Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pumpkin Fun

One of the best things about fall in New England is visiting pumpkin patches and picking apples. We did a little of both the other day.
I had forgotten how amazing the simple pleasures are.

The World Series Champions

Yeah, this is a few days late, but I spent most of Monday in Boston and all of yesterday in school.

I had a great time hanging around outside Fenway park waiting for the Rex Sox to return. Gerald was there too, but I didn't see him. He got a much better spot than I did, so check out his blog for great pics.

The World Series banner wasn't up yet.

Happy Halloween

Have a great night, remember to celebrate All Saints Day tomorrow, Go to Mass, and enjoy Fr. Rodericks Halloween Story.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Organist Celebrates 50 Years

From the Fall River Spirit

Norman Gingras really is one of an almost lost breed. He is one of the most skilled organists in the diocese and he plays one of the most beautiful organs in the diocese.
Given the trend these days for people to change their employment paths every few years, it's hard to imagine someone staying on in the same job for half a century. But Normand Gingras has enjoyed every moment of the five decades he has served as organist and choir director at St. Anne's Church and Shrine.

Despite his years of formal European music training, Gingras still sets aside time each day to practice on the grand pipe organ in the choir loft of St. Anne's Church that he oversaw the installation of more than 40 years ago. And at 80, he wouldn't even think twice about going out of the house without his signature jacket and tie.

He's traveled around the world, and makes regular jaunts to New York's Metropolitan Opera. So does he ever think of retiring?
"Why, if I can still do it? I don't know what I'd do with myself," he says.

He says he will keep on playing at his requisite five Masses a week and numerous weddings and funerals throughout each year as long as he can continue to ascend the 40 steps leading to his perch high above the pews with ease.

Read the rest here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Life of a Bishop

Bishop Thomas Tobin, from the Diocese of Providence, is featured in a four part series in the Providence Journal. Although Bishop Tobin is not my bishop, I attend school in his diocese, so I am happy to say his is almost my bishop.

The series includes information on episcopal regalia, such as the zuchetto and crozier.

Check it out here and remember to check back each Sunday for updates.

Contractor Charged With Theft from Diocese

Even the Church needs to be wary of contractors.

From the Herald News:

A local man has been arrested and charged with stealing $25,000 from the Diocese of Fall River after he allegedly took the money as an initial payment to install air conditioning but never did the work, police said.
Jeffrey A. Aubry, 43, of 1323 Slade St., is charged with larceny of more than $250.
Sgt. Thomas Mauretti, police spokesman, said Father John Perry, pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Parish, Taunton, contacted Aubry to complete installation of central air conditioning in the church.
“It was agreed to have the work done for the summer,” Mauretti said.
Aubry requested a first payment of $25,000 and was paid that amount on March 14, 2007.
“As of this time, no work has begun,” Mauretti said Thursday.
He said Aubry cashed the check and “made himself unavailable.”
Detective Thomas Chace of the Police Department’s Major Crimes Division arrested Aubry after contacting him.
“Mr. Aubry said he used the money to finish other jobs, and that he intended on filing for bankruptcy,” Mauretti said. “He is unable to provide any of the $25,000 given to him.”
Bishop George Coleman, representing the Diocese of Fall River, had signed the contract for the air conditioning work, Mauretti said.
“St. Jude Church is at a loss of $25,000,” he said.
Mauretti said Perry told police that Aubry had done work for him previously when Perry was at St. Joseph’s Church, Fall River. Perry said Aubry also had done work at Holy Name Church, Fall River.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pope Names 23 New Cardinals

Following today's general audience, the Holy Father announced the names of 23 prelates who will be created cardinals in a consistory due to be held on November 24, the eve of the Feast of Christ the King. The consistory will be the second of his pontificate.

Following the November 24 consistory, the College of Cardinals will number 202 members of whom 121, under the age of 80, will be electors.

Given below is a list of the new cardinal electors:

- Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

- Archbishop John Patrick Foley, pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

- Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

- Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."

- Archbishop Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City and president of the Fabric of St. Peter's.

- Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

- Archbishop Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church.

- Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco Vicente of Valencia, Spain.

- Archbishop Sean Baptist Brady of Armagh, Ireland.

- Archbishop Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, Spain.

- Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, France.

- Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, Italy.

- Archbishop Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar, Senegal.

- Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India.

- Archbishop Francisco Robles Ortega of Monterrey, Mexico.

- Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A.

- Archbishop Odilio Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

- Archbishop John Njue of Nairobi, Kenya.

Having pronounced the names of the new cardinal electors, the Pope then indicated that he had also decided to elevate to the dignity of cardinal "three venerable prelates and two worthy priests," all over the age of 80 and hence non-electors, for their "commitment and service to the Church." Their names are:

- His Beatitude Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq.

- Archbishop Giovanni Coppa, apostolic nuncio.

- Archbishop Estanislao Esteban Karlic, emeritus of Parana, Argentina.

- Fr. Urbano Navarrete S.J., former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

- Fr. Umberto Betti O.F.M., former rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.

He added: "Among these, I had also intended to confer the dignity of cardinal upon the elderly Bishop Ignacy Jez of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, Poland, a worthy prelate who died suddenly yesterday. We offer a prayer for the repose of his soul."

"The new cardinals come from various parts of the world," said the Holy Father. "And the universality of the Church, with the multiplicity of her ministries, is clearly reflected in them. Alongside deserving prelates who work for the Holy See are pastors who dedicate their energies to direct contact with the faithful."

He went on: "There are other persons, very dear to me who, for their dedication to the service of the Church, well deserve promotion to the dignity of cardinal. In the future I hope to have the opportunity to express, also in this way, my esteem and affection to them and to their countries of origin."

Benedict entrusted the future cardinals "to the protection of Mary Most Holy asking her to help each of them in their new tasks, that they may know how to bear courageous witness in all circumstances to their love for Christ and for the Church."


Catholic Carnival 141

Is up and running at 50 Days After.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On The Decline of the Funeral Homily

Followers of this blog will be aware of my fondness for a certain theology professor, Fr. David Lewis Stokes. Fr. Stokes recently wrote an article for the Providence Journal which has been picked up by newspapers across the country. The topic was how the decline of the funeral portrays our changing view of death.

Only Fr. Stokes could make the analogy that we view death as a cruise ship and heaven as "the predetermined destination of a cruise ship".

Of all the elephants galumphing around our culture’s living room, none is more significant than the change in our rhetoric of death. By this I mean the metaphors and similes by which we speak of the dead.

You have only to listen to a funeral homily, squirm through a eulogy, or read “verses” offered in memoriam to realize that there has occurred a seismic shift in our cultural imagination. Heaven now lies before us devoid of geography. Death has ceased to be a drama.

I’m not suggesting that our fascination about “spirits” and the “spirit-world” has diminished. Far from it. The trend of TV shows about angels, etc., reveals that this fascination with the “beyond” flourishes. Mary Roach’s Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife remains a bestseller. You have only to drive through a suburban neighborhood to see how Americans have transformed even Halloween into a bizarre kind of dia de los muertos.

To name the specific elephant in question, let me be blunt: However fascinated most Americans are in the “afterlife,” the fact remains that those grand themes, once the raison d’etre of mainline churches and pulpits — that is, death, judgment, heaven and hell — have vanished from the very religious communities that first articulated them. They are just plain gone. Preachers and theologians, politicians and toastmasters may trot out the occasional words — but now for ornamentation, not out of any necessity.

To understand just how dramatic this shift in our rhetoric, consider three examples. When a dying John Donne crawled into his pulpit in 1631, he preached a sermon entitled “Death’s Duel.” What makes it one of the greatest sermons in the English language is its rhetorical force. It is an explosion of metaphors and images of incredible specificity. Donne rendered life as a perilous journey and death as our foe “even from the womb.” He left his congregation in no doubt that each individual’s appointment with death is the most serious engagement in life.

When John Bunyan’s stalwart Christian of The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) finally reached sight of the Celestial City, he finds himself plunged neck-deep into a river of dread. “And . . . a great darkness and horror fell upon Christian, so that he could not see before him.” There was no immediate entrÉ into heavenly bliss. Heaven was a city to be won after arduous struggle, not the predetermined destination of a cruise ship.

As late as 1865 Cardinal Newman could publish The Dream of Gerontius, a dialogue between a dying man, angels and the demonic, which became something of a Victorian bestseller. Far from being a pious bit of Catholic triumphalism, he rendered death as no less than “this emptying out of each constituent / And natural force, by which I come to be.” The poem expresses a dread of death worthy of Dante or even Jean Paul Sartre.

Contrast these with the following contemporary tropes — gleanings typical of American pulpit: “Tom may be gone, but he will live on in our hearts.” “Aunt Bertha is in a better place.” “After years of hardship, Uncle Fred is finally home.” “We don’t know why Sally was taken from us so young, but someday we will.” Or, my own favorite, proclaimed over a woman who had made the lives of her children and grandchildren absolute hell, “For Edith the great symphony of life continues now among the stars.”

I have no doubt that many people have found comfort in such statements. The significant thing, though, is that compared with the specific rhetoric of a Donne, Bunyan or Newman, these tropes refer us ultimately to ... well, uh ... nothing.

They point to a landscape without topography or content. They imply that a human life is not so much a drama to be acted with the utmost ethical seriousness but a pleasant odor that will eventually dissipate. The only traditional image that seems to have hung on is that when we “pass” we enter into a bright white light. But within this light ... who can say? (Frankly, heaven for me has always been autumnal and filled with deep shade.)

But why should it matter? We forget. How a society renders death and the “beyond” says everything about how it renders life and the here-and-now. The ways in which we picture what happens to the dead determine the ways in which we picture our own lives — the ways in which we engage in ethical reflection.

A life pictured as a cruise that will encounter the occasional storm is very different from one whose destination is pictured as fraught with demands, uncertainties, and the abiding shadow of possible moral failure.

The reason that most mainline churches have ended up focused on politics or sexual expression or “an aesthetic experience,” is simple. Without a rhetoric of the “beyond,” what else is there to talk about?

And the reason that sustained ethical reflection is scarce among most theologians is obvious. Now that life’s drama has no final act of any depth, life itself cannot but be pictured as one discrete scene after another.

Sadly, our modern dilemma is that we cannot return to a lost rhetoric without making it artificial. Those well-meaning preachers and speakers who try to “follow an antique drum” have come to seem to me about as “genuine” as a costumed guide at some colonial theme park.

No doubt we may rediscover the rich and mysterious topography of the “beyond.” But if we do our rhetoric will be decidedly different.

Poets and novelists, painters and artists, as well as the itinerant mystic, are always stumbling into it. Just don’t look for it to come from the American pulpit.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cardinal O'Malley at Theology on Tap

h/t to the Cardinal.

Cardinal O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, gave an excellent talk this week at a Theology on Tap session. Here is a video of his talk.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Animator vs. Animation

This is too cool!

Who will win? The animator or the animation which refuses to be controlled.
Check it out here.

On Women’s Clothing and the Dignity of Woman

h/t to Melanie:

This is an excerpt from a great post from Aimee the "Historical Christian" blog. Aimee has brought up some very interesting points, and I must say that I think she is right.

Here is a snip:
I remember a couple of years ago watching the show Project Runway, a reality show about upcoming fashion designers competing to win on the runway. At one point the judges, all models and fashion industry executives, were gushing about a particular dress coming down the runway, “Now, any woman with any figure could wear that! It’s beautiful!”

Any woman? Excuse me? The dress was of thin white silky material, with a short, pencil-straight skirt, sleeveless and backless, neckline plunging down to the navel, and the sides of the (braless and hanging) breasts exposed. It had less material than a slip. How could anyone in their right mind believe for one moment that any woman could wear such a dress?

Then there was the episode where designers were asked to design things for other contestant's mothers – and how painfully clear it became that most of them had no clue about how to design for a woman under 6’ and over 120 lbs. One of the mothers was reduced to tears of humiliation by the ugly design her “designer” created. I could relate. I’ve worn those same tears.

In watching the show over a couple of seasons (I enjoyed the creativity of it, though not, for the most part, the designs), it occurred to me: many top fashion designers are gay men. Having been close to many gay men in my life, I know that they for the most part don’t, shall I say, find a woman’s body attractive. Among some I’ve known, quite the opposite. Some refer to women disdainfully as “breeders,” with clear contempt for our reproductive capacity.

It occurred to me, as I watched the tall, skinny models make their way down the runway, that they bear a certain resemblance to adolescent boys. Gay men do like adolescent boys. So perhaps gay fashion designers, who in many respects drive the fashion industry, are not really designing for women, but for boys, consciously or no – leaving real women in the lurch, feeling inadequate, deprived, ugly, because of our shapely, curvy, soft, unpredictable bodies, designed for giving life. And that does not even begin to address what contraception, abortion, promiscuity, and pornography have done to our view of a woman’s body, its meaning, purpose, and dignity as image and likeness of God. Feminism was supposed to free us from such degradation - but it has not. It is worse than ever.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ancona Soccer Team Meets Pope Benedict

From ANSA:

An Italian soccer club vaunting a Catholic identity and commitment to good works if it sins on the field on Wednesday met Pope Benedict XVI.

AC Ancona players spoke to the pope after Wednesday's regular general audience, handing him a team jersey with his name on it and a red ball.

Red has always been the colour of the third-division side, which has a fan base who make no secret of their leftist sympathies.

Team captain Giovanni Langella told reporters: "It was a great thrill, a special meeting. The thing that joins all of us is faith".

Asked if he was ready to do social work if he got a red card, Langella replied: "I'll do it even if I'm not red-carded. You should always help others".

The club has embraced an ethics code launched by a Catholic sports organisation, the Italian Sporting Centre (CSI), aimed at promoting fair play on the field and funding charitable works in Italy and abroad.

It has been dubbed "the Vatican team" by the world's media but both the club's management and the Holy See has denied such a link.

Ancona was in Serie A as recently as 2004 but was double-demoted to the fourth division after bankruptcy. It has rallied, however, and is currently topping the third division.

The club's new owners, the Schiavoni family, hooked up with the CSI in a bid to make a contribution on and off the field.

The agreement with the CSI, an organisation of lay Catholics, includes a commitment by both club and players to do good works "in remission of sins on the field".

The world's media got hold of the story and dubbed Ancona a "Vatican team" aiming to "get an edge from the Almighty".

Film crews from the BBC and two German TV stations were on hand to record Ancona's Sunday win that kept it co-leader of Serie C-1. They filed reports highlighting that Ancona - from the historically Communist Marche port of the same name - had committed no fouls during the match on its ongoing "mission from God" .

But on Monday the Vatican denied having anything to do with the Ancona-CSI deal - although it looked "benevolently" on such charity and anti-hooligan moves.

Club CEO Giampiero Schiavoni admitted the club had no hotline to the Vatican but, acting through the CSI, would fund social work in Italy and Africa.

Meanwhile Ancona's famously left-wing fans, who regularly wave Che Guevara banners and campaign against neo-Fascists, said they welcomed any "worthwhile social initiatives" but did not expect to be "muzzled" by the club's new Catholic turn.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Italian Bishops Did NOT Buy Soccer Team

Despite reports the Italian Bishop's Conference has not bought a soccer team.

From this morning's VIS:
In a declaration released yesterday afternoon, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. denied recent reports that the Vatican or the Italian Episcopal Conference have bought the Italian football team Ancona, which plays in the third division.

Ancona football club and the "Centro Sportivo Italiano" have recently signed an agreement involving the application of an ethical code in the administration of the team, alongside a new model of economic management, the promotion of a sporting culture among the fans, and support for social initiatives in the Third World. For its part, the "Centro Sportivo Italiano" has undertaken to seek sponsors for the club.

"The Vatican and the Italian Episcopal Conference have nothing to do with this project," declared Fr. Lombardi. "There are initiatives which have positive and commendable aims and, if the declared intentions can be effectively achieved, this is certainly a good thing," he said adding, however, that this does not mean that this is an initiative of the Vatican or of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

The Holy See Press Office Director went on: "The Church must not be attributed with responsibilities she does not have, although she may view positively the commitment of lay Catholics in various fields, including that of sports."

Members of the Ancona football club will participate in tomorrow's general audience in St. Peter's Square but this, Fr. Lombardi made clear, does not mean "that the Pope has sponsored or taken responsibility for the working of the team."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Golden Compass Points the Way to Hell

There is a new kids movie which will be released just in time for Christmas which aims to influence kids to embrace atheism. "The Golden Compass" is the first book in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy to be made into a movie. Although the movie's star claims it has been "watered down" to make it non offensive, it is not a stretch that kids will want to read the vehemently anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, anti-faith series.


Kidman Says Religious Content of 'The Golden Compass' Has Been "Watered Down" What, you expected something different? Nicole Kidman has spoken with Entertainment Weekly (and by extension The Sydney Herald), seemingly to quell a firestorm that I didn't even know was raging -- concerns that New Line's The Golden Compass will upset Catholics. Kidman strongly suggests to EW that the film adaption of Philip Pullman's blatantly anti-theistic His Dark Materials books will not retain material that would upset religious folks. She says the religious message put forth in the film version of The Golden Compass "has been watered down a little," and she goes on to say that "I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence. I wouldn't be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic." So in other words, 'nothing interesting to see here -- move on.' This movie just continues to fall lower and lower on my 'to see' list.

First Things reviewed the series in 2001. Here are a few quotes from that review.

...The Amber Spyglass, just won the prestigious British Book Award for the Children’s Book of the Year (the first book won in 1996), and is currently just behind Rowling on the New York Times children’s bestseller list.
Pullman conceived of the series after writing down its first words, “Lyra and her daemon.” The idea of daemons (pronounced “demons”) has ante­ cedents in the daimon or spirit that Socrates claimed as an aid in his judgment, and in the tradition of guar­ dian angels. A daemon is a part of the human soul that takes the visible form of an animal, or many animals-the daemons of children change shape constantly, but settle down at puberty into just one shape as a person’s character becomes more definite. So the helmsman of a boat might have a seagull as his daemon, while Pantalaimon, Lyra Belacqua’s daemon, begins the series as a moth but shifts into a mouse, a dragon, an ermine, a mountain lion, a cat, and just about any animal shape you can think of. It is extraordinarily painful for daemons to go far from their people (it feels like your heart is being torn from your breast), and when Lyra sees at one stage a boy without a daemon, she is revolted:

"The little boy was huddled against the wood drying rack where hung row upon row of gutted fish, all stiff as boards. He was clutching a piece of fish to him as Lyra was clutching Pantalaimon, with her left hand, hard, against her heart; but that was all he had, a piece of dried fish; because he had no daemon at all. The Gobblers had cut it away. That was intercision, and this was a severed child. Her first impulse was to turn and run, or to be sick."

This device of the daemon, which is one of the great inventions of fantastic fiction, frames Pullman’s whole trilogy. The reader comes to love daemons, especially Lyra’s Pantalaimon, and one can easily imagine thousands of children (and not a few adults) wishing they had one.

The Golden Compass really begins when street urchins and servants’ children begin disappearing all over Europe (in the parallel world in which the action takes place). Word spreads on the streets that the Gobblers have stolen them, and are performing terrible experiments on them way up in the Arctic Circle. A mysterious substance called Dust seems to be involved, but the Church has forbidden any discussion of Dust, for it falls in the realm of philosophical speculation rather than theological research, and because it may have something to do with Original Sin. When Lyra’s best friend Roger and another boy are taken by the Gobblers, Lyra becomes determined to rescue them, and her adventures begin. There is a prophecy about Lyra that she will determine the fate of the universe, although she must do so without knowing what she is doing.

In The Subtle Knife, book two of the series, we meet Will Parry, a boy from Oxford in our world, who also is destined to play a major role in the history of the cosmos-he finds and bears a knife called God-killer that can cut a passage between worlds. He and Lyra meet in Cittigàzze, an Italianate city in yet a third world. Will is looking for his father, an explorer who Will thinks has travelled into a different world, and Lyra’s alethiometer (a truth-telling device, the golden compass of the first book) tells her she should help him. Lyra wants also to help her father, the mysterious Lord Asriel, who is preparing to overthrow the Authority (“God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty-those were all names he gave himself,” an angel tells Will). He can do this, he thinks, because what the Church calls God is really only the name for the first angel, who tried to trick all the other creatures into submitting to him. Some of the angels rebelled centuries ago, but lost, and now Lord Asriel is rallying the remnant of those who favor truth over the Authority’s lies to overthrow the Kingdom of Heaven and replace it with the Republic of Heaven.

The Amber Spyglass adds to the mix a fourth world, where the mulafeh, elephant-like people who roll around on wheels made from the giant seeds of giant trees, are starting to die off from the raids of giant swans and because the giant trees are dying as Dust leaves the world. So by the end of the series, Lyra and Will have to overthrow the Authority, rescue the dead (did I mention they make a trip to the realm of the dead à la Dante?), save the mulefah, heal the breach between the worlds, prevent the Gobblers from intercising children’s daemons, and establish the Republic of Heaven, all the while remaining in a state of innocence so that they can either relive or renounce Eve’s choice in the Garden of Eden.

Pullman has set himself an ambitious task, trying to tell a complex yet realistic tale about the death of God and the true nature and destiny of man. He has the talent to have pulled it off, but unfortunately, his atheism gets in the way. For unlike John Milton and his other hero William Blake, Pullman is a Richard Dawkins-type materialist, and his atheism fatally flaws The Amber Spyglass, and therefore, retroactively, the whole series. Pullman, who raised more than a few eyebrows with an article in the Guardian excoriating C. S. Lewis’ Narnia stories for their tendency to lapse into preaching, falls prey to that same bad habit himself. Indeed, to facilitate his preaching, he breaks many of the rules of fantasy-writing in this third volume, and although this probably makes his novel more appropriate for children, it seriously weakens it as art.

Atheists can write perfectly good and realistic fiction, because there is nothing about being an atheist that prohibits a person from understanding human motivation and the physical world. But being nonreligious does deprive you of the one thing an ambitious fantasy author needs: a plausible cosmology, a myth that tells us how things got to be the way they are. The great religions all provide this. One could even hold, as did Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, that a religion is just a story of the world, which in the case of Christianity (they held) happens to be true. A Christian fantasist in his act of subcreation can borrow heavily from the true mythic world created by the Christian God; the fantasist might change some of the names and other details, but the basic infinitely rich story has already been told.
The Christian myth has such a powerful hold over our narrative imagination that it is probably impossible to write a believable epic, especially one about the Last Things, without relying on it extensively. Pullman challenges the most fantastic and yet most persuasive parts of the Christian myth-Creation, the Fall, Sin, Death, Heaven, Hell-and one credits him for gumption. If his alternative were more compelling, I would recommend parents keep their children away. (Pullman has just signed to do a “reference work” called The Book of Dust which will lay out the creation myth in full, and thus probably won’t be appropriate-or interesting-for children.)

As is, I can fairly characterize His Dark Materials in this fashion: imagine if at the beginning of the world Satan’s rebellion had been successful, that he had reigned for two thousand years, and that a messiah was necessary to conquer lust and the spirit of domination with innocence, humility, and generous love at great personal cost. Such a story is not subversive of Christianity, it is almost Christian, even if only implicitly and imperfectly. But implicit and imperfect Christianity is often our lot in life, and Pullman has unintentionally created a marvelous depiction of many of the human ideals Christians hold dear.

I'm not sure if I agree with that last passage in the review. While it might be ok for adults who can read it in that context, children will not read it in that way. I have not read the books, but based on everything I have read from religious and secular sources it's very dangerous to the faith of our young people.

If you want more information on the movie and the series it is available from The Catholic League.

Update: The Golden Compass book is being promoted by NBC's today show. It's Al Roker's Children's Book for his book club!

Update 2: Tom Peters (American Papist) has a great post on the books.AmericanPapist: Not Your Average Catholic!: The Golden Compass is pointing towards anti-Catholicism

Also, I will be writing a term paper for my English course on the book. I will post it once I finish and submit it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Father, Grandfather, Brother, Father


A 72 year old British man is going to father his own grandchild thanks to IVF. His son and daughter-in-law are going to be the parents, so the child's brother is also going to be his father. Ummm, but his grandfather is also his father.

...and people think this is a good idea?

Read about it here.

Catholic Blogger Meme

I got this meme from Brian:

1. Do you attend the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo?
I attended my first TLM this morning. I will post my comments about it later. My regular Mass is the Novus Ordo.

2. If you attend the TLM, how far do you drive to get there?
Half an hour

3. If you had to apply a Catholic label to yourself, what would it be?
Catholic Geek

4. Are you a comment junkie?

5. Do you go back to read the comments on the blogs you’ve commented on?

6. Have you ever left an anonymous comment on another blog?
Yes, but not usually.

7. Which blogroll would you most like to be on?
Anyone who will have me.

8. Which blog is the first one you check?
Usually, The Cafeteria is Closed.

9. Have you met any other bloggers in person?
Yes. Brian, Fr. Ethan McCarthy, from the now defunct The Diary of a Suburban Priest, Cardinal Sean, Fr. Roger Landry, Rob, Fr. Thomas Kocik

10. What are you reading?
The Summa Theologiae, De Deo Uno, and De Deo Trino.

If you are reading, consider yourself tagged

Friday, October 05, 2007

Importance of Natural Moral Law

This morning the Pope received members of the International Theological Commission, who have just completed their annual plenary meeting, held in the Vatican from October 1 to 5 under the presidency of Cardinal William Joseph Levada.

In his remarks to them, the Holy Father recalled the recent publication of a commission document on the subject of "the hope of salvation for children who die without receiving Baptism," and expressed the wish that it may "continue to be a useful point of reference for pastors of the Church and for theologians," as well as providing "assistance and consolation for the faithful who have suffered the sudden death of a child before receiving" the Sacrament.

Turning to focus on "natural moral law," a question being examined by the commission, Benedict XVI indicated that the doctrine on natural law "achieves two essential aims: on the one hand, it makes it clear that the ethical content of Christian faith is not an imposition dictated from outside man's conscience, but a norm that has its basis in human nature itself; and on the other hand, by starting from the basis of natural law - which of itself is accessible to all rational creatures - it lays the foundations for dialogue with all men and women of good will, and with civil society more generally."

The Pope then highlighted the fact that nowadays "the original evidence for the foundations of human beings and of their ethical behavior has been lost, and the doctrine of natural moral law clashes with other concepts which run directly contrary to it. All this has enormous consequences on civil and social order."

What dominates today, he continued, "is a positivist conception of law" according to which "humanity, or society, or in effect the majority of citizens, become the ultimate source for civil legislation. The problem that arises is not, then, the search for good but the search for power, or rather the balance of power. At the root of this tendency is ethical relativism, in which some people even see one of the principal conditions for democracy because, they feel, relativism guarantees tolerance and mutual respect. ... But if this were true, the majority at any given moment would become the ultimate source for law, and history shows with great clarity that majorities can make mistakes."

"When," the Holy Father proceeded, "the fundamental essentials are at stake: human dignity, human life, the institution of the family and the equity of the social order (in other words the fundamental rights of man), no law made by men and women can subvert the norm written by the Creator in man's heart without society itself being dramatically struck ... at its very core. Thus natural law is a true guarantee for everyone to live freely and with respect for their dignity, protected from all ideological manipulation and from all arbitrary abuses of the powerful. No one can disregard this appeal.

"If," he added, "by reason of a tragic clouding of the collective conscience, skepticism and ethical relativism managed to annul the fundamental principles of natural moral law, the very democratic order itself would be profoundly undermined at its foundations. Against such clouding - which is a crisis for human, even more than for Christian, civilization - the consciences of all men and women of good will must be mobilized, both lay people and followers of religions other than Christianity, so that together they may make an effective commitment to creating ... the conditions necessary for a full awareness of the inalienable value of natural moral law."

Benedict XVI concluded by stressing that "the advance of individuals and of society along the path of true progress" depends upon respect for natural moral law, "in conformity with right reason, which is participation in the eternal Reason of God."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rooting for "The Episcopate"?

Ok, so that's not really their name, but it could be.
The Italian Catholic bishops have bought an 80% stake in a soccer team.
It seems Bertone's dream is coming true

Read more about it here and here.

Update: as of October 9th Fr. Lombardi announced that the story is not true. The details can be found here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Nerd Test

H/T to the Orthometer who far outranks me in nerdiness. says I'm a Cool Nerd Queen.  What are you?  Click here!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Catholic Carnival

This weeks Catholic Carnival is up and running. I submitted my post on the wacky Time magazine article this week.

Check it out here. Also, I have added a permanent link to the carnival in my sidebar.

Finally...a break

I have nearly finished two essays on the Summa Theologiae. I only need to interpret a scripture passage according to two of the four senses of scripture and I will be finished.

It feels good to have it done and even better to realize that I think I may be climbing over the "Summa Wall", as my professor calls it.

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for me.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Marini Replaces Marini

I had my doubts that it would actually happen, but it is now official.
This morning Pope Benedict XVI
- Appointed Archbishop Piero Marini, master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, as president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

- Appointed Fr. Guido Marini of the clergy of the archdiocese of Genoa, Italy, as master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations.
To get used to the new change, click on Piero's picture.
This may rile some in the blogosphere, but I am disappointed in Archbishop Marini's new assignment. I think he deserves something much better.
Photo credits: Piero Marini photo by Domini Sumus
Guido Marini Photo from Andrea Tornielli