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Happy 83rd Birthday, Holy Father!

Today is the 83rd Birthday of Our Most Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  This video was from his visit back in 2008.

Catholic Cartoon Blog

I ran across this Catholic Cartoon Blog with some “Cartoons based on happenings in the Catholic Church, or in the world at large from a Catholic viewpoint.”  — I added it to my blog roll.

Lots of comments and discussion about the Catholic Church and the world.  Check it out.

Vatican praises The Simpsons

March 17, 2010 3 comments

I’m not a huge fan of The Simpsons, but I just watched a episode about Bart going to Catholic school called “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star.” [S16E21] In the classic Simpsons’ satire, Bart & Homer become Catholic while Protestant Marge tries to bring them back. WOW! A great episode to use with high school discussion groups. This episode touches on all kinds of questions about faith and religion (and there’s lots of paintball in it, too!).

I also found an article about the Vatican praising The Simpsons show.

Animated US television show, The Simpsons has gathered praise from the Roman Catholic Church for their “realistic” way of dealing with religion and spreading happiness among viewers. An article published in the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano has lauded the long-running show, insisting “many today wouldn’t know how to laugh” if the series hadn’t been aired, reported Contactmusic.

The newspaper story thanked the show’s producers for depicting family patriarch Homer’s struggle with his own faith through its 20 years on the small screen. “Homer finds in God his last refuge, even though he sometimes gets His name sensationally wrong. But these are just minor mistakes, after all; the two know each other well,” the article said. The story also insisted that The Simpsons success is due to its “realistic and intelligent writing”.

The same newspaper had recently paid tribute to ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’, for highlighting the “sacrifice” needed for good to triumph over evil.

WOW! Who would think The Simpsons would be watched at the Vatican?  What next, Family Guy?

icon of Christ the Great High Priest

November 24, 2009 1 comment

As we are in the Year of the Priest, the USCCB website has some great resources as we spend this year with greater prayer and focus on Priesthood.  This icon is a beautiful symbol for priesthood.  More info on the iconographer and opportunity to buy an 18″ x 24″ poster here.

This icon (egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panel, 28” x 22”) is “based on a fifteenth century Greek prototype; here Christ is shown in Latin Rite vestments with a gold pelican over His heart, the ancient symbol of self-sacrifice. The borders contain a winding grapevine and altar prepared for the celebration of the liturgy of the Mass; in the borders are smaller icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.”  Incidentally, it is St. John Vianney whom Pope Benedict XVI, with the announcement of this special year, has declared the Universal Patron of Priests.

can laity replace priests?

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

While the lay faithful share in the “common priesthood,” they are not ordained ministers of Christ and His Church. “Hence,” the Pope cautioned, “it is important to avoid the secularization of clergy and the ‘clericalization’ of the laity.”

Check out the full article from the Catholic New Agency (CNA).

Christopher West with Theology of the Body at SJVCS

September 17, 2009 Leave a comment

090917_SJVCS-Christopher-West-Theology-of-the-BodyToday my seminary friends at St John Vianney College Seminary in Miami were blessed with a day of lectures on Pope John Paul II’s ” Theology of the Body” by renown speaker Christopher West, founder of the Theology of the Body Institute.

I’m guessing his lecture was very similar to the 2-day lecture he gave at IPF this past summer on “Priestly Celibacy and the Redemption of Sexuality.”   See day #1 at IPF (plus video of Christopher West lectures).  See day #2 at IPF.

current news item:  Following debate, two bishops affirm ‘strong support’ for Christopher West

Weblinks to Theology of the Body resources:

[thanks to Javier Barreto for the picture]

Christopher West & “Theology of the Body” (day 2)

090626-0945_IPF-Christopher-West-Theology-of-the-BodyToday was day #2 (see day #1 here) of the highly anticipated lecture by Christopher West, titled “Priestly Celibacy and the Redemption of Sexuality.”  It was a presentation of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” directed for us seminarians in our journey toward priesthood.  It was very rich in theological language, yet applied to our immediate lives, especially in the area of our personal sexuality.  It was very well received.

He used a lot of song references from the 80’s to highlight points.  I wrote some points for my reflection as I was trying to keep up:

  • Theology cannot only be “in the head” … it must be “in the will” as well
  • mysticism or neurosis
  • Carl Rainer, “Christianity will be mystical or nothing at all.”
  • Ephesians 5 is the summa.
  • Marriage is liturgy and liturgy is marriage.
  • A married man can become a priest, but not vice versa.
  • First choose between marriage or a consecrated celibate … then discern priesthood.
  • Sang Steve Winwood’s song “Bring Me a Higher Love

See day #1 of lecture, with links on Theology of the Body & video of Christopher West.

Christopher West & Theology of the Body (day 1)

090625-0820_IPF-Christopher-West-Theology-of-the-BodyToday was the highly anticipated lecture by Christopher West, titled “Priestly Celibacy and the Redemption of Sexuality.”  It was a presentation of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” directed for us seminarians in our journey toward priesthood.  It was very rich in theological language, yet applied to our immediate lives, especially in the area of our personal sexuality.  It was very well received … and this was only day #1.

He used a lot of song references from the 80’s to highlight points.  I wrote some points for my reflection as I was trying to keep up:

  • 80’s song “Blinded by Science” –> science has blinded us;  our bodies are theological, not only biological
  • U2 song “Desire
  • Peter Gabriel’s song “In Your Eyes” lyrics demonstrate a “twisted mystic” that hints at “Song of Songs”
  • In seminary, we learn to “inseminate” the “bride” (Church)
  • Bruce Springstein’s song “Everybody has a Hungry Heart
  • Bookends of the Bible begins with Adam & Eve and ends with the NEW Adam (Jesus) & the NEW Eve (Church).  This is a great analogy of how “God wants to marry us”
  • Are we eating from “fast food” or a “starvation diet”
  • “Idolatry of body” verses “Iconography (window to heaven) of body”
  • Devil is the “enemy” of human nature (body & soul union).  He wants to separate.  Horror movies show this with ghosts or corpses.
  • On the Cross, the giving “flow of blood & water” is the giving of “His seminal flow” (from St Augustine)
  • Eve “takes” the apple (gift) denying the trust of “receiving” the gift
  • Lust “extorts the gift”
  • Even my will is “grace.”  “All is grace.”

Weblinks to Theology of the Body resources:

vocations posters

Archdiocese of Cincinnati Vocations websiteFound a blog post about efforts to promote vocations using “vocation posters” by Catholic Sensibility.  He references an article in the Kansas City Star.  The Church has been getting more creative with its efforts … creative posters … blogs … vocation websites (check out Cincinnati’s Vocation website!), but it must foster an “environment of discernment” on the parish level … that’s more affective than any poster.

By the way, we took a group picture with all Miami seminarians back in December for a new “vocation poster,” but haven’t seen or heard about it yet.

Today begins a 2 week pilgrimage in the Archdiocese of Miami of a monstrance blessed by Pope John Paul II to encourage vocations, especially in this Golden Jubilee year.  It starts today at the Cathedral and travels to a different parish each day, ending on Sunday April 20 here at St John Vianney College Seminary. (flyer with all location here — pdf Acrobat file)

Communion & Liberation

February 2, 2008 2 comments

Christopher Bacich of Communion and Liberation (CL) at St John Vianney College Seminary, Miami, FLCOMMUNION & LIBERATION — this morning was a special presentation in St Raphael Chapel here at St John Vianney College Seminary.  We had a keynote speaker, Christopher Bacich, leader of Communion and Liberation in the USA, introducing the latest book by founder Luigi Giussani called “Is It Possible to Live this Way?”  The lay ecclesial movement, “CL” for short, is worldwide with an active presence here is South Florida.  There are regular meetings nearby the seminary, that do small group spiritual readings (from Luigi Giussani’s books) and discuss their faith experiences together.  Besides priests (like Fr Chris Marino, spiritual director here & pastor of Visitation Parish) and religious who belong to the movement, the movement has consecrated lay men and women who are committed to lifelong celibacy, known as the Memores Domini, who keep things going (one man lives down the street from the seminary).

Christopher Bacich of Communion and Liberation (CL) at St John Vianney College Seminary, Miami, FLThe regular group meetings are called School of Community.  [from flyers they handed out:]  In it, participants learn to perceive the sense of the Mystery, upon which our life depends, and to live the Catholic faith through a companionship within everyday life.  Community life is built through the School of Community, a weekly meeting open to everyone (no membership is needed) and held in places such as high schools, universities, parishes or workplaces with study and discussion about a text.  The text (the same for all communities around the world) communicates the experiences of Father Giussani’s charism in a systematic form that helps us understand our lives and life of the Church and of the world.  In South Florida, here are the current locations for meetings:

For High School students:

For College Students & Professors:

For Adults:

  • Visitation Parish (19100 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33169) in activity room, Tuesday at 7:30pm.  Contact Elena Nunez (evnunez@bellsouth.net).
  • NEW School of Community beginning in South West Miami.  Location and time to be determined.  Contact Eduardo & Martina Stadelmann (martina.stadelmann@gmx.net or 305-495-7597).

Presentation of the Lord Mass with Archbishop Favalora at St John Vianney College Seminary, Miami, FLMore info about Communion and Liberation on Wikipedia, CL USA website and CL international website.  Apparently, Pope Benedict XVI has been a supporter of this movement back when he was Cardinal Ratzinger and has his own weekly meetings on Saturdays at the Vatican.

The event ended with a beautiful bi-lingual Mass with Archbishop Favalora, another great supporter of the CL movement, especially here in South Florida.  — a great presentation by Fr Chris Marino and guest speaker Christopher Bacich (“Einstein of love”)  🙂

CCD + catechesis crisis

January 28, 2008 1 comment

Ministry Class @ St John Vianney College Seminary, Miami, FLMINISTERIAL PRACTICUM – (Fr Michael) — since the weather was so nice, we had class outside in the grass and discussed the current state of catechesis in the Catholic Church.  Whether you call it CCD or Religious Education or Christian Formation, it’s essentially teaching the Catholic faith to adults or children (either in private Catholic Schools or weekly evening for public schoolers).  We started by sharing, comparing & contrasting our own experiences in CCD verses private Catholic Schools.  We highlighted the good and bad areas that need work, including better textbooks, better catechist training, more challenging truth (and less warm & fuzzy emotion-only faith), and other issues.

I can identify with many of these issues, especially since I’ve been a Pre-Confirmation catechist for (mostly) 7th graders for about the last 15 years.  Even when a catechist commits lots of time, effort & prayer to present catechist attractively, relevantly and challengingly, frustration stiffle your efforts that perpetuates generation to generation producing ignorant Catholics with a childish knowledge of their Catholic faith.  Improvements are coming … through the Church … through a committed laity … through our perseverence … to share the Gospel message of Christ in words and lessons and, most importantly, a living witness in “me”, in order to fullfill my role and awaken all I encounter.

Despite the obstacles and frustrations, I recall a quote from Pope John Paul II about teaching the faith to young people that illustrated my approach to catechesis and youth ministry through the years.  [I’m still looking for the exact quote and will post here … check back]  

[related resource: CATECHESI TRADENDAE (On Catechesis In Our Time) 1979 by Pope John Paul II]

beast of burden + men are right + Unknown God + body theology

January 14, 2008 1 comment

Pope Benedict XVI coat of armsMASS – (Fr Michael) — today’s Mass intention was for Pope Benedict XVI, very appropriately with the Gospel reading of Jesus telling Peter to “Feed My Sheep.”  The story behind the significance of the Corbinian Bear on the Pope’s coat of arms (upper right) was told.  According to the background on Saint Corbinian (a Frankish bishop), a bear killed his pack horse on his way to Rome so the saint commanded the bear to carry his load.  Pope Benedict XVI first adopted the symbol when, still known as Joseph Ratzinger, he was appointed Archbishop of Freising-Munich in March of 1977.  He retained the bear in his revised coat of arms when becoming Cardinal in the same year and when elected to Pope in 2005.  In addition to the obvious reference back to St. Corbinian, the founder of the diocese where Benedict was bishop, the bear represents Benedict himself being “tamed by God” as a “beast of burden” to bear the spiritual burdens of Benedict’s own ministries first as bishop, then as cardinal, and now as pope.

AQUINAS – (Fr Vallee) — more on Modernity and the extremes of Rationalism (reason) & Fideism (faith).  Nature + supernature.  Grace + nature.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge quote: “Most men are right in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.”

CONTEMPORARY PHIL – (Fr Santos) — opening quiz on reading of Kierkegaard‘s “Equilibrium between the Aesthetic & the Ethical” in his book Either/Or.  Introduced “inauthentic existence,” “radical subjectivity,” “disolving into a mutitude,” and self as “task” & “a dynamic process.”

St Paul in Athens & the Unknown GodMEDIEVAL PHIL – (Fr Vallee) — reviewed Stoicism and reflected on St Paul in Athens (Acts 17), especially his approach to preaching the gospel message among the Greeks of his time about their statue to the “Unknown God.”

MINISTERIAL METHODS – (Fr Michael) — “Classroom Management.” 

RECTOR’s CONFERENCE – (Fr Michael) — usually on Thursday, this was an exceptional day since this Thursday we’re hosting the seminarians from the St Vincent’s Major Seminary in Boyton Beach, FL.  Today’s topic was (part 2 of 3) on the Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

DOTS — night walk — Superman Returns — busy day

  

practical atheism

On the first day back to seminary after a 2 week Christmas break, the Rector Fr Michael had a Rector’s Conference disguised as an “Orientation Meeting” with some great points to think about as we begin a 4 day silent retreat tonight.

Beware of “practical atheism” when we say our prayers … and don’t live them.

Christianity is a lifestyle, not just an idea.  C.S. Lewis quote: For when you get down to it, is not the popular idea of Christianity simply this: that Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher and that if only we took His advice we might be able to establish a better social order and avoid another war?” [from chapter 23 of Mere Christianity]

Pope Benedict XVI quote on priesthood:

The priest must be a believer, one who converses with God. If this is not the case, then all his activities are futile. The most lofty and important thing a priest can do for people is first of all being what he is: a believer. Through faith he lets God, the other, come into the world. And if the other is not at work, our work will never be enough; When people sense that one is there who believes, who lives with God and from God, hope becomes a reality for them as well. Through the faith of the priest, doors open up all around for people: it is really possible to believe, even today. All human believing is a believing-with, and for this reason the one who believes before us is so important. In many ways this person is more exposed in his faith than the others, since their faith depends on his and since, at any given time, he has to withstand the hard-ships of faith for them….

There is a mutual given-and-take in faith in which priests and lay people become mediators of the nearness of God for one another. The priest must also nurture the humility of such receiving in himself ….

The first “task” a priest has to do is to be a believer and to become one ever anew and ever more. Faith is never simply there automatically; it must be lived. It leads us into conversation with God which involves speaking and listening to the same degree. Faith and prayer belong together; they cannot be separated. The time spent by a priest on prayer and listening to Scripture is never time lost to pastoral care or time withheld from others. People sense whether the work and words of their pastor spring from prayer fabricated at his desk.  [Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from A New Song for the Lord, tr. by Martha M Matesich, NY: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1996, and quoted in Magnificat for Holy Thursday, March 24, 2005.]

[Other links not mentioned todayThe Nature of Priesthood (1990 speech by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) … Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily to Seminarians in Cologne: “If You Abide in Christ, You Will Bear Much Fruit” (August 19, 2005 World Youth Day Meeting)]

According to St John of the Cross, few will have an ecstacy prayer experience.  Opening poem of his Dark Night of the Soul [insert here].

Ended with a guided meditation, “Feed my sheep.”

Pope to Baptists

December 28, 2007 2 comments

One ChurchI ran across a short speech Pope Benedict XVI gave to the ecumenical council for the Baptist World Alliance on December 6, 2007.  Here’s an excerpt (the last line is deep):

As believers in Christ, we acknowledge him as the one mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim 2:5), our Saviour, our Redeemer. He is the cornerstone (Eph 2:21; 1 Pet 2:4-8); and the head of the body, which is the Church (Col 1:18). In this Advent season, we look to his coming with prayerful expectation. Today, as ever, the world needs our common witness to Christ and to the hope brought by the Gospel. Obedience to the Lord’s will should constantly spur us, then, to strive for that unity so movingly expressed in his priestly prayer: “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). For the lack of unity between Christians “openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and harms the most holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1).

where’s Heaven?

December 27, 2007 Leave a comment

heaven in the heartA thoughtful closing to Pope Benedict’s 2007 homily at Midnight Mass (reposted by Fr Stephanos, OSB on his blog Me Monk Me Meander).

In the stable at Bethlehem, Heaven and Earth meet. … Just as the sinner is called ‘Earth’, so by contrast the just man can be called ‘Heaven'” (Sermo in monte II 5, 17). Heaven does not belong to the geography of space, but to the geography of the heart. And the heart of God, during the Holy Night, stooped down to the stable: the humility of God is Heaven. And if we approach this humility, then we touch Heaven. Then the Earth too is made new. With the humility of the shepherds, let us set out, during this Holy Night, towards the Child in the stable! Let us touch God’s humility, God’s heart! Then his joy will touch us and will make the world more radiant. Amen.

must read Bible

November 30, 2007 Leave a comment

Bible = sharp knifeI stumbled upon this graphic while looking for a grocery list [it’s my new Pre-T house job to keep food stocked].  It instantly reminded me of one of my favorite Scripture passage, that I would teach on the first day of 7th grade Pre-Confirmation classes.  Hebrews 4:12-13 says,

Indeed,the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.

I also recall a newsflash I read in the Florida Catholic this week about Pope Benedict XVI urging Christians must read the Bible.  He highlighted St Jerome’s famous line, “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  — we can never say it enough

“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.

Pope, drugs & Brazil

Pope in Brazil (May 2007)I read an article in the Miami Herald today on Pope Benedict XVI in Brazil saying “Drug dealers face God’s wrath”on the front page.  Americans (especially non-believers) must see that (like I did) and say “Duh! — the Pope just discovered drugs are bad?”  I think it’s because most Americans forget how many Latin American countries have government officials so influenced by drug dealers (like special interests in our country), that they’ve been numbed to any promises of changes.  A fresh outside voice may jump-start the hard work that needs to be done to bring healing.  With nearly half of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics in Latin America, the churches are experiencing an “exodus” of the faithful, like in Europe:

”People only go to church to ask for a favor, and when they get it, they go away.” …”People don’t know what church they belong to anymore, and they’re trying out everything.”

Surveys show that although Brazil remains the world’s largest Roman Catholic country, Catholics are now only 64% of the population, down from 89% in 1980. Those calling themselves evangelical Protestants rose to 15% from 7%.

What’s going on?  I can’t say I’m surprised about the numbers.  What’s always surprised me is how most Latin Americans can be Catholic in the first place.  They have such an extremely patriarchal culture, where woman are expected to ignore “modesty” and ignore their men’s extra-extramarital affairs as a by-product of being over-sexualized.  I understand that our response to our Catholic faith differs dependent on our culture, but this kind of culture make Catholicism so superficial that it justify the exodus.  I hope and pray that the Latin American and Caribbean bishops’ conference finds some practical ways to awaken a “purified” fruitful response, and not just a paper mission statement.  If they don’t, ministry to Latin Americans, especially in south Florida, will continue to be an uphill battle that the church can’t ignore.

Kermit?  Anyone?