Friday, April 23, 2004

Pat Tillman 

Pat Tillman, the NFL player who quit the NFL and joined the Army Rangers to fight in Afghanistan, was killed in action today (or recently). He was such an inspiration. He came home for leave, I remember reading, and didn't allow a big hoo-ha to be made over him.

He was a hero and I'll pray for him.

Update: ABC News says Tillman gave up a $9 million offer to join the Army after 9/11. Those few congressmen who are recommending the draft be re-instated because only the poor and middle class join the volunteer army should get down on their knees and thank Pat Tillman's parents for raising men.

Update: An old Peggy Noonan article.

Update: Dave McGinnis, Tillman’s former coach with the Cardinals, said he felt both Overwhelming Sorrow and Tremendous Pride

Catholic Voter Scorecard 

The Democrat Party has devised a Catholic Voter Scorecard. Of course, being devised by Democrats, they score better than Republicans... but I haven't been able to find a copy of the scorecard online yet to look at it myself.

Population Control 

Not every publication fits the needs of every person, of course, and not every person is in the same place in their life journey as every other person, but right now, I really enjoy reading my weekly "National Catholic Register" paper. In particular, I enjoyed this weeks article "American Lessons from Europe's Fall" by Father C. John McCloskey. Here's a quote,
Europe is tired and its people are chiefly concerned with the present as evidenced by their lack of creativity, their embracing of the enveloping welfare state and above all by their remarkable reluctance to procreate. With the influx of Islamic workers and the current rates of fertility, one begins to see that it is not a question of whether "Europe is the faith and the faith is Europe," as Belloc put it almost a century ago, but rather if within 50 years Europe will be at all.

The Pope seems to agree:

"This loss of Christian memory is accompanied by a kind of fear of the future. Tomorrow is often presented as something bleak and uncertain. The future is viewed more with dread than with desire. Among the troubling indications of this are the inner emptiness that grips many people and the loss of meaning in life. The signs and fruits of this existential anguish include, in particular, the diminishing number of births, the decline in the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the difficulty, if not the outright refusal, to make lifelong commitments, including marriage.
I was rather delighted to see that Father McCloskey is with the Opus Dei, which was so ravaged by the Dan Brown "Da Vinci Code" book. If the Opus Dei writes this clearly about what's going on in the world, then more people ought to listen to them.

One of the things we all used to kid Catholics about was the size of their families. The whole world seemed to make so much sense when everyone talked about limiting family size and population control... well, looky looky, it doesn't take very long at all for population control to become cultural twilight. Faster, certainly, than I ever could have believed. Even the USA population would be going down if not for immigration, and Europe and Japan are much worse off. So there's a win for the Catholic Faith.

Also, I wrote the other day about the split in our country being between those who pay taxes and those who don't. Perhaps better is, those who are full of hope and those who are hopeless. I heard an Irish pastor on the radio this morning giving a sermon on hope and in the quote above, the Pope is talking about the bleak and dreary outlook some have for the future... So perhaps, whether Democrat or Republican, whether left or right, whether rich or poor, the hopeful can come together and smile at the hopeless.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

North Korean Train Explosion 

My encyclopedia says that the religious breakdown of North Korea is:

16% atheist
12 % indigenous beliefs
2% Buddhist
2% Christian
56% nonreligious
12% Chondogyo (a Korean religion)

So what is a Catholic's proper prayer for the 3000+ North Koreans who just died? Here's something, changed a little, from the Mass for the Dead

Recall, merciful Jesus,
these people were the reason for your journey:
do not destroy them on this day.
In seeking them, you sat down wearily;
enduring the Cross, you redeemed them:
do not let these pains be in vain.

You, who absolved Mary Magdalen,
and heard the prayer of the thief,
you who have given me hope, as well.
My prayers are not worthy,
but show mercy, O good one,
lest these dead burn forever in fire.
Give them a place among the sheep.

This day is one of weeping,
on which shall rise from the ashes
the guilty man, to be judged.
Therefore, spare them, O God.
Merciful Lord Jesus:
grant them peace.

Update: I see a new count is many less dead, thankfully. Much like the initial estimates of the World Trade Center attack had 8-10 thousand dead, but it ended up being around 3000.

Over 3000 people died in a huge explosion in a North Korean train field.

May God have mercy on their souls.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Hail Mary 

I'm reading about Mary. If Catholic Faith is a balance of powers between the Bible, Tradition, and the Magisterium, then the teachings on Mary have very little to do with the Bible and rely almost fully on Tradition and teachings/writings of past Popes. I'm new to this, but here are a few of the notes I made while I read:

Mary is the burning bush.
Magnificat Lk 1:46-55
hyperdulia - special devotion to Mary
theophany - making God visible to Man
Annunciation - Gabriel telling Mary she's to be the Mother of Jesus
Teachings on Mary:
1. Theotokos (Greek for God-bearer, Mother of God)
2. Aeiparthenos (Ever-Virgin), Mary never had other children and never had relations with Joseph
3. Immaculate Conception, 1854
(1958 Lourdes, France "I am the Immaculate Conception")
4. Assumption of Mary into Heaven, 1950

M's: member, model, mother, mediatrix and messenger

Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit continues to unfold and deepen our
understanding of the truths of faith found in the Bible. I particulary found the Catechism teaching on Mary as Mother of all Christians comforting.

Since the Methodist faith is so tightly focused on the Bible and what it says, specifically the New Testament, and since I had/have grown skeptical of the skills of the leaders of the Methodist Church throughout its existance, I must force myself to backtrack. Since I don't seek to rebel against, but rather to accept my new faith, I must wrap my thoughts around believing and trusting Popes, past and present on this matter.

Just like wrapping my mind around the belief of the host as the actual, physical body of Jesus, the belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her Assumption into Heaven will take me time and prayer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

In early may, our priest is holding a "straw mass." This is one of the few times I've looked up a term or phrase on Google that not much came back. A straw mass is where the priest goes through the motions of the mass and explains every detail of what he's doing and why. After the mass, the priest will take us all on a tour of the Parish. I am really looking forward to it.

On Sunday, after mass but before the people had been released, our priest announced the straw mass and said it was open to everyone. He said something to the effect of, "You have high school degrees and college degrees and then, on your job, you are continually going for more education. You learn because it's important for your livelihood to stay informed, to know what you are doing. But most of you stopped your religious training in the 8th grade. What kind of a job do you think you can do with an 8th grade education? You need to keep learning, keep understanding. Come to the straw mass, learn about what you're doing every Sunday if you don't already know."

This kind of thing is why I like my priest. He is energetic, forward thinking, conservative and very, very funny.

I've been watching (albeit from the cheap seats) the battle Mark Shea has with those who are continually sour. I tend to be on the side of good humor... it makes all things easier.

On another topic, I watched Spartacus this week and enjoyed it. Every once in awhile, I thought they might have been trying to poke President Bush in the eye out the mouths of the Romans... but it was, at least, fairly subtle. Sometimes, when the Roman commander Crassus gave a speech, like when he said, "You're either with me, or you're against me." I had to wonder. There was another speech, too, something about Rome being the greatest country in all history, with the most powerful army and all those who attack her must be destroyed so that Rome remains on top."

Update: Also, the Jewish gladiator had a moment that didn't quite ring true to me. Spartacus was trying to pray for the first time and he asked about the Jewish God. The Jewish gladiator said something like, "We pray to a God who never answers, who leaves it up to us to decide our own answers." -- is that the attitude of 71 b.c. Jews? Spartacus then said, "a good God for free men."

Anyway, I enjoyed it despite what I took to be jabs at Bush.

Monday, April 19, 2004

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy 

I have enjoyed reading about St. Marie Faustina Kowalska who started, at the request of Jesus, the idea of Divine Mercy.

It looks like Bob Woodward's new book, "Plan of Attack," is doing a good job of dividing the Bush Cabinet. Divide and Conquer, they say.

I don't tend to read books like this, though I thought of getting Karen Hughes' book, "Ten Minutes from Normal," because I do like her take on things. I haven't read any of Rush Limbaugh's books, or Bill O'Reilly's, or Sean Hannity's, or Ann Coulter's, or Bob Woodward's, or Richard Clark's, or Al Franken's... if you check out USA Today's top 150 best-selling books, I've read Patterson's "3rd Degree" and Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code." Well, of course I read all the Harry Potter's with my Son, and I read Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle," but they aren't on the list.

I've been more involved reading for RCIA and to my five year old. Walden's has a whole series of the "Dick and Jane" books that I learned to read with and she loves those! In fact, she's already able to read from them just through recognizing the words and what letters they start with.

I keep hearing that the Presidential election will be very close again this year. I think the division of the nation is now between those who pay taxes and those who don't, rather than between Republicans and Democrats. Why would anyone who doesn't pay taxes vote for a Republican? And why would anyone who pays taxes ever vote for a Democrat? Well, that's too simplistic, I know, since some people just vote the way their family has always voted... but I think we're headed more and more toward those who pay vs. those who don't. I can just see the USA having one of those strikes like Poland used to have, where the workers just don't show up for work.

This is probably why I liked Chapter 12 of the Didache:

12:1 But let every one who comes in the name of the Lord be received;
12:2 And then when you have tested him you shall know him, for you shall have understanding on the right hand and on the left.
12:3 If the visitor is a traveler, assist him, so far as you are able;
12:4 But he shall not stay with you more than two or three days, if it be necessary.
12:5 But if being a craftsman, he wishes to settle up with you, let him work for and eat his bread.
12:6 But if he has no craft, according to your wisdom provide how he shall live as a Christian among you, but not in idleness.
12:7 If he will not do this, he is trafficking upon Christ.

Or, "he is a Christ-peddler."

12:8 Beware of such men.

Idle hands are the devil's workshop. That's why this last weekend was so glorious... great weather and plenty of yardwork. :)

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