Sunday, September 30, 2007

Music Over the Line @ Mass: Repost from 5/18/07

The Ghost wanted to rant about this again. Looking back he couldn't add nothing to it to make it sound any better.

Let me just say it now: The Ghost is a stubborn bad sinner, with a habit to think (and sometimes talk) about others when he don't have the right. Needed to get that out of the way first off.

And, second he don't have anything against music or musicians. But, (yeah here comes the big "But-monkey")

But, does every Mass have to be a concert these days? Ghost is starting to think that our priests are just the opener. He don't mean to hurt feelings. He just wants to go to Mass and kneel, pray and yeah sing some. He don't need sultry Glorias and he don't need electric guitars. When Ghost is getting ready to take Communion, he's thinking of nails pounding into Jesus' hands and feet, and how Ghost's own sins put the Savior on the cross. It's getting tough for him to concentrate when rock music is blaring in his ears.

The Ghost don't want to see music disappear, he just wants to make sure the music is there to glorify God not the musicians.

Go See This Movie!

I just read from Fr. V that this movie is going to be in theaters on Oct. 26Th! I hope it is as good as everyone says and I hope it does well if it is!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The New Windows And Their Symbolism

Has everyone seen the new stained glass windows at church? If not, we have two new windows that cover the clear glass squares at the top on either side of the altar. I saw them for the first time this afternoon and found the symbolism very interesting. As you could probably guess, the left window represents the “Eastern” Church and the right represents the “Western” Church. Both full of symbolism of course.

Here is little background on all the symbols –

Left (Eastern) Window:

The words “Hagia Sophia” are a transliteration of the Greek phrase “Holy Wisdom”. This represents the building pictured in the middle of the window. This building named the “Church of the Holy Wisdom of God” and is located in Istanbul, Turkey and was originally a patriarchal basilica when built in the 4th century. It is considered the mother of all Orthodox Churches. For a thousand years it was the biggest basilica in the world, and in 1453 after the Ottoman Turks took Constantinople over (later renaming the city Istanbul) it became a mosque.

The symbol you see in the top circle of the window is what’s called a double-headed eagle. This symbol represented the Eastern half of the Roman Empire. One head looks left to Rome, the other to Constantinople with the eagle’s claws holding a cross for spiritual authority and a globe for secular authority.

The circle at the 3 o’clock position contains what’s called an Imperial crown. This is worn by the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Church. The Imperial crown represent temporal authority.

In the 6 o’clock circle, you see something that looks like an “X”. This represents the cross used to crucify St. Andrew, he like Peter did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus (must have run in the family). This type of cross is known as a “St. Andrew ’s Cross” for obvious reasons. Tradition holds that St. Andrew founded the See of Byzantium around the year 36 AD. This would later become the Patriarchate of Constantinople and so has a special importance in the Orthodox Tradition.

And finally in the circle at the 9 o’clock position you find a special type of cross known as an Orthodox Cross. This cross has two horizontal and one slanted bar. The top bar represents the “INRI” sign hung at the top of the cross Jesus was crucified on by Pilot. The second, middle bar represents the bar that Jesus’ hands were nailed to. The third, bottom bar is Jesus’ foot rest. This bar is slanted and it is commonly explained that the slant represents the good thief repenting and going “up” to heaven, and the bad thief not and going “down” to hell.

Right (Western) Window:

The words “Saint Peter’s” in English mean “Saint Peter’s”. Sorry, had to be done. And the building you see in the center of the window is none other than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. While Rome has always been the center of authority in the Western Church, the basilica was completed in 1626 and was built over the Constantinian basilica.

In the circle at 12 o’clock, you will see a picture of two crossing keys. In Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 16:19) Jesus promises to give Peter the “keys of the kingdom of Heaven”, one gold and one sliver (though I can’t remember if the gold and silver can be made out in the image on the window). The silver key represents the power to bind and loose on earth, and the gold in heaven. The two keys can also be thought of as representing authority in the spiritual and secular.

In the 3 o’clock circle, you find what’s called the Papal Tiara, or the Triple Crown. The last pope to actually wear this crown was Pope Paul VI who quit wearing it after the Second Vatican Council. While it has not been officially replaced, Popes today do not wear this crown but only a mitre out of a show of humility. The three levels on the tiara represent the three functions of the Pope as "supreme pastor", "supreme teacher" and "supreme priest".

In the 6 o’clock circle you can see what looks like an upside-down cross. It looks like this because … that’s what it is. This symbol is used to represent the satanic – just checking to see if you’re still reading. St. Peter, when being crucified said he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus. So the executioners, granting his request, crucified him upside-down. Peter, being the first Pope of the Church, has a very special place in the Western Chruch (and all Churches for that matter).

And in the 9 o’clock circle, you will see a cross with three horizontal bars on it which is known as the Papal Cross. Besides representing the obvious, a cross, the three bars actually do carry another meaning. The three bars represent the pope’s triple role as the Bishop of Rome, Patriarch of the West, and successor of St. Peter.

Check them out when you get a chance!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Angels And Catholic Dogma

I’m planning on attending part of the angels event at our Parish this weekend. So last night, while waiting for Mrs. Serviam! to come home from her latest “any-reason-for-the-ladies-to-get-together-and-party” event, I pulled out Ludwig Ott’s book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma and took a look at what the Church has dogmatically defined in the area of the angelic.

Just a side note, this book is published by TAN so that means it’s expensive, cheaply bound, has a horrible font, but has great content. And since TAN is the only publisher, you have to take what you can get.

Having the Church’s teaching on a subject clear before reading or listening to anything on the topic is always a good idea. Information gained through other sources such as private revelation and theological speculation may add to a person’s understanding, appreciation, or devotion in an area, but it needs to be understood in its relation (subordinate) to defined truth.

So while private revelation and theological speculation are not in themselves bad things or necessarily untrue, understanding where they begin and the Church’s authoritative teaching ends is important. Blurring this line seems to be pretty common today, and leads to nothing but trouble.

So here is what Ott has listed under Angels:

  • In the beginning of time God created spiritual essences (angels) out of nothing. (De fide.)

  • The nature of angels is spiritual. (De fide.)

  • The angels are by nature immortal. (Sent. communis.)

  • God set a supernatural final end for the angels, the immediate vision of God, and endowed them with sanctifying grace in order that they might achieve this end. (Sent. Certa.)

  • The angels were subjected to a moral testing. (Sent. certa. as regards the fallen angels, Sent. communis as regards the good.)

  • The evil spirits (demons) were created good by God; they became evil through their own fault.

  • The primary task of the good angels is the glorification and the service of God. (Sent. certa.)

  • The secondary task of the good angels is the protection of men and care for their salvation. (De fide on the ground of general teaching.)

  • Every one of the faithful has his own special guardian angel from baptism. (Sent. certa.)

  • The Devil possesses a certain dominion over mankind by reason of Adam's sin. (De fide.)

Terms as defined by Ott:

De Fide.
(“Of the Faith”) = accepted and taught as essential doctrine.

Sent. certa. (“Theologically Certain”) = A Teaching pertaining to the Faith . . . a doctrine, on which the Teaching Authority of the Church has not yet finally pronounced, but whose truth is guaranteed by its intrinsic connection with the doctrine of revelation (theological conclusions).

Sent. communis. ("Common Teaching") = doctrine, which in itself belongs to the field of the free opinions, but which is accepted by theologians generally.

Hope to see some of you this weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

One Last Reminder!


SEPTEMBER 28, 2007

Friday Evening
5:45 - Rosary
6:15 - Votive Mass, Mary Queen of Angels - Fr. Pablo Straub, Con-Celebrant - For more information please visit here
- Talk 1 - Fr. Straub - Mary, Queen of Angels
8:15 - Talk 2 - Mother Nadine Brown - Spiritual Warfare & Intercession - For more information please visit here
9:15 - Adoration & Benediction

SEPTEMBER 29, 2007

Saturday Morning: (Feast of The Archangels)
8:00 - Mass of the Archangels
9:00 - Talk 3 - Mt Nadine Brown - St. Michael in the Modern World
10:30 - Talk 4 - Fr. Matthew Hincks, ORC - 12 Steps to a living friendship with your guardian angel - For more information please visit here
11:30 - Lunch Break

Saturday Afternoon & Evening:
12:30 to 1:30 - Confessions
1:00 to 1:30 - Adoration & Rosary
1:30 - Talk 5 - Dr. Mark Miravalle - 5th Marian Dogma , Mary, Queen of Angels. For more information please visit here
3:00 - Divine Mercy Chaplet
3:15 Talk 6 - Fr. Pablo Straub - Glories of Mary (St. Alphonsus)
5:00 - Mass with co-adjuctor Archbishop John Nienstadt

Coming September 2008 Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Fr. Clement Machado

A Free-Will Offering of $20.00 per person/per day would be greatly appreciated !!!

It's A Tough World Out There...

A lot can be said without saying a word.

H/T to Jimmy and GodTube

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Constant Reminder of Everything Good

I was working as a welder on a steel tube mill in 1996. My wife and I were about two weeks from celebrating our daughter’s first birthday. One day while on my lunch break I began my normal routine of reading the newspaper. On the front page was a story that was, up to this point of my life, the most horrible thing I had ever read.

Honestly, I can't remember what the headline was, but it was something along the lines of, “Massacre of the Innocents in Scotland”. A man in his early forties had entered a local kindergarten with a gun, and within 4 minutes had shot 16 kindergarteners, their teacher, and himself. All 18 died.

I remember being shocked at how much evil had taken place in such a short time. It then occurred to me that this individual would have taken on average of 15 to 20 seconds between each murder, and that to watch a little child crying and terrified for 15 seconds, before pulling the trigger is a lifetime. I couldn’t help but think about this happening over and over 16 times; the wickedness and coldness of it all shook me.

In the end, this story had a deep and painful effect on me. For the first time in my life the people I had read or heard about in the news had become real. No longer imaginary two-dimensional characters in a story that didn’t affect my life, they were now very real. These little kids were very alive, then they were very terrified, and then they were very dead; and the pain they and all who loved them was all too very real.

For the first time I could remember, reading about the local news, tomorrow’s weather or yesterday’s sports seemed so trivial. There’s obviously nothing wrong with reading the paper, but whether it’s rational or not, I put the paper down and didn't pick another one up for a long time. A small part of me died, and larger part of me was born.

Man’s nature is disposed to turning its love inward, to worship the idol of self. Becoming the object of their own affection, mankind loses its ability to truly love anyone. Their concern is for the all-deserving “me”, and the all-important “now”. For these people children are seen as a burden; they have no place and even less worth.

But children force people to care about the future. In an ingenious way, they tie us to it by the fact that we know someone we love very, very much will someday, God willing, live there. Knowing how selfish I can be now, I can’t imagine how horrible I’d be without my kids.

There’s something about having kids that changes the way you look at life. Their vulnerability magnifies the real evil lurking in the world, but their innocence is a constant reminder of everything good, right, and beautiful in it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Holy Men and Women

Today is the feast of a most interesting man.

I am reading a book about him right now and thought it was funny that I happen to be finishing it on his exact feast day! I'm not sure I believe all of the fantastical things told about his life, but one thing is sure: He was a very holy man, and he had a good sense of humor (two of my favorite things about a guy)!

Here are some more holy men and women in a pretty montage:

How many of the saints can you name by picture?

I like that he starts with St. Michael! He also mentions St. Elizabeth Ann Seton who is the patron of our homeschool, and St. Lucy who I have a special affinity for. I also noted that St. Francis closely resembles Padre Pio (or vice-versa). Interesting. Who are your personal, favorite saints? Who do you consider your patron?

H/T to Georgie

Whoopsie! I Forgot Something!

Check my previous, ranting, boring post (if you dare) for a couple updates to my list...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

St. John Chrysostom and Contraception's "Evil Filth"

St. John Chrysostom lived from about the second half of the fifth and just into the sixth century (347-407). He was the Archbishop of Constantinople and is a Doctor of the Catholic Church.

Tyler Marshall over at Canterbury Tales has a very intersting post on St. John Chrysostom's denouncing the "evil filth" of contraception:

"Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well…Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with his [natural] laws?…Yet such turpitude…the matter still seems indifferent to many men—even to many men having wives. In this indifference of the married men there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these innumerable tricks."
- St. John Chrysostom Homilies on Romans, 24 (ca. A.D. 391).

Contraception; something worse than murder. It appears that Humanae Vitae wasn't the first time the topic was addressed in the Church.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy 50th Mike!

May you have 100 more buddy!

Is Playing The Powerball A Sin?

On the way into work this morning I drove by a billboard advertising the Powerball’s current jackpot value. Being that I’ve never understood the whole draw of it, and the fact that Mrs. Serviam! told me last night after reading the Yom Kippur post that I wasn’t allowed to post on anything too serious, too long, or too boring for a while, I thought the a post on the lottery would be a good idea.

The lottery has got to be the biggest scam in the history of mankind. And the fact that the jackpot can hit $300 million off of selling tickets for $1 each tells me that there is no shortage of chumps in Powerball land.

Ok, now that I’ve offended half of you, let me back my statement up with a little demonstration. According to the Powerball site, players have a 1 in 146,107,962 chance of “hitting it big”. Sure, most people understand that this number is big, but what do you expect for $300 million! But really how big is 146,107,962?

Take your average Bible (you knew I had to make some tie in) and page through it. The average bible has just under 750,000 words in it. Let’s say I left the room and asked you to page through the bible and select one of these words – just one. Now what are the odds that I pick the bible up, randomly open a page, and place my finger on the word you secretly selected? You guessed it, I would have a 1 in 750,000 chance of getting it right.

Obviously, the odds of this happening are pretty slim, but even these odds seem like a sure thing when compared to the odds of winning the Powerball. So, how would we have to tweak our situation above to reflect the Powerball odds? Easy, instead of choosing one word from one Bible, now your choosing one word from 195 Bibles. And with a Bible being about an inch thick, 195 Bibles stacked on top of each other would stand over 16 feet high! Maybe we could set up a booth at the Parish festival next year based on this model, hmmm….

And for all those out there thinking "come on, it's only a few bucks - it's entertainment!" I say the next time you think about spending a few bucks on some tickets, bring the money over to my house and I'll tell you a couple of jokes and sing you a song.

So is playing the Powerball a sin? Only if being stupid is. ;-)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement

Today is the Jewish observance of Yom Kippur, or “The Day of Atonement”. This feast is one of the most important and solemn feasts in Judaism. The day is marked by strict fasting and no work being allowed. The day is believed to be the date when God gave the second set of Ten Commandments to the Israelites.

During Jesus’ day, it had such a place of prominence that it was common for the Jews to refer to the day as simply, “The Day”. As the name suggests, Yom Kippur was a day when the Jewish people offered atonement for the sins of the previous year. The outline used in the atonement ceremony can be found in the 16th chapter of Leviticus (for all the Great Adventure students out there, Leviticus is the book between Exodus and Numbers that you skipped ;-).

The people first brought two goats before the high priest. By drawing lots, one goat was selected for Yahweh and one for Azazel (more on him later). The high priest would then take a bull and sacrifice it for his own sins and for the sin of those in the priesthood (the Aaronite priesthood). The high priest would then take this blood and walk behind the veil that hid the Holy of Holies. This was the only time of the year that this occurred. The high priest would then incense the mercy seat and sprinkle it with the blood from the bull.

You often hear a story of how the high priest would tie a rope around his leg or wear a bell so that if he was struck down by God that he could be pulled out without anyone having to enter in to the Holy of Holies. Though I hate to spoil a good story, it is most likely only that – a story. But, let’s move on.

The priest would then take the goat that had been selected for Yahweh and sacrifice it for the sins of the people. Again, the high priest would pass beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies and incense the Mercy Seat and sprinkle it with the goat’s blood. At this point the blood from the bull and goat were mixed and sprinkled and smeared on the altar of sacrifice.

Now, what about this Azazel and the goat selected for him? Azazel (sometimes spelled Azazzel) was a demon, a fallen angel that “lived” in the wilderness or desert (demons living in the desert is a pretty common theme in the Bible).

Now the priest would take this goat and lay his hands on its head and “confess” the sins of the people over it, in effect transferring these sins to the goat. The goat was then lead out to the desert by a man. Now even though this goat was not a sacrifice to Azazel, it was common for it to be lead a few miles outside of Jerusalem and pushed over a cliff. You can imagine what a bad omen it would have been for the goat carrying all of the people’s sins to find its way back to the city!

Just a quick note here. This goat that has the sins and the transgressions of the people transferred to it is called a “scapegoat”, and is where we get the term “scapegoat” from.

Great, but does Yom Kippur have any importance to Christianity? And how. The author of Hebrews (Heb 9:11-14) talks about Jesus being our high priest and perfect sacrifice, shedding his blood for the atonement of our sins:

“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ…”
Jesus, the great high priest, passes into the "greater and more perfect tabernacle" and offers the perfect sacrafice of His own blood for all people, eternally.

And not only is there a connection to the goat which was selected for Yahweh, but there is also a connection between Jesus and the scapegoat. Paul, in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, verse 21 makes the connection for us:
”For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”
Just as the sins of the people were transferred over to the scapegoat, so too were our sins transferred to Christ. And just as the scapegoat of the Old Testament was led out into a desert inhabited by demons, we read in Luke chapter 4:

“Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.”
But unlike the scapegoat who only acted as a means for the sins of the people to be moved around and transferred, Jesus took all the sins of the world and atoned for them at Calvary, forever.

Happy Yom Kippur!

Reflections At Mass

This info was stolen from Cathy (she got it from an old missal that she got from one of my favorite guys, Ray)

The Priest at Mass.......Christ

Enters the Sanctuary...........Enters Garden of Olives
Begins prayers at the foot of the Altar.....Begins prayer in the Garden
Says the Confiteor........Faints and falls down in agony
Ascends steps and kisses the Altar......Is betrayed by Judas with a kiss
Goes to the book at the Epistle side.....Is led prisoner to Annas
Reads the Introit...........Is falsely accused by Annas
Goes to middle, recites “Kyrie”...Is brought to Caiphas,denied thrice by Peter
Turns to people: “Dominus Vobiscum”.........Looks at Peter and converts him
Goes to book and reads Collects & Epistle......Is led to Pilate
Goes to middle then to Gospel side......Is taken to Herod and mocked
Returns to the middle of the Altar.....Is led back to Pilate

Uncovers the chalice...........Is stripped of His garments
Offers the bread and wine...................Is scourged at the pillar
Covers chalice with pall..............Is crowned with thorns
Washes his hands at Epistle side.......Is declared innocent by Pilate
Turns to people: “Orate Fratres”.......Pilate says “Behold the man”
Prays in low voice the secret prayers..........Is mocked and spat upon
Recites Preface & Sanctus-bell rings...............Barabbas is freed

Makes memento for the living..........Carries cross to Calvary
Continues to pray in low voice.........Meets His Mother & the other pious women
Holds hands over oblation-bell rings..Soldiers take hold of Christ our Lord
Blesses bread and wine with the sign
of the cross five times..................Is nailed to the cross

Consecrates the Host adores & elevates it.........Christ is raised on the cross
Consecrates the wine & elevates chalice.....Blood of Christ flows from 5 wounds
Prays in a low voice................Hangs on the cross. Sees His Mother kneeling
Says aloud “Nobis quoque peccatoribus”...............Prays for all mankind
Recites aloud “Pater Noster”............Speaks the seven last words on the cross
Breaks the Sacred Host........Dies on the cross
Drops a particle of Host into the chalice.........Christ’s soul descends into Limbo
Says “Agnus Dei”...Those standing by acknowledge Christ to be the Son of God

Receives the Body & Blood of Christ......Is laid in the sepulchre
Cleanses the chalice....Christ’s body is anointed in the sepulchre
Arranges the chalice on the Altar again......Rises from the dead
Turns to people: “Dominus Vobiscum”......Appears to His Mother and Disciples
Reads prayers at Epistle side-Post Communion.............Teaches for forty days
Turns to people and says last:
“Dominus Vobiscum”........Bids farewell to His Disciples: ascends into Heaven
Gives the blessing.........Sends the Holy Ghost to His Apostles
Reads the last Gospel.......Apostles preach the Gospel to all Nations

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul was an amazing individual. If you made a list of the top 5 most important people in Christianity, it would be tough not to put him at #2, right behind Jesus. He lived life passionately working at growing the Church and in the end gladly lost his head to gain a crown.

Now that alone is amazing, but what I find even more amazing than what he did, is what he had to overcome to do it. Few think of Paul as anything less than a powerful, awe-inspiring orator whose presence and delivery left listeners powerless to resist. But, these people would do well to read their Bible again.

Everyone knows that Paul was once a Jew whose name was Saul. He was a Pharisee from Tarsus (southern Turkey), and a very committed one at that. Luke tells us that Paul studied under the Jewish Rabbi Gamaliel, who may not be a household name today, but was a big name then.

Saul was actively persecuting the Christians of his day, when he was knocked off his horse by a flash of light and blinded. His encounter with the risen Christ changed his heart, his name, and his mission. From then on, Saul became a believer in Jesus, would be known from then on as Paul, and dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel.

He had good times, and bad times. He was beaten, chased out of towns, and imprisoned for his effort. And ultimately in the end, he was arrested in Jerusalem, brought to Rome, and beheaded under the emperor Nero in 64 AD.

Now think about this. Say you’re a content Jew or a happy pagan, and this Paul guy comes into town. He starts to talk about this criminal who the Romans crucified named Jesus of Nazareth. But this Jesus wasn’t really a criminal at all, because he was of course innocent. And not only innocent, but he had never sinned against any law – he was blameless. And to say that he was blameless and even perfect would be an understatement, let’s just say that he was God. And not only one of the gods, but the only God. Riiiiight.

So Paul’s got a different problem with each group. First, the Jews have a tough time with the God in man’s image based on two things. First, in Deuteronomy 21:23 it says, “…God's curse rests on him who hangs on a tree…” Not to mention that the Decalogue's prohibition of making a graven image of God. To the pagans, believing Jesus is another god is not that big of a deal. But to say that there is only one God, and Jesus is He, sounds ridiculous to polytheistic logic and reason. Paul himself points this out in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:23):
“…but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,…”
So Paul claims that Jesus is God, the one and only God, who was killed. What proof does Paul have that this is true? Because Jesus was raised from the dead and knocked him off a horse. And you can imagine the next question would be that if Jesus were alive, why Paul couldn’t show him to them. To which Paul had to answer that he couldn’t because Jesus was now in heaven.

Talk about a tough sell. I can only imagine how difficult talking about the Trinity was! So with the message being a hard one to sell, Paul must have been an amazing speaker, right? Wrong. Paul’s letters could be forceful but listen to what Paul says in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 10:10):
“For someone will say, ‘His letters are severe and forceful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.’”
Or elsewhere in the same letter (2 Cor 11:6):
“Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.”
Like Moses, Paul’s public speaking skills left much to be desired. He himself knew it, and had to deal with it daily I’m sure. But he didn’t let that stop him.

So if the message is tough to sell, and his speaking skills are limited, Paul must have been the first century Fabio. Walking around with his low-cut tunic exposing his overly developed chest, hair blowing in the wind.

Well, probably not. In the apocryphal writing “The Acts of Paul and Thecla”, a popular read during its time, the writer gives us a possible glimpse of what Paul looked like:
“…for Titus had informed him what Paul was like in appearance: for he had not seen him in the flesh, but only in the spirit. And he went along the road to Lystra, and stood waiting for him, and kept looking at the passers by according to the description of Titus. And he saw Paul coming, a man small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well-built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, full of grace. For sometimes he seemed like a man, and sometimes he had the countenance of an angel.”
And here we find the icing on the cake. Paul was a stocky, short, bow-legged big-nosed dude with a uni-brow?! Little chance of finding Paul on the cover of a first century romance scroll or selling “I Can’t Believe it’s not Olive Oil” spread. This is by the way, the reason that Paul is traditionally depicted as being a little sparse in the hair department.

So if the people didn’t believe him, he wasn’t a “good talker”, and he looked like Danny DeVito, what was his secret?

Paul sought the will of God in his life, kept the end game in sight, and believed people were worth trying to save. He had the, “countenance of an angel”. His faith in God, hope in Heaven, and Love of the lost never let anything – and I mean anything – from stopping him. Paul changed his life to reflect his faith, not his faith to reflect his life. And he never gave up; he died with his sandals on.

God’s will in our life is most likely not going to be for us to do huge world changing things. Instead of changing the people of the world, it vary well may be to change a person’s world - maybe our spouse’s, our children, someone we know…. Whatever task we are each given, and regardless of how bad we have it, we are to be beacons of Faith, Hope, and Love in the world.

Laughed at by the Pagans, scorned by his own Jews, you know Paul took a beating. Nevertheless, Paul not only stuck it out, but as he said,
“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me.”
I pray I will someday be able to say the same.

St. Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, pray for us!

A Tale of Two Hammers - Part 3 of 3

After crossing over to the Iberian Peninsula from northern Africa, the Moslems forces had advanced through what is modern day Spain crushing Christian armies and cities as they went for nearly 20 years. The Islamic spread through Christian Europe looked unstoppable.

It was October 10th, 732, and a massive Islamic army of 80,000 men was marching toward the city of Tours in France. A Frankish commander by the name of Charles of Herstal lead a force of about 30,000 men to surprise the much larger Islamic force. The advantage the Moslems had was not only in numbers, but also in equipment. They had better armor, weapons, and most importantly, mounted cavalry. Charles was left to stop the Islamic invasion with not enough men, not enough equipment, and almost no confidence from others of their success. The situation was bleak for Charles’, his men, and all of Christian Europe.

But Charles’ advantage could be found in things you can’t count with numbers. He had spent years training his men for such a battle, knowing long ago that it was just a matter of time before it would occur. He also chose where the battle would take place, selecting a high area which would be hard for mounted cavalry to travel. And most importantly he had earned the respect and loyalty of his men and fostered in them the idea that Christianity was worth dying for.

The Moslem’s crashed into the Christian forces expecting them to break. But the Christians would not be moved. Time after time the Moslem forces tried to break the Christian’s formation and get to Charles to kill him, but time after time Charles' men repelled the attackers at the cost of many of their own lives.

One Islamic account of the battle had the following: “And in the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords they hewed down the Arabs. Drawn up in a band around their chief, the people of the Austrasians carried all before them. Their tireless hands drove their swords down to the breasts of the foe."

The battle raged on with moments of brilliance, a lot of heroism, and a touch of luck, and ended with the Islamic army broken and in retreat with Charles and his men in chase.

The battle, which is now known as the Battle of Tours, would mark the beginning of Christianity driving Islam out of Europe. It was a story of a man and his men drawing a line in the sand and telling Islam that they may come no further. It was a story of Christianity stopping the spread of Islam and regaining Europe’s soul.

And because of this decisive victory of Charles of Herstal over the Islamic forces in the face of overwhelming odds, Charles was forever after known as; Charles Martel, or Charles “The Hammer”.

Islam again is expanding in Europe (through immigration not conversion mind you), when will Christianity see its next “Hammer”? And when they do step forward, will they find enough brave men and women willing to sacrifice what’s required for the faith? This fight may not involve swords, cavalry, or bloodshed, but I will guarantee one thing; it will involve a whole lot of conviction, bravery, and fortitude.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Tale of Two Hammers - Part 2 of 3

In the second century B.C., the ruler of the Seleucid Empire Antiochus Epiphanes was driven out of Egypt by the up and coming Romans. Furious over this, Antiochus turned his wrath on nearby Jerusalem. Antiochus invaded Jerusalem with his army and brutalized the Jews. Antiochus forced Hellenistic culture on the Jews, which to many Jews was nothing more than paganism and idolatry.

Antiochus’ desire for the Jews to be more “open-minded” and not only respect, but also worship other gods materialized in a violent and zealous manner. Antiochus had all sacrifices to Yahweh stopped, outlawed circumcision, disallowed observance of the Sabbath and all other Jewish festivals, and banned the reading and studying of the Torah. But worst of all, like it could get much worse, Antiochus had a pig slaughtered on the altar of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as a sacrifice to the god Zeus. Not only were the Jews not allowed to practice their faith in public, but they were forced (cutting out of tongues, being burned alive, etc.) to accept things opposed to that faith.

One day in the village of Modin, a pagan altar was built and the elder priest of the village, Mattathias, was commanded by one of Antiochus’ envoys to offer the first sacrifice. When the old priest refused, another man nearby offered to make the sacrifice in order to save the village from Antiochus’ wrath. Furious over this willingness to offend God, Mattathias killed this man along with the envoy, and a war was born.

Mattathias had five sons, and when he died shortly after the Modin incident his oldest son Judas took over. Furious, Antiochus sent some of his trained forces to deal with the rag-tag band of rebellious Jews. But Judas and his rag-tag band of untrained men crushed Antiochus’ forces. So Antiochus sent more soldiers, and Judas did more crushing. This went on and on until finally, Antiochus offered the Jews a deal. The Jews accepted the deal and were given religious autonomy, freedom to worship the one true God without any interference by the secular government.

After leading the Jews against the superior forces of Antiochus, and dealing them blow after blow, Judas and his brothers were no longer known as the sons of Jaarib (their family name), but as the Maccabees which means “The Hammerers”.

We have seen the removal of God from our schools and public places over the years. A slow but deadly case of atheism on a national level can be easily diagnosed. But removing God will not make all happy. They are determined to force Christians to accept what is directly opposed to what we believe. Homosexuality, abortion, forcing pharmacists to distribute birth control, etc, the list goes on and on.

Our “Modin” incident is here. But will it trigger in Christians not only a refusal to accept what is wrong, but an effective struggle against it?

A Tale of Two Hammers - Part 1 of 3

Christianity is currently under siege from two sides; a rising threat from Islam, and an increasingly militant form of atheism/paganism. This certainly isn’t the first time She has had to deal with this sort of thing, and I want to look back at a couple of notable instances where the People of God had to deal with such threats.

In both stories we find a defining event where a line is drawn and the opposing force is told that they may go no further. Both are situations where people rise above adversity with courage, action, and faith in God and fight against overwhelming odds to do what’s right.

The following two posts are about men who were shown to be solid and unyielding, delivering blows to their enemies in such a way that they will both forever carry the moniker “The Hammer”.

I’d also like to say from the start that though the two stories contain violent resistance toward the two groups, I’m not suggesting that we should today. Every age’s problems must be dealt with in a manner consistent with that age’s norms.

But in all ages, things like courage, fortitude, and sacrifice are needed. The field we fight on today may not be filled with weapons, soldiers, and bloodshed, but it is no less of a battlefield. Make no mistake of that.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Four Creatures/Gospels

Each of the four Gospels are commonly represented symbolically; Matthew as a Man, Mark as a Lion, Luke as an Ox, and John as an Eagle. If you look at the Book of Gospels we use at Mass, you should see the four symbols on its cover. But, why are these symbols used?

In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the prophet has a vision of four living creatures with a human form.
“Within it were figures resembling four living creatures that looked like this: their form was human, but each had four faces and four wings, and their legs went straight down; the soles of their feet were round. They sparkled with a gleam like burnished bronze. Their faces were like this: each of the four had the face of a man, but on the right side was the face of a lion, and on the left side the face of an ox, and finally each had the face of an eagle.” Ezekiel 1:5-10
Fire was within the beings, and light shown out from all directions. And their faces looked out in all directions.

Now come with me all the way to the end of the New Testament to the Book of Revelation. Here we have John standing before the throne in heaven and what does he see in the center and around the throne? You guessed it, four living creatures resembling a lion, a calf, a human, and an eagle:
“From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder. Seven flaming torches burned in front of the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. In front of the throne was something that resembled a sea of glass like crystal. In the center and around the throne, there were four living creatures covered with eyes in front and in back. The first creature resembled a lion, the second was like a calf, the third had a face like that of a human being, and the fourth looked like an eagle in flight. The four living creatures, each of them with six wings, were covered with eyes inside and out. Day and night they do not stop exclaiming: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.’” Rev 4:5-8
So it’s not too difficult to see how Tradition has seen these four strange beasts, filled with thunder and fire, shining forth light to all the four corner of the earth, as representations of the four Gospels sharing the same characteristics.

Ok, so if this is where they come from, how do each of the four beasts get tied to each of the Gospels? Well there’s a little disagreement here. Three biggies of the Early Church Fathers: St. Ireneaus, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine didn’t agree. The link from Gospel to symbol is based on what the saint felt the most important aspect of each Gospel was and how it matched with the symbol.

St. Irenaeus:
Matthew: Human, Mark: Eagle, Luke: Ox, John: Lion

St. Jerome:
Matthew: Human, Mark: Lion, Luke: Ox, John: Eagle

St. Augustine:
Matthew: Lion, Mark: Human, Luke: Ox, John: Eagle

And traditionally, since St. Jerome is seen as alpha-male in all things Biblical, his is the most commonly used.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nitpickery *(with update)

Well, you've got yourself a crabby, headachy, preggo woman here. Be warned. Do not read any further if you are easily offended or not in the mood for a fight.

You still here? Glutton for punishment are you? FINE.

Things that bug the bejeevers out of me:

1. Clapping at Mass.

2. labelling a Mass (i.e. "healing Mass", "teen Mass", "polka Mass")
Mass is Mass. High Mass. Low Mass. Mass.

3. Laity who think they are the priest and actually say the priests words during Mass and/or copy the PRIEST'S gestures (you know what I'm talking about, "The Lord be with you ((offers hands forward))"..."and also with YOU" says the congregation shoving their hands forward too as if the priest is watching them or doesn't believe that we wish him peace unless we are flailing our hands around... Oh yeah, and don't forget, "WE LIFT THEM UP TO THE LORD!" be sure to extend your hands as high as possible so everyone catches on that this is what we're supposed to do now even though we haven't really done that for hundreds of years up until about 10 years ago or so.).

4. People who start a sentence with, "The Lord told me..." and really wish me to believe that God actually spoke to them the other day when they were having tea or whatever. It mostly bugs me because if I question it (and you KNOW I do!) they just dismiss me as a non-believer or a non-faithful person. PUH-LEASE! This ain't my first rodeo and I've come to find that the more you question things...ummmm...the more you find out the TRUTH! Is that a bad thing? ("is that a bad thing" phrase borrowed from people who defend the charismatic nonsense trying to illustrate why that stuff is good by the virtue of it "bringing people to the faith". Okay, well, I argue that sometimes a horrible accident or a life-threatening disease brings a person to the faith-does that make the cause an objective "good thing"? Does that mean we should do nothing to prevent horrible accidents or life-threatening diseases because "hey! they bring people closer to God!"?) I know way too many people that go for that kind of thing, hook, line, and sinker. I don't fault anyone for falling for some of the false visionaries, but I DO fault the false visionaries and their taking advantage of people who are grasping for hope in any place they can find it.

5. Leaving Mass right after communion. Why don't people know that this is wrong. They write bulletin notices about every thing these days, why not some little something on mass etiquette every week to remind people? I have enough faith in people to believe that most of us WANT to know what the proper thing to do is. Hey, I wonder what would happen if Father did a little experiment where one week, he doesn't say anything and the ushers count how many people rush out of church after communion ("rush" is probably not the right word, they are mostly ambling and NOT in a hurry) and count the NEXT week at the same Mass after making a quick, little comment during the homily? Hmmmmm.

6. Extraordinary ministers who don't know how to administer communion to people on the tongue and touch my tongue with their fingers. Sheesh! I'm pretty sure THEY don't like it all that much either! I make SURE to stick it waaaayyyy out there and tip my head back (sorry to be so crude), and wait a second so He doesn't fall to the floor...but every time, it seems, someone's fingers end up in my mouth. I don't know how this could be resolved. Practice? I don't know. Sometimes the priest does it too, but almost always it's not the priest. Also, don't get offended if I go to the priest to receive. For goodness sake! It's his job first and he's done it a LOT more times than you! Chances are his hands are nice and holy and so if they DO end up in my mouth, it's not quite as gross. Plus, I KNOW he's washed right before distribution. I saw him do it.

*7. Chimes. Do. Not. Belong. In Church. (neither do drums, but that almost goes without saying) I'm talking about that musical instrument that is supposed to sound "ethereal" or something, but just ends up scaring me and giving me a headache. Maybe some of you like the chimes (and drums) and that's just fine. I had a bad experience with them one time, and ever since they sound like fingernails on the chalkboard for me.

*8. I haven't encountered this one for a while but still should have made the original list:
Props. Pleeeeeeeease spare me of the props to illustrate things in your homily!!!! Unless it's a special ceremony for really, little kids (outside of Mass), I really don't need cheesy visuals to get the point.

Okay, I'm done for now. Don't cross me this week. Butch is going out of town for the second week in a row and I don't know how many screaming kid fits I will be able to take before I blow a gasket for real.

I neeeeeeed to go to confession for all of this pent up frustration and anger (oh yeah, there's even more of it than I let loose in this post!). Maybe my next post will be a happy, sunshiney post...with no mention of how much of a waste I think it is to have a huge team of young adults here doing (what?) stuff for a year and everyone being told how "lucky" we are to have them? Teens are a little too saavy to fall for the "on fire for the Lord", fakey smile, let me tell you MY life story and put on a skit because it's sooooo interesting and even though it's filled with scandal and stuff, I'm all good now and want to "give back" (doing what again?) by dedicating a year to God etc. etc.. Oh yeah, I'm THAT crabby about it. Sorry, no one will convince me that this is a great idea. Maybe that's my sin (obstinacy?), but I was that age too, once, and worked with NET people before. Forgive my pessimism about them, but it's based on experience, not based on any knowledge of these, particular individuals who could all be perfectly pie-in-the-sky, wonderful people.

Still glad you stayed? Happy now?

Can't say I didn't warn you!

I gotta go clean the bus, it looks like I had a whole NET team sleeping in it for a week or something.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Golden Compass

I’ve wanted to post on this for close to a month, but just never got around to it. Thomas Peters over at American Papist had in interesting post a while back about the new movie starring Nicole Kidman called The Golden Compass. Below is the extended trailor for the movie. The post also points to story over at CathNews:

Nicole Kidman has denied that a new film she's making is anti-Catholic. The movie features an organisation known as "The Magisterium", which kidnaps children to remove their souls.

The Brisbane Times reports that Kidman told a US magazine that her Catholic faith affected her consideration of the script for the film, which is titled The Golden Compass.

The fantasy film is based on a novel by Philip Pullman called Northern Lights. It is already attracting attention in the US for avoiding much of the book's perceived anti-Catholic rhetoric.

Kidman said some of the religious elements were removed from the movie script.

Kidman told the magazine: "I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence."

"I wouldn't be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic."

The Golden Compass is due for release in the US on 7 December.


Side Note:

I’ve been getting a few questions about where I’ve been lately, and why I haven’t posted. All can rest assured that I am still alive, am not experiencing a religious/emotional/relational trial, and am not having trouble with my computer or server.

I have been feverishly working on a project I need to finish. Every bit of free time I’ve had has been taken by it, and I can’t wait until it’s done! I’m hoping it won’t take more than another week, maybe sooner.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

It Was A Beautiful Day For A Festival!

Thank God for a wonderful day with perfect weather! It was so nice to see such big, consistent crowds all day long. I brought the kids up earlier in the day but they got pretty sick of the yellow jackets and we left after dropping a bunch of cash (Papa gives them money for the festival each year) on games and the cake walk. Butch couldn't be convinced to join in the festivities, so he bought us off with some cash and enjoyed the Vikings kid-free!

I thought the bible themes for the games this year was a super idea! I also loved the grandstand being on the end of the playing field instead of on the pavement. It was so nice to stretch out on the grass to listen to who won prizes instead of other years where we were crowded into chairs and fighting the yellow jackets over on the pavement.

I got to spend a few hours by myself filling out raffle tickets and socializing with some old high school buddies that I hadn't seen in a long time and other folks from around town.

We didn't come away with any BIG prizes this year, but we did get:
1. full stomachs from lots of mini-doughnuts and pretzels
2. about 10 dumdum suckers and tootsie rolls
3. sticky fingers and faces
4. the memory of Analise and Niklaus racing in the big, jumpy, slide thingy
5. a little dolly blanket and pillow that Mom bought for Mari
6. a slightly slimmer wallet
7. 3 holy card holders for the kid's desks (which, I assume, will turn into "my favorite pokemon card" holders)
8. a pro-life bumper sticker for "the bus"
9. this amazing picture that I paid a whole dollar for:

(Personally, I think Serviam! is a lot prettier here than a lot of the actual nuns that I've known. I wonder if he missed his calling?)

Ah, yes... God is Good and all is right with the world tonight!

I'm thinking that I need to raffle this picture off to the highest bidder and donate the funds to the "dimes for chimes" bell tower fund...any bidders?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Don't "Chicken Out" This Weekend....

OK, last chance to mark your colander, I mean calendar, to attend the Saint Michael Catholic Church Fall Festival! Chicken dinner, music, games, big prize giveaways, beer garden, and a kissing booth featuring Serviam!

September 8 & 9. Visit:

It'll be a great time for all, and we ARE GOING to have great weather....

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Humility: St. Francis De Sales and Mules

I had a nice long post written out on humility when I ran across a saint's writing that summed up everything I wanted to say, only in a whole lot better way.

If you haven't read the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis De Sales, I recommend you do - one of my favorites. Here is the paragraph I really liked:

"Certainly nothing can so effectively humble us before God's mercy as the multitude of his benefits and nothing can so deeply humble us before his justice as our countless offenses against him. Let us consider what he has done for us and what we have done against him, and as we reflect on our sins one by one let us also consider the graces one by one. There is no need to fear that knowledge of his gifts will make us proud if only we remember this truth, that none of the good in us comes from ourselves. Do mules stop being dull, disgusting beasts simply because they are laden with a prince's precious, perfumed goods?"

Humility: Knowing first that you are a dull, disgusting beast laden with a prince's precious perfumed goods, and second that God has a really huge soft spot for dull, disgusting beasts.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go!

My sis and I have been reflecting (in our at-least-thrice-daily conversations on the phone that take place in between screaming, demanding children, folding laundry, and a million other things) a lot about "work".

My sister works two days a week (outside the home) and bumps into all facets of the working world. She notices: secretaries, bosses, peer lawyers, janitorial staff (sometimes she has to work after hours to get projects done),(on her breaks and running errands she sees...) fast-food workers, grocery store employees, highway workers, dentists, bank tellers, construction workers...I mean, think about how many workers you run into in just the course of your every day life?

I don't get exposed to quite that many people on a daily basis, but recently, I got a job at night (after the kids are settled) at a local children's clothing store. I am getting to know the other workers as we unbox, refold or hang, and display the clothing. I am finding out about their lives, their work ethic (very good, all of them) and about other places they have worked.

We (sis and I) have really come to the conclusion that NO job is menial. Every job is important because every thing we do has a snowball effect on all of society. True, there might be varying degrees of repercussion depending on what's at stake for each, individual job...But my main point is this:
Do whatever job you have well, and you will be rewarded. Do it well and you will make others happy. Do it well and others will maybe follow your example which will improve ALL of mankind. Do your best, and you will do no less than glorify God!

I could list and link to a bazillion examples but I won't bore you with that, I'm sure you are thinking of one right now...aren't you?

I will give you one example:
When I go to the store (any store) and I see something not where it's supposed to be, I grab it and bring it up to the cashier. I didn't always do this before. I used to be one of those people who would change my mind about something and set it down any, old place (this was before I had children!) not caring about who had to pick it up and put it away eventually. Of course, I would justify this by saying (to myself) "Well, what do they pay their employees to do, anyway?". Yes, that was a real stinky attitude to have, but no one showed me any different. Working at this job has shown me that even in a small store, one thing out of place is a terrible inconvenience. I have to take the time to figure out where it's really supposed to go, bring it there, put it away nicely, then straighten everything else around it so it looks like it belongs there. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but multiply that ONE item by several dozen and now you have loads of time being taken on this task that could have been avoided had those people just been considerate and put it back where it goes in the first place! Also, (snowball effect example) I am taking time away from what I SHOULD be doing which is processing new things that have come I can get them into view...for the customers convenience and pleasure! If I don't get to THAT, then the boxes just get stored until someone has time to open them and process them out onto the floor. See? The customer who willy-nilly threw clothing around the store just cost themselves the chance at seeing new merchandise a little earlier, won't buy anything new for a while (because they've already seen what's available), the store loses money, can't pay their employees, goes out of business, the customer moans and complains because that was their favorite store, and everybody loses! Okay, I exaggerated the scenario a bit, but it applies to almost every occupation out there in some way.

If my husband does a poor job, people could die. The workers could be careless and lose their lives, the buildings could collapse and kill many people and destroy millions of dollars in property. Oh yeah, and if he did a poor job, he wouldn't have that job long and our family would be on some kind of welfare and taking money from people who decided to do a GOOD job, keep their job, and pay into the government to cover for people who don't make that decision.

I like this encyclical. It's one of my favorites (heehee, said as if I sit around all day reading encyclicals like SOME people I know!)

Here is something from the first paragraph:

"Man is made to be in the visible universe an image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth."

When I read this, I thought that it was interesting that he talks about other animals (creatures) and how they merely "work" to sustain their lives. He almost seems to say (in a way) that sustenance is not enough to be called "work". That "work" sets us apart and should be considered a noble effort...the noblest, because we are made in the image and likeness of GOD!

And God does NOT do shoddy work.