Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Reformation Day!

Today marks the 494th Anniversary of the nailing of the "95 Theses" to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral by one Martin Luther. Now, Luther didn't really nail his theses to the door, that's a lot of paper to nail to a door, but it does make a damn good story. This anniversary is celebrated in some Protestant churches, and in Slovenia. Don't ask me why they celebrate it in Slovenia even though they're mostly Catholic, I don't know. Anyways. Moving on.

I don't want to discount the atrocities that have occurred on both sides of the reformation. To be sure, countless souls have perished over the centuries and neither Catholics nor Protestants are free of blame in this. But that is not my purpose in writing today. I think we need to celebrate today.

You see, the Reformation instituted the Counter-Reformation. And from this Counter-Reformation the Church has drawn immeasurable profit. Let us take a quick look at the fruits of the Counter-Reformation. The Council of Trent was a direct response to the problem of the Reformation. From this Council came the official Roman Canon And the commissioning of the first Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Numerous big-name saints made their marks in this era, including St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Phillip Neri. Also a product of the Counter-Reformation are the Jesuit, Capuchin, and Ursuline Orders as well as the reform of the Carmelite Order.

It's hard for me to imagine what the Church would look like today without the Counter-Reformation. So I say we celebrate. Not the atrocities, the wars, the bitterness, and the wounds inflicted on His Sacred Heart. No, I say we celebrate the way that our Lord can take such brokenness and raise it up and sanctify it and use it to His greater Glory. I say we celebrate the fact that our God does not work only through perfect vessels but with ordinary, sinful men and women. For if He could bring such good out of such a division, then surely he can do something beautiful with our broken, sinful lives.

Happy Reformation Day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Piledriven

This past week's been a tough one. Next week isn't looking much better. Between sports, people, and school, it's gonna be a miracle if I come out of this not half-crazy. So, prayers are greatly appreciated.

You may have noticed the new ads on my blog. If you would go ahead and click on those, I'll wait... thanks. You see, as a starving college student, I need all the income I can get and I get a decent kickback every time you click on those. So please, feel free to click. You don't have to actually read the page it brings you to, you just have to click. Thanks and Gig 'Em

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mea Culpa

I read an amazing piece over on the blog Standing on my Head tonight. I copy it here in its entirety:


"My fault, my fault, my most grievous fault" is what we will soon say in the Confiteo. I know, I know. We will be blamed for dishing out the guilt and making people feel bad, but I think it is going to be refreshing--and here's why:

Our whole culture is awash with the pop psychology counseling mentality which encourages us to blame somebody else for our problems. "I have anger problems because my mother didn't breast feed me" or "I am not self assertive enough because my mother didn't breast feed me." Every problem we have, every fault in our character, every weakness or sin we blame on somebody else. I heard a girl once excuse her promiscuity with the claim, "I sleep with lots of men because my father didn't love me and I'm looking for a father's love." Or what about the guy who was unfaithful to his wife because, "I'm still looking for the perfect woman because my mother walked out on us when I was a kid."

One of the side effects of this victim culture is that, because we blame other people for our problems and weaknesses, we also think that somebody else should solve our problems for us. There's a logic to it: My problems were caused by somebody else. Somebody else should solve them for me. They're not my responsibility. Thus the entitlement culture goes with the victim mentality. Somebody owes me a living. Somebody owes me solutions to my problems. Somebody else will bail me out.

The new Confiteo is a refreshing antidote to the victim-entitlement poison. I beat my breast and say, "My fault, my fault, my most grievous fault" and as I do I take responsibility for myself in a most solemn threefold vow of acknowledgement. I take the blame. I take the responsibility. I take the problem as my own. This is one of the most mature things anybody can do in life--to take responsibility. To decide to do something about the problem, and if nothing can be done about it, then to bear the suffering with dignity and silence. This is not only mature, but it is a little touch of the God image in each of us. When I pick up the responsibility I am engaging my will and deciding that I am going to be involved. Me and nobody else but me.

Furthermore--let's be even more radical and pick up other people's trash. In other words, instead of being the poor little spoiled brat victim. Why don't we be adult and clean up somebody else's room? What I mean to say is that instead of blaming other people for our problems why don't we not only take responsibility for our own sins and weaknesses and problems and failures, but why don't we take responsibility for other's as well?

OK, so maybe your father beat you up and your mother burned you with cigarettes and your teacher hit you with a paddle and your big brother abused you. What if you were to take responsibility for their sins as well as your own? What if we were to see the people who hurt us with hearts of compassion and be the agent of forgiveness towards them? What if we were to say, "Here I'll take all that crap for you. I'll take responsibility for the mess of your life as well as the mess of my life." What if our first 'mea culpa' was for us, and the second was for other people who have messed us up? By taking responsibility in this way we will actually find forgiveness, healing and peace.

If we use the second 'my fault' to take responsibility for other people's sins in our lives what if we were to use the third 'my most grievous fault' and claim responsibility for the sins of the whole world. That sounds pretty ambitious. Megalomaniacal even, but what I mean is this: don't I, in my own sin and selfishness, contribute to the sins of the whole world? What if I were to step out of my own little shell, my own little universe and see the connections? I'm involved. I am not an island. I am a part of the continent, a part of the main. I am a man, but I am also humanity in microcosm.

Have I not shared in the greed that has ruined our country? Have I not shared in the lust that has ruined families? Have I not shared in the pride, the envy, the gluttony, the sloth and the wrath that has soiled the world?  Yes, I have, and when I cry, "My most grievous fault" in the new Confiteo, perhaps I may, in my own small way, identify with Christ the Lord who really did take the sins of the whole world to himself, and perhaps in my own small way, I may come to understand more deeply the mystery of the cross of Christ.

Those who are into the sentimental promotion of 'self esteem' and 'personal fulfillment' and 'individual liberation' may be shocked at such a seeming debasement of the person. They may be dismayed by what seems to be yet more groveling and self abnegation. What they do not understand is the immense freedom and power that comes from genuine repentance. In this action I take responsibility (by God's grace) and I rise above the faults. I am forgiven and I forgive. In this there is not only true freedom, but true self esteem, true fulfillment, and ultimately a supernatural joy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I'm back

I would like to apologize, dear readers, for my extended absence from the blogosphere. The college life has not been kind to me these past few weeks what with the tests and papers and all. The truth is that I have missed writing here, it is a good release for me and I will try, in the future, to not wait so long between posts.  I have nothing else to say to you for now because I am busy watching NCAA Football and reading "great" American Speeches for my American Oratory class.

God Bless

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Maldives


Ah, the Maldives! A tropical paradise, top tourist destination. Sandy beaches, tropical climate, coral reefs, calm lagoons.


Oh, and it's also an Islamic Hell-Hole. It was reported today that the Maldivian government has thrown one of our Catholic brothers in prison for having a Bible and a Rosary in his home, both of which are banned from the islands. His name is Shijo Kokkattu, an Indian Catholic from Kerala. He has been teaching at a school there for the last two years. While he was transferring files from his flash-drive onto the school computer, he also copied some Marian songs and also a picture of the Blessed Mother. His fellow teachers reported him, his home was raided, and he was thrown in jail. You see, back in 2008, the Maldives passed a constitutional amendment that denies non-Muslims freedom of worship, and making it impossible for non-Muslims to become citizens. In fact simply kneeling, folding one's hands or using religious symbols like crosses, candles, pictures, or statues ( I assume the pictures and statues are icons) can get you arrested and thrown in jail.

Oh, and the Maldives has a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council. One more reason the UN will always be just a huge joke.

Here's hopping Global Warming speeds up and the oceans rise a bit.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Our Lady of the Rosary, and the Salvation of Europe

Do you know what today is? Chances are, if you're reading this, then you already know that today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Whoop!

But, today we also celebrate the 440th Anniversary of the triumph of the Battle of Lepanto. Stay with me here, this is important! Not just history-major-important, but important to everybody. Today, we celebrate the victory of the Holy League, a loose conglomeration of the Spanish Empire, Venice, Genoa, The Duchy of Savoy, the Papal States and the Knights of Malta, under  the command of Don John of Austria (the illegitimate son of Charles V) and supported by Pope Pius V. They joined their naval forces at Messina, Italy, and set off to engage the Ottoman Empire, the greatest naval power of the day. The met in the Gulf of Patras, off the west coast of Greece. The Holy League had 208 ships, mostly Venetian galleys, with 40,000 sailors and oarsmen and 22,800 soldiers, mostly Spanish Infantry. The Ottomans, on the other hand, had 251 ships, of which 206 were galleys, and had a force of 31,490 soldiers and 50,000 sailors/oarsmen. The battle lasted 5 hours. The Holy League lost 17 ships and about 7500 dead. The Ottomans lost 137 ships captured, 50 ships sunk, 20,000 dead,wounded, or captured, and 10,000 Catholic slaves were freed.

I can hear you guys now, "that's nice and all, but what's that got to do with us, why's that so important?" Well let me tell you. The victory of Lepanto saved Europe from almost sure domination by the Muslim armies. The victory meant that the Ottomans could not control the entire Mediterranean Sea. It saved Italy from sure invasion, kept the Ottomans from reconquering Spain, and slowed the Muslim conquest of southern Europe. Essentially, if the Holy League had lost the Battle of Lepanto, you and I would be speaking Arabic and worshiping Allah 5 times a day. Europe would have been a Muslim territory.

 The incredible victory, over the world's foremost naval power, was immediately attributed to the intercession of  Our Lady of the Rosary. In other words, the Holy League had realized how screwed they were and knew they would need a miracle so they prayed the Rosary a TON before the battle. There was even a Rosary Procession in St. Peter's Square the day of the battle. After the whole ordeal was done, Pope Pius V announced the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, which became Our Lady of the Rosary under Pope Gregory XIII. G.K. Chesterton wrote a great poem about this battle, titled "Lepanto". An exerpt:

Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world.Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.Love-light of Spain - hurrah!Death-light of Africa!Don John of AustriaIs riding to the sea.

Something else that may be of interest: The great writer Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote, lost an arm in the battle and was captured by the Turks and enslaved for many years. He wrote Don Quixote upon his return to Spain. 

So remember, today, that Our Lady has great influence with her Son. Enough even to change the course of History. Do not hesitate to ask for her intercession.
God Bless

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Art vs. Hate Crimes

I came across this picture today while perusing the blogosphere, and I think it is rather enlightening


I think this more accurately expresses the sympathies of modern art far more clearly than my words ever could. Read THIS POST by Christopher T. Haley over at First Things if you want to have your eyes opened to the proper place of art in society. It's truly enlightening.  A quote:

        "Art schools teach students to challenge the audience, but they do not teach them why they should—and no one, certainly, has taught the audience to appreciate it. Many critics even decry this fact, blaming the poor state of the arts in our country on an audience that just doesn’t “get it.”

         The notion that the artist’s role is to challenge the audience is offensive to the audience. It is arrogant and condescending. Learning how to paint, sculpt, write, or compose, does not make one a moral authority on art or anything else. There is no moral value in being transgressive for the sake of transgressiveness. And there is no merit in challenging people just for the sake of a challenge. The old “devil’s argument” is, after all, a very poor argument."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall, Mr. Potter, Censorship, and Helicopter Parents

It's FALL! My favorite time of the year (despite my allergies) is finally, officially, here. Now, this being Texas, Fall won't actually be here for a few more weeks. I won't let that get me down.

Ready? Fall Picture Extravaganza!!









I would like to dedicate the rest of this post to Banned Books Week. I know it was last week, but I was unable to post last week due to all of my professors getting together and coming up with a diabolical plan to make me kill myself (A.k.a. I had four tests). Anyways, I would still like to air my two cents on the matter to the Interwebs.

WARNING: I might get a little rambling at times

I was struck this summer by the controversy stirred up by the Premiere of the final Harry Potter movie. In the small world of my childhood, I failed to see how anybody could object to the content of such a wonderful book. and as I grew and matured, I came to believe that those original opponents of the Harry Potter Series had faded to oblivion. The parental outcry that the media showed us in the early days of the Pottermania was no longer interesting. When I cared to consider the folks who would forbid their children from reading the books, I pretty much lumped them in the same category of crazy as the Pastor from Footloose, but slightly above the Westboro Baptist Church folks.

You know the type. I mean, let's be reasonable people! Unless you have incredibly successfully sheltered your child from all experience of the real world, reading Harry Potter is not going to turn your child into the next great satanic cult leader. And even if you have been that successful, it still probably won't. As such, I'm going to pretend that argument doesn't exist, was never used by anybody, and I am just going to pray that nobody who is reading this blog uses this argument to rationalize forbidding the Harry Potter books. No, I am going to focus on the only other argument against Harry Potter that I have ever heard: that the morality of the stories is suspect, and that it can encourage kids to misbehave.

I am not going to expound on this argument too much either, if you want to know what others think you can search out their writings on the subject. What i will do is offer my opinion; I am not an expert, so it is all I can give. Now, let me begin. I will admit that often the ends are used to justify otherwise distasteful means. The best example of this is the killing of Voldemort. Yes, in a perfect world Harry would charitably spare Voldy's life and Voldy would have a total change of heart and the two would be best friends from then on out. In a slightly less perfect world, Harry and the Order would find a way to incapacitate Voldy in such a way as to render him harmless without killing him. But Harry is not given a perfect world. Harry is given a world in which he must face pure evil. And he defeats pure evil through courage, loyalty, friendship, LOVE, and self-sacrifice. Boy, he sounds like a terribly morally corrupt young man. It s also true that Harry and the gang regularly break the rules and that Snape, McGonagall, and the rest of the Hogwarts Authority figures are often seen as obstructing their mission. But let me remind you of some things. In Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, Tom lies to, and disobeys, Aunt Polly, deceives and embezzles his peers, runs away from home, etc. and Tom Sawyer is considered an American Literary Classic. In fact, in almost every great tale of good-vs-evil, Good seeks to destroy Evil. Not just to defeat it, no, to destroy it. St. George did not seek to go out and make peace with the dragon, he sought to kill it. Gandalf fought and killed the Balrog, sacrificing his own life in the process, he did not try to make it a Christian. The examples are myriad.

I know that I am rambling a bit, but I hope that you have understood my point. Arguing that Harry Potter will leave your child morally corrupt while allowing them to read, or watch, other fantasy stories with the same themes is, in my mind, intellectually dishonest. In the long run, Harry Potter's worth is firmly established in our culture now by virtue of the great many people who discovered a deep love of reading through those books. Its stock may diminish over the years, after all it is unfair to even attempt to compare it to the LOTR or Chronicles of Narnia Series. But I have yet to meet a Satanist who was first influenced by Harry Potter, and have met many, many people who first fell in live with literature through Mr. Potter. If you take the time to read it with or to your younger children, explaining its failings where need be, I can personally guarantee that it will not cause your children to grow up into monsters. You can quote me on that.