Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bethlehem redux

Three years ago, Jeff Miller (aka the Curt Jester) posted a somewhat-lengthy discussion of the Christmas movies he’d been watching. Along the way, he noted just how many of them hit the same themes over and over: 1) Family is important; 2) Materialism is bad; and 3) Santa Claus is real. On the other hand, the only other option seems to be watching some iteration or other of the Nativity story. Couldn’t somebody, Miller wondered, manage to write a story that would hit the Nativity themes without being a Nativity movie?

It sounds like an interesting idea. At least, until you ask yourself: How do you separate the themes of the Nativity from the fact of it? Three years and two or three dozen Hallmark Channel movies later, it still seems a terribly difficult task.

Let me set the scene:

For thousands of years, in the midst of the toil and heartache of survival, humans have been wrestling with the apparent indifference of the universe to their existence. They’ve watched children come into the world and loved ones go out, and learned that the strange phenomenon called life is ephemeral—brought forth in pain, yet destroyed so easily. “Why,” they’ve asked the remote, abstracted heavens, “why all this pleasure and suffering and joy and sorrow and health and sickness and war and wedding, if it all comes to nothing at the end of our days? Is there a purpose to all of this? Do we matter at all in the grand scheme of the cosmos? Is there nothing about our scratching to survive and fighting to love that inflames some greater being to pity?”

Read more at Catholic Stand!

And just as a reminder, you can follow this link to contribute to the Knights of Columbus St. Mark Council's annual charity drive. Please help us make a difference in the lives of North Texans!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Annual Charity Drive!

Looking for some worthy causes to donate to, but don't have the time? Let the Knights of Columbus take care of that for you!

Okay, so that's a little tongue-in-cheeky.

Just to give a little background, for those of you who are kinda foggy as to who and what we are: 

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Based mostly in the US, its territories and foreign bases, there are also chapters in Canada, Mexico, Poland, Guatemala and other nations. Originally formed as a mutual benefit society for poor immigrants, we now donate over $160 million in direct contributions and 70 million man-hours of labor to various good works. We also have over $90 billion in insurance policies in force, backed by $19.8 billion in assets, with the highest of ratings. The Knights have also done some political lobbying over the years, but that's only one small part of our total effort on behalf of the Catholic Church; no, we have no albino assassins.

Now, to cut to the chase: Black Friday weekend is when my council (St. Mark, Denton, Texas) holds its annual charity drive. All the money collected this weekend — that's right, all as in "100%" — goes to our charity fund; not a penny goes to us (our membership dues pay for what little overhead we have). Most of the payouts are local, especially to the Loretto House, a local crisis pregnancy center, Seeds of Change (a project that feeds homeless people), Texas Special Olympics and the American Wheelchair Mission.

This year, though, we've set up a PayPal account which goes directly into our charity fund. So if you're not going to be in the area of the Golden Triangle Mall in Denton this weekend, you can follow this link and make a contribution by Visa, Mastercard, AmEx or Discover, or through your own PayPal account. And you can continue to give long after the weekend is over, either through recurring debits or just revisiting the link (as we have no plans to take it down Sunday). 

Just tell 'em that Tony the Impractical Catholic sent you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

And as anger normally follows disillusion — UPDATED

H/T to Rorate Caeli, who has apparently gotten over his traditionalist initial reservations and joined the legion of orthodox fans of Pope Francis.

"Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country" (Luke 4:24). The video below shows Argentinian pro-abortion feminists in front of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (San Juan Bautista) in San Juan de Cuyo, burning Pope Francis in effigy this last Sunday night [WARNING: BRIEF PARTIAL NUDITY]

Francis has indicated before that there would be no budging on the Church's teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion, yet many in the commentariat insisted on painting him as The Chosen One Who Would Lead the Church Out of the Dark Ages and Into Progressive Enlightenment. Now comes this passage in Francis' recently-released apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), paras. 213-214 (bold type mine):

Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual” (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), 37: AAS 81 (1989), 461).
Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.

Now, if you can get radical feminists to burn you in effigy and that pompous reactionary blowhard Rush Limbaugh to stop just short of calling you a Communist, you must be doing something right.

¡Viva el Papa!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

So much for the "progressive Pope" ...

Somebody got it right from the start ...!
The thing I love most about Pope Francis is that he unequivocally demonstrates that to be a "conservative" is NOT to be a big meanie who likes to kick puppies and make children cry for fun.

(Well, so did Papa Bene, but no one in the librul media wanted to believe it of him.)

From Fr. John Zuhlsdorf's blog What Does the Prayer Really Say?:
The 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent is coming up on 4 December.  We like to celebrate these great milestones in salvation history.  So, there are great doings in Trent, in the northern area of Italy which is part of the (also) German-speaking Tirol.  As is customary, Pope Francis will send a Cardinal as his personal representative.  Who better than His Eminence Walter Card. Brandmüller?
When the Pope sends a Cardinal off on one of these missions, he sends him a formal letter, charging him with his task and indicating something of his own hopes for the occasion.  The anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent is no exception.
In his letter to Card. Brandmüller, Pope Francis explicitly cites Pope Benedict XVI pontificate-defining address in 2005 to the Roman Curia in which he spoke about the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” (e.g., the Karl Rahner crowd and their descendants, still active today) and the “hermeneutic of reform”, or “hermeneutic of continuity”.

To give you a better sense of the import, let me give you Fr. Z's translation of the first part of the letter, which was written in Latin (of course):

To our Venerable Brother
Walter Cardinal (of the Holy Roman Church) Brandmüller
Deacon of St. Julian of the Flemish

Since the 450th anniversary of the day on which the Council of Trent drew to its favorable end, it is fitting that the Church recall with readier and more attentive eagerness the most rich doctrine which came out of that Council held in the Tyrol. It is certainly not without good reason that the Church has for a long time given such great care to that Council’s decrees and canons which are to be recalled and heeded, seeing that, since extremely grave matters and questions sprang up in that period, the Council Fathers employed all their diligence so that the Catholic faith should come into clearer view and be better understood. Without a doubt as the Holy Spirit inspired and prompted them, it was the Fathers’ greatest concern not only that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be defended, but also that mankind be more brightly illuminated, in order that the saving work of the Lord could be diffused throughout the entire globe and the Gospel be spread through the whole world.

Harking closely to the same Spirit, Holy Church in this age renews and meditates on the most abundant doctrine of the Council of Trent. In fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” which Our Predecessor [yes, "Praedecessor Noster" in the original] Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers in no way less to the Council of Trent than to the Vatican Council. To be sure, this mode of interpretation places under a brighter light a beautiful characteristic of the Church which is taught by the Lord Himself: "She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God" (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia offering them his Christmas greetings, 22 December 2005).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ten Things Jim Rigby Gets Wrong about Jesus, the Church and Homosexuality

1) If Jesus did not mention a subject, it cannot be essential to his teachings.

The fact is, we don’t know whether Jesus ever mentioned homosexuality or not. “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). But the real error is the implied argument “not essential = irrelevant and disposable”. Jesus’ silence cuts both ways; if he said nothing particularly memorable about the commandment in Leviticus, it means that he neither rejected nor modified it.

2) You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others.

Persecution is “a program or campaign to subjugate or eliminate a specific group of people, often based on race, religion, sexuality, or social beliefs”. To persecute is “to pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death for one’s race, sexual identity, adherence to a particular religious creed, or mode of worship.” Persecution is persecution; persecutors always believe they have some noble social goal which justifies their repressive legislation and litigation. So long as you use the courts to force Christians to play along, you're engaging in persecution; you can call it "counter-persecution", if that eases your over-burdened conscience.

3) Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you’re with.

Which means … nothing, really, unless Rigby is trying oh so gently to argue that anything old must be false, which is nothing more than “chronological snobbery”.