Friday, September 23, 2011

Israel

For those of you who don't quite understand the Israel-Palestine Situation, I propose you watch this speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN. It's long, but it's excellent. Watch the whole thing.



UPDATE: I fixed the video (i.e. I got a new, lower quality one). I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I promise, it was working when I first posted the update

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekday Update

Hello friends! I am sorry for the long absence, but school has started into full swing and I am trying to find my rhythm still. I will try to be better about this in the future.

So this past weekend I made a trip to the DFW to see mi familia (mainly my 75-pound puppy), and to attend a TOBET (Theology of the Body Evangelization Team) Conference. I am happy to report that the family is in good health and generally holding themselves together fairly well despite my absence (I fear that it all may have just been a front for my benefit, but I have no proof), and that the conference was, in my eyes, a huge success. The Theology of the Body is, in the words of the inimitable George Weigel, "A ticking time-bomb set to go off," and I can attest that it is so. It was wonderful to see so many Catholics of all ages and walks of life willingly giving up their Saturday to come and learn more about the wonderful teaching of Blessed Pope John Paul II. I learned far more about TOB than I imagined I would, and more than I could adequately relate in such an impersonal format, and I am extremely glad that I went. Congratulations to you, Ms. Monica Ashour, you have put together quite the organization and the Catholics of DFW are richly blessed to have you and your colleagues and interns working in their midst. 

I just checked the TOBET calendar and OH MY GOSH AMANDA AND ELIZABETH!!! TOBET IS DOING A THREE-PART TOB SERIES AT MY HOME PARISH!! I am just a tad excited. But in all seriousness, St Joseph's Parish needs something like this very very much and I can think of no one better than TOBET to bring this message to them.

Now, this being a blog, an inherently narcissistic endeavor, I must turn to matters of the self and you must pretend to be interested. I like this dynamic we have here very, very much. 

I told you, some time ago, about a new Interest in my life (read: an exceptionally beautiful and smart young woman), and how we are choosing to communicate only through the United States Postal Service. 
(Sidebar: I have also faced, for the first time, the realization of how one can sacrifice one's values for a woman. Not in a bad way, I assure you, Object of my Affections. normally, I would say let the Post Office sort out its own monetary affairs, but now I don't care if it's in the hole financially I just need it to stay afloat because I really don't want to have to FedEx all of my letters to her.)
Strange as this idea may seem, in this age of instant gratification and instant impersonal communication, I believe it is working wonders in us. I shall illuminate you by anecdote, prepare yourselves. I sent her a letter today. She will not receive my letter for several days, and it will be several more before I receive her response. and yet, I will open my mailbox everyday until then with the greatest anticipation imaginable. and I will not be disappointed when the mailbox is empty. Nay, the empty mailbox will only intensify my anticipation and magnify my joy when the letter finally arrives. Not only that, but with every letter and every empty mailbox I long all the more for a chance to see her in person. To hear her voice, her laugh, see her smile or the way she can look straight through you with those eyes. Even to be cut to pieces by her wit, which happens far more often than it should; I maintain to myself that she is cheating, dazzling me with those big blues and then taking advantage of my weakness. 

But all brownie-points aside (and there should be a lot of them by this point), it all comes down to patience. Neither of us could be described as a patient person, and yet we force ourselves to practice patience by writing these letters. Of course, the Holy Spirit is a lot of help here; I find myself stopping by adoration much more often, even if just for a minute or two, to ask Our Lord for the patience I need to make it through the day without picking up the phone and firing off a text message or a call. If we were to continue to communicate in other ways while also writing these letters, I believe it would be useless. Yeah, we might have awesome keepsakes down the road, but I don't think that we would grow in patience at all. and, after all, is not a major point of dating and discernment to grow in Love and virtue so as to become more like Christ, to learn to love as he did? 

I was listening to Audrey Assad recently, and her song, "Ought to Be" struck me. In it are the following lines:
"It may not be strong as the Oak Tree yet but
Love planted deeply becomes what it ought to and
Hearts given freely become what they ought to and
Love Planted deeply becomes what it ought to be."
That is what we hope to do in this period of our relationship. We seek to plant our love deeply so that it may thrive and grow tall and stand strong for many years. No, we lose nothing by communicating in  letters. But we have everything, and I mean everything, to gain. 

Pax vobiscum,
 Patrick 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What the Heck?

I don't know if you've heard, or if I've told you in the past, but the Obama administration tried to withhold federal aid to Moldova, one of the poorest countries in the world and one of the most Christian, unless they advanced "gay rights" causes in the country. As sickening as that is by itself, I want to turn our attention to something else at the moment. 

Pakistan. That oh-so-important "ally" in the Middle East. They receive over $300 million in Federal Aid every year. That's $300,000,000 every year! Now I have no doubt that there are countless people in Pakistan that need that aid. The problem is, they hate us. they hate everything about us. In fact, they probably want us dead about as much as anyone else in the world. And we're PAYING them for this. They're taking our money, giving us some semblance of cooperation, and then they shelter our enemies behind our backs (i..e. Osama Bin Laden). But it's more than that. Pakistan is a majority Islamic nation. In case you didn't know, it is a crime under Islamic Law (sharia) to convert from Islam, to marry anyone other who's not Muslim, or to attempt to convert a Muslim. The punishment for these, without exception, is death. Normally public executions. But wait, there's more. Two Christian youths in Pakistan were recently beaten within an inch of their lives with heavy iron bars by 8 Muslim youths for the "crime" of being Christian. But not a peep from the thugs in charge of our Foreign Policy. You see, they don't care if it's Christians are the ones being killed for their religion. But if gay people aren't fully accepted into the fabric of society, by God we'll let your people starve! When I was reading the articles that spurred this post, I was furious. I can honestly say that I don't think I have ever been that angry in my life. The fact that our gasbag-in-Chief can get away with this is beyond me. Where's the media on this? Oh yeah, that's right, they're in his back pocket. Jefferson, Hamilton, and Washington are rolling over in their graves. 








Religion of Peace my ass. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Tax Code Explained, With Beer

So I'm not being original today. And Amanda is. Armageddon must be coming soon. 


I ran across this story on the internet today, and I thought you guys might enjoy it. It's actually pretty accurate. 




Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all
ten comes to $100...
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something
like this...

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with
the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball. "Since
you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost
of your daily beer by $20." Drinks for the ten men would now cost just
$80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.
So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.
But what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they
divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted
that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would
each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's
bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle
of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the
amounts he suggested that each should now pay.
And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued
to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare
their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving," declared the sixth man.
He pointed to the tenth man,"but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar
too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!"
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back,
when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get
anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine
sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay
the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough
money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is
how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Unknown Author...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday News

1. You remember that POS website that was in the news a while back, WikiLeaks? Well, turns out they actually did some good! They recently released a ton of new State Department diplomatic cables and boy are there a few whoppers in there! This via LifeSiteNews.com. 

You know how liberals love to throw around the word tolerance? well, it doesn't apply to them. You see, a bunch of recently leaked cables from the Ambassador to Poland complains that the Catholic Church's teachings are " a major source of 'homophobia' in the heavily Catholic Country." The Embassy notes that the Episcopate in Warsaw has condemned violence and discrimination against gays, but says that it's the local priests who ignore this message and still preach that sexual attraction to the same gender is a "deviant condition." You see, somehow teaching the truth that homosexual attraction is disordered is the same thing as violence and discrimination. Somebody get the State Department some new dictionaries, I think theirs are broken. Here's another one: "Moreover, the Church continues to label homosexual acts as sins and calls on homosexuals to practice abstinence. Most Polish opponents of gay rights cite 'Catholic values' and 'natural law' to support their views."  
Right you are, Mr. Pickard!

Wow. Where to begin with that? Oh, I know. How about the fact that any half-honest person would admit that homosexuality is inherently unnatural? How about the fact that 'Catholic values' are just as legitimate (actually much more so) as your guiding values, if we can call them that, Mr. Obama? Or we could just restate the fact that Holy Mother Church cannot change her teachings on homosexuality/abortion/contraception and leave it at that. The arrogance of these people is astounding. Who are you to think that your short-lived sociopolitical philosophies are more enlightened than those of the Church, who has stood firm in the face of all manner of evils for two thousand years! She will continue to stand firm, as well, despite your arrogance. My reaction to this news:

 That about sums it up. Stepping off my soapbox now...

2. Obama's "jobs" "speech" last night. What a joke. I didn't get to watch it due to an Aggie Catholic Bible Study leadership meeting. So I watched it after the fact. And you know what, I think Mr. Obama has a future as a comedian! I mean, He got more real laughs (not that he was trying, he wanted it to be a serious ordeal) in that speech than David Letterman gets in a regular night (discounting the laugh tracks, of course). Just listen to the Republicans laugh when he says this isn't class warfare!

 WeaselZippers has the story if you're interested. The interesting thing is that, while these addresses are usually standing-room-only for the media, only 26 of the 90 designated media seats were filled. heh. heheheh. hehehehehe. heheheheheh. AAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAH! Seriously, read the story. You'll get a good chuckle out of it. 

That's all for me today, sorry for not being too original, but it's Friday and I'm tired. 

Peace, 
Patrick

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More than Slavery

First things first: FOLLOW ME!! Seriously, you just have to push the little button to the right that says "join this site." I know there's more than three people reading this, because I have a tracker. That's right, you're busted. 

I wrote a guest column for The Battalion, Texas A&M's campus newspaper today. That is, I sent one in today, no promises they'll publish it. Even though they should. Anywho, I wrote this column in response to an Editor's column they ran today. The article is titled "Confederate On Campus" and is about the history of L. Sullivan Ross.
The statue is at the heart of the A&M campus

The piece is written by a math major, which should set off some red flags in your head right off. That's beside the point, though. The article is here, I highly suggest you read it. If they publish it in the next few days, it will be available to you at www.thebatt.com but just in case they don't, I'm putting the full text of my response here for your reading pleasure. If this kind of reading gives you pleasure. If not, suck it up and read my response, you might learn something.


More than Slavery
The Civil War is a dark time in the history of this great nation. I think we can all agree on that point. What we often forget, or never learn, is that it was about far more than slavery. It is hard for us, looking back upon the actions of our forefathers, to put aside our modern biases and see through their eyes. If we are to understand the War Between the States though, that is exactly what we must do.
 Mr. Carpenter wrote an excellent column yesterday about the legacy of L. Sullivan Ross. I understand his point, but I cannot accept it. Just because a person commanded troops against the Union Army does not make him a pro-slavery bigot and a traitor to his country. We must remember that, before Lincoln’s time, the states thought of themselves as semi-autonomous entities, voluntarily unified under a very weak central government, much like the European Union is today. The allegiance of the people was largely to the state, not the country. At the beginning of the war, the Army of the Potomac, the Army protecting Washington D.C., was made up only of volunteers from the states. There was no standing Federal Army. There was no obligation on behalf of the Northern States to send their young men to fight and die to protect other states. And it was the same in the south. General Lee’s forces, The Army of Virginia, were almost entirely Virginia boys, fighting for their state. Other states had their own armies. It is in this climate that General Lee made the fateful decision, despite being personally opposed to Slavery, to turn down Lincoln’s offer to lead the Union forces and to fight for the state he loved. Slavery may have been the underlying cause beneath the tensions of the time, but it was not the only cause of the Civil War. There was also the belief that the states had the right to govern themselves. We love to glorify the men and boys who laid down their lives to fight for the Union, but we make a grave mistake in vilifying those on the opposing side who did the same for their state and family. General Grant, the hero of the Union, was a drunk and a bully. General Lee, on the other hand, was a true Southern Gentleman. After the war, he accepted defeat, found a new home at what would become Washington and Lee University, where he became the President (since his Arlington estate had been made into a Cemetery) and lived out the rest of his life in peace. Let me ask you this, who is the more admirable man? The drunkard or the Gentleman who fought for his state?
                It is the same with Sul Ross. He fought for what he believed was the right of his state to secede from the union. It was a different time, and they saw things differently. We honor and remember Sul Ross not because of who he fought for, but because he was willing to fight. Let us not forget also that he saved this University from being made into a mental institution, was a governor of our great state, and President of our University. If he is not worthy of being called a hero and given a statue, I do not know who is. Thank you, and God Bless.

                                Patrick Hoelscher, Class of ’14, History major. 

Let me know what ya think.

UPDATE: So I goofed up. There's actually a button that says "join this site" that's the one you've gotta push. Sorry for the mix-up!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Proper Silence.

It's my birthday!!!! Therefore, I shall get on my soapbox and you shall read without complaint. 

What is wrong with the Propers of the Mass? Are we afraid of silence?

I had the pleasure of attending Mass today at St. Mary's here in College Station. As I was kneeling, just as the Extraordinary Ministers were receiving communion, and everyone's attention should have been focused on the Glorious gift they were about to achieve, a young lady stepped up to the microphone and calmly announced, "Our first Communion Hymn will be...." Really? Just when our minds should be focused so totally on the Sacrifice of the Mass, we are jarred back to Earth by a voice that has no place being there only so that we know where to look to follow along with an overplayed hymn that everybody knows by heart already. This is a problem. But it can be solved. My personal preference would be a return in our parish to the Propers of the Mass. For those of you who don't know, the Propers are the little passages of scripture placed throughout your missalette. They are ALWAYS taken from Sacred Scripture. They are given for the Introit, Offertory, and Communion. They are what  the Church says we should sing at those times. Most parishes, though, opt out of singing the Propers and instead choose to sing hymns that are unrelated to what we are supposed to be singing. The Propers don't have to be chanted Latin, there are many different translations and arrangements of them. But we don't sing them. Another solution would be to invest a tiny amount of money in those little number-holder-thingies and do away with the well-meaning chorister interrupting the silent prayers of the people. Either way, really. 

But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was that that well-meaning chorister kept coming back. It was a super-crowded mass, so the choir decided we needed to have not one, not two, but three(!) Communion hymns. And before each hymn, there she was, announcing what the choir was about to sing. So instead of silently and prayerfully reflecting on the gift we had just received, on how our God humbled himself to die on a Cross for our sins, we had announcements of the songs they were singing. Why? Why is it so important that we follow along with the songs instead of bowing our heads in silent prayer? Why do we even need three Communion hymns? Why can't we just sit in silence after the first one? Silence. 

We've all heard the old adage that "Silence is golden," but do we even stop to think why it's golden? So often in the parishes that I frequent, it seems that silence is terrifying, uncomfortable. St. Mary's is better than most, especially Daily Mass, but it suffers the same problems. Are we afraid that, if we don't constantly entertain them, those nominal Catholics in the pews will just stop coming? I don't know the answer to these questions, and I won't pretend to. But I am bothered by what I see. Feel free to leave your opinions in the comment box. 

Pax, Patrick