Archive for July, 2007

my NEW website ?

July 31, 2007 1 comment

Community ServerSince my webhost (GoDaddy) finally made Community Server 2007 available, I revisited my attempt to create a web community for a bunch of my interests.  A few months ago, I was trying to build some forums on vocations, youth ministry & righteous music, but offers most of what I was envisioning — and their new look is AWESOME.  Plus, I didn’t want to take away from their “Phat Phorum” with 3700 members, over 1 million posts, a “Vocation Station” and very committed to orthodoxy.

But, I still wanted to have a (web) place to post my christian concert & DJ training videos as well as pictures from ministry events (with some control to who can download & view).  Community Server allows me to do all that, plus full featured sections like FORUMS (with moderation & permission controls), DOWNLOADS (for users to post docs, videos, programs, music & more), unlimited BLOGS (for each user, if they’d like), customizable RSS FEED READERS, plus AGGREGATE FEEDS (pull blog posts from anywhere on the net with an RSS feed).

Kermit the Frog on desktopI’m starting to play with it and customize (I even bought a book), but it’s not as easy as it looks.  I’ve posted some photos of desktop wallpapers and pictures from the YES Retreat, but I’m stuck trying to get the RSS FEEDS working.  Since I don’t have the full “Corporate” edition, they don’t offer phone tech support.  I’m left with a book and their help forums.  The program is based in ASP.NET and I may be reaching my frustration limits.

My (crawling) construction job is at  Check it out and let me know what you think.  (and try registering, so I can play with the membership features).  — Anybody?  Kermit?

Categories: 01 ME, blogging

Catholic military chaplains

July 29, 2007 4 comments

military Catholics @ MassI finally received a packet from the Vocation’s Director of the Archdiocese for Military Services (AMS).  It contained a couple brochures specific to Catholic chaplains, but mostly brochures from the Army, Air Force & Navy.  I asked for the Marines, but I guess they’re considered part of the Navy.  Anyways, there’s some interesting figures:military Catholics @ Mass

  • The AMS serves 375,000 Catholic soldiers — 520,000 family members — 204,000 in Reserves & National Guard — 29,000 Catholic patients in 172 Medical Centers — & 66,000 Catholics in government service overseas (in 134 countries).

  • Geographically, the AMS is the largest in the Church, trans-national without borders at 220 installations in 29 countries.

  • To meet all those needs, they have fewer than 350 full-time Catholic military chaplains with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines & Coast Guard.
  • They have 480 priests serving part-time with Reserve forces & National Guard.
  • The priests serving full-time are on loan from 142 dioceses and 44 religious communities.

Catholic miliary chaplainAs excited I am about the military, I also realize the needs and dynamics of serving soldiers can be extremely diferent from Miami pastoral ministry.  I’d like to stay open to the possibility of a summer internship (in a theology year), but I don’t currently feel drawn into any permanent call.  — I need to slow down and focus on the now.  

Covenant House

Covenant House logoI finally filled out the volunteer application for Covenant House, a Catholic shelter for homeless teens (under age 21) on Ft. Lauderdale beach.  They’ve been looking to fill a “Pastoral Minister” position for years, but only recently found someone for the last couple of months.  They organize spiritual activities like prayer services, council, Bible study, and take kids to church (of various faiths).  It sounds like a difficult, but very necessary service for these teens.

After last months YES Retreat, which had a speaker from Covenant House, I decided to see if I could volunteer some time on the weekends, especially since our youth group is no longer active.  While trying to get to the place today, the police had 2 blocks around the building blocked off — I thought it was a hostage standoff.  Apparently, a dump truck driver knocked over some electrical poles and cause a major power outage.  Of all days that I pick to go!

Just to top things off, I found out the new “Pastoral Minister” is leaving in a couple of weeks.  — These kids just can’t get a break!    

Harry Potter is harmless?

July 21, 2007 6 comments

I’m not a big book reader, but I’ve always had reservations about the Harry Potter series.  With the last Harry Potter book coming out today, I found an article that would be interesting to debate, especially against a recent Florida Catholic article about the good in Harry Potter.

Deathly Hollows bookVatican’s Chief Exorcist Repeats Condemnation of Harry Potter Novels

By John-Henry Westen

ROME, March 1, 2006 ( – The Vatican’s chief exorcist, Rev. Gabriele Amorth, is reported to have repeated his condemnations of the Harry Potter novels yesterday.  According to press reports, Fr. Amorth, said of the books, “You start off with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil. There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books.”

“By reading Harry Potter a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil,” he said.

The news will come as no surprise to readers who recall that Fr. Amorth made very similar remarks in 2002 which went misreported in the North American media, until clarified the matter. 

In a 2002 interview with the Italian ANSA news agency, Rev. Amorth said “Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil.” The exorcist, with his decades of experience in directly combating evil, explained that J.K. Rowling’s books contain innumerable positive references to magic, “the satanic art”. He noted that the books attempt to make a false distinction between black and white magic, when in fact, the distinction “does not exist, because magic is always a turn to the devil.” (coverage: )

At the time, however, North American coverage of Rev. Amorth’s warnings about Potter significantly downplayed the warnings. The New York Times coverage by Melinda Henneberger, which was carried in Canada’s National Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and on Yahoo Daily News left out most of the information in the European coverage, only quoting Rev. Amorth as saying that “If children can see the movie with their parents, it’s not all bad.”

North America’s most prominent Harry Potter critic, Michael O’Brien, has told that the movie version has significantly cleaned up Harry’s image, making it far less troublesome than the books.

Another condemnation of Harry Potter coming from Rome was not widely reported until’s intervention.  When in 2003, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger allowed his comments against the novels to be aired publicly, the news was reported in Europe, but not in America.  However, when in 2005 published Ratzinger’s letter concerning Potter online, the international media exploded with the news that the new Pope opposed Harry Potter. (coverage: )

Writing to Germany’s best known Potter critic Gabriele Kuby, the man who was to become Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “It is good that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.”

The original article can be found at while a great forum discussion is at PhatMass at

Y.E.S. Retreat video

July 18, 2007 2 comments

YES 2007 GroupI just finished editing DAY #2 and added 42 more pictures!

For status of the Y.E.S. Retreat video, the MASTER LIST of YES event links is HERE.

SJV pre-Theology program

The website for St. John Vianney College Seminary has a new look.  It loads kind of slow, but looks pretty cool.  I got excited when I saw the “tour of the chapel” because I thought it would give a detailed explanation of the mural above the altar (like they did at “Vocation Awareness Weekend”), but all it has is 3 close up pics of the front.  — still better than the old sight.

Nevertheless, I finally know my courses for the 2-year Pre-Theology program (below) that I’m in.  They also have the details of the Collegiate (4-year) program, news & a calendar for next year.  — looks good. 

SJV Pre-Theology program

Miami seminary – part 2

St. Raphael ChapelAfter my last post, I got a response from a former student at St. John Vianney Seminary High School in the 1970’s.  He hosts a website to track former students and faculty to see where they are now.  He has some great historical info and pictures about the campus.  Apparently, the school used to teach young men in 9-12 grade from 1959 to 1975.  It has some great pictures of St. Raphael Chapel (pictured here) from the 40th Anniversary in 1999.  —nice. 

Miami seminary

July 14, 2007 1 comment

St John Vianney Seminary videoI was looking on the Archdiocese of Miami website for a video of catholic military chaplains that is no longer on their video page (–I downloaded it last year).  There is, however, a great little video about St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami (which I’m starting next month) called “A Call to Faith” (DSL or dialup).

Father Michael CarruthersWhile I continued searching the website, I found a great article from last year called, “The people of God deserve the best.”  It’s an interview with Father Michael Carruthers, the new rector of St. John Vianney Seminary.  He spoke about the quality and “wholesomeness” of the young men who are entering the seminary today.  I found a profile on him as well as 24 other priests on another page called Building the City of God.”  Besides hearing some great homilies last November @ the “Seminary Vocation Weekend,” I personally met with Father Carruthers (as part of the application process) and was very impressed by his sincerity, encouragement and attentive ear.  — he’s definitely someone I look forward to grow with. 

car repair

Villager engineFor the past 4 days I’ve been helping my father replace the gaskets for the valve covers of his minivan.  That may sound easy, but removing the manifold covering one side took 2 days (lots of hoses & electrical to disconnect).  That was supposed to stop an oil leak, but it didn’t.  We did find a power-steering hose leaking … but replacing that clamp only took 15 minutes.  — the oil leak search goes on.

Categories: 01 ME

military priests

July 10, 2007 2 comments

Reading and writing about military chaplains over the past couple of days awoke my passion for the military.  I wrote an email to the Archdiocese of Military Services, and got a response from Auxiliary Bishop Estabrook.Military Catholics @ MassThe Archdiocese of Military Services doesn’t take priests directly but rather accepts priests “on loan” from individual dioceses for a period of three years and up.  They don’t have a seminary or incardinate priests. All their priests must have been priests and had a pastoral assignment for at least three years before coming on active duty.Each Service has a seminary program. When accepted by that Service and with permission of your diocese, you could be commissioned a reserve officer while in theology and have a chance to serve at an installation sometime during your studies just to see what the chaplaincy is like.

Father Chandler, the Vocations Director, will be sending me materials and be in touch.  — I’ll see what happens.

military Catholics

Military Catholics @ MassIn the July edition of the Knights of Columbus monthy Columbia magazine, I found an article profiling Catholic American soldiers.  There are an estimated 300,000 Catholic in the U.S. armed forces, most of them age 18-29.  While the number of baptized Catholics in the military (28%) reflects the general population — only about 5% of them are regular churchgoers.

Military life entails peculiar demands.  Many are away from home for the first time — preparing for action or stationed in a war zone.  They face increased responsibilities and family pressures unlike any in civilian life.  Changes in deployment happen at a moment’s notice.  Young married couples often face the strain of long-term separations.  They often have little contact with chaplains, whose small numbers (only 8% of all chaplains) cannot meet ministerial demands. 

In ALL of the U.S., Catholic young adults ages 18-30 attend Mass more — 21% every week, 35% at least once a month, 28% a few times a year, and 15% rarely or never.  At first, I thought that during wartime, a soldier seeking a refuge from battle would pursue a hunger for faith & spirituality even more than a civilian.  But after considering all the pressures they face, I can understand the difference in the numbers.

soldier with crucifixIn response to these number, the Military Archdiocese of the U.S., led by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, initiated a program called Catholics Seeking Christ (CSC).  The 1 year old program, funded by the Knights of Columbus, uses small groups and peer ministers to strengthen the Catholic identity of military personnel.  They use extensive resources, including DVDs and CDs.  I pray for the success of their efforts and for ALL our troops.  — it sounds like a program I’d like to be part of.

military prayers

military Catholic prayerbookIn the July edition of the Knights of Columbus monthy Columbia magazine, I found a 64-page Catholic prayer booklet called, “Armed with the Faith: A Catholic Handbook for Military Personnel.”  It features traditional prayers, devotions, hymns, catechism and more.  The military version is a 5×7-inch waterproof and tearproof booklet.  The civilian version is on paper and can be downloaded here in Acrobat pdf format (333 KB).  It’s available directly from the Knights.  I also found it available for only $1 at an online Catholic store called  I might just have to get these for our Confirmation kids next year.  — but I want one first!


July 6, 2007 2 comments

No Trespassing signI was looking for some seminarian blogs on WordPress and found a thoughtful (maybe too much so) blog about the line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  JustJen, a Protestant seminarian/minister writes:

… To trespass is something so much more powerful than to sin or to be in debt. If you have sinned, you’ve done something wrong. If have a debt, you owe someone something. If you have trespassed, you have been wandering around in places you do not belong. You’re traipsing, searching, stomping. Whatever you’re doing, you weren’t invited. You are where you do not belong.

No Trespassing signYou’re lounging underneath the forbidden tree waiting ignorantly for another piece of forbidden fruit. Your gaze is fixed on the wrong .com. Or your heart is fixed on absolutely nothing but yourself. You live on the couch or under your covers or in the closet or in the bar.

You’re backseat driving someone else’s life. You help them blur the sacred and profane. You violate their spaces, their senses and their self-esteem.

You have gone where you do not belong. You have trespassed. Against God. Against others. Against yourself.

Turning around and climbing back over the barbed wire fence or quietly sneaking out the back door will not help. When you go where you do not belong, damage is done even if you don’t see it yet. Property gets destroyed and trust gets violated. You can’t just say I’m sorry or try to pay it back.

See? I can apologize and I can pay back anything I owe. But when I have trespassed, it’s just too complex. There’s no way I’m getting out of it and no way everything can be made whole and right outside the help of Christ.

She’s too deep for me.  I think she’s saying a trespass is worse than just a sin, but I don’t see it.  — Anyone else?  Kermit?

Categories: Protestant

Happy is God’s Will?

Continuing the discussion on “following God & seeking His Will” from last Sunday’s readings, I recall an experience. — Last year I was at a men’s study group where everyone was asked “How do you know you are following God’s will in your life?”  After we spend some time getting everyone’s opinion (I forgot what I said), the facilitator (a priest) answered simply “When you’re happy.”

happy faceWHAT?!?!  I hate that answer!  (In his defense, we were running out of time and I think he was moving the meeting alongHappiness is relative and can be found in anything.  Even doing something bad or sinful can have temporary (or fake longterm) happiness … that’s WHY we do bad things … it fills the “God-size” void we have.

Happiness is a feeling we get … and you can’t always trust feelings.  “Joy,” on the other hand, is different.  We get “joy” by knowing we have salvation through an active relationship with God.  You can always be joyful even though circumstances may make us miserable and very UNhappy.

If a believer is being persecuted for their faith, are they following God’s will?  Even though they’re not “happy” at the moment?  Do we fast to be “happy”?  I hope I misunderstood the answer, because I need some clarification.  — Anyone else?  Kermit?


July 4, 2007 1 comment

Transformers Movie (2007)
AWESOME movie!  Well worth the wait!  “Til all are ONE!”

Categories: movie

“holiness” in Rise … by John Paul II

With a bad rainstorm (drought-relief) today, I started re-reading John Paul II‘s book, Rise, Let Us be on Our Way.” Although it mainly reflects on his journey to and through becoming a bishop, it is written for everyone.  It’s a simple read with great personal insight and advice for all Christians.  Here are some points I highlighted from the Ordination Liturgy parts of  “Vocation” (section 1):

At a priestly ordination, the hands area anointed; at an episcopal [bishop] ordination the head is anointed.  This signifies the call to new responsibilities: the bishop will have the task of guiding the Church, which will palce great demands on him. … The ring on the bishop’s finger signifies that he is married to the Church, the sign of fidelity … to protect the holy Church, bride of Christ. … The Book of Gospels is given to remind of a bishop’s calling, to not only serve, but he must be a teacher. … The miter is a reminder of his commitment to let the “light of holiness shine in him” like a “city on a hill” (Mt 5:14) to be “a living example to the flock” (1 Pet 5:3). … The crosier is a sign of the authority that enables the bishop to fulfill his duty to care for his flock.

Outside of the cool symbols, what really struck me was the personal call to holiness that ALL need to find.

The essential meaning of holiness is that it is always personal, and that each and every man is called to it.  All members of the people of God are called, but each is called in a unique and unrepeatable manner.  … A shepherd must watch, protect and lead every sheep to discover that holiness is not “some kind of extraordinary existence, possible only for a few ‘uncommon heroes’ of holiness.  The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual.”  What a great potential of grace lies dormant in the vast numbers of the baptized!

I can say no more.


July 2, 2007 1 comment

Michael Moore's I saw the new Michael Moore movie, “Sicko.” It was exactly what I expected … entertaining, sarcastic, biased, and 1 sided.  Even though I know he’s presenting real-life situation (that I have seen for myself), he presents NO solutions to our country’s health care problems.  Is he suggesting we go to a “socialize medicine” system?  As great as it may sound in a perfect world, our country has spent too much time, money and effort in creating the private profit-run system we have today.  I have no idea where we would even begin a major overhaul!  

We know that changing a dictatorship to democracy (like in Iraq) has extreme growing pains … private to socialize health care would definitely “hurt.”  The health care industry has become an established cornerstone of our country’s economy.  Not to say money is more important than our health, but “money” is essentially the issue.  The current industry influences other industries (stock prices & our retirement/investment accounts), competative salaries to have the best doctors & services & new innovations, and more.

When it comes to socialized medicine, we have 2 main models.  In Single-payer health care, the government pays for all health care costs, while hospitals and doctors’ practices may remain private (–yeah, like that will last).  In Two-tier health care (used in most developed countries, like Canada), a guaranteed public health care system exists where a private system operates in parallel. The private system has the benefit of shorter waiting times and more luxurious treatment, but costs far more than the public one for patients.  Canada puts so many restrictions on the private sector with billing restrictions that the only identifiable “two-tier” is that the wealthy can go to the U.S. for treatment, and quite a few Canadians do each year.  If these systems are so “great,” than why doesn’t everybody have access of getting the same level of care … having to leave their own system to the “greedy” U.S. system?

What’s the answer?  I don’t know, but something needs to be changed.  I don’t see any revolution coming, unless we experience a “health care 9/11” that gives the government an opportunity to save the day.  I’m waiting to hear some good ideas.

The only current idea I can see is the growing use of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) under a Consumer Driven Health Care (CDHC) system.  These efforts claim to bring back free-market variables into the healthcare system that will encourage competition, lower prices and improve service.  This seems to be the only realistic system that can be integrated into our mess of a health care without overturning everything.  Plus, I didn’t here Michael Moore mention it in the movie, so he’s probably afraid it’ll work.  —but, what do I know?    

“follow me” & trust

July 1, 2007 3 comments

plowToday’s readings spoke directly to me.  In the first reading (1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21), Elijah (directed by the Lord) called Elisha to follow and succeed him as a prophet to the people.  Elisha recognized God’s call and left his life, sacrificed (literally), and did God’s will wholeheartedly, knowing a prophet’s life is miserable (but the retirement benefits are out of this world).

Then, in the Gospel reading (Lk 9:51-62), some disciples tell Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  (–easier said than done)  When some start to hesitate, Jesus reminds them, “… go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  They declare they’re willing, but don’t give up their old lives to respond to the call.  Jesus sums up with “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I need some clarification here!  The basic message seems to be the first commandment, “trust God wholeheartedly without reservations.”  But the fine print seems blurry.  How “blindly” are we to follow “God’s will.”  It seems to be a extremist’s motto.  It’s demanding, unquestionable and instantaneous.  Where’s the discernment process?

As we discern God’s will for the “big” things in our lives, like choosing a vocation to the priesthood, religious life, marriage or the single life, hearing the call is difficult.  I guess that’s why discernment takes so long.  But how do you know when you have an answer or final decision that has God’s hologram stamp?  I’ve heard that some who become priests still have doubts, even after a 6-9 year discernment process.  Some closure would be the least you could get for a lifelong commitment.  — Is it just me?