Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

St. Therese of Lisieux

"Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed, I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realized that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting."

1 Year

Apparently today is my "first Birthday" of blogging, if there is such a thing.

I'm celebrating today with a family day. I slept over at my Oma's last night to give my Opa a chance to sleep at our house (and therefore get a good night's sleep). I stopped counting after my Oma got up sixteen times during the night. I have no idea how my 87 yr old grandfather is able to keep going day after day after day of sleepless nights. I'm truly in awe.

I then ended up going on a walk with my mom down to the waterfront early this morning and getting a coffee. Then off to Mass and the Life Chain. The Life Chain went well I think. There were probably about fifty people there participating, which isn't much, but I suppose for a small town it's alright. Doing the Life Chain in a small town is a very different experience from the city. In the city people tend to be much more hostile and sometimes there is even organized opposition. . . in the small town there seems to be less opposition, but that being said, you know many of the people driving by so in that sense it's more challenging. In the span of the hour we were standing on the street with signs that said "Abortion Hurts Women" and "Abortion Kills Children" several of my old teachers, family friends, and neighbours all drove by. I think the most interesting reaction I saw today was a young mom who stopped in front of me waiting for the street light to change colours. She looked at me and was shaking her head. . . and yet, in the back seat of her car, her little baby girl, maybe a year and a half old, was smiling at me and waving.

Anyways, I'm off to do some yard work and go out for dinner with the family, and then back to school tomorrow.

Friday, September 29, 2006

What does it mean to be a Catholic woman?

"What does it mean to be a Catholic woman? I think I have been purposely overlooking some rather serious issues in an effort to not be labeled a feminist(no- I'm not about to start campaigning for women priests)."

When I came across this statement on the blog of a young Catholic woman today I first of all wanted to invite her out for tea, but since she apparently lives several thousand kilometers away from me, that probably won't be possible. The question she asks is an important one though and one that we should all take some time to reflect upon.

For all young Catholic women (or in fact, Catholic women of any age. . . for that matter, women in general) I would highly recommend the following readings to help guide you in your reflections as you ponder this important question: "What does it mean to be a Catholic woman?"

First and foremost, take the time to read Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity of Women) by Pope John Paul II. Read it slowly. Read it over again and again. Here you will find the crucial answers to this question of what it means to be a Catholic woman.

"A woman's dignity is closely connected with the love which she receives by the very reason of her femininity; it is likewise connected with the love which she gives in return. The truth about the person and about love is thus confirmed. With regard to the truth about the person, we must turn again to the Second Vatican Council: "Man, who is the only creature on earth that God willed for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self".59 This applies to every human being, as a person created in God's image, whether man or woman. This ontological affirmation also indicates the ethical dimension of a person's vocation. Woman can only find herself by giving love to others." (Mulieris Dignitatem, 30.)

In addition to Mulieris Dignitatem I'd recommend reading Feminine, Free, & Faithful. This book was leant to me last year by a seminarian friend of mine (why a seminarian has a book on what it means to be a Catholic woman. . . don't ask me. . . although I guess perhaps he was expanding his horizons in preparation for pastoral care!). At first I was scared of it. I must admit, I have a fear of anything that may seem to be connected to "feminism" because my experience of feminism has been utterly incompatible with my experience of my feminity. This book, written by a contempary Catholic female philosopher points to an authentic feminism, one which recognizes the beauty of gender difference and grants true freedom to women.

Another small book I'd recommend reading is The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice Von Hildebrand. "Women historically have been denigrated as lower than men or viewed as privileged. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand characterizes the difference between such views as based on whether man's vision is secularistic or steeped in the supernatural. She shows that feminism's attempts to gain equality with men by imitation of men is unnatural, foolish, destructive, and self-defeating. The Blessed Mother's role in the Incarnation points to the true privilege of being a woman. Both virginity and maternity meet in Mary who exhibits the feminine gifts of purity, receptivity to God's word, and life-giving nurturance at their highest."

Here are some further quotes to reflect upon from John Saward in an essay called "Thanks for the Feminine" which I actually read yesterday!

"We live at a time when the grace of being a woman has never been more ungratefully spurned, not just by the unthinking sons of Adam, but also by the foolish daughters of Eve. Modern feminism, in its secular but especially its allegedly 'Christian' form, has turned its back on the true genius of womanhood to pursue a programme of male-imitation. By demanding to be and to do all that men are and do, the feminists cravenly proclaim that the male is the sole measure of the human."

"It is as a woman, as Virgin and Mother, that Mary represents the whole human race, indeed all creation, when she says Yes to the Incarnation of God's son in her womb."

Advice to Blogging Seminarians

Fr. Martin Fox has recently posted some worthwhile advice to blogging seminarians:

"If -- and please God, when -- you are a priest, you'll discover most of the faithful aren't fighting these theo-political battles. They have their own battles to fight, and whether they are conservative or liberal, what they want and will honor with extraordinary generosity and faith, are priests who lead, teach and sanctify them."

Nashville = Country Music? No. Something More.

I went to the post office this morning to mail a letter to a friend of mine who recently began her postulancy with the Nashville Dominicans. She's the third from the right in the bottom row of this picture of their new postulants. When I handed the letter to the person working at the post office he looked at where it was going and said "Oh, Nashville. That's the hot spot for country singing!" Perhaps, but judging by this picture there's something more than country singing going on in Nashville these days.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Universal Church

"The Catholic Church is much too universal to be called international, for she is older than all the nations. She is not some sort of new bridge to be built between these separated islands; she is the very earth and ocean-bed on which they are built.”
- G.K. Chesterton

Time Travel Preferences

Fr. Finigan tagged me with this one:

If an angel could take me back in time, what five things or occasions would I like to experience?
I'll ignore Biblical events because I don't think I could narrow that down to five. I'll follow his lead and ignore Biblical events - nevertheless, I can't bear to limit the list so I'll do a secular one and a sacred one

1. Running alongside Terry Fox on the last day he was able to run his Marathon of Hope.
2. Exploring the Canadian Maritimes and the St. Lawrence River basin (first European exploration of Canada) with Jacques Cartier in 1534. Minus the fact that I wouldn't want to be on a ship with sailors for that long.
3. Having an evening meal at the Eagle and Child with the Inklings.
4. Exploring North America's Pacific Coast with Captain George Vancouver. (Once again, I don't like the idea of being stuck on a ship with sailors, but other than that. . . I'd love to be on this voyage!)
5. Standing on a street corner discussing virtue with Socrates.

1. Witnessing the Papal Conclave of October 1978.
2. Being present at St. Therese of Lisieux's profession at the Carmel in Lisieux.
3. Talking over breakfast with St. Edith Stein the morning after she'd stayed up all night reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila (which brought her to the point of conversion).
4. Being present at the First Council of Nicea in 325.
5. Attending Mass celebrated by St. Alphonsus Liguori.

I'd like to take this opportunity to tag T.O., Young-Philothea, and Danny.

BC Ministry of Education Deal

The BC Ministry of Education has made a deal with homosexual parents that will restrict the right of parents to protect their children from being taught according to the Ministry's pro-homosexual agenda. Our Archbishop has written an editorial on this matter.

The following article provides you with an overview of what's going on:

Deal with homosexual couple threatens education rights, archbishop says

Vancouver, Sep. 07, 2006 (CNA) - A recent agreement between the government of British Columbia and homosexual activists is an unwarranted intrusion on the rights of parents to determine how their children are educated, says Archbishop Raymond Roussin of Vancouver.

The archbishop, writing in the B.C. Catholic, says the agreement to make public school curriculum more positive toward homosexual behavior could lead to the introduction of inappropriate and morally objectionable material and restrict the right of parents to determine whether their children are exposed to such material.

"The right of parents to determine how their children receive instruction on matters of faith and morals must be the primary consideration," he says.

The archbishop encourages the faithful to express their concerns to the government and insist that their right to oversee their children’s education be upheld.

The issue is not exclusively Catholic, he says, but one that "extends beyond our community and is worrisome for a broad range of faith groups.”

The B.C. government reached the agreement with Peter and Murray Corren in May but family groups only started organizing public protests and petitions in August.

Under the terms of the six-page agreement, the homosexual couple abandoned a longstanding complaint filed with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in which they alleged systemic sexual discrimination in the provincial education system.

Murray Corren, a Coquitlam literacy teacher, had argued that schools should teach about homosexual history, positive homosexual role models, the contributions made by homosexuals, and legal issues relating to marriage and adoption from a homosexual perspective.

The government also agreed to guarantee the couple a consultative role in the development of the sexual orientation/gender identity component of an elective Grade 12 social justice course, which is still in the draft stages.

As well, the government will consult with the two men in preparing draft guidelines to review its K-12 curriculum from the perspective of inclusion and with respect to sexual orientation and “other grounds of discrimination.”

The changes take effect in September 2007.

About 1,000 people gathered to protest the agreement Aug. 26 at Vancouver’s McBride Park and circulated a petition with more than 15,000 names on it which will be presented to the government.

The petition was organized by the Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association. It calls on the government "to defend and to preserve parental and children’s rights" and to "stop selling out to special interest groups."

Other groups represented at the protest included the Catholic Civil Rights League, B.C. Parents and Teachers for Life, Concerned Parents of B.C. and the Canadian Family Action Coalition.

Once again, write letters and pray. Pray hard. And be careful if you have kids in school!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Marriage Debate

All Canadians, pay attention. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that he intends to re-introduce the marriage debate in parliament this Fall. Depending on how this debate goes, there is the potential of a return to the traditional definition of marriage we've fought so hard to defend over the past several years. Where there is Christ there is hope.

Please read the following pastoral letter by Bishop Henry of Calgary and then act accordingly (i.e. write, phone or visit your MP, pray, educate yourself on the history of the debate, consider the impact of the redefinition of marriage. . .). For those of you who are not Canadians or in Canada, please pray for our country, which the Holy Father has pointed out is plagued with materialism and moral relativism . . .

A Message from Bishop Frederick Henry
Time to Push Back

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Pope Benedict XVI begins his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, with the words from the First Letter of John: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” These words express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith.

The proclamation of God’s passionate love for the world is what the Church is all about. The Gospel, however, is not a private matter. The Gospel has public implications, because defending the inalienable dignity and infinite value built into human beings by their Creator is a public matter. One way the Gospel has public effects is through the formation of cultures: a culture inspired by a Christian view of the human person will affirm certain kinds of politics as compatible with the dignity of men and women, and it will reject others for their incompatibility with that dignity.

The Church is not in the business of designing or running governments; the Church is in the business of forming the kind of people who can design and run governments in which freedom leads to genuine human flourishing.

Pope Benedict reminds us that: “Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics” (DCE 28). We cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.

Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has said he intends to re-open the debate on same-sex “marriage” this fall.

In July 2005, the Canadian government changed the traditional definition of marriage as “a voluntary union between one man and one woman for life” to a “voluntary union between two persons,” including two men or between two women.

Today, one year later, members of the media claim that society has not been affected, that the sky has not fallen, and that Canadians are not concerned about this change. Some people on the street have similar thoughts: “gay marriage doesn’t affect me ... my life goes on as normal.” And so we are led to believe that legislation should be left alone.

Many people who oppose same sex “marriage” are unaware of the adverse effects already posed by our current legislation. A few of the more more important effects are:

1. The homosexual lifestyle must now be treated as wholesome and legitimate, when in reality, it is unwholesome and immoral.
2. The traditional family has its status and necessary privileges questioned.
3. Freedom of speech is threatened for those who oppose same-sex “marriage” in public.
4. Civil servants unwilling to cooperate with same sex “marriage’ -- such as marriage commissioners in B.C., Saskatchewan and other provinces -- are dismissed.
5. Adoption of children by “gays” and lesbians is “legal.”
6. “Gay” activists have now demanded successfully in B.C. that the curriculum be changed to suit their agenda.

Where are we heading?

1. The polls confirm that the majority of Canadians do not favour same-sex “marriage” because there is no gender complementarity and it is closed to procreation. It is contrary to the natural law.

2. The new legislation undermines the legal status of marriage by undermining its unique and exclusive nature. In the last session of government a private members bill called for the recognition and equality of what are called transgendered and transvestite people. Other bills can be expected that clamour for the acceptance of polygamy (more than one wife) and polyandry (more than one husband).

In December 2005 (in Labaye vs. the Attorney General) the Supreme Court ruled that swingers clubs, which include the swapping of partners and public orgies, are perfectly legal. The Justices no longer recognize the existence of “community standards.”

3. The legal acceptance of so-called same sex "marriage" should be seen in the light of many years of agitation for the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle.

Writing on August 16, 2000, in the Chicago Free Press, homosexual activist Paul Varnell stated: “... the gay movement, whether we acknowledge it or not, is not a civil rights movement, not even a sexual liberation movement, but a moral revolution aimed at changing people’s view of homosexuality.”

We now find ourselves confronted by a false way of thinking, which has weakened the moral fabric of our society, and attacked the social primacy of the family. It is time to push back.

1. Make a commitment to pray every day for the institution of traditional marriage in Canada.

2. Contact your MP: write a letter; better still, make an appointment to see him or her personally. Communicate the continuing importance of this issue to your elected representatives. Insist that the traditional definition of marriage be re-opened.

3. Study the teachings of the Church on marriage, consult the Canadian bishops web site, and be faithful to this teaching in your own lives and marriages. Teach and stress it to your children, grandchildren, and friends. Tell others to do the same.

Jesus often repeated this exhortation to the disciples: “In the world you will have fear; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)

Wishing you all the best, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Bishop signature
September 8, 2006
F. B. Henry
Bishop of Calgary"

Life Chain this Weekend!!!

If you live in North America, don't forget that
the Life Chain is this weekend!

In most cities it's held on Sunday, but depending where you are, it might be Saturday. Either way, go out and witness to the Gospel of Life this weekend and pray for the unborn, their mothers, the disabled, the elderly, and all those whose lives are threatened by the culture of death that is rampant in North America.

An extensive list of locations and times for cities all across north america can be found at LifeChain.Net.

Peer Quote of the Day

"I have to stop reading Pope John Paul II
or else I'm going to become Catholic!"

This comment was made by an Evangelical Protestant friend of mine who is currently reading Mulieris Dignitatem.

Busy Times

Not much posting going on right now because I'm incredibly busy.

I was away this past weekend, as I mentioned, at the George Weigel conference in Victoria. One of my friends who came with me has a post up about our trip, so for now, if you want to know about my trip to Victoria, go read her post.

Monday I had a really really really early start to the day, then off to classes, and then off to watch a soccer game between the priests and seminarians up at Seminary of Christ the King. The game ended in a tie. Afterwards, I ended up going out for dinner with friends, then home to do homework.

Tuesday was an equally busy day.

Today won't be much better.

Tomorrow I'm making a road trip back home for the weekend.

Sigh. . .

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I'm Back

I'm back from the George Weigel conference. It was fantastic and very interesting. I have a lot to do tonight though and a lot on my plate right now though. I took extensive notes during the conference that I'll hopefully put together into a few posts over the next week, but for now I need to unpack and get to evening Mass.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Off to Victoria

I started off the day by getting up at five o'clock (yes five. . .) to go to morning Mass up at Westminster Abbey. I arrived half an hour before Mass, but missed lauds. . . I don't think I could have possibly gotten up earlier than five. After Mass at the abbey I stopped by the nearby Poor Clares at St. Clare's Monastery and visited with one of the sisters there. She said that in light of the Muslim protests against the Holy Father their community had decided that today should be a special "Day of Love" for the Holy Father. Sister said they'd placed images of the Holy Father throughout the cloister and were making special point of spending extra time in prayer for him today.

I've got Latin this morning and then this afternoon I'm heading off to Victoria for a conference with George Weigel. After tonight's talk several of us young adults attending the conference will be hanging out with George Weigel. Tomorrow the conference goes all day, and then I'll be back Sunday afternoon.

I'll keep you posted on the conference once I get back.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.
- Mother Teresa

Blue Skies

My friend just sent me this neat picture,
taken in June, of her little brother and I.

Joke of the Day

During a Eucharistic Congress, a number of priests from different orders
are gathered in a church for Vespers. While they are praying, a fuse
blows and all the lights go out. The Benedictines continue praying from
memory, without missing a beat. The Jesuits begin to discuss whether the
blown fuse means they are dispensed from the obligation to pray Vespers.
The Franciscans compose a song of praise for God's gift of darkness. The
Dominicans revisit their ongoing debate on light as a signification of
the transmission of divine knowledge. The Carmelites fall into silence
and slow, steady breathing. The parish priest, who is hosting the
others, goes to the basement and replaces the fuse.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Next Prime Minister Perhaps?!

Today at catechism we were talking about making the sign of the cross because it was the first prayer we were glueing in our "prayer books" we're making throughout the course of the year. I asked the children when they make the sign of the cross, simply expecting them to say at the start and finish of a prayer. One little girl's answer blew me away though. . . she explained that every day at school (she goes to a public school) they sing O Canada in the morning, and when the anthem is over, her and another Catholic in her class silently make the sign of the cross. I told her that sounded like a great idea and asked her why she decided to do this. . . "Because really, Canada belongs to God!" she said. (As a side note, the lyrics to the national anthem in French make explicit reference to the cross. . . "Car ton bras sait porter l'épée, Il sait porter la croix!" ["As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross. . . " this line is not found in the English lyrics though.].

Can we elect a seven year old? She's got my vote.

Prayer to St. Joseph of Cupertino

O Great St. Joseph of Cupertino who while on earth did obtain from God the grace to be asked at your examination only the questions you knew, obtain for me a like favour in the examinations for which I am now preparing. In return I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.

Through Christ our Lord.

St. Joseph of Cupertino, Pray for us.


Hat Tip: Moneybags. This prayer will be posted again during the middle of December. Let's not try and get ahead of ourselves now though.

What is a saint?

"Someone who loves."

This is the answer given to me by a seven year old girl in my catechism class tonight. May we all have the faith of a child.

Another Day at Catechism

Catechism class today went much much better than last week. The kids were still very, umm. . .how shall we say. . .active, but that's ok. They're kids. It's normal.

I think they learnt a lot though. We reviewed the 'Our Father' and talked about prayer, what prayer is, why we pray, different ways we can pray. . . etc. I gave them a colouring sheet of St. Matthew and read them a story about St. Matthew (who's feast day is tomorrow!) while they drew. When I asked them at the end of the class who could tell me something about St. Matthew, all their hands shot up and I was amazed at how much they remembered! While learning about St. Matthew we also talked about the role of the saints. We also worked on making our "prayer books". Each week we'll be adding another prayer to our prayer books. I really want them to learn their basic prayers. This tied in well with our earlier discussion at the start of class on prayer. We finished up the class, as usual, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament and giving prayers of thanksgiving (which are always so cute. . . the things seven year olds are thankful can be quite insightful. . .) and praying the Our Father together.

All in all, it went well. Some cute quotes too. . . one kid looked at me bright eyed and said "Guess what? My Grandma knows everything about God." The tone of voice was just so assertive and convincing, I had a hard time not laughing.

The children are truly treasures of the Church and teaching catechism to the little ones really strengthens my own faith. Thanks be to God for this opportunity.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yay! I'll Graduate!

I just got my "grad audit" back today. It was a long and complicated form that I had to fill out last April to check that I'm on the right track for fulfilling the requirements for graduation. And the verdict is in. . . I'll graduate. In fact, I've technically already earned a B.A. I'm just studying for fun now. ;-)

According to the grad audit I've already accumulated more than the number of credits required to earn my B.A. and I've also taken more upper level courses than necessary. That's not even counting the courses I'm taking this semester and next. Yipppeee. That means I could drop out of university right now and already have a B.A. . . .although, I still need to take some specific courses this semester and next if I want to earn my double major.

This semester I'm taking a whole bunch of fun and interesting courses. Some of them count towards my Christianity and Culture major and some are just for fun. Next semester there are only three courses I need to take and they're all easy. I was looking at my course history though and realized that if I take an additional three philosophy courses, on top of the three easy courses I have to take anyways next semester, I could add a minor in philosophy to my degree. Do I want to do that?

Here are my options for next semester: take three easy courses and work part-time (hopefully lifeguarding) or take advantage of the opportunity to take a few more undergraduate courses in philosophy and earn a minor in philosophy. I wouldn't mind taking more philosophy but the downside is that I'd have to take a couple modern philosophy courses. . . courses such as "Modern Christian Philosophy". Courses with titles like that are an occasion for sin. That's just frustrating. Especially after Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Order of Melchizedek Blog Roll

I've added yet another blogger from the Order of Melchizedek to my blog roll. Welcome to Fr. Boyle from South Ashford, England blogging at South Ashford Priest!

Something I try and practice while surfing St. Blog's is to stop and pray particularly for the clergy when visiting their blogs. If I've got time to spend surfing the Internet, I definitely have time to say a couple prayers for these priests. I suggest that others take up this idea of supporting our priests in prayer.

Let's see. . . who shall we be praying for off my blog roll?

Fr. Martin Fox at Bonfire of the Vanities
Fr. Shane Tharp and Fr. Stephen Hamilton at Catholic Ragemonkey
Fr. Jim Tucker at Dappled Things
Fr. LW Gonzales Peoria at Fifty Sophomoric Summers
Fr. Tim Finigan at The Hermeneutic of Continuity
Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B. at Me Monk. Me Meander. and One Monk
(Great daily homilies at One Monk by the way!)
Fr. John Boyle at South Ashford Priest
Fr. Erik Richtsteig at Orthometer
Fr. Tom Dowd at Waiting in Joyful Hope

It doesn't take much time at all to say at least a short prayer for each of these clergy when you visit their blogs. Like all priests, they need our prayers!

God our Father, you reveal your omnipotence in the superabundance of your mercy, poured forth into the world through the sacred wounds of your Son and our Redeemer. We ardently pray that your sacred ministers may be clear reflections of your mercy. May they, with every word and deed of their life, illumine humanity, disoriented by sin, and bring it back to you, who are Love. We ask this, Father, through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.

Question of the Day

I was walking between classes today with a Protestant friend when he turned to me and said "Can I ask you a Catholic question?" "Sure," I said, not quite knowing what he'd be asking. . . "So, do you Catholics really believe that Mary and Joseph never had sex?" "Yes. Yes we do."

Thanks be to God for opportunities such as this to explain the treasures of the Catholic Faith. I gave him a brief explanation emphasizing Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant as we walked and promised him I'd get him some more information (since we were both running off to class).

As I've been gathering information this evening to pass on to my friend, here are some quotes for all of us to ponder:

"Mary accepted her election as Mother of the Son of God, guided by spousal love, the love which totally 'consecrates' a human being to God. By virtue of this love, Mary wished to be always and in all things 'given to God' (Deo donata), living in virginity. The words 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord' express the fact that from the outset she accepted and understood her own motherhood as a total gift of self, a gift of her person to the service of the saving plans of the Most High. And to the very end she lived her entire maternal sharing in the life of Jesus Christ, her Son, in a way that matched her vocation to virginity."
- Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 39.

"From the moment of the Annunciation, Mary knew that she was to fulfil her virginal desire to give herself exclusively and fully to God precisely by becoming the Mother of God's Son. Becoming a Mother by the power of the Holy Spirit was the form taken by her gift of self: a form which God Himself expected of the Virgin Mary, who was 'betrothed' to Joseph."
- Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos, 17.

Furthermore, there are some interesting quotes from Protestant Reformers (thanks to an article on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary from EWTN):

"Martin Luther (1483-1546), On the Divine Motherhood of Mary, wrote:

In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such great good things were given her that no one can grasp them. ... Not only was Mary the mother of him who is born [in Bethlehem], but of him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God. (Weimer's The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v. 7, p. 572.)

Luther wrote on the Virginity of Mary:

It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin. ... Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact. (Weimer's The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v. 11, pp. 319-320; v. 6. p. 510.)

The French reformer John Calvin (1509-1564) also held that Mary was the Mother of God.

It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor. ... Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary as at the same time the eternal God. (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, p. 348, 35.)

Calvin also up held the perpetual virginity of Mary, as did the Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), who wrote:

I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin. (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 1, p. 424.)"

Bishop Javier Echevarria

Just to let those of you who live in the area know. . . The Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Eschevarria is Vancouver for the first time this week. He is the second successor of St Josemaria Escriva. If you're in the area, you are invited to a get-together with the Prelate this Saturday, September 23rd at the Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver. It starts at 11 am, but you must be there at 10 am. I found the following article on the Opus Dei Canada website:

"Opus Dei’s Prelate begins North American Pastoral Visit

Bishop Javier Echevarria, the Prelate of Opus Dei, spoke with more than 2,000 members of Opus Dei, family, and friends in Manhattan on Sept. 13, at the start of a pastoral trip to the United States and Canada.

In a gathering at the Manhattan Center concert hall, Bishop Echevarria explained Opus Dei’s message of finding God in family, work, and friendships.

“God is not a distant being, somewhere off with the shining stars,” Bishop Echevarria said. “He wanted to come into the world and walk alongside us, doing what we do, showing us that everything we do can be converted into the work of God.”

Bishop Echevarria also spoke of how much Opus Dei’s founder Saint Josemaria Escriva prayed for the United States. “Saint Josemaria prayed for this land,” Bishop Echevarria said. “How much he loves you. He follows you closely with the heart of a father and a mother.”

Participants in the get-together asked Bishop Echevarria questions about different matters, ranging from how to impart faith to children, to how to find joy in forgiveness in the aftermath of September 11.

During his trip, which lasts from Sept. 12 to Sept. 29, Bishop Echevarria will visit New York, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco and Houston."

Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this amazing opportunity to hear Bishop Echevarria speak because I'm attending a conference in Victoria, BC, for the weekend. George Weigel will be the speaker at the conference in Victoria Friday evening and all day Saturday. Sigh, why does everything have to happen at the same time? If you're going to listen to Bishop Echevarria, can you take notes for me? I'll trade you. I'll take notes at the Weigel conference and you take notes at Bishop Echevarria's talk. Fair trade?

Prayer for Today (and Every Day)

"Lord, take me as I am, with my defects, with my shortcomings, but make me become as You want me to be."
- Pope John Paul I, Address, 13 September 1978

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ecclesia De Eucharistia

If I could, I would quote you the entire encyclical, but since I can't, here are some highlights from Ecclesia de Eucharistia:

"Even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation." (8.)

"The Eucharist, as Christ's saving presence in the community of the faithful and its spiritual food, is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history." (9.)

"The Eucharistic Sacrifice is intrinsically directed to the inward union of the faithful with Christ through communion; we receive the very One who offered himself for us, we receive his body which he gave up for us on the Cross and his blood which he "poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:28)." (16.)

"Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the heareafter to receive eternal life: they already possess it on earth, as the first-fruits of a future fullness which will embrace man in his totality." (18.)

"The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace." (25.)

"In a certain sense Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God's Word." (55.)

"Every commitment to holiness, every activity aimed at carrying out the Church's mission, every work of pastoral planning, must draw the strength it needs from the Eucharistic mystery and in turn be directed to that mystery as its culmination. In the Eucharist we have Jesus, we have his redemptive sacrifice, we have his resurrection, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have adoration, obedience and love of the Father. Were we to disregard the Eucharist, how could we overcome our own deficiency?" (60.)

Reading Weekend

I've had a pretty quiet weekend. Full of reading. Metaphysics again, that is. I'm finished the first hundred pages of St. Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics now. I think it's the most difficult reading I've ever done. Oh well. It's good to stretch those brain cells.

I've also been reading Ecclesia De Eucharistia. I've now read two encyclicals (Redemptor Hominis and Ecclesia De Eucharistia) and one apostolic letter (Mulieris Dignitatem) in the past week. I think my new slogan should be "An encyclical a day keeps the heresies away." It's good reading though. And easier than metaphysics. It's kind of ironic that I'm reading Pope John Paul II for my "easy reading." I've been enjoying myself though. I read Ecclesia De Eucharistia when it first came out in 2003 but it's well worth reading again.

I went to the chapel at the college yesterday and after spending some time in prayer I read through the first half of the encyclical there. Sitting in the chapel, by myself (or rather with Jesus Christ, true God and true man, and the hosts of angels adoring Him) before the Blessed Sacrament reading John Paul II's encyclical on the Eucharist was the highlight of my weekend. To some that might sound like I have a boring life, but don't worry, I did get out both Friday and Saturday night. In a way though, reading and reflecting upon the Eucharist in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament is a much more substantial experience than hanging out at Tim Horton's (where Canadians sit and drink coffee and eat donuts) or watching movies.

I'm trying to get ahead on my reading for all my courses right now because this coming weekend I'm going to a conference in Victoria (George Weigel will be the keynote speaker), the next weekend I'm going home for a visit, the weekend after that I'm taking an advanced First Aid course all weekend, and then the weekend after that one I'm going on a retreat up at Westminster Abbey (Benedictines). There go my weekends for the next month. Thankfully most of my major essays aren't due until later in the semester (although that also could be a problem when everything hits at once).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Explanation Needed

Yesterday I was puzzled by the prayer after communion at Mass. I'm still puzzled. Can someone explain this one to me?

"Lord, hear the prayers of those who receive the sacraments of eternal salvation. As we honour the compassionate love of the Virgin Mary, may we make up in our own lives whatever is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the good of the Church."

Can someone explain to me how the sufferings of Christ are lacking? I'm confused.

The Regensburg Lecture

Fr. James Schall, S.J., provides us with a great article discussing Pope Benedict XVI's recent lecture at Regensburg University:

"On September 12, on his visit to his native Bavaria, Benedict XVI gave a formal academic lecture at the University at which he formerly was a professor. It is a brilliant, stunning lecture, and it is a lecture, not a papal pronouncement. It brings into focus just why there is a papacy and why Catholicism is an intellectual religion. Indeed, it is a lecture on why reason is reason and what this means. The scope of this lecture is simply breathtaking, but also intelligible to the ordinary mind. In watching my computer and listening to various colleagues the day after this address was given, I felt a kind of hush in the air. Something important had happened, something more than the ordinary went on in Regensburg, something that was addressed to the heart of modernism but also to Islam, our current enigma. When I read the lecture, I understood why..."

If you have the time, go read the entire article, The Regensburg Lecture: Thinking Rightly About God and Man, at Ignatius Insight.

Reading Quote of the Day

"The correct theological term for many who label themselves "liberal" or "left-wing" or "progressive" theologians is "heretics."'
- Kreeft & Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics

Friday, September 15, 2006

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, I came across this most appropriate quotation from Mulieris Dignitatem:

"As we contemplate this Mother, whose heart "a sword has pierced" (cf. Lk 2:35), our thoughts go to all the suffering women in the world, suffering either physically or morally. In this suffering a woman's sensitivity plays a role, even though she often succeeds in resisting suffering better than a man. It is difficult to enumerate these sufferings; it is difficult to call them all by name. We many recall her maternal care for her children, expecially when they fall sick or fall into bad ways; the death of those most dear to her; the loneliness of mothers forgotten by their grown up children; the loneliness of widows; the sufferings of women who struggle alone to make a living; and women who have been wronged or exploited. Then there are the sufferings of consciences as a result of sin, which has wounded the woman's human or maternal dignity: the wounds of consciences which do not heal easily. With these sufferings too we must place ourselves at the foot of the Cross." (19.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Maturity Required

From a Zenit article summarizing the Ontario Bishops Ad Limna visit:

"The president of the Ontario episcopal conference, Bishop Richard Smith, said that "like anything this Pope composes, the message he delivered is very beautiful and profound with lots of prayer and meditation behind it."

In other words. . . he gave them food for thought.

This reminds me of the lecture in JPII Theology today. . . we were discussing to what extend did Pope John Paul II's view of collegiality change throughout the course of his pontificate. Basically what it came down to was that he favoured collegiality but that a greater freedom for the bishops conferences was dependent upon their maturity and well. . . it didn't take too long for him to understand that maybe they weren't quite as mature as he had initially thought (or hoped). In fact, "Some of the bishops conferences were grossly immature and did some pretty silly things" (that's my quote of the day from lecture).

Freedom assumes maturity and apparently, when it comes to some of the bishops conferences, maturity cannot be assumed. Example? The infamous Winnipeg Statement.

Grace Perfects Nature

"Grace never casts nature aside or cancels it out, but rather perfects it and ennobles it. Therefore the "fullness of grace" that was granted to the Virgin of Nazareth, with aview of the fact that she would become "Theotókos", also signifies the fullness of the perfection of "what is characteristic of woman", of "what is feminine". Here we find ourselves, in a sense, at the culminating point, the archetype, of the personal dignity of women."
- Pope John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 5.

Authentic Freedom

"Jesus Christ meets the man of every age, including our own, with the same words: "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free". These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world. Today also, even after two thousand years, we see Christ as the one who brings man freedom based on truth, frees man from what curtails, diminishes and as it were breaks off this freedom at its root, in man's soul, his heart and his conscience. What a stupendous confirmation of this has been given and is still being given by those who, thanks to Christ and in Christ, have reached true freedom and have manifested it even in situations of external constraint!"

- Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 12.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


It's raining right now. Call me crazy, but I like the rain. I guess that's what happens when you grow up in a temperate rain forest (no, unfortunately not tropical).

"Coastal temperate rainforests have three main distinguishing features: proximity to oceans, the presence of mountains, and high rainfall."

That's home.

It's sad but true, the sound that reminds me most of home is that of windshield wipers in a car going full force.

We had a beautifully sunny summer, which was a treat (I like rain but sometimes a little Vitamine D is a good thing). It was pretty much sunny from June through to now.

Now it will rain from September until next June.

Don't worry, you will survive dear!

I survived my first night of a new school year of teaching catechism. . . barely. It was quite chaotic to be honest.

I thought I was prepared. I'd typed out an outline of what we were going to cover, I had the class all set up before the kids showed up, and I had photocopied the activities we'd be using. . . etc. . . but then reality struck.

Five kids were added to my class during the class. They just kept showing up. I didn't have enough chairs for all of them and we were really squished for space. I didn't have enough photocopied activities which added to the excitement. By the end of the class my group had grown from eleven to sixteen seven year olds. There's a big difference between eleven and sixteen kids, especially when they're seven years old.

It was chaos. I was improvising class management skills as we went along, sending some of the most hmmm. . . how shall we say. . . energetic (?) children to go get photocopies made of the activities that we didn't have enough copies of.

Last year I had eleven kids in my class and I had a friend of mine who was in her last year of university to become an elementary school teacher helping me in the classroom. This year I have sixteen kids and I'm entirely on my own. To add to the fun I have a handful of children who are very very very energetic. Apparently the grade one teacher from last year isn't teaching this year because after having them (the children who are now in my class) in her class she wasn't sure that she could handle another year of teaching catechism. So this should be fun. Actually, to be quite honest, I'd rather an 'overly energetic' class than a class of children who don't want to be there. At least the energetic children always have something to say, questions to ask, and really engage with what is being taught. Now, if I could just keep them under control.

Immediately following catechism class on Wednesdays is evening Mass and so as I was finishing up the class an elderly priest (fifty-one years in the priesthood!) who is filling in at our parish right now was in the room adjacent to my classroom vesting for Mass. He poked his head in my classroom, chuckled, smiled at me and said in a thick Irish accent "Oh my! Don't worry, you will survive dear!"

All holy men and women, pray for me!

Ante Studium

Here is a prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas that every student should know. St. Thomas frequently recited this before he dictated, wrote, or preached.

Creator ineffabilis,
qui de thesauris sapientiae tuae
tres Angelorum hierarchias designasti,
et eas super caelum empyreum
miro ordine collocasti,
atque universi partes
elegantissime disposuisti,

tu inquam qui
verus fons
luminis et sapientiae diceris
atque supereminens principium

infundere digneris
super intellectus mei tenebras
tuae radium claritatis,
duplices in quibus natus sum
a me removens tenebras,
peccatum scilicet et ignorantiam.

Tu, qui linguas infantium facis disertas,
linguam meam erudias
atque in labiis meis gratiam
tuae benedictionis infundas.

Da mihi
intelligendi acumen,
retinendi capacitatem,
addiscendi modum et facilitatem,
interpretandi subtilitatem,
loquendi gratiam copiosam.

Ingressum instruas,
progressum dirigas,
egressum compleas.

Tu qui es verus Deus et homo,
qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ineffable Creator,
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
have established three hierarchies of angels,
have arrayed them in marvelous order
above the fiery heavens,
and have marshaled the regions
of the universe with such artful skill,

You are proclaimed
the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high beyond all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul
the twofold darkness
into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
Refine my speech
and pour forth upon my lips
the goodness of Your blessing.

Grant to me
keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.

May You
guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.

You Who are true God and true Man,
Who live and reign, world without end.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pope John Paul II on Freedom

"All too often freedom is confused with the instinct for individual or collective interest or with the instinct for combat and domination, whatever be the ideological colours with which they are covered."
- Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 16.

"Nowadays it is sometimes held, though wrongly, that freedom is an end in itself, that each human being is free when he makes use of freedom as he wishes, and that this must be our aim in the lives of individuals and societies. In reality, freedom is a great gift only when we know how to use it consciously for everything that is our true good."
- Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 21.

The Importance of Prayer

Today I came across the following passage in In Conversation with God, by Fr. Francis Fernandez, which once again prompted me to give thanks to God for the many consecrated religious throughout the world supporting the Church, and each of us individually as members of the Body of Christ, through the very imporant work of prayer. Isn't it amazing to think of it. . . somewhere in this world at this very moment people whom I have never met are supporting me (and you. . . and all of us. . .) in prayer!

"It has been said that those who truly pray are like columns of the world, the props and supports without which everything would collapse. Saint John of the Cross beautifully taught that even if it seems that nothing is happening, a little of this pure love is more precious before God and the soul, and does greater good for the Church, than all the other works put together, works that are worth little or nothing put together."

If you're thinking that picture looks familiar it's because when I searched "cloistered nuns" to find a picture to go with this post, this picture from Moniales (the Dominican Nuns from Summit, NJ) came up! Thanks for the prayers sisters! :-)

I met Rebecca

I met Rebecca from Doxology tonight for the first time (and her husband). Well, kind of. Briefly. We shook hands after Mass. I ended up driving out to her parish for Mass because I have 8:00am classes this semester and so I'm searching the surrounding parishes for evening Masses.

Praise be to God!

I just got a voice mail message on my phone tonight from a dear friend of mine who's wedding I went to last year. . . he and his wife had their first child yesterday at 10:15pm. Both mother and child are doing well and they're already home from the hospital.

Thanks be to God for the great gift of human life!

Quote of the Day

"This course will make you into super sting rays!"

This comment was made by the professor in my informal logic class in reference to Meno's comment to Socrates in Plato's Meno that Socrates is "very like the flat torpedo fish."

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Course Round-Up

Pretend you're me (ok, maybe don't. . .) and you're in your second to last semester of your undergraduate program. You're hoping to get a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Modern Languages and Christianity & Culture. You've already finished most of your Modern Language requirements. So what courses do you take?

Well, first some background. I attend a small Catholic liberal arts college that was founded under the direction of the Franciscan University of Stubenville and is associated with the largest private Christian university in Canada. What?! Yeah, that's right, I'm studying at a Catholic college, faithful to the magisterium and adhering fully to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, that is working alongside an Evangelical Protestant university. It's definitely a unique relationship but it actually works quite well.

Basically I take almost all my theology and philosophy courses at the Catholic college and I take everything else on the main campus of the larger university. This enables the Catholic college to offer courses to Catholic students working towards dozens of different majors offered by the larger university. Since the university is structured on a basic liberal arts program, everyone has to take at least a few theology and philosophy courses regardless of their major. Besides offering a Catholic education to Catholic students this relationship makes for amazing opportunities for ecumenical dialogue. In fact, the Catholic college even offers an upper-level course in Ecumenical Dialogue which I took last year. Many Protestant students register for courses at the college not realizing it's Catholic but they generally tough it out and gain a new appreciation for the Catholic Faith. For instance, I have a Protestant friend who took one course at the Catholic college last year and liked it so much that he decided he'd like to take some more Catholic theology. He's currently in the Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II course I'm taking this semester!

Anyways, that's the background. So here are my courses for this semester. Five of them are at the Catholic college and one is a religious studies course that I have to take for my major that isn't offered yet by the college.

LATIN 211: Medieval Ecclesiastical Latin. Our professor told us on the first day that it will be sink or swim for the first little while. It should be really interesting and I think I'll be able to keep my head above water with my background in Spanish and French. I needed two more courses for my Modern Languages major and I convinced the department head to let me take two Latin classes. I know it's not exactly modern but it's definitely relevant to studying French and Spanish. It's also very relevant to further studies in theology and philosophy.

PHIL 304: Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. I spent an entire day this weekend doing the first reading assignment for this class. Need I say more? What does metaphysics touch on? It's the philosophy of being. Everything. What are we reading? A really really big and scary book (St. Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. . . cover to cover). We're also reading a book by a Catholic physicist, Anthony Rizzi, called The Science Before Science.

PHIL 109: Informal Logic. Learning how to think. That's always a good thing.

RELS 473: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II. I've already posted about this course because I think it's going to be an amazing class. I am definitely a member of the JPII Generation and I've already read a lot of the material being covered in this class but I am super (yes, super) excited about this class.

RELS 360: Christian Apologetics. The title is pretty self-explanatory. We're reading A Refutation of Moral Relativism by Dr. Peter Kreeft, Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Kreeft and Tacelli, and A Primer on Postmodernism by Stanley J. Grenz.

RELS 461: Contemporary Christianity in a Global Context. Now this class should be, ummm. . . interesting. It's a required course for the Christianity & Culture program and one of the few theology courses that I need to take that is not offered by the Catholic college. In fact, this is the only course I'm taking from the Protestant university this semester. This course will look at Christianity from Descartes to the present day. The professor is one of those guys that seems to be trying to row across the Tiber but is getting caught in some currents along the way. He described himself to the class today as "a late-modern and anti-modern who denies he is a post-modern." Huh? He's a big fan of Dietrich Von Hildebrand (good) but also of Hans Küng (not so good). As an added bonus, I'm the only Catholic student in the class. That kind of places a big burden on my shoulders to be extra attentive and make sure that the Catholic Faith is presented accurately and that he doesn't try and pass Hans Küng off as a Catholic theologian! Metaphysics and Informal Logic will definitely come in handy during this course. Taking a class like this certainly increases my learning curve dramatically. There's no way I can let things fly by when the lectures touch on the Catholic Faith (which they will, because this professor is one of those Evangelicals who has become fascinated with the idea of 'Tradition'. . . ) and I'm the only Catholic in the class!

Well, all this being said, I'm going to go pull out the books and get reading!

Worthwhile Conversation

"How great is the value of conversation with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness!"
-Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I have a friend of mine here at school who is Byzantine Catholic. It's awesome to have a Catholic friend from the other lung who's able to share with me insight into a vital part of the Church that is often ignored here in the West.

Anyways, I knew he paints . . . ummm, I mean, writes. . . icons and I've seen a few he has in his room which are pretty impressive, but today I discovered some pictures online of some of his work via a link on the blog of a mutual friend. These are amazing. This is the kind of hidden talent you'd never expect to find in a fourth year chemistry major!

Nursing? Sounds like fun.

An almost anonymous (inside joke) friend of mine who just began her first semester of nursing posted this on her blog recently:

this is not a good sign...

excerpt from a nursing handbook published by my faculty

Tips for Surviving Your Nursing Education...

"Say goodbye to your social life. Say hello to your nursing textbooks, your new best friends."

"...Get plugged into work early; that will help to set a precedent for your study habits. Don't have a boyfriend 1st semester! :)"

"Remember to read, and try not to leave studying - especially for tests - to the last minute."

"Keep up on your reading. Use highlighters! Don't stress the lab exams; eventually you'll pass."

"If you don't think it's important, it is!"

"Enjoy it now, it only gets harder."

Maybe Metaphysics isn't so bad after all. ;-)

Letter to Parents

This year I will be teaching grade two catechism again. In our archdiocese grade two is the year children make their First Confession and First Communion.

Catechism starts up again this coming Wednesday and so I've been getting myself organized. I spent some time this afternoon drafting a letter to send home on the first day of Catechism.

Last year I found that it was really difficult at times to prepare the children for the sacraments without what was being taught in class being reinforced in the home. It seemed as if many parents had forgotten that raising their children in the Catholic Faith doesn't mean merely sending them to catechism class for an hour and fifteen minutes each week. There's only so much I can do as a catechist.

Here are some excerpts from my letter:

"My name is ***** and I'll be teaching your child's PREP* class this coming year. This is my second year of teaching grade two PREP and I am very excited to play a role in the faith formation of your child as they prepare to encounter Jesus Christ for the first time in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. I feel truly blessed to embark on this journey with your child!"

"My role as a catechist is not to substitute you as principal and first educators of your child but rather to support you in your parental responsibility of educating your child in the Catholic Faith . This coming year I will be working alongside your family in sharing the Faith with your child. As they prepare to receive their First Reconciliation and First Communion, with the grace of God, we will be helping the children to discover the joy of a life founded on the love of Christ and embrace the perfect gift of Himself He offers us in the Eucharist."

I also included the following quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraph 2226):

"Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.”

*PREP stands for Parish Religious Education Program.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Metaphysics Quote of the Day

"Even though all men desire knowledge, still not all devote themselves to the pursuit of it because they are held back by other things, either by pleasures or the needs of the present life; or they may even avoid the effort that learning demands because they are lazy."
- St. Thomas Aquinas
(Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, 1.1)

Garage Sale

My parents are having a garage sale today back home. I have a lot of stuff in "indefinite temporary storage" at their house. I'm a little anxious that next time I go back for a visit everything will be gone. As long as they don't sell my books I think I should be fine though.

Symbolum Apostolorum

I had my first day of Latin yesterday and guess what part of my homework is? To start memorizing this:

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae. Et in Iesum Christum, Filium eius unicum, Dominum nostrum, qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus, descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis, ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis, inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos. Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitam aeternam. Amen.

I like this class already.

The Holy Father on Canada

"In the name of tolerance, your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse," the Pope told a group of bishops from Ontario. "In the name of freedom of choice, it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children."

Thank-you Holy Father. May he continue to boldly speak Truth to all nations.

Here's the whole thing (from Zenit.org):

Pope's Address to Bishops of Ontario

"Make God Visible in the Human Face of Jesus"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today in English and French to the bishops of Ontario, Canada, on the occasion of their five-yearly visit to Rome.

* * *

Your Eminence,

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 John 4:16).

With fraternal affection I cordially welcome you, the bishops of Ontario, and I thank Bishop Smith for the kind sentiments expressed on your behalf. I warmly reciprocate them and assure you, and those entrusted to your pastoral care, of my prayers and solicitude.

Your visit "ad limina apostolorum," and to the Successor of Peter, is an occasion to affirm your commitment to make Christ increasingly more visible within the Church and society, through joyful witness to the Gospel that is Jesus Christ himself.

The Evangelist John's numerous exhortations to abide in the love and truth of Christ evoke an appealing image of a sure and safe dwelling place. God first loves us (1 John 4:10) and we, drawn toward this gift, find a resting place where we can "constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God" ("Deus Caritas Est," 7).

St. John was also compelled to urge his communities to remain in that love. Already some had been weakened by the disputes and distractions which eventually lead to division.

2. Dear Brothers, your own diocesan communities are challenged to resonate with the living statement of faith: "We know and believe the love God has for us" (1 John 4:16).

These words, which eloquently reveal faith as personal adherence to God and concurrent assent to the whole truth that God reveals (cf. "Dominus Iesus," 7), can be credibly proclaimed only in the wake of an encounter with Christ. Drawn by his love the believer entrusts his entire self to God and so becomes one with the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:17).

In the Eucharist this union is strengthened and renewed by entering into the very dynamic of Christ's self-giving so as to share in the divine life: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him" (John 6:56; cf. "Deus Caritas Est," 13).

[The Pope read the following in French]

St. John's warning remains however always timely. In our increasingly secularized societies, which you yourselves have experienced, the love that flows from God's heart toward humanity can be unperceived or even rejected. On imagining that removing himself from this relationship constitutes, one way or another, a solution for his liberation, man becomes in fact a stranger to himself, because "in reality, the truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 22).

By their lack of interest in the love that reveals the fullness of the truth of man, numerous men and women continue to estrange themselves from God's dwelling to live in the desert of individual isolation, social brokenness and the loss of cultural identity.

[Translation of French original by ZENIT]

3. Within this perspective, one sees that the fundamental task of the evangelization of culture is the challenge to make God visible in the human face of Jesus. In helping individuals to recognize and experience the love of Christ, you will awaken in them the desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, embracing the life of the Church.

This is our mission. It expresses our ecclesial nature and ensures that every initiative of evangelization concurrently strengthens Christian identity. In this regard, we must acknowledge that any reduction of the core message of Jesus, that is, the "kingdom of God," to indefinite talk of "kingdom values" weakens Christian identity and debilitates the Church's contribution to the regeneration of society.

When believing is replaced by "doing" and witness by talk of "issues," there is an urgent need to recapture the profound joy and awe of the first disciples whose hearts, in the Lord's presence, "burned within them" impelling them to "tell their story" (cf. Luke 24:32,35).

Today, the impediments to the spread of Christ's kingdom are experienced most dramatically in the split between the Gospel and culture, with the exclusion of God from the public sphere. Canada has a well-earned reputation for a generous and practical commitment to justice and peace, and there is an enticing sense of vibrancy and opportunity in your multicultural cities.

At the same time, however, certain values detached from their moral roots and full significance found in Christ have evolved in the most disturbing of ways. In the name of "tolerance" your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of "freedom of choice" it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children. When the creator's divine plan is ignored the truth of human nature is lost.

False dichotomies are not unknown within the Christian community itself. They are particularly damaging when Christian civic leaders sacrifice the unity of faith and sanction the disintegration of reason and the principles of natural ethics, by yielding to ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls.

Democracy succeeds only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person. Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle; otherwise Christian witness to the splendor of truth in the public sphere would be silenced and an autonomy from morality proclaimed (cf. "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life," 2-3; 6).

In your discussions with politicians and civic leaders I encourage you to demonstrate that our Christian faith, far from being an impediment to dialogue, is a bridge, precisely because it brings together reason and culture.

4. Within the context of the evangelization of culture, I wish to mention the fine network of Catholic schools at the heart of ecclesial life in your province.

Catechesis and religious education is a taxing apostolate. I thank and encourage those many lay men and women, together with religious, who strive to ensure that your young people become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith which they have received.

More than ever this demands that witness, nourished by prayer, be the all-encompassing milieu of every Catholic school. Teachers, as witnesses, account for the hope that nourishes their own lives (cf. 1 Peter 3:15) by living the truth they propose to their pupils, always in reference to the one they have encountered and whose dependable goodness they have sampled with joy (cf. Address to Rome's Ecclesial Diocesan Convention, Living the Truth that God Loves his People, June 6, 2005).

And so with St. Augustine they say: "We who speak and you who listen acknowledge ourselves as fellow disciples of a single teacher" (St. Augustine, Sermons, 23:2).

A particularly insidious obstacle to education today, which your own reports attest, is the marked presence in society of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. Within such a relativistic horizon an eclipse of the sublime goals of life occurs with a lowering of the standards of excellence, a timidity before the category of the good, and a relentless but senseless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of freedom.

Such detrimental trends point to the particular urgency of the apostolate of "intellectual charity" which upholds the essential unity of knowledge, guides the young toward the sublime satisfaction of exercising their freedom in relation to truth, and articulates the relationship between faith and all aspects of family and civic life.

Introduced to a love of truth, I am confident that young Canadians will relish exploring the house of the Lord who "enlightens every person who comes into the world" (John 1:9) and satisfies every desire of humanity.

5. Dear Brothers, with affection and fraternal gratitude I offer these reflections to you and encourage you in your proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Experience his love and in this way cause the light of God to enter into the world! (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," 39).

Invoking upon you the intercession of Mary, seat of wisdom, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing to you and the priests, religious, and lay faithful of your dioceses.

New Beginnings

As I've mentioned previously, I'm working part time this academic year organizing "Student Life" activities for the students of the small Catholic college I attend.

What better way to start off the new school year than Eucharistic Adoration? This afternoon, as the first 'official' Student Life activity we gathered together in Adoration before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Over a third of the student body showed up which was more than expected and a fantastic turnout for a Friday afternoon.

Thanks be to God for the priest who came to expose the Blessed Sacrament and give us Benediction, as well as hear our confessions. He stepped up at the last minute a few days ago when the previously scheduled priest called to say that he wouldn't be able to come because his brother would be taking his vows as a Benedictine today (that's a pretty good excuse!).

I can't think of a better way to begin the new academic year than in adoration before Jesus with my fellow students and professors.

We followed up adoration with a 'bonfire' tonight. There's a fire ban on so we couldn't technically have a bonfire but we made a pretty good psudo bonfire with newspaper, a space heater, and Christmas lights. All in all it was a good night and there were many good conversations going on between new and returning students.

Well, it's after midnight and I've just finished printing off five encyclicals to read for my JPII Theology class (not all right away) and I've got a lot of reading to do this weekend and I have many other things to get done tomorrow so I should sign off and go to bed.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hope Pope

Benedict XVI Hopes to Lift Youths' Hopes
Sends Letter to Newspaper on Upcoming Visit

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI hopes that his trip to Bavaria will awaken the joy of Christianity and help young people to regain their confidence in the Church.

The German Pope said this in a letter sent to the Münchener Kirchenzeitung Catholic weekly of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, in advance of his visit to Bavaria, which starts Saturday.

On his pilgrimage, the Holy Father will visit some of the decisive places of his life, including Munich, the city of which he was archbishop from 1977 to 1982; Marktl am Inn, his birthplace; and Regensburg, a city where he was a professor, and where his brother lives.

In his letter signed Aug. 15, Benedict XVI wrote: "I would like to express the hope, from the bottom of my heart, that my visit to my homeland will awaken joy in Christianity and, above all, reinforce confidence in the responsibility that the ecclesial community has assumed to build a human future for all.

"To this, I add the hope that there be more young people who can overcome their doubts in the future capacity of the Church and follow the vocation of service as priests or religious."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

205 Endnotes?!

I've been printing off encyclicals for my JPII Theology class. I know I could just read them online but I have to print them off. . . I'm not good at doing assigned reading online. I need a hardcopy that I can highlight, underline, and write in the margins on.

Anyways, I just found out that Redemptor Hominis has two hundred and five endnotes. That's crazy!!! Sheeeeeshhh. . . no one can deny that Pope John Paul II did his research!

What You Don't Want to Hear

This is what you don't want to hear on your first day of class. . .

"This is the hardest course you can register for at university."

Thanks. That really reasures me.

At least I know that I'll be learning a lot in Metaphysics.

JPII Theology

Well, I've been silent because I'm back to school. Oh the joys. Actually, I'm not being sarcastic. I've had two classes already, a Philosophy course called Informal Logic and a Theology course called The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II. The JPII course is a fourth year theology course and I am so excited about this class. I think it's going to be an amazing course.

Here's the course description:
"John Paul II has been called by some observers the most important Catholic theologian since St. Thomas Aquinas. This course examines in depth and detail the life and teachings of this extraordinary pope, his "personalist" philosophy and program for theological renewal of the Catholic Faith. Through a close reading and analysis of selected encyclicals and apostolic letters, the vision and worldview of John Paul II is presented as a significant achievement in modern Christian thought."

And the reading list? Well. . . now, don't get jealous. . .

Redemptor Hominis
Mulieris Dignitatem
Ecclesia de Eucharistia
Christifideles Laici
Salvici Dolores
Evangelium Vitae
Familiaris Consortio
Dives in Misericordia
Crossing the Threshold of Hope
The Splendor of Faith by Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.
Witness to Hope by George Weigel (who's conference I'm going to in a few weeks!)
Christ is the Answer: The Christ-Centered Teaching of Pope John Paul II by John Saward
John Paul the Great: Maker of the Post-Conciliar Church by William Oddie

Ahhh... yes, this is pretty much my dream reading list.

I still have another class this afternoon. . . The Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. That should be one of those courses that is painful but rewarding.