Monday, December 30, 2013

Great Commercial

Here is a great commercial from Coke. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


The December meditation at Christ the King is quite fitting for my life right now. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dogma and doctrine

If you have ever wondered how dogmas of the church are different than other doctrines, Jimmy Akin has provided a graph that explains it. I've summarized it below. 

Has been infallibly taught by the Church as something that is divinely revealed.
Examples: Divinity of Christ - Defined by First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). 
Assumption of Mary - Defined by Pius XII (Munificentissimus Deus; 1950). 
Infallible Doctrine
Has been infallibly taught by the Church but not (or not yet) defined as divinely revealed.
Examples: Priesthood is reserved to men - Defined by the Church’s ordinary Magisterium (cf. Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei 11). 
Anglican orders invalid - Also infallible doctrine (cf. Doctrinal Commentary 11). 
Non-Infallible Doctrine
Is taught by the Church but has not been infallibly defined. 
Examples: Bishop and priest are two different ranks of holy orders - This question was settled at Vatican II, which taught that “by episcopal consecration the fullness of the sacrament of orders is conferred” (Lumen Gentium 21). Council did not use the language needed to infallibly define this. 
Mormon baptism is invalid - First taught by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (decree, June 5, 2001). Since the CDF cannot teach infallibly, this must be non-infallible doctrine. 
Theological Opinion
Is not taught by the Church but is permitted by the Church.
Examples: The fire of purgatory is Christ himself - Mentioned by Benedict XVI as an opinion of some recent theologians (Spe Salvi 47). 
There are 9 choirs of angels - See John Paul II (general audience, August 6, 1986).

If you want more freebies from Jimmy, check out 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

This made me laugh

The good thing about defending your positions by blogging is that you can't fall prey to the fake watermelon technique. 

Infant Baptism

I attended the baptism of Tyler Spoden last Sunday, and I'll be a godparent for Mary Claire Kramer this upcoming Sunday. In honor of these baptisms, I wanted to write something about infant baptism (which I know I've covered briefly in other blog posts). Our first masters course at the New Saint Thomas Institute walked us through the basic structure of the Summa Theologiae. The example used in this course just so happened to be on the defense of infant baptism! 

I was already familiar with the structure of the Summa as I had already read parts of the Summa prior to this course, but it was still a nice refresher. 

The below comes from where you can get a free copy of the entire Summa.  My notes are in red to explain the structure of the Summa if you are unfamiliar with it.

STh III, q. 68, a. 9
[This stands for the third part, question 68, article 9]

Article 9. Whether children should be baptized?
[St. Thomas always starts his articles with objections that are raised against the Catholic position.  So objections 1-3 listed below are NOT the beliefs of Thomas Aquinas or the Catholic Church, but are the objections that are raised by non-Catholics.  Keep in mind that St. Thomas wrote the Summa between 1265-1274 (the year he died before it was finished).  You'll notice that the objections being raised in his day are the same old objections that we hear today.]
Objection 1. It seems that children should not be baptized. For the intention to receive the sacrament is required in one who is being baptized, as stated above (Article 7). But children cannot have such an intention, since they have not the use of free-will. Therefore it seems that they cannot receive the sacrament of Baptism.

Objection 2. Further, Baptism is the sacrament of faith, as stated above (39, 5; 66, 1, ad 1). But children have not faith, which demands an act of the will on the part of the believer, as Augustine says (Super Joan. xxvi). Nor can it be said that theirsalvation is implied in the faith of their parents; since the latter are sometimes unbelievers, and their unbelief would conduce rather to the damnation of their children. Therefore it seems that children cannot be baptized.

Objection 3. Further, it is written (1 Peter 3:21) that "Baptism saveth" men; "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience towards God." But children have no conscience, either good or bad, since they have not the use of reason: nor can they be fittingly examined, since they understand not. Therefore children should not be baptized.

[Next comes the basic position of the Catholic faith]
On the contrary, Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii): "Our heavenly guides," i.e. the Apostles, "approved of infants being admitted to Baptism."

[Next comes an explanation and defense of the Catholic position]
I answer that, As the Apostle says (Romans 5:17), "if by one man's offense death reigned through one," namely Adam, "much more they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift, and of justice, shall reign in life through one, Jesus Christ." Now children contract original sin from the sin of Adam; which is made clear by the fact that they are under the ban of death, which "passed upon all" on account of the sin of the first man, as the Apostle says in the same passage (Romans 5:12). Much more, therefore, can children receive grace through Christ, so as to reign in eternal life. But our Lord Himself said (John 3:5): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Consequently it became necessary tobaptize children, that, as in birth they incurred damnation through Adam so in a second birth they might obtain salvation throughChrist. Moreover it was fitting that children should receive Baptism, in order that being reared from childhood in things pertaining to the Christian mode of life, they may the more easily persevere therein; according to Proverbs 22:5: "A young man according to his way, even when he is old, he will not depart from it." This reason is also given by Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. iii).

[Finally, St. Thomas goes through each of the objections raised in the first section and tears them apart like a samurai]
Reply to Objection 1. The spiritual regeneration effected by Baptism is somewhat like carnal birth, in this respect, that as the child while in the mother's womb receives nourishment not independently, but through the nourishment of its mother, so also children before the use of reason, being as it were in the womb of their mother the Church, receive salvation not by their ownact, but by the act of the Church. Hence Augustine says (De Pecc. Merit. et Remiss. i): "The Church, our mother, offers her maternal mouth for her children, that they may imbibe the sacred mysteries: for they cannot as yet with their own heartsbelieve unto justice, nor with their own mouths confess unto salvation . . . And if they are rightly said to believe, because in a certain fashion they make profession of faith by the words of their sponsors, why should they not also be said to repent, since by the words of those same sponsors they evidence their renunciation of the devil and this world?" For the same reason they can be said to intend, not by their own act of intention, since at times they struggle and cry; but by the act of those who bring them to be baptized.

Reply to Objection 2. As Augustine says, writing to Boniface (Cont. duas Ep. Pelag. i), "in the Church of our Saviour little children believe through others, just as they contracted from others those sins which are remitted in Baptism." Nor is it a hindrance to their salvation if their parents be unbelievers, because, as Augustine says, writing to the same Boniface (Ep. xcviii), "little children are offered that they may receive grace in their souls, not so much from the hands of those that carry them (yet from these too, if they be good and faithful) as from the whole company of the saints and the faithful. For they are rightly considered to be offered by those who are pleased at their being offered, and by whose charity they are united in communionwith the Holy Ghost." And the unbelief of their own parents, even if after Baptism these strive to infect them with the worship ofdemons, hurts not the children. For as Augustine says (Cont. duas Ep. Pelag. i) "when once the child has been begotten by thewill of others, he cannot subsequently be held by the bonds of another's sin so long as he consent not with his will, according to" Ezekiel 18:4: "'As the soul of the Father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, the same shall die.' Yet he contracted from Adam that which was loosed by the grace of this sacrament, because as yet he was not endowed with a separate existence." But the faith of one, indeed of the whole Church, profits the child through the operation of the Holy Ghost, Who unites the Church together, and communicates the goods of one member to another.

Reply to Objection 3. Just as a child, when he is being baptizedbelieves not by himself but by others, so is he examined not by himself but through others, and these in answer confess the Church's faith in the child's stead, who is aggregated to thisfaith by the sacrament of faith. And the child acquires a good conscience in himself, not indeed as to the act, but as to thehabit, by sanctifying grace.

I encourage you to go through the Summa at the website and check out any of the articles that interest you.  Each article is structured the same way as above.  I think that Saint Thomas really shines in his articles on the passions of the soul, habits of virtue and vice, natural law and grace. I think you will find that it is not as daunting and intimidating as most people think. If you are a beginner to philosophy and/or theology, start with part III of the Summa which deals with the Incarnation and the sacraments. Also, you can read things out of order if that is easier for you. For example, you may want to read the reply to the objection right after reading each objection. 

New Saint Thomas Institute

Howdy folks!  It's been a long time since I've posted something (life has been busy lately!), but I have something worth posting.  

I am fortunate enough to be one of only 500 charter members of the New Saint Thomas Institute created by Dr. Taylor Marshall.  Enrollment is currently closed, but check it out at if you are interested in learning more about it.  Enrollment will be opening up again at some point in the future.  At the institute, he is offering college level courses in philosophy and theology with a different focus each month.  The teachings of Thomas Aquinas ("the Angelic Doctor") will be front and center in these classes.  

Dr. Marshall is currently the Chancellor at Fisher More College and blogs at  After looking at Fisher More's website, I'm convinced that it is one of the best Catholic colleges in the country.  

I owe a big thank you to my mother who was able to sign me up for the institute while I was flying to San Francisco for work on the morning that enrollment opened.  Otherwise, I might have missed one of those 500 spots that filled up.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Infant King Offerings

When time allows it, I try to attend Mass throughout the week at the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago.  Here is a link to their website:

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest ("ICKSP") is a unique apostolate that is headquartered in Chicago, but they have established churches in several cities throughout the U.S. and internationally.  The only other church of theirs that I have visited was the St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, MO. 

They celebrate Mass exclusively in the Extraordinary Form (similar to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter), and their altar servers have permission to wear blue instead of the white cassock in honor of their devotion to Mary. 

From the 17th-25th of each month, they offer a novena of Masses to the Infant King and conclude Mass with the novena prayer at the foot of the altar.  You can submit your prayer intentions to them and they will remember your intentions in that month's novena.  For a donation of $25, they will place a flower near the altar during the novena of Masses.  For a donation of $50, they will place a candle near the altar instead.  The funds are going toward rebuilding their historic landmark shrine which you can read about here:

I love that the funds they are raising through this project are going toward the restoration of their church.  They love the liturgy and traditional Catholic culture, and it has truly been a blessing to watch them in action.

In order to have your prayer intentions remembered in the current month's novena, you need to submit them by the 14th.  I realize that I am typing this at midnight of the 14th, so if you are reading this today then you have time to hurry up and submit your intentions and donation!  Follow this link to participate:

Here is a nice little YouTube video that they put up recently about their devotion to the Infant King and restoration of the shrine.  If you are curious, the hymn during the video is Maîtrise De Dijon's version of Franck's "Dextera Domini" (Right Hand of God).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Don't Delay Baptism

Dr. Taylor Marshall had a post up earlier this month about Pope Francis's view that infant baptism should not be held hostage:

This is similar to a post he put up a couple years ago about Pope John Paul II's stance against delaying infant baptism:

I encourage you to check out those posts as they shed some good light.  I am a big proponent of baptizing babies ASAP after birth.  There is no reason to delay.  I have heard of churches only performing baptisms one Sunday per month, or that there is a "wait list" for getting your babies baptized.  Oftentimes, you might hear a church say that they only baptize a specified number of babies on a particular Sunday, and therefore you will need to wait until the next Sunday (or even the next month)!  This kind of thing is absurd and can probably be attributed to the fact that people no longer put a proper emphasis on the importance of sacraments.

After all, if your baby will still go to heaven without being baptized if something tragic happened (heaven forbid), why rush to the church the next day to get them baptized?  Wouldn't it be better to wait until next month when all the aunts, uncles and cousins have a free Sunday so that everyone can attend?  Plus, I need time to figure out which cute little invitation I am going to send out!

Is this the correct way to be thinking about baptism?  The Catechism gives us some pretty stern warnings concerning infant baptism.

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

This is quoting from John 3:5
5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The catechism continues:

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

This is a pretty stark warning against delaying baptism.  Although it is possible that a child could receive the same beatific vision as someone who dies in the state of grace with the sacraments (since God is not technically bound by his own sacraments as noted in CCC 1257 above), it is important to remember that a sacrament is a covenantal oath that God has made with us, and is the only absolute way that we can be assured of sanctifying grace (which is the very life of God himself indwelling in our souls). 

One topic that I am not going to dive in too deeply is the idea of Limbo, which is really the crux of the issue.  If Limbo doesn't exist and all babies that die go straight to heaven, then why worry about baptizing so soon?  Check out this article from Catholic Culture which sums up the church's current stance on Limbo.  Basically, the church's stance hasn't really changed at all:

What does the Code of Canon Law have to say?  

Can.  867 §1. Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks.  As soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it. 
§2. An infant in danger of death is to be baptized without delay.

I have a couple thoughts about this.  Canon law is telling us that we should have our children baptized within the first few weeks after birth.  The way it is phrased, I would suggest that it is not implying that we intentionally delay baptism for a few weeks without good cause.  In other words, the law isn't telling us to absolutely wait a few weeks, but rather to make sure it gets done in those first few weeks.  Secondly, I underlined the statement that even before birth, we can make arrangements for baptism with the pastor.  This is something that always flummoxed me.  If you have two Catholic parents that are attending church every Sunday and have hopefully had some sort of religious formation, why in the world are they waiting until after the baby is born to attend some class at the parish that tells them obvious things that they should know already (i.e., baptism is the new birth from above, make sure you select godparents, etc. etc.).  The parents can easily take this class before the baby is born, so that they are prepared to baptize their baby right after birth.  Instead, many people wait until after the birth to sign up for a class that is offered once a month, then they spend another week getting invitations, then they sign up for the next available slot which could be weeks away.  After its all said and done, it could be well over a month or two before the baby is baptized.  

The sacrament of baptism takes all of 10 seconds to perform, yet we wait months to do it.  I think we need to re-prioritize and realize that baptism is important and should not be delayed.  If you want to perform it during Sunday Mass, arrange with the priest (and your family) so that it happens the very next Sunday after birth.  If you want it sooner, the baptismal rite can be performed in a quick private ceremony on any day of the week.  If your parish tries to "wait list" you and says that they have a quota on the number of baptisms that they perform each month, then I say good riddance to that parish and find yourself a new one.  This issue is too important to mess around with.

I also think that this is a good opportunity during the new evangelization to show others how important baptism is.  For instance, you could send out an invitation like this:

Baptism Announcment

Gertrude is due to give birth to baby Ethel on Wednesday, March 5th.  The tentative date for the baptism is set for the following Sunday, March 9th at St. Cletus Parish.  Due to the possibility of the baby's due date being changed, the date of the baptism may be changed.  We understand that you may not be able to make it to the baptism if the date has to be changed, so in that case we would appreciate you being there "in spirit" during that time.  

Then when you get asked by your family why you went against the norm for baptizing your baby, you can spring into action and explain the reason for why baptism is so important and why you don't want to deprive your baby of this grace any longer!  Breaking the norm is a good way to evangelize sometimes, especially when the norm is nonsense.  

Feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts on this subject.  You can leave a comment below, or send me a direct email (check out my sidebar for the email link).  


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pope Countdown Begins

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, gave the homily at the Mass this morning before the Cardinals go into the conclave.  As expected, the focus seemed to be on wanting a pope that will focus on "promoting justice and peace".  Here are some excerpts from the homily:
“My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a pontiff who will embrace this noble mission (of charity) with a generous heart,” 
“Let us pray that the future Pope may continue this unceasing work on the world level,” [hinting at the possibility of a South American or African pope where the Church has been growing and expanding while Catholic Europe is on the decline?????]
(the last popes have been) “builders of so many good initiatives for people and for the international community, tirelessly promoting justice and peace.” 
“It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word,” he stated, quoting Benedict XVI’s encyclical on charity.  [It is good to hear the Cardinal bring up evangelization here.  After all, this is the Year of Faith.]
My gut tells me that the Cardinals are going to look for a pope that is "pastoral", a good communicator that is well versed in Spanish, a promoter of "peace and justice", and someone devoted to "ecumenism".  These are all good things for sure, but I also hope that we get a pope that is liturgically minded, drives out liturgical abuse, reprimands or (if necessary) excommunicates dissenters that are leading flocks astray, and isn't afraid to proclaim the truths of the faith around the hot-button issues of the day (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) even if the so-called cultural catholics throw a hissy fit.  We have had a handful of "nice" popes going back to John XXIII.  I think it is about time we get a pope that is willing to crack the whip on the money changers in the Temple if you get my drift.  That is why I am going for the long shot.......Cardinal Burke. 

Cardinals Dolan and O'Malley are the Americans that seem to be getting most of the attention from the press (you can throw in Cardinal Ouellet if you are counting North America).  Maybe the lack of attention that Cardinal Burke is receiving may actually play into his favor......

Below are some of the reasons that I have come to love the good Cardinal from Wisconsin.  Check it out.

Another reason I like Cardinal Burke is because of his involvement with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (see my sidebar.....I am a big promoter of them.....).  See link below.

Finally, Cardinal Burke is not afraid to dress up!  Imagine what kind of get-up he would wear if he became pope?!?!?  Case in point......

Friday, March 1, 2013

Good bye Pope Benedict

Keep praying for our Cardinals as they prepare for the conclave. We have to remember that we have fallible men running the Church (which accounts for some of the bad popes throughout history). Therefore, they need our prayers more than ever. The mystery of the cooperation between God's providence and our human choices is a great mystery indeed, but let's not shirk our responsibility to pray for our Church leaders.

Since the media has gotten it wrong on why Pope Benedict abdicated, I thought I would unveil the truth. It's that darn wind at the Vatican....

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Follow up on Biblia Clerus

After downloading and installing Biblia Clerus (see original post here), I gave it a shot this morning to see what all the fuss is about.  It is excellent!  There are so many valuable resources.  For today, I clicked the "liturgy" icon and it pulled up all the readings for today's Mass.  The first reading is from Jeremiah 17.  You can set your default bible to either the New American Bible (NAB) or the Revised Standard Version (RSV).  I prefer the RSV, so I set that as my default.  I actually prefer the Douay-Rheims or the Knox bible, but it doesn't really matter for purposes of Biblia Clerus.  I don't expect that I will spend much time reading the actual biblical text in this program.  I expect to spend more time just using the linked resources.  The only gripe I have so far is that the help/instructions are in a different language.  Maybe I will be able to figure it out.  It is actually pretty intuitive though, and you can get by without formal instructions.

After pulling up Jeremiah 17, a whole host of resources referencing this text is pulled up in the sidebar.  You can then click on any resource which pulls it up side-by-side with the biblical text.  Here is what I found in a matter of minutes concerning Jeremiah 17.  First the text itself:

Jeremiah 17: 5-13
5 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? 10 "I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." 11 Like the partridge that gathers a brood which she did not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by right; in the midst of his days they will leave him, and at his end he will be a fool.
 12 A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. 13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake thee shall be put to shame; those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.

References for study/meditation
1.  Catechism 150:   Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.(17)

(17) Jer 17: 5-6

2.  Athanasius on the Persecution by Constantius:   Such were the proceedings of the Palatine commissioners; on the other hand, those admirable persons, confident in the patronage which they had obtained, display great zeal, and cause some of the Bishops to be summoned before the Emperor, while they persecute others by letters, inventing charges against them; to the intent that the one might be overawed by the presence of Constantius, and the other, through fear of the commissioners and the threats held out to them in these pretended accusations, might be brought to renounce their orthodox and pious opinions. In this manner it was that the Emperor forced so great a multitude of Bishops, partly by threats, and partly by promises, to declare, ‘We will no longer hold communion with Athanasius.’ For those who came for an interview, were not admitted to his presence, nor allowed any relaxation, not so much as to go out of their dwellings, until they had either subscribed, or refused and incurred banishment thereupon. And this he did because he saw that the heresy was hateful to all men. For this reason especially he compelled so many to add their names to the small number10 of the Arians, his earnest desire being to collect together a crowd of names, both from envy of the Bishop, and for the sake of making a shew in favour of the Arian impiety, of which he is the patron; supposing that he will be able to alter the truth, as easily as he can influence the minds of men. He knows not, nor has ever read, how that the Sadducees and the Herodians, taking unto them the Pharisees, were not able to obscure the truth; rather it shines out thereby more brightly every day, while they crying out, ‘We have no king but Caesar11 ,’ and obtaining the judgment of Pilate in their favour, are nevertheless left destitute, and wait in utter shame, expecting shortly12 to become bereft, like the partridge13 , when they shall see their patron near his death.

(13)  Jer 17:11

3.  The Enchiridion:  Chapter 114 - Having Dealt with Faith, We Now Come to Speak of Hope, Everything that Pertains to Hope is Embraced in the Lord's Prayer.

 Out of this confession of faith, which is briefly comprehended in the Creed, and which, carnally understood, is milk for babes, but, spiritually apprehended and studied, is meat for strong men, springs the good hope of believers; and this is accompanied by a holy love. But of these matters, all of which are true objects of faith, those only pertain to hope which are embraced in the Lord’s Prayer. For, “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man”222 is the testimony of holy writ; and, consequently, this curse attaches also to the man who trusteth in himself. Therefore, except from God the Lord we ought to ask for nothing either that we hope to do well, or hope to obtain as a reward of our good works.

(222)  Jer 17:5  

4.  St. Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologica:  Whether God is a body?

Objection 5:   Further, only bodies or things corporeal can be a local term "wherefrom" or "whereto." But in the Scriptures God is spoken of as a local term "whereto," according to the words, "Come ye to Him and be enlightened" (Ps 33,6), and as a term "wherefrom": "All they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth" (Jr 17,13). Therefore God is a body.  [Jeremiah 17 is being used here to argue that God has a body, which St. Thomas is going to refute]

On the contrary It is written in the Gospel of St. John (Jn 4,24): "God is a spirit."

I answer that it is absolutely true that God is not a body; and this can be shown in three ways.

 1. First, because no body is in motion unless it be put in motion, as is evident from induction. Now it has been already proved (Question [2], Article [3]), that God is the First Mover, and is Himself unmoved. Therefore it is clear that God is not a body.
 2. Secondly, because the first being must of necessity be in act, and in no way in potentiality. For although in any single thing that passes from potentiality to actuality, the potentiality is prior in time to the actuality; nevertheless, absolutely speaking, actuality is prior to potentiality; for whatever is in potentiality can be reduced into actuality only by some being in actuality. Now it has been already proved that God is the First Being. It is therefore impossible that in God there should be any potentiality. But every body is in potentiality because the continuous, as such, is divisible to infinity; it is therefore impossible that God should be a body.
 3. Thirdly, because God is the most noble of beings. Now it is impossible for a body to be the most noble of beings; for a body must be either animate or inanimate; and an animate body is manifestly nobler than any inanimate body. But an animate body is not animate precisely as body; otherwise all bodies would be animate. Therefore its animation depends upon some other thing, as our body depends for its animation on the soul. Hence that by which a body becomes animated must be nobler than the body. Therefore it is impossible that God should be a body.

Reply to Objection 5:   We draw near to God by no corporeal steps, since He is everywhere, but by the affections of our soul, and by the actions of that same soul do we withdraw from Him; thus, to draw near to or to withdraw signifies merely spiritual actions based on the metaphor of local motion.

5.  Gaudium et spes (Vatican II):  Humanity's Essential Nature

14......... Now, man is not wrong when he regards himself as superior to bodily concerns, and as more than a speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of man. For by his interior qualities he outstrips the whole sum of mere things. He plunges into the depths of reality whenever he enters into his own heart; God, Who probes the heart,(7) awaits him there; there he discerns his proper destiny beneath tho eyes of God. Thus, when he recognizes in himself a spiritual and immortal soul, he is not being mocked by a fantasy born only of physical or social influences, but is rather laying hold of the proper truth of the matter.

(7)  Cf. 1 Kings 16:7, Jer 17:10.

The list goes on and on and on..........

There are tons of different resources to help you study the faith from a biblical perspective, and to do biblical exegesis through the lens of Tradition and the Magisterium.

If you have ever ran across a biblical passage that may be a stumper for you, or you aren't sure how to interpret it, this is the resource for you!  Also, this would be great for priests that are preparing homilies, catechists of all levels, and group bible studies.

The only thing lacking in Biblia Clerus is extensive tools on understanding the original languages (Hebrew, Greek and Latin).  However, this is probably not a big deal for the average lay person that is just getting into biblical study.  Another great resource is Verbum, which contains several additional resources, word studies, etc.  I would venture to guess that Verbum is probably a better overall resource from what I have read around the blogosphere, but the downside is that it will cost you over $200 for just the base package.  The great thing about Biblia Clerus is that it is FREE!  From what I've seen, Biblia Clerus has everything that the average lay person would want to study the faith more deeply.  I'm certainly impressed.

Coffee of the month: Guatemalan Antigua Sereno

February coffee of the month from the Mystic Monk
So yesterday I received my first bags of coffee for my "coffee of the month" subscription from Mystic Monk Coffee.  The February coffee of the month is "Guatemalan Antigua Sereno".  I also received a free Monk Press Travel Mug for signing up for the coffee of the month (this mug usually sells for $29.95).  It has a built-in French press.  I also purchased a ceramic monk mug which is pretty sleek as well.  On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped by Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a coffee grinder since the coffee of the month only comes in whole beans (to keep it fresh).  I had to decide between a blade grinder or a burr grinder.  My internet research showed that a burr grinder keeps the flavors locked in much better, and also grinds the beans more evenly.  Plus you can set the type of grind (fine for espresso, medium for regular drip coffee, and course for a French press).  A blade grinder would work similar to a Magic Bullet, and you would have to hope that the blades don't pulverize the beans into dust (if you are going for a course grind with the French press).  So it was a no-brainer to go with the burr grinder.  Although it was a little more expensive, I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Mystic Monk Travel Mug
The cool part about the travel mug is that it contains a secret chamber underneath the mug that lets you store your beans until you are ready to use them.  So last night, I grinded up some coffee (using a course grind for my new French press travel mug), and sealed it in the secret chamber.  This morning, I tried my first cup of this coffee using the French press.  You just throw the beans in the cup and pour in hot water.  You then let it steep for about 4 minutes, and then use a plunger that pushes all the beans down to the bottom of the mug.  So it basically works the same way as steeping tea, except you use a plunger to push the beans down instead of using a tea bag.

The "Monk Mug"
I was hopeful that I grinded the beans to the right course consistency, because if you grind them to fine, they can get clogged in the metal grid of the plunger, or worse they can escape past the plunger and you will end up drinking sand with your coffee.  And what was the final verdict? worked like a charm!  It was perfect!  Not to mention the coffee is delicious!

Here is the review of this coffee from Mystic Monk.  Click the "More..." link to read the full review.  I wish I had the palate of a true coffee connoisseur.  For example, they describe the aftertaste as "desert wine, caramel and a hint of passion fruit", and the complexity as "dark chocolate, nut, citrus, honey and floral tones".  I don't know about all that, but it is delicious!

They have not released what the March coffee is going to be.  I should receive it around March 15th.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Biblia Clerus

For those of you interested in bible study, there is a free resource on the web called "Biblia Clerus".  This was released by the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican.  In addition to the biblical text, it provides cross-references to church documents, encyclicals, early church fathers, canon law, commentaries, etc.  Here is the link:

When you get to the site, click on "to download" under the "Download or update Biblia Clerus" heading.  This will install the program and add an icon to your desktop.  I am in the middle of installing right now as I type this, so I can't give an official review of it.  The various blogs that I have read have good things to say about it.  Plus, it comes directly from the Vatican, so I figure you can't go wrong.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today begins St. Louis de Montfort's "Total Consecration"

St. Louis de Montfort's Way of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary

Today (February 20th) begins the 33 days of preparation for "Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary" for those who want to consecrate themselves on March 25th (the Feast of the Annunciation).  You can technically perform this consecration on any day of the year, but St. Louis recommends consecrating yourself on a Marian feast day.  Of all the Marian feast days, the Feast of the Annunciation is most recommended by St. Louis because it is the day that our Lord himself began to rely on the Blessed Virgin through the incarnation.

I have attempted this consecration before, but have fallen short each time.  I usually end up missing a day, and then giving up after that in hopes of success next time.  I'm going to try again, and hopefully, by the grace of God, I can make it through all 34 days (the 33 days of preparation and the day of consecration).  The 33 days represent our Lord's 33 years on this earth according to tradition.  I figure this will also coincide with our Lenten call to prayer.

If anyone else is going to attempt this, let me know!  We can be accountability partners to make sure we are saying the readings and prayers each day.

Superhero Priest

Creative Minority Report: Holy Heretic Batman - Priest Wears Superhero Vestments

The holy water gun takes the cake....

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beauty matters

I have harped from time to time on how important it is to restore the beauty and sacredness of the Mass.  One of the reasons that my generation does not always appreciate the sacredness of the Mass is because of the lack of beauty in many modern churches.  The wreck-o-vation projects of the 1970s (in the "spirit of V2" of course) were a disaster that was never called upon by the Church.

I like how Cardinal Arinze quipped that he would give anyone a turkey that could show him where in the documents of V2 that the stripping out of altar rails was called for.  I suppose if it was Thanksgiving, that would be a pretty sweet deal.

Apparently turkeys are a popular food of choice in Nigeria as Cardinal Arinze has used this turkey line on other occasions.  I've also seen a quote of his which states, "Suppose a priest comes at the beginning of Mass and says: 'Good morning, everybody, did your team win last night?' That's not a liturgical greeting. If you can find it in any liturgical book, I'll give you a turkey." I've seen this quote floating around the blogosphere, but I unfortunately cannot find the exact source of this quote.  It seems like something he would say, but I digress.......Back to the topic at hand.......

A priest of the Society of Jesus the Priest, which serves in the Diocese of Madison, is becoming the new pastor of Queen of All Saints parish in Fennimore, Wisconsin.  He is undergoing a project to revitalize St. Mary's Church, which is part of the newly merged parish.  I found out about this at Father Z's blog.  Here is a picture of the Church as it stands now.

Notice that this looks like your typical suburban parish that went along with the transformations of the 1970s.  Here is a computer-generated graphic of what the Church is going to look like after the upgrade is completed.  

Father Z still has a problem with the "ironing board altar" that they are going to keep in the middle of the sanctuary (he is quite the stickler for detail.....).  Notice the re-introduction of the altar rail.  Also notice the steps that lead up to the high altar so that the priest can "ascend to the altar" (kind of like Moses ascending the Mount to face God).  The picture of the Church as it is today shows steps leading up the altar, but I particularly like the style of the traditional altar steps that have that "wedding cake" formation.  The high altar will also re-introduce ad orientem worship with both priest and people facing Liturgical East.  It is not that the priest has his "back to the people" (that is a pet peeve of mine).  Rather, it is both priest and people facing Liturgical East together.  Notice how the altar rail and steps sort of "box in" the sanctuary.  That has been one thing that I've noticed about attending Mass at St. John Cantius and Institute of Christ the King the past couple of years.  There is definitely a feeling at these churches of a "sacred place".  A place that a person should not tread on lightly.  In many churches today, there is no clear definition of the "sanctuary".  This makes it dangerously easy for someone to march up to the altar without thinking about the sacred place that he is walking on.  And if there is a careless priest or EMHC (God forbid.....), think about the "crumbs" that you may be trampling on.  Clearly defining the sacred space of the sanctuary is a great step in the right direction of reinvigorating Catholic worship and recognizing a sense of the sacred.  

Where did the idea of facing Liturgical East come from?  The fact is, I have not been able to find a solid answer on where it originated.  It goes so far back that it fades deep into history.  We know that it originated in the Latin Church of the West (which is the Rite that I and most American Catholics belong to).  The idea is that us Catholics of the Latin Rite (standing in the West) face East towards the Mount of Olivet (the mountain ridge east of Jerusalem) where our Lord had ascended into Heaven, since he will be returning from the same place that he ascended.  Acts 1:9-12 states the following:
9 And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments.
11 Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day's journey.

There is also much symbolism involved in the reading of the Epistle at the right side of the altar (Liturgical South), and the reading of the Gospel at the left side of the altar (Liturgical North).  The Epistles of St. Paul were primarily written to converts that have already embraced the faith.  We are then told to "preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).  The Church recognized early on that the four Gospels were the starting point of evangelizing the pagans/barbarians.  In other words, non-Christians need to be nourished with milk before meat (Hebrews 5:12).  

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, they were then trying to evangelize the barbarian nations of Northern Europe.  As a result, the Epistles were preached from the South (right side of the altar) to the Christians in the Roman Empire, while the Gospels were preached to the barbarians of the North (left side of the altar).  After praying the Collect (opening prayer), Epistle, and chanting the Gradual from the right side of the altar, the priest would then cross over to the left side of the altar to recite the Gospel.  This "crossing over" symbolized the new covenant being handed over from the Jews to the Gentiles.  The Traditional Latin Mass (or the Extraordinary Form using the 1962 Missal) has retained these ancient customs.  The Ordinary Form of Mass, which came onto the scene in 1970, has unfortunately tossed out these customs from the liturgy.  

When Pope Benedict was just Cardinal Ratzinger, he had this to say about facing Liturgical East in his book entitled "Spirit of the Liturgy" (my emphases in bold):
In the early Church, prayer toward the east was regarded as an apostolic tradition. …[I]t is certain that it goes back to the earliest times and was always regarded as an essential characteristic of Christian liturgy (and indeed private prayer). This “orientation” of Christian prayer has several different meanings. Orientation is, first and foremost, a simple expression of looking to Christ as the meeting place between God and man. It expresses the basic Christological form of our prayer. 
The fact that we find Christ in the symbol of the rising sun is the indication of a Christology defined eschatologically. Praying toward the east means going to meet the coming Christ. The liturgy, turned toward the east, effects entry, so to speak, into the procession of history toward the future, the New Heaven and the New Earth, which we encounter in Christ. It is a prayer of hope, the prayer of the pilgrim as he walks in the direction shown us by the life, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ. Thus very early on, in parts of Christendom, the eastward direction for prayer was given added emphasis by a reference to the Cross. …[T]he symbolism of the Cross merges with that of the east. Both are an expression of one and the same faith, in which the remembrance of the Pasch of Jesus makes it present and gives dynamism to the hope that goes out to meet the One who is to come. But, finally, this turning toward the east also signifies that cosmos and saving history belong together. The cosmos is praying with us. It, too, is waiting for redemption. It is precisely this cosmic dimension that is essential to Christian liturgy. It is never performed solely in the self-made world of man. It is always a cosmic liturgy. The theme of creation is embedded in Christian prayer. It loses its grandeur when it forgets this connection. That is why, whenever possible, we should definitely take up again the apostolic tradition of facing the east, both in the building of churches and in the celebration of the liturgy.” [pages 68-70]
Fr. Joseph Fessio, the President of Ignatius Press, also notes that ad orientem worship was never forbidden by Vatican 2:
The Council did not say that Mass should be celebrated facing the people. That is not in Vatican II; it is not mentioned. It is not even raised in the documents that record the formation of the Constitution on the Liturgy; it didn’t come up. Mass facing the people is not a requirement of Vatican II; it is not in the spirit of Vatican II; it is definitely not in the letter of Vatican II. It is something introduced in 1969. [Essay written by Fr. Joseph Fessio]
Back to the renovation of St. Mary's Church mentioned above.  The pastor has actually created an online donation form to help raise funds for this renovation.  I wish that a project like this would be taken up by more parishes.  In case you were wondering what this Church used to look like prior to Vatican 2, here is a picture of the Church from 1914.

I like the lighted angels on both ends of the altar rail.  That's a nice touch......

I would like to meet the hippies from the 1970s that came into this Church one day and started "renovating" by tearing everything down and creating the bland worship space that it is today.  Unfortunately, this story is a dime a dozen as Churches across the world have suffered the same fate.  My prayer is that younger, orthodox priests will wake up one day and realize that what has gone on in our churches for the past 40 years needs to change.  

It reminds me of It's a Wonderful Life when every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.  I contrast this with every time an altar rail and high altar are put back into a church, a liberal catholic loses his wings.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Plenary Indulgence for All Fridays of Lent

As Lent approaches, it is a good idea to remember that you can receive a plenary indulgence each Friday of Lent (up to and including Good Friday) by reciting the En ego, O bone et dulcissime Iesu. 

This indulgence is listed in the Manual of Indulgences, which was translated into English under the direction of the USCCB from the Fourth Edition (1999) of the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum.  The Manual of Indulgences states:
§1     A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who.......       
2°  on any of the Fridays of Lent devoutly recite after Communion the prayer En ego, O bone et dulcissime Iesu before a crucifix. [Remember that this has to be done after receiving Holy Communion in the presence of a crucifix.  If this work is performed on any other day of the year outside of Fridays during Lent, it will be a partial indulgence instead.]  
Here is the prayer:

En ego, O bone et dulcissime Iesu 
Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus, I cast myself upon my knees in thy sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul, I pray and beseech thee that thou wouldst impress upon my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, with true contrition for my sins and a firm purpose of amendment; while with deep affection and grief of soul I ponder within myself and mentally contemplate thy five wounds, having before my eyes the words which David the prophet put on thy lips concerning thee: “My hands and my feet they have pierced, they have numbered all my bones.” (Roman Missal, Thanksgiving after Mass)

Here are the other norms to keep in mind concerning any plenary indulgence that you wish to gain:

N18. §1. A plenary indulgence can be acquired only once in the course of a day; a partial indulgence can be acquired multiple times.

§2. The faithful however can obtain the plenary indulgence at the hour of death, even if they have already gained one on the same day.

N19. The work prescribed for acquiring a plenary indulgence connected with a church or oratory consists of a devout visit during which an Our Father and the Creed are recited, unless other directives have been laid down. [This does not apply to the plenary indulgence for the Fridays of Lent noted above, as it is not connected to any specific church or oratory.]

N20. §1. To gain a plenary indulgence, in addition to excluding all attachment to sin, even venial sin, it is necessary to perform the indulgenced work and fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

§2. A single sacramental confession suffices for gaining several plenary indulgences; but Holy Communion must be received and prayer for the intention of the Holy Father must be recited for the gaining of each plenary indulgence.

§3. The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the prescribed work; it is, however, fitting that Communion be received and the prayer for the intention of the Holy Father be said on the same day the work is performed. [This has traditionally been 8 days before or after, but it is now up to 20 days before or after based on the most recent statements from Rome.  However, I would try to complete the three conditions as close as possible to the indulgenced act.]

§4. If the full disposition is lacking, or if the work and the three prescribed conditions are not fulfilled, saving the provisions given in Norm 24 and in Norm 25 regarding those who are “impeded,” the indulgence will only be partial. [The most common defect usually occurs because of our lack of complete detachment from all sin, even venial sin.  We can try our best to be completely detached from sin at the time we perform the indulgenced act, but it is not always guaranteed.  So while we shoot for a plenary indulgence, it may only be a partial indulgence.  Since God can read our minds and our hearts better than we can, I guess we will only find out if our indulgences are plenary or partial when we get to the afterlife.]

§5. The condition of praying for the intention of the Holy Father is fully satisfied by reciting one Our Father and one Hail Mary; nevertheless, one has the option of reciting any other prayer according to individual piety and devotion, if recited for this intention.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (2012-04-11). Manual of Indulgences (Kindle Locations 489-494). United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Kindle Edition.