Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

I'm about to go and set up for Midnight Mass. A blessed Christmas to all! Thank you for taking some time out of your day to see what I have to say.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What Would Willy Wonka Do?

I just got this in a pre-Christmas confession...

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been ____ since my last confection."

In retrospect, maybe they meant gluttony?

Cantalamessa on impurity

After telling all of you to read Fr. Cantalamessa's Advent sermons, last night I finally got around to reading them myself. This is the season for Priests to hear lots of Confessions, and one of the sins that a confessor rarely hears today is impurity (so much so that when we do hear a penitent say the word, it "stands out") I bring this up because Fr. Raniero's first Advent sermon had this quote (and I placed what I thought were important passages in bold print):
"... there is a tendency to minimize sins against purity to the advantage (often only in theory) of attention to our neighbour. It is an illusion to believe that we can put authentic service to our brothers – which always demands sacrifice, altruism, forgetfulness of self and generosity – together with a disordered personal life, entirely directed toward gratifying ourselves and our own passions. We end up, inevitably, instrumentalizing our brothers, just as we instrumentalize our own bodies and the other sex. He who does not know how to say no to himself does not know how to say yes to his brothers.

One of the "excuses" that contributes most to encourage the sin of impurity in the popular mindset is the discharging of any responsibility, the claim that it hurts no one, that it does not violate anyone's rights unless, it is said, we are talking about physical violence. But apart from the fact that it violates the basic right of God to give a law to his creatures, this "excuse" is false even in regard to our relations to our neighbour. It is not true that the sin of impurity ends with those who commit it.

In the Jewish Talmud there is an apologue that illustrates quite well the connection that exists between sin and the damage that every sin, even personal sin, does to others: "Some people found themselves on a boat. One of the passengers took a drill and began to make a hole beneath his seat. The others seeing this said to him: 'What are you doing?' He answered: 'What is it to you? Am I not making a hole under my seat?' But they replied: 'Yes, but water will come in and we will all drown!'" Is this not what is happening in our society? The Church too knows something of the evil that can be done to the whole body by personal mistakes of the clergy in this sphere."

Young Fogeys out there, take heed.

Friday, December 21, 2007

And yet more Cantalamessa on Advent

The third and final Advent sermon by Fr. Cantalamessa to the Holy Father and the Papal Household has been translated and posted on the Zenit News Service website.

The More Things Change...

Hanna Montana, 2007

Dee Snider, 1980s

ps - and before the "knowitalls" write to tell me that her real name is Miley Cyrus and Hanna is the character she plays, I know that, so save your fingers the stress.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Cantalamessa on Advent

The Zenit news agency has the English translation of Fr. Cantalamessa's second Advent sermon to B16 and the Roman Curia. You can get it by clicking here.

NJ Legislature: Death sentence is immoral (unless it's an embryo and there's potential for profit).

Today's Newark Star-Ledger has an article about the the New Jersey General Assembly's vote to abolish the death penalty in the Garden State.

"It is simply not for us to decide who should live and who should die," said Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden).

If only they kept that thought in their heads when they voted for embryonic stem cell research.

More Latin from the NYT

Fresh off of their op-ed piece promoting the virtues of studying the Latin language, the New York Times has a review of two similar-themed books in today's edition. Tolle! Lege!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cantalamessa on Advent

I should've posted this last week, but Father Raniero Cantalamessa's first Advent sermon for the Holy Father and the Papal Household has been posted on his website. Take a read.

Italy is in a funk, and not the good, "George Clinton", kind of funk!

Today's front page of the New York Times has an interesting article about the collective "national funk" that's happening in Italy right now. Check it out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

Here's some video of Blessed Teresa, sharing thoughts that are appropriate during this time of year when it seems every parish has penance services and extra hours for Confession.

Escriva on YouTube

They are few and far between, the number of beatified Blesseds and canonized Saints of the Church that we have captured for posterity on video. But here's part of a clip of St. JoseMaria Escriva talking about the Mass, Confession, and the influence a mother can have on her family (thanks to Fr. James Searby of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, for letting me know this clip exists on the internet).

Gov. Romney's Speech

Fr. Richard Neuhaus has an excellent article on Gov. Mitt Romney's recent speech at the Bush41 Library in College Station, TX, entitled, "Faith in America". Check it out.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Plenary Indulgence

(I just love putting a headline in that will drive anti-Catholics - and perhaps a few of our own brethren - nuts should they Google and stumble upon it.)

Today's daily bulletin from the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Our Lady's appearance in Lourdes (which will be celebrated in February of 2008), is allowing Catholics to receive a Plenary Indulgence.

My Italian is not super good, but essentially here's what the decree says: "On the occasion of 150th anniversary of the manifestation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Cave of Massabielle, neighbor to Lourdes, a Plenary Indulgence is granted daily to the faithful from the day of December 8, 2007 until the day December 8, 2008, when devoutly and in the conditions established, they will visit the Cave of Massabielle, and, from February 2 to 11, 2008, they will visit, in whichever temple, oratory, cave, or decorated place, the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes is solemnly exposed for veneration by the public."

Now, not everyone can jump a plane and go to France, but the second part of the decree is key: From February 2-11, 2008, anyone will be able to receive the Plenary Indulgence daily at any church, shrine, outdoor grotto, etc., anywhere in the world (as long as it's an image of O.L. of Lourdes they're venerating). Your parish doesn't have a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes? Get a few people together and offer to buy one for the parish.

Start talking it up in your parishes. Some pastors will see the words "Plenary Indulgence" and immidiately resolve not to mark the occasion.

Monday, December 03, 2007

"a tremendous way to train the mind"

Today's New York Times has an op-ed piece by Harry Mount on the usefulness of the Latin language in today's world. Check it out.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Old Job, New Marini

My pal, Fr. Guy Selvester, has a great comparison on his blog of papal vesture last year and this year. Same event (Vespers for the 1st Sunday of Advent), same place (St. Peter's Basilica), same Pontiff, just a different head of the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. Check it out.

By the way, with my diocese deciding to put Catholic radio evangelization on "hiatus", my last episode of Proclaim the Good News had Fr. Guy and I reminiscing about our years of hosting the show. You can listen to that last episode by clicking here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

An open letter to Pope Benedict

Your Holiness,

It's me, your favorite (just kidding). I've got a problem and I'm hoping you can fix it for me.

For the past year or so, I've been bringing your book, Jesus of Nazareth, into the confessional on Saturday mornings. It's phenomenal. It's great. Thank you for writing it. But my problem is this: it's got so much "packed in" it, that it's taking me longer than I ever expected to read it. More than a year later, and I just began chapter eight today! Now I know I'm not the brightest bulb in the lamp, and thankfully there have been weeks when the number of penitents coming for Confession have made it impossible for me to read more than a page or two, but still there's so much there to devour. Now you've got me wanting to read the books you mention in your book, like Neusner's A Rabbi Talks With Jesus from Ch. 4!

Now, to add to my reading, you've written this brand new encyclical on the virtue of hope (which means I'll probably want to skim through your last encyclical on the virtue of love just to "bring myself up to speed"). Plus, I keep hearing that there's more volumes of Jesus of Nazareth coming down the pike. Finally, I've still got loads of Ignatius Press stuff of yours that I either read years ago and forgot, or haven't read yet.

Holy Father, please, can you slow down a bit? You name it: I'll buy you a Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, boxed sets of past seasons of CSI, whatever. You like Sudoku? I bet you'd be great at it. I'll get you enough Sudoku puzzles to fill your free time, just give me a chance to catch up!

This is what I wanted to tell you when I met you last October. However, as you probably recall, I was a nervous mess who couldn't put words together in a sentence. So if you lay off the writing for a while, I promise to send you a big, hefty gift card for you to spend on yourself.


Fr. Jay Toborowsky