Jesus Christ was useless and in vain. Such an opinion is the opinion of heretics...for what other reason did Christ descend and become incarnate ... if not in order to loose the condemnation which proceeded from sin, and to deliver our race from slavery to the devil and from the activity in us of this our enemy?"
-St. Symeon the New Theologian, The First Created Man, Homily 66: "The Banishment of Adam and the Repentence of Every Christian", section 3: "If one truly wishes to repent, he must repent."

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Its a bird, its a plane...

Bit of pope trivia for you:
The call sign for the president's jet is Air Force One, and for the Vice President, Air Force Two. What is the call sign for the pope's jet when he is flying over the U.S.?
Answer: Shepherd One
That made me laugh rather hard when I heard that.
+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+
"Now we sit through Shakespeare in order to recognize the quotations."
-Orson Welles

"Men Astutely Trained"


While fj was off ordaining Abby (her dog) back home and a fringe group was out on the St. Lawrence river ordaining women, I was in New Orleans this weekend (I left early Friday and got back very, very early Sunday) watching seven men be ordained as priests in the Society of Jesus in a mass that in terms of ceremony and beauty rivals even the Easter Vigil masses. My warmest congratulations, the best of luck, and the grace of God to these men, two of whom were actually teachers at my high school when I was a freshman and sophomore.
Fr. Rafael Vitoriano D. Baylon, S.J.
Fr. Ronald J. Boudreaux, S.J.
Fr. Flavio Issac Bravo-Valle, S.J.
Fr. John DeAndrea Cunningham, S.J.
Fr. Justin Daffron, S.J.
Fr. Anthony Gerard Rauschuber, S.J.
Fr. Michael Ross Romero, S.J.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+
"The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted... to give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit."
-Isaiah 61:1, 3

Darwin Fish!

I am a college student. I don't know what anyone thought, but I am not a philosophy, theology, or any other soft-science major- my fun is found in the biomedical/animal science double major. Yay for chemistry, biology, and examining dead things! If you want all science and like animals, these are the majors for you.

I take classes like biological chemistry, organic chemistry, Biology, Microbiology, biochemistry, etc etc etc. What is humorous is that contrary to the popular belief that all scientists= athiests, is that the more I learn, the harder I find it possible to deny the exsistance of God. It is all simply amazing- I wouldn't know how to describe it.

Now, I have learned all about Darwin and his theories in my intro classes. I love those little Darwin bumper decals because they make me laugh. Every so often I see them, usually with other bumperstickers promoting things like gay marriage, or condemning the goverment. These people, in effect, are usually saying "We all come from some primordial sludge (well, currently the prevailing theory seems to be blacksmokers, but I digress); I am enlightened enough to understand this, while you christian people hang onto some misbegotton but comforting notion of a fuzzy-happy god who helps you to deal with the reality of death." I have spoken (to? with? I don't think they listened) more than a few of these people-not at A&M, but other 4-yr universities which shall remain nameless.

I would think that, were something to be stuck to my car, I would know about it. If a statement about evolution and godless-ness while making fun of the Christians was to be made, I might use the word "evolution" in a fish, but certainly NOT the name of Darwin, who was very much a theist (although he does seem dualistic at times). Most people hear about his Origin of the Species, but few have read it. Here are two parts that very much come to mind when I see those things:

It is scarcely possible to avoid comparing the eye to a telescope. We know that this instrument has been perfected by the long-continued efforts of the highest human intellects; and we naturally infer that the eye has been formed by a somewhat analogous process. But may not this inference be presumptuous? Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man?[...] Further we must suppose that there is a power always intently watching each slight accidental alteration in the transparent layers; and carefully selecting each alteration which, under varied circumstances, may in any way, or in any degree, tend to produce a distincter image. We must suppose each new state of the instrument to be multiplied by the million; and each to be preserved till a better be produced, and then the old ones to be destroyed. In living bodies, variation will cause the slight alterations, generation will multiply them almost infinitely, and natural selection will pick out with unerring skill each improvement. Let this process go on for millions on millions of years; and during each year on millions of individuals of many kinds; and may we not believe that a living optical instrument might thus be formed as superior to one of glass, as the works of the Creator are to those of man?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Ordination of My Dog

I have decided I should ordain my dog because of this:

Nine women, including one Canadian and one American, plan to defy the Vatican and become the first female Roman Catholic priests and deacons ordained in North America.The ceremony, which is not sanctioned by the Vatican, is to take place July 25 on the St Lawrence River near Gananoque in eastern Canada... Organisers consider the location for the ceremony international waters between the United States and Canada where no diocese has jurisdiction and thus cannot interfere [as if this has anything to do with anything... the Bishop is still attached to a diocese] The Vatican has refused to allow women to become priests...[and it seems God has too, but let's ignore Him, and attempt it anyhow. Does anyone else get the game 'Operation' buzzing noise in their head when they think about this?] Some of the women are divorced, others married. Celibacy or sexual orientation is not considered, but years of religious study is a prerequisite, Birch-Conery said [I'd really, really, REALLY like to know what exactly this study entailed-probably lots of contemplation while walking the spiritual maze].

So, following these "ordinations" I shall ordain my dog, Abby, a priest. It would be just as valid- and she'd be great at it! She is compassionate, kind, loving, gets along with everyone, is good at calming upset people down, and I bet she'd look ADORABLE in religous garb! She will be a great pastor for those who own dogs- who realates better than her, a dog who lives with people-she can explain things from the dog's point of view. She could never do any of this without being a priest, right? She MUST be ordained so she can help other people, be nice, be religious, and teach others about Christ..

A Rapier Wit


By now, everyone and his (or her) dog knows the saying by Josef Stalin that goes to the tune of "The Pope? How many divisions does he have?" to indicate that the Vatican was essentially powerless and such. What they probably don't know is what the pope at the time, Pius XII, said in response when he heard Stalin's little jab:

"Tell Mr. Stalin that he shall meet my legions in the next world."

Which is where I will have to go to shake his hand, unfortuneatly. But that right there is a classic. Pure genius, plus a little wit.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

"Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends."
-J.R.R. Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Jedi Mind Tricks...

Wanna let Darth Vader use his "sith sense" to read your mind?

Here ya GO!

I tricked him with "pleco," "rosary," and "Darth Vader!"

Requiesiat in Pacem


I have just gotten word that the father of one of the guys I will be entering into the novitiate with next August has died from lung cancer. I ask now for your prayers, both for him and his father. Thank you.

St. Peregrine, patron of cancer patients, pray for us.
St. Joeseph, foster father of our Lord and patron of the good death, pray for us.
St. Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Society and patron of all Jesuits, pray for us.
St. Stanislaus Kostka, patron of Jesuit novices, pray for us.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

"It is a far, far better thing that I do now, than I have ever done: it is a far, far better rest that I go to now, than I have ever known."
-Charles Dickens (Sydney Carton) A Tale of Two Cities

Monday, June 06, 2005

Sheen, Servant of God


Below is a link to the official website dedicated to the cause of cannonization for Blessed Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. You can make contributions, look at various meditations, read quotes and a bio, and (I can only presume) inform them of any intercessions prayed for and recieved from him.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

“There are two philosophies of life: the Christian philosophy and the Secular Philosophy. The Christian Philosophy is: first you fast, then you feast! The Secular philosophy is: first you feast, then comes the hangover!”
-Bl. Fulton Sheen

Go Texas!

Minors in Texas (those under 18) must have parental consent not only to have their ears pierced, recieve tatoos, or take asprin from a school nurse, but they must also recieve parental consent to have an abortion.

Gov. Rick Perry put his signature to legislation restricting abortions and added his backing to a measure barring same-sex marriage.

Perry signed a bill Sunday requiring girls under the age of 18 to get their parents' consent before having an abortion and also imposes more limits on late-term abortions.

Texas already had a parental notification bill, approved in 1999. The new measure requires a parent to provide written consent for unmarried girls under 18. The bill also restricts doctors from performing abortions on women who have carried a child for more than 26 weeks unless having the baby would jeopardize the woman's life or the baby has serious brain damage.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Long Literary Laundry Lists

I have been "tagged" by Jimmy Akin in his blog when he said that whoever reads his post may consider themselves tagged for the book meme that is floating about. Fj's are in green.
1) Total number of books I own-254 somewhere over 500 (several bookshelves, two tubs that take up ALL of under the bed, several boxes..and then some).
2) The last book I bought- God, by St. Thomas Aquinas (No, really, that's the title of it! Think back to my book list post, and all shall be clear.) The Catechism of the Council of Trent (that's what happens when I go to half-price books...)
3) The last book I read was- Well, I finished that abridged version of Augustine's Confessions Friday, but I don't think that counts because (see my previous post for why). The last unabridged book that I read cover to cover was The Priest is Not His Own, by Bl. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, which in my humble opinion was absolutely magnificent.
Padre Pio, by Fr. Carty
4) Five books that mean a lot to me- Having provided a list of the books I would take with me over all others, I am now going to attempt to make a list of five that are not on that list, which sadly leaves out the Bible.
  1. The Boy Scout Handbook I am an Eagle Scout. I will always be an Eagle Scout. Outside of theology classes in high school and those dreadful C.C.E. classes I went to before that, what I learned about character, morals, leadership, values, speaking my opinions with confidence (which we see now I have no problem doing) and yes, even faith, I owe to the Boy Scouts. So I place their book on here in a debt of gratitude.
  2. Henry V by William Shakespeare This and Hamlet are both wildly influential with the literary love affair that I have with the Bard. I picked this one over Hamlet because a) I like this one a little better and b) it was after watching Kenneth Branagh's version of it that I decided to go out for the theatre, a decision that has affected me in more ways than I can count.
  3. The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk I am an absolute sucker for naval literature (accounted for in part by the fact that had I not chosen the Jesuits, I would be in an NROTC program for the U.S. Navy right now) and its a very good book by a very good author, who wrote some of the last stuff in this century that I am familiar with to employ crazy literary devices such as symbolism, and whose idea of a well crafted scene features more than a copious use of adjectives.
  4. Dune by Frank Herbert. Dang good sci-fi book. (Bit of trivia: The Bene Gesserit order were inspired by Herbert's aunts, who constantly tried to convert him to Catholicism, who he derisively termed "the female Jesuits". If you sound it out right, there is a certain similarity between the pronunciation of the two words.)
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding Excellent study of the darker side of humanity. If you ever get someone who doesn't believe in Original Sin or the fallen nature of humans, sit them down with this book.

This is not a nice question! Not a nice question at all!

We've decided to add a new question in place of the "who do you tag?" one, since the answers to that one as of late are invariably "whoever reads this".

5) Book(s) you are reading currently- I read several books at the same time, so here they are:

  1. God
  2. City of God-St. Augustine
  3. The First Created Man-St. Symeon the New Theologian (a Greek Orthodox theologian who lived shortly before the Schism, which I suppose would make him still Catholic, but we don't seem to talk about him much, whereas the Greeks do, so I suppose they have something of a claim on him.)
  4. Treatise on the Trinity (from the S.Theol.)

  1. Catechism of the Council of Trent
  2. The Four Witnesses-Rod Bennett
  3. Theology and Sanity-Frank Sheed
  4. Tathea-Anne Perry
  5. Various Biology Textbooks

+Ad Majorem Dei Glorem+

"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint."

-Mark Twain (S.L. Clemens)

Against the Middle Man


I get my hopes up, and then they are dashed. Lately I've been working on Augustine's Confessions. Last Friday, I was browsing through the philosophy section of Half-Price Books (window shopping, really) when I came upon a second copy (a Penguin Books translation). When I compared it to my own translation by Whitaker House, I was more than a little surprised to discover that mine only went to book 10, whereas the Penguin version went up to book 13. I have to say that I feel a bit cheated, especially when I went back and checked to find out if there was an abridged notice and found none. Why you would cut out the last 3 books (chapters, basically) and not mention what some would call a significant detail? When you add that to the fact that whenever Augustine quoted Scripture they would insert the KJV translation instead of either a) translating the quote as he wrote it or b) get a translation from a version Augustine would have used if there is the suspicion that he flubbed the quote slightly, although they were good enough to say "all Bible quotations are from the King James Version", I would have to recommend against the Whitaker version.

Good translation in other respects, from what I could tell. (I did a quick check in some areas agains the translation available here on New Advent.) There were a few differences that annoyed me a bit, such as an occurance in Book VII where on New Advent it was translated "Thy Catholic Church" but in Whitaker it was "Thy church [sic]".

It would seem to me that the translator had something of a Protestant bias, and given that the last three books (from what I have read) feature Augustine interpreting the Creation account in Genesis, I really have to wonder if his interpretation was not to their liking , hence why they cut out the last three sections without summarizing the last three books or even mentioning that they were edited out (which to me seems highly irregular, although if someone who knows better could please tell me if I am wrong on this point, that would be greatly appreciated). This is why I need to learn Latin, so that I can read Augustine and Aquinas without some translators getting in the way.

+Ad Majorem Dei Glorem+
"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice."
- G.K. Chesterton ILN, 6/11/10

Friday, June 03, 2005

Swiss Guard Photo's

I love pictures of the Swiss Guard! I found these today; they are from May when the new guards were sworn in. My favorite is the last photo- I love anachronistic stuff!

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"And Now For Something Completely Different..."


Its good to be silly every now and then, don't you think?
(Hats off to girl noir for the link.)

+Ad Majorem Dei Glorem+

"A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men."
-Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Promises of the Sacred Heart


The Twelve Promises of Our Blessed Lord to St. Margaret Mary for those who are devoted to His Sacred Heart:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. They shall find in my Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
9. I will bless the homes in which the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in my Heart and it shall never be effaced.
12. The All-Powerful Love of my Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving the Sacraments; my Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

I was quite amused when I discovered the fact that my 9th consecutive first firday fell upon the feast of the Sacred Heart. Its really the little things like that which really need to make you smile.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

"To love is to risk. To love without risk is not true love. To risk with tenderness to the point of being ready to give all, even one's life as Christ did, is the most profound expression of true solidarity."
-Helen McLaughlin, RSCJ (Thirteenth Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Economy and Abortion Rates

For those few die-hards who say abortion rises and falls with the strength of the economy, data for rates during the Bush administration have been published- and by theAlan Guttmacher Institute, PP's own.

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2005 ( – The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) has published a new report which demonstrates that, contrary to several claims made in the last year, abortion rates in the US have continued their decline under the Bush administration. What the AGI report shows is that... under Bush the abortion rates have continued their two-decade long decrease. Between 2001 and 2002 the AGI estimates a decrease of .9% in the abortion rate.

As it has been said, many times before, there doesn't seem to be any correlation between abortion rates and the man in the White House. A good or bad economy doesn't seem to be affecting the rates.

I would, however, like to know what the other factors are. I would imagine contraception, primarily the pill and other hormonals, like the patch or the depo-Provera shot (yay, hormones AND steroids, for sustainable release!) contribute to the efficency rates, since those are once a week/month/6mo, etc. Less administration = fewer chances to mess up and end up pregnant, (remember, children are such bad and evil things in today's world). If anyone knows of a way to acertain the impact the pro-life movement and its verious ministries, let me know! I think they have had a significant impact in this as well. I hope I see the overturn of Roe v. Wade in my lifetime, and that society will realize how horrifying abortion really is. The only thing that these numbers do not include are those children aborted by contraceptive means such as hormonal concoctions like the pill, or IUD's, etc.

Ok, here are the stats by PP's pet non-profit org, and a note about them: Counts of abortions are based on the Guttmacher Institute's survey of abortionists. Guttmacher is a strongly pro-abortion organization. Their counts are typically about 10% higher than government figures, because they are based on direct reporting by friendly organizations, while the government numbers come indirectly through state health departments, with varying degress of vigor in pursuit of complete numbers.

Note that in '98, the CDC stopped tracking numbers in some states. Abortions from AK, CA, NH, and OK arenot counted in '98-99 numbers, and AK, CA, and NH are still missing from 2000-2001figures- I could not find a graph including those years, however.]


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And yes, all of these were printscreened and cropped!

Stickin' It, Part II


So, under what circumstances are we obliged to obey the secular government? Should we deny ourselves proper nutrition if the law mandates it? Was the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's sinful?

The answer to this lies in the relationship that exists between the individual and the State, specifically: 1) What is owed by the individual to the State? 2) What is owed by the State to the individual? 3) Proper methods of redress when one or the other fails to provide what is owed.

The first part is well examined by Socrates in Plato's brief dialogue Crito. In it, we see Socrates the day before he is to be executed. His friend Crito comes to visit him and informs Socrates that there is a stealthy ship waiting nearby if he wants to make a quick getaway. After all, Socrates was imprisoned under trumped-up charges, and so departure would be easily justified.
Socrates turns him down. He has lived in Athens his whole life, he explains. Their laws have always provided for his well-being. They enabled his parents to marry, to raise him, to educate him. They kept him safe from those who would do him harm, and because he voluntarily chose to remain in Athenian society and benefit from Athenian laws, he says that he is obligated to obey even the ones that he doesn't like. "Fish or cut bait", as the saying goes. To place it in modern times, if you are going to live in the U.S. and enjoy the freedoms and benefits that come with the laws of the land, then you yourself must also obey them.

The second part is dealt with by Aristotle over the course of his Nicomachean Ethics. At several points in the work, he explores issues related to governance, such as justice, contracts, etc., but it is in Book I, chapters 2-5, that he explores government in general. Because of the government's broad and general authority, to it belongs the higest directive, namely the good of man.

Each thing undertaken is done with some particular good or value in mind. Now, the less particular the activity undertaken, the less particular the good sought. The activity of government, by Aristotle's estimation, is the most broad and general of all. It directs education, the military, provides for transportation, and sees to all other earthly needs. Because of this, the function of government is for the good of man in general, and to provide for the common welfare. With this, the political sciences are determined to be a branch of ethics (Nic. Eth. I:ii). Since this is the case, it is apparent then that those who govern are obligated to do so in an ethical manner.

When the contract between governor and governed is broken by the governed, the State has the authority to arrest the person. But what of a violation by the State? It was said earlier that to violate the laws was a sin against peace and the general welfare. How, then, could a person morally stand up against the state for a redress of grievances?

If the State is behaving unethically and in a manner where the only method to change the situation is through either a non-violent resistance (such as the Civil Rights movement) or an armed rebellion (such as the Revolutionary War), then the sin against peace would be on the head of the State, for bringing about such a condition. Like a just war, however, a just rebellion must be the final option open, whose ultimate aim is one of peace.

The obligations of obedience to rulers (or to be more specific, when that would not apply) are summed up by Aquinas here:
There are two ways […] that a subject is not obligated to obey the command of his superior. First, if it is contrary to the command of a higher power. […] Secondly, a subject is not obligated to obey his superior if he commands something over which he has no authority[…] One man [may be] obligated to obey another in outward
bodily actions, but in matters relating to human nature, for example, those
relating to bodily sustenance and the procreation of offspring, a man is bound
to obey God alone, and not another man, because by nature all men are equal.
(Sum. Theol. II-II:civ:1)

In other words:

1) if higher authority contradicts with lower authority, then the lower is in error for not obeying the higher, an error which you should avoid, so obey the higher authority. To use Thomas' military analogy, it is preferable to obey the orders of a general than a sergeant.

2) if I have no authority in an area, there is no obligation to obey me in an area.

Things relating to the common good which are neither commanded or forbidden by God (or His Son's voice on Earth, the Church), such as alcohol consumption and its regulation, are fair game for the government. This would not relate to "bodily sustenance" because while there is some nutritive value, it can be obtained very easily from other sources, as was pointed out in the last post.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

"And so I go about the world obedient to god. I search and question the wisdom of anyone who seems to be wise. And if he is not wise, then to clarify the meaning of the oracle I show him that he is not wise. My occupation completely absorbs me and I have no time for anythng else. My devotion to the god has reduced me to utter poverty."
-Socrates, The Apology

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Stickin' it to "The Man", Catholic Style


Ok, so I've gotten a few questions/comments regarding the drinking post. The whole of it can basically be neatly divided into two parts:

1) Alcohol has medicinal effects. You're saying that its sinful to drink something that has medicinal effects?

2) We are morally obligated to obey the law, and disobedience of the law is sinful because it undermines the peaceful governance of society and so works against the general welfare. What about civil disobedience?

Right. Valid points both. I think that I will give each its own post, particularly since the second one would be fairly long.

First one first. It is worth pointing out that only red wine has these effects. Beer, vodka, whiskey, rum, et al, so far as I know, do not do this (nor does white or blush wine, for that matter). The reason is that red wine contains anti-oxidants, which neutralizes things in the body known as "free radicals". Basically, they go around stealing electrons from other cells that need them, which is not so good. It should be noted that alcohol is itself an oxidant, so at some point the alcohol in the wine is going to counteract the catechins (where the anti-oxidants are at in the red wine). Really says something, I think, about Aristotle's Golden Mean.

The next thing that should be pointed out is that these catechins are also found in many green teas, and to a lesser extent in black teas. It is among several called "non-nutrient" anti-oxidants (those not found in vitamins or minerals), which are in fact better for you than the other variety. Tomatoes and cranberries would also have this type (and red grapes, obviously). So why do I mention all of this? To point out that red wine does not have some unique and special nutritious value not found anywhere else. Because of this, the government is doing nothing wrong, and is not keeping children from having the vital nutrition that they need by setting a minimum age limit for drinking wine. Fj's the science expert here, but I would imagine that it would be better for youth and minors to get their daily anti-oxidant supply from an alcohol free source anyway. If you accidentally give them too much, I should think that the effects would be more damaging since their brains (along with the rest of them) are still developing and growing, and neural pathways being formed in ways not done in adults.

In the higly unlikely event that the U.S. Government outlawed grapes, tomatoes, cranberries, tea, plus any foods containing zinc, copper, and Vitamins A, C, or E, then you might have a case that public health demands a drinking of alcohol by youth and minors. Even then, however, it would probably be a better use of time to deal with the fact that about half the food pyramid has been outlawed then to protest the banning of wine. That's like complaining that the fire that burned down your house also got soot and dirt in your hair.

So, would such a state of affairs allow us to drink wine or somehow get a supply of antioxidants, or is our obedience to civil authority such that we are morally obligated to deny ourselves proper nutrition? This and more, same bat-time, same bat-channel!


+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine."
-Fran Lebowitz

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things


One of the hardest things for me to do to prepare for the novitiate is to decide which books I will be taking with me and which I will leave behind. It's like asking a mother which of her children she wants to save from the flood. I do believe, however, that I have come up with a suitable list.

1) The Bible
2) Breviary
3) The Aquinas Prayer Book (collection of hymns and prayers written by the Angelic Doctor)

1) Nicomachean Ethics- Aristotle
2) De Anima -Aristotle
3) Compendium Theologica (Perhaps better known as Aquinas' Shorter Summa) -St. Thomas Aquinas
4) Selected Works of St. Thomas Aquinas (Good because it has some of his harder to find works, which would pretty much be everything outside of his Summae)
5) De Ente et Essentia (also known as On Being and Essence, it is Aquinas' only metaphysical work)
6) Summa Contra Gentiles, Book I: God- St. Thomas Aquinas (Let's face it, you really can't pass up an opportunity to reply to the question "so what book are you reading?" with the simple and honest response "God".)
7) St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics- St. Thomas Aquinas, ed. Paul Sigmund (A compliation of political and ethical writings of "the good doctor", primarily from the Summae, but also De Regimine Principum, plus excerpts from key sources, such as Aristotle, Augustine, Boethius, and Pseudo-Dionysius, and also from later writings that draw on his wisdom, such as the encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Pacem in Terris, Prof. Mortimer Adler, Jaques Maritan, et al)
8) Just and Unjust Wars- Michael Walzer
9) Morality and the Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics through Classical Sources- Robert Solomon and Clancy Martin (These last two were my textbooks for Military Ethics, and both were quite good.)
10) St. Thomas Aquinas- G.K. Chesterton
11) A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education- Faculty of Thomas Aquinas College

1)Treasure Island-Robert Louis Stevenson (First book I ever read, and an enduring classic in maritime literature)
2) The Power and the Glory-Graham Greene (Excellent book on redemption which I am keeping to help remind myself of the fidelity and devotion I should have to the priestly offices and the sacraments)

17 books, all told. Some of them are fairly thin, such as Ente et Essentia and Catholic Liberal Education, so transporting them will not be difficult. If it ever does proove that I cannot travel easily or carry out my vocation with so much, then I'll probably donate the books to my alma mater, Strake Jesuit in Houston. What I lack in simplicity of books, though, I more than make up for in simplicity of wardrobe. Just ask fj. I wore nothing but flannel shirts and khaki pants with white socks and the same boots every day.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers."
-Charles W. Eliot, The Happy Life

And the Anglican rift continues...

C of E to let gay clergy ‘marry’ but they must stay celibate

Homosexual priests in the Church of England will be allowed to “marry” their boyfriends under a proposal drawn up by senior bishops, led by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. They will, however, have to give an assurance to their diocesan bishop that they will abstain from sex. The bishops are trying to uphold the church doctrine of forbidding clergy from sex except in a full marriage. The decision is likely to reopen the row over homosexuality that has split the worldwide Anglican communion. It may also overshadow an international meeting of senior bishops next month designed to heal rifts between liberals and conservatives over the issue. The Church of England proposal is contained in a draft Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships, drawn up by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich. It was discussed at length and provisionally agreed at a meeting last week at a hotel in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire. Although no sanctions are included in the new proposal, it is expected that a breach of the rules may lead to disciplinary action or the possible suspension of clergy [ would they find out?]. The Anglican Consultative Council is meeting in Nottingham on June 21 to try to heal the rift caused by the American church’s decision in 2003 to ordain the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. It led 22 Anglican provinces, mainly in Africa and Asia, to break off relations with the American church.

This was just so incredibly odd. I'm not even going to try and comment on it, it's just one of those strange, strange, weird things. I bet within the next few years we will have MANY coming home as their church continues to splinter. The Anglican Use liturgy is gorgeous, I wouldn't mind more in that style!! :)