Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas 2004

Merry Christmas from Ad Altare Dei!

The most excellent gift that I have received over the past few days is a renewed appreciation and love for our dear Mother, the Church on Earth and in Heaven, and our precious Lord who left us the wondrous mystery that is our Church. In preserving Her in spite of the sinfulness of Her members, She continues to bring us His teachings and give us His graces, and we have Christ's word that He will never leave Her. I wish never to take Her for granted! Would that, some day, I might even have the courage to lay down my life in witness to Her and that Christ to whom she is wedded.

Today's feast is more than a mere birthday. Today, we celebrate an event - the Incarnation of God in human flesh. We celebrate God humbling Himself so as to be born a child from the womb of the Blessed Virgin. Oh, the minds that have tried for centuries to wrap themselves around that one! Fundamentally, what we learn is that you and I are worth so much to God that He might do this for us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. -- The Gospel of John 3:16
We have value because God so loves us. Yes, even those who have no family or friends to love, those without a home, or without food, or without a steady job that they might earn a living and provide for themselves and their families.
Personent hodie Voces puerulae,
Laudantes iucunde Qui nobis est natus,
Summo Deo datus, Et de virgineo
Ventre procreatus.

In mundo nascitur; Pannis involvitur;
Praesepi ponitur Stabulo brutorum
Rector supernorum; Perdidit spolia
Princeps Infernorum.

Magi tres venerunt; Munera offerunt;
Parvulum inquirunt, Stellulam sequendo,
Ipsum adorando, Aurum, thus et myrrham
Ei offerendo.

Omnes clericuli, Pariter pueri,
Cantent ut angeli: 'Advenisti mundo:
Laudes tibi fundo Ideo: Gloria
In excelsis Deo'.
A marvelous mystery. Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

"Preach My Gospel"

New Mormon Missionary Manual is online. I post this only as a resource for understanding where LDS missionaries are coming from when they approach you. Above all, be ready to give an account of your Catholic faith and know and live your faith well!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Got back from the annual candlelight procession for Our Lady of Guadalupe along downtown State Street this evening. It had been raining all day, but the clouds parted for our procession, thanks be to God! Bishop Thomas Curry came out to lead the procession along with several local pastors. It was wonderful to see thousands of Santa Barbarans, primarily Hispanic, turn out to participate in this. It's a powerful witness to the Catholic faith in a city in dire need of grace and reconciliation. It's a humble witness that Our Lady can give for her Son, Our Lord, in obedience to God the Father.

The procession wound up at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church where Bishop Curry led a standing-room-only crowd in prayer. By a merely random circumstance, I was asked to read the reading from Revelation 12 before the assembly. That was certainly a humbling experience.

Maria, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Patrona de las Américas, ora por nosotros.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Tallis Scholars

Got back from a heavenly experience at the The Tallis Scholars concert this evening.

They performed renditions of the Magnificat by Hieronymus Praetorius and Orlando di Lasso, renditions of O Magnum Mysterium by Palestrina and Clemens non Papa, two Christmas pieces by William Byrd as well as Josquin des Prez's famous Ave Maria... virgo serena. Wonderful.

The concert was held at All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, a cozy little church originally built in 1900 combining Gothic Revival and Shingle architectural styles, complete with wooden, hammer-beam roof. I missed the concert two years ago, which they held at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Santa Barbara.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

What did I say about UCSB?

Forget what I said.

UC to Play Major Role in Cell Institute
While no embryonic human stem cells are currently used in research at UCSB, there is "talk about organizing a stem cell program," said Dennis Clegg, chair of the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Department. "We are particularly interested in the biochemistry and molecular biology of the aging process."
They would like to recruit some new talent and get some of the benefit of the recent passing of Proposition 71, which will provide state money for human embryonic stem-cell research.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Blind Ideology

RU-486 is being linked with women's deaths and a load of adverse reactions. Some are calling for it to be taken off of the market, or at least that the FDA should warn women of its adverse effects, which includes death (Warning: May cause death would be an interesting label). Elizabeth Cavendish, interim president for NARAL Pro-Choice America, responds:
I think that the characterization of it being deadly and dangerous is really anti-choice propaganda.
Don't worry, women of the world, NARAL is looking out for what's best for you! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Give me the wisdom of the ages over the wisdom of the world!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Eucharist means Thanksgiving

Be thankful and enjoy your feast. And don't forget about eternity -- or the coming of the Kanamits!
Please, Mr. Chambers, Eat. We wouldn't want you to lose weight!
Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Christus Rex

Hodie est et Festum Christi Regis et finis anni liturgici.
Laudemus Regem Regum Dominumque Dominorum!
Te saeculorum principem,
te, Christe, regem gentium,
te mentium, te cordium
unum fatemur arbitrum.

Quem prone adorant agmina
hymnisque laudant caelitum,
te nos ovantes omnium
regem supremum dicimus.
Exsultemus in amore Christi et exspectemus adventum Incarnationis Filii Dei.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Angel in the Waters

A children's book about life in the womb by Regina Doman put out by Sophia Institute Press. Go read it online!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Farewell Friend

I was shocked today to hear of the passing of Gerard Serafin, beloved of St. Blog's Parish. Requiescat in pace. I read his blog daily; I felt that he had one of the most balanced perspectives of the Catholic faith as a lived reality, and his desire for holiness was truly inspirational. Please pray for the repose of his soul.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Tallis in Santa Barbara
Laudate pueri Dominum,
laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini benedictum,
ex hoc nunc, et usque in saeculum.
The Tallis Scholars are coming to Santa Barbara next month for a Christmas concert. I bought my ticket today!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

You would have murdered Beethoven

Maurice Baring once told this story:
One doctor said to another doctor, "About the termination of a pregnancy, I want your opinion. The father has syphilis. The mother has tuberculosis. Of the four children born, the first was blind, the second died, the third was deaf and dumb, the fourth also has tuberculosis. What would you have done?"

"I would have ended the pregnancy," the other doctor replied.

"Then you would have murdered Beethoven."
Baring is also known for this:
In Mozart and Salieri we see the contrast between the genius which does what it must and the talent which does what it can.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Questions about Natural Family Planning methods

NFP - Myths and Reality

USCCB office of Pro-life Activities responds to ten myths surrounding Natural Family Planning. Although I have heard more myths abound, this is a good start. I can't speak to what engaged couples are actually told about NFP during marriage preparation throughout the country. I'd like to think that they're given solid, factual information and simple instruction, but, unfortunately, I'm not always so sure!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Church of Los Angeles welcomes Billy Graham

Here's an interesting bit of news. Billy Graham is having a crusade at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA on Nov. 18th through Nov. 21st. Cardinal Mahony is encouraging Catholic participation:
While there are some doctrinal differences in our theologies, we can certainly support Dr. Graham?s core message of the need for conversion of life and the establishment of a personal relationship with Jesus.

When the Crusade was held in other locations, many Catholics responded to Dr. Graham?s message and came forward for Christ. Crusade officials expect the same for the Los Angeles area. These officials have assured me that, in keeping with Dr. Graham?s belief and policy, there will be no proselytizing, and that anyone identifying him or herself as a Catholic will be referred to us for reintegration into the life of the Catholic Church. We must be ready to welcome them... Dr. Graham preaches the Gospel with great eloquence and with a true ecumenical spirit, and I encourage your parish to pray for the success of his efforts in our community.
I don't have huge problems with Billy Graham, but I'm not sure how I feel about openly encouraging this. The Cardinal clearly recognizes that Catholics consistently fill the stands at Graham's crusades -- that they do is undeniable. And it's admirable of Graham to refer them to the Church for further guidance, but I do have questions about how effectively this is done. Does everyone in Graham's staff uphold his personal belief and policy? Understanding that Catholics will be there, I guess there is no serious harm in supporting this, and encouraging pastors to be aware of this. It allows the Church to actively reach out to those who respond to Graham, rather than abandoning them into separation from the Church.
A Victory for Bush

USA Today's county by county map (Bush=red, Kerry=blue):

If case you can't tell, I'm in the blue county of Santa Barbara in Southern California, just to the northwest of the blue county of Los Angeles. Here's a closer look. Do you see how there were only three blue counties in Southern California? Do you also see the red county of Ventura that separates me from Los Angeles? Yes, even though California showed up solid blue for the electoral college vote, our state was pretty divided nonetheless.

One thing that is particularly clear to me, but apparently not to some, is who better represents American values? "Middle America" or these folks? At any rate, now it's time for W to live up to his promises. Terrorism, Iraq, the Economy, Dignity of Human Life. Time to move forward.

Along those lines, will pro-life democrat senate minority whip, Harry Reid of Nevada, succeed Sen. Tom Daschle as senate minority leader? He has the same inconsistency as Orrin Hatch with regard to embryonic stem-cell research, but alas, he has a better record than Daschle.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Adoramus Te, Christe

Msgr. Ernesto Mandara of the Diocese of Rome holds up the Eucharist during Mass in the city's Popolo Square Oct. 9. The diocese marked the start of the eucharistic year declared by Pope John Paul II with an outdoor Mass and procession through the streets of Rome.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Nobel Prizes

Let me take some time to plug UCSB!

The faculty at UC Santa Barbara was awarded two more Nobel Prizes in the respective fields of Physics and Economics just within the last two weeks. The university had already possessed four nobels, three of which were awarded within the last six years. This brings the grand total to six.

I received an undergraduate degree as well as a graduate degree from UCSB, both from the College of Engineering. I can say that the College of Engineering as well as Institute for Theoretical Physics are absolutely top notch and are improving every year. In fact, physicists today expect the next major research breakthrough in theoretical physics to come out of either UC Santa Barbara or CalTech. Not a bad playing ground, that.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Beauty of the Liturgy of the Temple

I am struck by the imagery in this description of the work of Simon "the Just", the high priest, son of Onias, in the temple and the people gathered around him worshipping God. It is recorded in Sirach 50:1-21.
How glorious [Simon, the high priest] was when the people gathered round him
as he came out of the inner sanctuary [from behind the veil]!

Like the morning star among the clouds,
like the moon when it is full;
like the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High,
and like the rainbow gleaming in glorious clouds;
like roses in the days of the first fruits,
like lilies by a spring of water,
like a green shoot on Lebanon on a summer day;
like fire and incense in the censer,
like a vessel of hammered gold adorned with all kinds of precious stones;
like an olive tree putting forth its fruit,
and like a cypress towering in the clouds.
Can you picture that? It continues. It gets better.
When he put on his glorious robe and clothed himself with superb perfection and went up to the holy altar, he made the court of the sanctuary glorious. And when he received the portions from the hands of the priests, as he stood by the hearth of the altar with a garland of brethren around him, he was like a young cedar on Lebanon; and they surrounded him like the trunks of palm trees, all the sons of Aaron in their splendor with the Lord's offering in their hands, before the whole congregation of Israel.

Finishing the service at the altars, and arranging the offering to the Most High, the Almighty, he reached out his hand to the cup and poured a libation of the blood of the grape; he poured it out at the foot of the altar, a pleasing odor to the Most High, the King of all. Then the sons of Aaron shouted, they sounded the trumpets of hammered work, they made a great noise to be heard for remembrance before the Most High.

Then all the people together made haste and fell to the ground upon their faces to worship their Lord, the Almighty, God Most High. And the singers praised him with their voices in sweet and full-toned melody. And the people besought the Lord Most High in prayer before him who is merciful, till the order of worship of the Lord was ended; so they completed his service.

Then Simon came down, and lifted up his hands over the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips, and to glory in his name; and they bowed down in worship a second time, to receive the blessing from the Most High.
As you read this, what comes to your mind?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Which Biological Molecule Are You?

You are mRNA. You're brilliant, full of important,
interesting information and you're a great
friend to the people you care about. You may
have sides to you that no one understands. But
while you understand more than most people,
you're only half-there most of the time.

Which Biological Molecule Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, October 11, 2004

Media Unbiased?

I oppose the war in Iraq, and I have many questions about how real the possibility is that the Iraqi people can take control and sustain a democracy after so much turmoil. Nevertheless, I do believe that the Iraqi people are better off having the chance to do this without living under the oppression of a brutal dictator. I have had an interesting time trying to form a balanced opinion about this matter - especially when thinking about who has the better plan to see the situation in Iraq all of the way through to really keep it from becoming a future haven for terrorist networks. But where can we really get a balanced view of things?

Chris at Veritas reports:
So, yesterday the Iraq Survey Group -- which was/is responsible for finding WMDs in Iraq -- released its long-awaited, 1000 page report.

Now, if all your news comes from the MSM -- like this AP story -- then you're bound not to hear certain things, like the fact that Saddam bribed politicians, journalists, and anyone else he thought would help him get rid of the sanctions on Iraq. Specifically, he went after France, Russia, and China, three countries which -- surprise! -- happen to have veto power on the UN Security Council.

In addition, the ISG found that Saddam's intent was that once sanctions were gone, he would begin -- again -- to actually develop WMDs, because the infrastructure for their production remained.
In other words, though there was no evidence of the physical existence of WMDs in Iraq, the future of the world is better without Saddam in power. I listened to details about Duelfer's report on all of the various networks, but the most balanced account, which included details about Saddam's bribery of the very countries responsible for imposing sanctions, was on FoxNews. Can we really trust those whom we like to call our Allies?
Quite the contrast

This was interesting. Toward the end of the 2nd presidential debate last friday, Sarah Degenhart asked the following question:
Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?
An issue near and dear to my own thoughts. Here's what Kerry had to say to Sarah:
I would say to that person exactly what I will say to you right now. First of all, I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I'm a Catholic, raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life. It helped lead me through a war, leads me today. But I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn't share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can't do that. But I can counsel people. I can talk reasonably about life and about responsibility. I can talk to people, as my wife Teresa does, about making other choices, and about abstinence, and about all these other things that we ought to do as a responsible society. But as a president, I have to represent all the people in the nation. And I have to make that judgment.
In other words, Sarah, he can't reassure that voter, because he's going to use that voter's tax dollars to support murder. This position isn't popular enough to be worth defending, and Kerry's moral conscience, supposedly informed by his Catholic upbringing, has no part in decisions that affect the well being of the American people. One wonders how we can trust him to take a principled step in any endeavor that requires the motivation of his moral conscience.

Bush's response to Sarah Degenhart seemed much more clear:
My answer is, we're not going to spend taxpayers' money on abortion.
Kerry also stated that he wants to work to reduce the number of abortions, yet he's willing to give $100 million each year to advance research using stem-cells taken from destroyed human embryos. Am I the only one who fails to see the consistency with a position such as that? Bush's position, while insufficient, is at least more consistent. He stated what Kerry couldn't state:
Embryonic stem-cell research requires the destruction of life to create [extract] a stem cell.
Considering the pull in America today to federally fund this type of research, I'd say it isn't easy for a politician to stand up, take a principled stand for what appears to be the minority opinion: not to federally fund the destruction of human life.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

This makes me so angry.

I can't stand this political nonsense. Does Kerry have no grasp of the ethical issues involved here? We are not opposed to stem-cell research. We are opposed to embryonic stem-cell research. He's telling us that our beliefs against using federal funds (i.e. our money) in unethical research using stem-cells extracted from living, human embryos are just part of some extreme right-wing ideology, and yet he stands with us every Sunday to profess the faith of the early martyrs. Sorry, Kerry, but you aren't holding yourself to a higher standard than President Bush, and we will not stand and let you hypocritically misrepresent this important issue for your own political reasons. Furthermore, we will not be coerced to act against the dictates of our consciences, which are formed in accordance with our religious beliefs.

At least W listened to our arguments and tried to reach a compromise, even if it wasn't completely sufficient. W even went out of his way to articulate the different types of stem-cell research and the benefits, as well as the risks, associated with each. It's clear to me who has a better grasp of this issue.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Why Study Literature?

Even if mere entertainment were our only objective in the study of literature, you would still, in my opinion, regard this pursuit as the most humanizing and liberating of intellectual activities. For no other pursuit is appropriate to all times, all ages, all situations; but this study nurtures our youth, delights our old age, brightens the good times, and provides a refuge and comfort in bad times; literature brings us pleasure at home, does not hamper us at work, and is the companion of our nights, our travels, our country retreats.

-Cicero, Pro Archia Poeta 7.16

Saturday, September 25, 2004

We needed God, so we created Him?

Blah. I've been hearing people my age make this argument to disprove the existence of God all throughout high school as well as at the university. Young, eager minds, right? The problem is, it proves absolutely nothing. G.K. Chesterton had the best response:
Some people say that God cannot exist; that God is merely a creation of human beings to satisfy some need or hunger for something greater. While it is true that there is an innate hunger for God within man, this no more disproves God than hunger in the stomach disproves food.
Of course, I have hungered for God my entire life. Sure, I found Him in faith through grace, and I have no problem with that. If it had been up to me to create Him, I would have most certainly created a god that wouldn't have required my own daily conversion and repentance. The path to holiness isn't an easy one for a human such as me, and though God is merciful, He is also just. I'm grateful that the reality and mystery of God is so much more to live - and hunger - for.
The Real Deal

In my opinion, the best non-documentary movie ever made about the Titanic disaster is Roy Ward Baker's 1958 film A Night To Remember. Based on the Walter Lord's meticulously researched book by the same name, the movie tells the story straight, portraying characters that really existed and storylines that really took place. In fact, one can see a lot of this film's influence in James Cameron's 1997 epic film, though of course it merely provided the backdrop for a fake, completely unrealistic, and totally unnecessary one dimensional love story.

Baker's film does include a few misconceptions that were simply unconfirmed and heavily debated in the 1950's, such as the Titanic's breaking into two pieces during its sinking. However, this film does include the story of the steamer Californian, which was only about 10 miles away from the Titanic as she sank and even saw her flares! Baker also juxtaposes key scenes quite well to show you the real separation of classes (Again, watch for elements that Cameron borrowed).

A Night To Remember uses a lot more breadth in dealing with the array of characters, so we miss out on some of the depth of certain characters. And though you can certainly tell they use a model in many closeup scenes, other special effects in this film are actually quite striking for 1958. What makes this film awesome, though, is the sheer reality of its tale. Why would we want two make-believe, sexed-up Hollywood characters when the real drama of human history is so much more interesting? This is a film that you can watch and discuss with your family. This is the real deal.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Got Gmail?

I have extra gmail invitations hanging around. Even though they're generally pretty easy to get nowadays, I'm giving these away. If you would like one, email me privately.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Danger Mouse

I watched Danger Mouse religiously as a young lad growing up in the whirlwind of the 80's. The British should be proud.
Danger Mouse, for those of you who DON'T know, is a cartoon superhero created in England By Cosgrove/Hall Productions Limited... Danger Mouse is a wacky and hilarious adventure about a White Secret Agent Mouse, and his trusty bumbling sidekick hampster assistant, Penfold.... Together, they are given assignments by Colonel K, Their commander/walrus. The orders consisted of doing battle to save the world from monsters, master thieves, and crazed fiends of all types with the most prolific being their arch nemesis megalomaniac frog, Baron Silas Greenback and his henchman crow, Stiletto.
It gave me a penchant for mind boggling mysteries, like what's up with being chased by giant rolling balls in a South American jungle, only to get holed as an unknowing participant in a huge game of snooker.
Danger Mouse: It's alright, Penfold, it'll just be Colonel K with some mind boggling mystery for me to solve.

Colonel K: Ah, good show, DM. I've got a mind boggling mystery for you to solve.

Danger Mouse: I'm all ears, Colonel!

Colonel K: Well, none of us is perfect, DM.
Or how about the time when DM and Penfold venture passed the edge of the universe in their trusty space hopper?
Please Pray...

Please pray for the mother of a close childhood friend of mine. I still keep in touch with them. She has inoperable cancer of the intestine, and while doctors are evaluating treatments, it is uncertain how much time she may have left. Please include her and her family in your prayers. Her family has been so good to me. They included me in everything they did as a family. They could've adopted me, had I not had my own family! And though I can't speak a word of Spanish, being around them so consistently really helped my listening comprehension of the language. Their home was also a place where I saw the Catholic faith being lived consistently in a way that bound them together closely.
All wisdom is from God

Sirach 1:1-8
All wisdom comes from the Lord and is with him for ever. The sand of the sea, the drops of rain, and the days of eternity -- who can count them? The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth, the abyss, and wisdom -- who can search them out? Wisdom was created before all things, and prudent understanding from eternity. The root of wisdom -- to whom has it been revealed? Her clever devices -- who knows them? There is One who is wise, greatly to be feared, sitting upon his throne. The Lord himself created wisdom; he saw her and apportioned her, he poured her out upon all his works. She dwells with all flesh according to his gift, and he supplied her to those who love him.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Pulcher Poeta

by Yohanes Manhitu

Pulcher poeta, creatura litterarum.
Vita dulcis tua gratia plena est.
Ex anima sancta tua scribes.
Vitae lumen donant verba tua.

Pulcher poeta, amo poemata tua.
Sine verba vivere non possum.
Ex anima tua bibo aquam pacis.
Vitam meam pingunt verba tua.
It needs to be repeated...

While I am in favor of fighting terrorism and threats to human life, I am not among those who wish that our government would wage a holy war against all Muslims at home and abroad. Certainly, Muslim terrorists use a perverted religiosity to attack innocent people, but the Muslims with whom I live and work do not. They are as American as I am, recalling a time in which Catholics were not accorded much respect as a group. History has certainly shown the folly of marking large groups of people for suppression or internment based on religion, race, or ethnicity.

I do believe that the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of revealed truth, born in the person of Jesus Christ, but I do not seek to dishonor anything that is intrinsically true in Islam, nor do I dishonor any man's sincere desire to know God. I have enjoyed many discussions with Muslims centering on the nature of what is true, what is virtue, and what is good. I don't always agree - I don't have to agree, but I anticipate many more discussions. I think the conciliar document Nostra Aetate bears a re-read.
The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these [non-Christian] religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.

The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.
Muslims are certainly not a unified religious body, and I'd be lying if I said I understood Islam, but it pains me to see Christians who believe they understand Islam simply by throwing around verses from the Koran. I see atheists do the very same thing with our own Scriptures to reach a similar end. I think we can act with a little more reflection and a little more depth than that. I believe that is what the conciliar statement is asking us to do.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Authority of the Keys

Isaiah 22:20-23
In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house.
In the Old Testament, the key represents an authoritative office in the king's palace. He who held the key represented the king and acted with the king's authority. Here, a day is described when Eliakim will succeed Shebna, the master of the palace, and Eliakim will be given the key of the house of David. The language of opening and shutting, or in other words, binding and loosing refers to one who can authoritatively declare an act forbidden or permissible.

Not surprisingly, we see this same language and imagery used in the Gospel of Matthew 16:17-19 with reference to the Apostle Peter:
And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
In light of the passage from Isaiah, Christ, the King of Kings, bestows an authoritative office on Peter, represented by the keys. He who holds the keys of the kingdom of heaven acts with the authority of heaven to teach and govern and guide. Along with the powerful key imagery, Christ also uses the language of binding and loosing, which in this context can be taken to mean the ability to teach authoritatively. The authority of binding and loosing is also given to the other apostles in the same Gospel in 18:15-18:
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
From the context of the verse, this may be understood to be the ability to excommunicate, that is, to declare one outside of the community. However, the office and authority granted with the keys belongs to Peter and to those who succeed him in his office.

Monday, August 30, 2004

My thoughts from today...

From Sirach 3:17-18,28
My son, perform your tasks in meekness; then you will be loved by those whom God accepts. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord. For great is the might of the Lord; he is glorified by the humble... The affliction of the proud has no healing, for a plant of wickedness has taken root in him.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

St. Augustine

Once again, it is the feast day of my beloved patron, St. Augustine of Hippo.
Fulget in caelis celebris sacerdos,
stella doctorum rutilat corusca,
lumen intactum fidei per orbis
climata spargens.

Cive tam claro, Sion o superna,
laeta dic laudes Domino salutis,
qui modis miris sibi vinxit ipsum
lumine complens.
Please pray for me, Augustine.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Nuance of Language

My spiritual director has been packing up for a transfer to another parish and was unfortunately forced to downsize his library, so he graciously offered to give me a small library of his Latin books, which I graciously accepted. What a gift! Included among the collection is a beautifully bound Nova Vulgata (Editio Minor) in excellent condition, which is an absolute treasure. Latin is certainly more adept at rendering the original Greek, with its linguistic ambiguities and oddities, than most romance languages -- and certainly better than English, which can introduce a few oddities of its own.

Perhaps the verse John 7:49 represents one such oddity, though minor. It occurs in the Greek in such a fashion and is rendered similarly in Latin (both in the Vulgata and Nova Vulgata),
Sed turba haec, quae non novit legem, maledicti sunt!
What is interesting is that you have a feminine singular nominative noun, turba, being used in two completely different senses in the same sentence; It conjugates with both a singular verb form (novit) and a masculine plural verb form (maledicti sunt). This is a form of the syllepsis with turba, which is a collective noun meaning crowd or multitude. The first agreement is grammatically correct, a feminine singular relative pronoun, quae, and a singular (active) perfect tense verb conjugation, novit. The second agreement is correct according to the sense of the collective noun, referring not to turba as a singular, feminine noun, but rather as a group of individuals using a masculine plural (passive) perfect tense verb conjugation, maledicti sunt, as opposed to a feminine singular conjugation, maledicta est. To my knowledge, this is not at all common in romance languages, and though it occurs in English, it isn't always clear, nor are the senses always mixed.

How well do modern English translations from the Greek do? The RSV uses the second plural sense in its translation for the entire sentence,
But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.
while the NAB translates using the first singular sense,
But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.
I suspect that the NAB is counting on us to understand the implicit nuance of the collective noun rather than spell it literally as is done with the Latin and Greek. The Douay-Rheims, which is a direct translation of the Latin Vulgate and is often faulted for containing too many confusing "latin-esque" English expressions, renders,
But this multitude, that knoweth not the law, are accursed.
Both senses! I'm not sure what to make of it. What seems unnatural in English is perfectly normal in Latin.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Icon of Christ on the Cross

In his latest Word from Rome, John Allen expands on the Holy Father's recent visit to Lourdes.
What we saw in Lourdes, I believe, was the apotheosis of his transformation from "supreme pastor of the Catholic church," to quote the formula in the Code of Canon Law, into a living symbol of human suffering, in effect, an icon of Christ on the cross.
Instead of harping and droning on the pope's frail health like so many reporters do, Allen examines it in light of Christ and the faithful at Lourdes and goes on to outline three extremely important points that suggest a deepening in the pope's role in the world today.
First, papal handlers are no longer bothering to deny or minimize the extent of the pope's physical difficulties.

Second, the trip seemed to ratify a theological reading of John Paul's suffering as iconic of Christ's.

Third, the trip put into full public view the unique bond John Paul now has with the sick and suffering of the world.
In other words, the Holy Father's health conveys a much needed witness of the reality of suffering to a world that spends billions to escape suffering. It illustrates the purpose of Christ's suffering and ultimate victory over death. Yes, the Holy Father suffers even as he leads us, but in that suffering we find Christ present. In that suffering, we paradoxically find strength. Clearly, God still has a profound message to convey through this powerful world figure, Pope John Paul. The Holy Father led us through a remarkable era of growth and vigor as the 20th century drew to a close. Now, he leads us through suffering so that we open the new millennium with a healthy humility and awareness of humanity.
For all the ink that's been spilled about John Paul the politician or John Paul the globetrotter, in the long run it may be this period of his papacy, John Paul the invalid, that leaves the deepest impression. We may find that 50 years from now, it's not his role in the collapse of Communism that we remember, but these years of decline and public suffering. He... forces us to confront the reality of decline and death.
The legacy of John Paul the Great will be a multi-faceted one, indeed. I pray for many more years, but I know that, even centuries after our beloved pope has gone, the Church and the world will continue to benefit from all that he has taught us. He will continue to teach us, and I am honored to have been alive during the pontificate of such a great world leader.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

14th century French lyrical poetry

Je vivroie liement, a song by Guillaume de Machaut.

1.) Je vivroie liement,
Douce creature,
Se vous saviés vraiement
ma cure.
2.) Dame de meintieng joli,
Plaisant, nette et pure,
Souvent me fait dire 'ai mi!'
Li maus que j'endure
3.) Pur vous servir loyaument.
Et soié seüre
Que je ne puis nullement
Vivre einssi, se longuement
Me dure.
4.) Car vous m'estes sans mercy
Et sans pité dure.
et s'avés le cuer de mi
Mis en tel ardure
5.) Qu'il morra certeinnement
De mort trop obscure,
Se pour son aligement
Merci n'est procheinnement
Be sure to hear this song sung and read the English translation. To whom do you think she is singing? :)
To be Catholic...

We profess to believe in a Church, an assembly of believers, that is catholic. While there is a nominal value to the big-C title, Roman Catholic, the adjective catholic was always used to identify the Church as manifesting particular properties that distinguished it from the myriad of heretical sects that have abounded through history. The Church is catholic, meaning it is universally apparent and one in unity of doctrine. It is also visible and organized, as attested to by St. Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Church at Smyrna, written approx. 110 AD:
Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
This makes the term peculiar to one assembly of believers throughout the world where the teaching of Christ can be found, sent out by Christ on a mission to the entire world.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in paragraphs 22-28 of his 18th catechetical lecture, written approx. 350 AD, wrote intensely about what is meant when we profess that we believe in the Catholic Church.
[The Church (Greek "ecclesia" = assembly)] is called Catholic [(Greek "katholicos" = universal)] then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.
Based on this, St. Cyril went on to give an important admonition:
And if ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens "houses of the Lord"), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God...

In this Holy Catholic Church receiving instruction and behaving ourselves virtuously, we shall attain the kingdom of heaven, and inherit Eternal Life; for which also we endure all toils, that we may be made partakers thereof from the Lord.
It is the peculiar Church that is Catholic, and at the same time, it is also One, Holy, and Apostolic. The mother of us all. Protected by Christ in spite of the sinfulness of its members in view of the merits of His death and resurrection.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Dominican Rite Mass

If you're in the San Francisco area tonight around 7:30pm, you may want to check out the Dominican Rite Mass held at St. Dominic's Catholic Church in honor of Feast of the Dedication of St. Mary Major with the St. Dominic's Schola Cantorum. The musical setting includes Josquin Desprez's Ave Maria in addition to other pieces taken from Edmund Rubbra's Missa in Honorem Sancti Dominici.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

We need a Jester!

England has decided to bring back the court jester, and they have already put out advertisements.
An ad appearing in Thursday's editions of The Times laid out the qualifications: "Must be mirthful and prepared to work summer weekends in 2005. Must have own outfit (with bells). Bladder on stick provided if required."
This would be the first court jester since 1649. Isn't it true that the jester was always the first to lose his head? Which leads to my second question, has the position been opened to women?

Monday, August 02, 2004

The Relics of Polycarp

A scene from the early church concerning the remains of St. Polycarp after his martyrdom, written 2nd century AD:
Accordingly, we afterwards took up [Polycarp's] bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Chapter XVIII
Today, we continue to value the relics of our saintly forebears, and we commemorate their anniversaries as feast days all throughout the year. Praise be to God.
St. Stephen's in Sacramento

I got back from the Sacramento area last Tuesday. Got the chance to see all around the area, including Gold Country and the Capitol Building. On Sunday, we went to the 10:30am High Mass at the Church of St. Stephen the First Martyr, staffed by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Though I have worshipped at several low masses over the last few years, this was my first experience of the Tridentine high mass, and I absolutely loved it. The mass inspired a wonderful sense of the sacred. I was also very impressed by the celebrant, Fr. John Berg, FSSP. His homily was among the best I have heard.

However, during this experience, I did find that my post-conciliar sensibilities often got the better of me. I entered the Church in 1997, and most of what I understand about liturgy has been formed based on my experiences with the post-concilar mass. I couldn't resist, for example, the urge to join in on the choir's singing of the Gloria, the Credo, and the Sanctus. I also couldn't resist the Domine, non sum dignus.... One of the things that I truly appreciate about the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council is the desire that the faithful be able to actively join in saying or singing parts of the ordinary together, as mentioned in Article 54 of Sacrosanctum Concilium:
... steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
It seems to be that these things, particularly the Credo, have their fullest meaning when they are said together. But that's just my very humble and limited opinion. I recall the dialogue mass I experienced in Houston a few months back. Wonderful, although not the norm. On the other hand, a setting of sacred polyphony would suit very me well even though I would not be able sing along!

One other thing, which may draw the wrath of some of my readers, though I am open to your input and instruction. I found the endless stream of people moving about for confession during the mass, even during the homily, to be very distracting. I know that the practice is not novel, but it seemed completely inappropriate. It gave me a strange conception of what it might have been like prior to the council, when most individuals were, by and large, merely spectators who did their own private devotions during the mass and took their turn for confession with no intention to receive Holy Communion, or if so, infrequently. Don't get me wrong - I have no window into anyone's soul, so I will not make judgments upon anyone at the mass doing this, nor do I have anything against regular confession. But generally speaking, it seems more fitting that the sacrament of penance, while intimately connected to the liturgy, should not occur simultaneously with the liturgy so as to blur the distinction between the two actions. I appreciate the reform indicated by Article 48 of Sacrosanctum Concilium:
The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ's faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God's word and be nourished at the table of the Lord's body...
We can argue about the substance of the reforms and their implementation, but there's no doubt in my mind that reforms were needed, and the council did a just thing in addressing them.

At any rate, I'm sure I'll be back to St. Stephen's next time I am around. In spite of the few things I didn't agree with, I still have a wonderful appreciation for the pre-conciliar liturgy, and I will not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Songs and Hymns

Songs and Hymns of the Earliest Greek Christian Poets

An Evening Hymn

Praise the Lord, O ye His servants,
        Praise the Name of the Lord:
We praise Thee, we hymn Thee, we bless Thee
        For Thy great glory.
O Lord the King, the Father of Christ, the Lamb without blemish,
        Who taketh away the sin of the world,
To Thee belongeth praise, to Thee belongeth the hymn, to Thee belongeth glory,
        The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
        Throughout all ages. Amen.
Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord,
        According to Thy word, in peace:
For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation,
Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people,
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and (to be) the glory of Thy people Israel.

Friday, July 30, 2004

A Garden of Unlimited Flowers

The Church is a garden patterned with unlimited flowers. It is necessary that they should be of various sizes, various colors, and, to sum up, various perfections. All of them have their value, their charm, and their color, and in the assemblage of their differences all of them produce a beauty most pleasing and perfect.

St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Just do it yourself...

Check this out. A while ago, Microsoft filed a patent for this:
Methods and apparatus for distributing power and data to devices coupled to the human body are described. The human body is used as a conductive medium, e.g., a bus, over which power and/or data is distributed. Power is distributed by coupling a power source to the human body via a first set of electrodes. One or more device to be powered, e.g., peripheral devices, are also coupled to the human body via additional sets of electrodes. The devices may be, e.g., a speaker, display, watch, keyboard, etc. A pulsed DC signal or AC signal may be used as the power source. By using multiple power supply signals of differing frequencies, different devices can be selectively powered. Digital data and/or other information signals, e.g., audio signals, can be modulated on the power signal using frequency and/or amplitude modulation techniques.

Friday, July 23, 2004


The summer has been particularly busy, just like it was last year at this time.  But this weekend, I am venturing up to the Sacramento area for a few days.  Should be fun!
... ubi enim est thesaurus tuus, ibi erit et cor tuum... - Mt. 6:21

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

A New Adventure
Please pray for Jay at the Discernment Blog as he leaves for the pre-novitiate for the central province Order of Preachers (Dominicans).  If you get a chance, read through his blog archives and see all about how his vocation has unfolded and where his vocation journey has taken him!

God be with you, Jay!

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Everybody should know this!

You know what I'm talking about, that strange looking building that is the only thing that distinguishes LAX from any other airport. It's in just about every movie and postcard that features Los Angeles. It's so distinctive - but what is it?

It's the Theme Building!
The Theme Building was part of the $50 million over-all Los Angeles Jet Age Terminal Construction project which began in 1960. On December 18, 1992, the Los Angeles City Council designated the Theme Building a cultural and historical monument.
The building was to serve as an airport terminal and was intended to resemble a landing spaceship. I wonder why it didn't work out! Today, if you go the top, you'll find the bizarre Encounter Restaurant. All that can really be said is, Picture it... Los Angeles, the 1960's.
A Daily Prayer

A Prayer for Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Brothers, Sisters, Lay Ministers and Seminarians

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer for the spiritual renewal of bishops, priests, deacons, brothers, sisters, lay ministers and seminarians, especially those of our own diocese. We praise you for giving their ministry to the Church. In these days, renew them with the gifts of Your Spirit.

You once opened the Holy Scriptures to Your disciples when You walked on this earth. Now renew Your ordained and chosen ones with the truth and power of Your Word.

In the Eucharist you gave Your disciples renewed life and hope. Nourish Your consecrated ones with Your Own Body and Blood. Help them to imitate in their lives the death and resurrection they celebrate around Your altar.

Give them enthusiasm for the Gospel, zeal for the salvation of all people, courage in leadership and humility in service.

Give them Your love for one another and for all their brothers and sisters in You. For You love them, Lord Jesus and we love and pray for them in Your Holy Name.


Friday, July 09, 2004

More Evidence?

Back in April, I commented upon one of the conspiracy theories that appears to be circulating among more liberal Catholic circles in the area. Are Opus Dei priests infiltrating Santa Barbara's parishes? I wonder if the very first mass held last month by Cardinal Mahony in honor of Opus Dei and St. Josemaria Escriva has given our friends more to be concerned about. Perhaps this conspiracy goes all the way to the top!
While the church placed renewed emphasis on the laity during the historic Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, Mahony said, Josemaria had been doing so decades earlier.

"Vatican II set forth for the whole church the role in our baptism to be holy and to be wonderful witnesses in the world," Mahony told the congregation. "Pope John Paul II described Josemaria as a man far ahead of his time."

But St. Josemaria disagreed. Looking at the cathedral tapestries depicting ordinary people walking with the saints, [John] Waiss said, "Those tapestries are so Opus Dei!"
The universal call to holiness...

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Vivida in Tempore

by Filippo Sirotti
Vivida in tempore transire nolente
permagna florescit in pectore vis
continenter pellens me dicere: "nos"

et lumine solis extremo dilapso
in caelo inter alias te incipio requirere stellas

quod secum te sentiens dulcedine noctis
expectans laetatur animus meus
et loca nulla illi remota

Whatcha Eatin'? Nut 'n Honey!

I was following a discussion over at Ad Limina Apostolorum concerning liturgical abuse, particularly with regard to the ingredients in the bread used in the mass. I remember going through this issue when I ran across this recipe for Eucharistic bread used at a parish with which I was familiar:
3 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/4 c white flour
2 Tbls. oil
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 warm water
1/2 c honey
1/4 tsp baking powder

Start with flour, baking powder all mixed into one mound. Make a hole in the center of the mound, Mix honey with warm water, cut in oil, add to flour. (The dough will be sticky) Pinch off quantity of dough that you can easily work with, sprinkle with flour then roll to desired thickness. Push up edges with finger tips and roll smooth so that edges do not taper off (otherwise they will turn crispy).

Baking time and temperature depend on the size and thickness of the bread. For bread 1/4 inch thick try 325 for 10 minutes. Remove and brush with oil or margarine. Return to oven for a few minutes - Watch Carefully! - At the first sign of brown on top take out! Put on wire rack. When cool, test that it is not hard, especially at edges. Put in ziplock bag.
As you can see, 1/2 cup of honey is mixed in. Since I had questions about this recipe, I contacted the Archdiocesan Office for Worship to see what they thought. They agreed with my concerns and said that though some people use honey mainly as a way to keep the dough from getting dry and to ensure texture, it was illicit and should not be done. They indicated that one of the main reasons why this should not be done was because validity was questionable depending on the quantity added. They pointed me to a section of the Pastoral Companion to the Code of Canon Law:
The Code indicates that for validity the bread must be made substantially of wheat flour. If there are any additives in it they cannot be such that the bread would no longer be considered wheat bread according to the common estimation... The judgment concerning the validity of the substance to be used as Eucharistic Bread must be based on the bread's contents, not its appearance. Thus, knowing the composition of the bread, if the common estimation of persons would judge that it is wheat bread [it] would be valid matter even if there are other additives. However, it is illicit to use any additives at all to the wheat and flour.
This seems to be saying that the addition of extra elements, while certainly illicit, may not necessarily constitute invalid matter if the result is still considered to be wheat bread according to the common estimation. A little vague! I know from experience that those who received this particular bread with honey certainly judged the bread to be just that. This seems to agree with Redemptionis Sacramentum, paragraph 48:
It follows therefore that bread... mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter...
I could imagine that if the recipe had called for four cups of honey and the common estimation was that they were receiving "consecrated" honey cakes instead of wheat bread, then the sacrament would most certainly not be valid. I suppose there is no real fine line and the best advice is simply Don't go there! If you have talented bakers and bake your own bread, use licit ingredients. The Office for Worship recommends its own recipes for those who wish to bake using licit ingredients. Oh, and don't drop your crumbs all over the floor.
Classical trivia...

Impress your friends at parties with the best music trivia ever!

Some of my favorites:
How far can a name get you? Pretty far - if it's the right name.

- The youngest surviving child of Wolfgang and Constanze Mozart, young Franz was barely five months old when his famous father died.
- The boy showed an early proclivity for music and there were no shortage of teachers in Vienna willing to give young Mozart lessons. Included amongst the eager teachers were supposed Mozart rival Antonio Salieri.
- In 1841, fifty years after his dad's death, he was named Kapellmeister of the Mozarteum in Salzburg

Yes, this is THE Nietzsche of philosophy fame. He made some musical ripples, as well.

- He was one of the first established supporters of the new music direction started by Richard Wagner.
- A dozen years later, Nietzsche's thinking had changed and he turned against Wagner and supported Bizet.
- Aside from turning heads with his philosophical writing and music criticism, Nietzsche tried his hand at composing - resulting in a few choral works, songs and some piano pieces, none of which have become staples in popular repertoire.

Some might think he's just a one-hit wonder.

- Did you know that a Burger King commercial of the 1970's used Pachelbel's Canon? It's true. The music behind "Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce. Special orders don't upset us" is a direct lift from this famous work.

Alert! This Englishman's first name is pronouned "RAYF" (just like the actor Ralph Fiennes).

- He was an avid collector of English folk songs and belonged to the Folk Song Society.
Off you go!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Justified by Grace...

Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
We are born again in Christ Jesus in the baptism of water and the spirit to live in the good works God has prepared for us. It is God's freely given grace that enables us to respond to this call, not anything of ourselves. By living in his grace in the service of our God, we become participants in God's own divine life. Thus are we made holy by this same grace to eternal life.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1996
Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.
Blessed be God forever.
The Examined Truth

Proverbs 18:17
The man who pleads his case first seems to be in the right; then his opponent comes and puts him to the test.

Friday, June 25, 2004

C'mon, Ron

I caught the end of Larry King Live last night only to hear Ron Reagan Jr., son of the late President, mock those who oppose embryonic stem-cell research (scroll down) as being anti-intellectual. Who's really not thinking here, Ron?
REAGAN: Doctors and researchers, as I said, can't believe we're still having this discussion. This is like not believing Darwinian evolution, or something, which many people in this administration also don't believe in. You know, just by the by. It is so profoundly anti-intellectual and inhumane. I mean, we are talking about cells, undifferentiated cells, in petri dish. No fingers, no toes, no brain, no spinal cord, no feelings, no pain, no nothing. These are just cells. And we're talking about the potential to save real, living human beings. Children with diabetes, for instance.
I'm not convinced Ron understands the debate. Our beef is not with stem-cells per se, as we who have studied this issue do recognize their potential benefit, particularly that of adult (non-embryonic) stem-cells. And, we're not arguing that stem-cells are human beings. We're saying that the embryos that are destroyed to harvest the stem-cells are real, living human beings. And more to that point, who says human life has to have recognizable fingers or toes to be human life? Some Americans don't have these. And at this stage of development, not having fully formed or even differentiated spinal and brain features does not mean that the embryo will not ever develop these things, as though it were dead. No, it will develop these things and grow to be just like Ron. It won't develop into a fish, or a rhino, or a bear. A human being can only develop into a more fully developed human being. There is a marvelous intelligence intrinsic to the developing human embryo, and that intelligence is life.

As a people who believe that life begins at conception, our position is intellectually coherent and consistent, and is a whole different beast than Darwinian evolution, which, though I do not reject it wholesale, has its own flaws that any scientist worth his microscope should be honest about. Framing the debate as though those who oppose embryonic stem-cell research are opposed to eliminating disease is, in my opinion, intellectually dishonest.
REAGAN: ... The list of things that could be helped by this just goes on and on. And that we are playing politics with this, I'll say it again, is shameful.
I'm not ashamed to demand that my tax money not be used to fund such research. That's my right as an American citizen, Ron.

What disturbs me about the political climate in this country today is the attitude that I can't be an American citizen and at the same time make ethical voting decisions based upon a conscience that is informed by my religious beliefs. People have told me that doing so is a violation of the separation of church and state. Our founding fathers would be spinning in their graves if they heard this ridiculous rhetoric. What's the point of having beliefs about anything, then? That is what I find shameful.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Cor Jesu Sanctissimum

Heart of Jesus, in whom are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge...

Have mercy on us.
Cor Iesu Sanctissimum, large, quaesumus, effunde tuas benedictiones super sanctam Ecclesiam, super Summum Pontificem, et super omnem clerum; da iustis perseverantiam, converte peccatores, illumina infideles, benedic nostros propinquos, amicos et benefactores, assiste moribundis, libera animas in purgatorio degentes, et super omnium corda dulce imperium tui amoris extende. Amen.
Today is the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast day is very new to me. I know friends who actually grew up fearing the image of the burning heart -- The Flaming Chest of Jesus, they called it. But the more I grow spiritually, the more I comprehend the depth of this devotion. I am beginning to learn more about Margaret Mary Alacoque and her confessor, Claude de la Colombière. The Heart of Christ means an abyss of mercy and compassion to those who desire it. The Heart of Christ means a universe of wisdom and knowledge to those who seek it. The Heart of Christ is truly Most Sacred.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


26 years old today...

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis

Excerpts of the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis, Rome's new dictionary of Latin neologisms corresponding to modern words and expressions, are available online, though in Italian. Thanks to Emily. Many of the Italian words are borrowed from English, and others are easily recognizable:
baby-sitter: infantária
basket-ball: follis canistrique ludus
cow boy: armentárius
discoteca: taberna discothecária
magnetofono: máchina echóica
night-club: taberna nocturna
Fabulous! In related news, check out some chapters from Dag Norberg's A Practical Handbook of Medieval Latin, also available online.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

An insult is destroyed by a blessing

1 Peter 3:8-12
Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For: "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against evildoers."
Sounds like good advice from our beloved St. Peter. When you are insulted, do the radical thing. Return it not with another insult, but with a blessing instead. In this way, you sow peace where there is discord, good where there is evil.
Two Great Figures in World History

The fall of Communism was inextricably linked to these two great men,
one of whom has passed on.
Amen. Thanks, Brian.

What sticks out to me most is Reagan's character. It was said of Reagan that when working in the Oval Office, he would never remove his suit-coat out of respect for the women with whom he worked.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Kyrie Eleison

Is this really something to smile about? Is it me or does the guy on the far left of the picture in the back seem a little unsure? We must pray.
Like a Natural Woman

I saw this on A Thing Worth Doing and found it very interesting: Like a Natural Woman. A woman who had previously disagreed with the Church's teaching on artificial contraception found herself drawn to the Natural Family Planning methods for health reasons. After she and her husband began to see the benefits of NFP on her body as well as their relationship, she began to wonder if the Church had been right.
But the turning point came for me as I watched, month after month, as my temperature rose and fell and my hormones marched in perfect harmony. I had no idea I was so beautiful. I found myself near tears one day looking at my chart and thinking, "Truly, I am fearfully and wonderfully made." My fertility is not a disease to be treated. It is a wonderful gift. I am a wonderful gift.
I have been fortunate to know couples who have gone through similar realizations, even with irregular cycles. It's typically prompted by education about the birth control pill's effects and the discovery that there are other couples out there who feel similarly. Still, I wonder if the Church could do a better job at engaging this issue. In the face of so much misinformation, I want to be educated. When I was a student at the university, our priests never really addressed the issue publicly -- that is until a handful of us students asked for more information. Our pastor finally invited an Engaged Encounter couple from Santa Monica to come and speak to the parish about NFP. Thanks be to God.
The teaching of the Church on the regulation of birth, which promulgates the divine law, will easily appear to many to be difficult or even impossible of actuation. And indeed, like all great beneficent realities, it demands serious engagement and much effort, individual, family and social effort. More than that, it would not be practicable without the help of God, who upholds and strengthens the good will of men.

Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, paragraph 20
In related news, Siml Systems has produced a PDA application for charting with the natural family planning Billings Ovulation Method. Apparently the company supports desktop operating systems Windows 98, NT, ME, 2000, and XP, and handheld Palm OS 3, 4, and 5 for the ARM processor. No WinCE or Symbian yet.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

So that's what a landslide is...

I was only six years old in 1984; I had no idea just how much of a landslide Reagan's 1984 re-election win was:
Reagan: 525 electoral votes, Mondale: 13 electoral votes. Reagan's 1980 win against Jimmy Carter got him 489 electoral votes vs. Carter's 49 electoral votes.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Come, Holy Spirit

The aide of the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and empowered them to do their work.
Loquebantur variis linguis Apostoli, Alleluia.
Magnalia Dei, Alleluia.
Repleti sunt omnes Spiritu sancto et ceperunt loqui
Magnalia Dei, Alleluia.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, Alleluia.

The Apostles spoke with many tongues, Alleluia,
of the wonderful works of God, Alleluia.
They were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak
of the wonderful works of God, Alleluia.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, Alleluia.
Let the witness of the apostles remind us that the Holy Spirit also enlivens us and empowers us to do our work. It is something easily neglected.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Let Latin Live

Rogue Classicism links to an interesting article in the International Herald Tribune about Fr. Reginald Foster. Fr. Foster is the pope's latinist in Rome, and he is quite an eccentric fellow, which is good for Latin scholarbabies -- you know who you are. You can hear him just about every week on Vatican Radio's brief but entertaining radio show, The Latin Lover. Fr. Foster is rightly concerned about the declining study of Latin not only in the world but also, and particularly, in the Church. A good study of the classical languages gives you the ability as well as the thirst to guzzle the sweet richness of the Church's ecclesiastical tradition.

Friday, May 28, 2004

St. Andrew's in Pasadena

Last July, I blogged about a visit to St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Pasadena. Earlier this month, The Tidings featured a pretty good feature article about the history of the parish church.

This remarkable building is modeled after the Basilica of St. Sabina in Rome, one of the earliest Christian styles of architecture. St. Sabina's was dedicated in 432 and St. Andrew's follows the plan, design and general proportions of the original. The interior of the church is noted for the richness of its decorations, the use of unusual marble throughout and the paintings of the Stations of the Cross above the side columns. The first Mass was celebrated in the new church May 27, 1928 at which Bishop John Cantwell said this is "the pride of the diocese and a worthy replica of the ancient church on the banks of the Tiber."
St. Andrew's is one of many overlooked gems in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Things too wonderful for me...

Job 38:1-5, 42:1-6
Then the LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said: Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance? Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its size; do you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it?

Then Job answered the LORD and said: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.
If I am afflicted, let me still not be fooled by pride.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

A Wedding, Rocky, Neumann, Drexel, and the Amish

So I promised to blog about the trip. Collectively, it went well. Santa Barbara to Philadelphia to Indiana and back. Friday, I left Santa Barbara for Philadelphia with an hour layover in Denver so that I could be in Philly with enough time to take the train into downtown and be at the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner, followed by some fun time. On the way to Denver, the pilot reported that we were to make a precautionary landing in Grand Junction. Uh oh. The pilot significantly reduced altitude, and as we approached the runway, we were surprised to find airport emergency vehicles waiting for us. After having sat on the runway for about 20 minutes, we were allowed to exit. Turns out the pilot's left windshield had cracked into a million pieces, without breaking. No visibility. Thanks be to God we landed! However, instead of getting into Philly at 4pm, I made it just after 11pm, missing everything. Oh well.

After I had some sleep, I felt pretty refreshed. On Saturday, we visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including the infamous Rocky Steps, and on Sunday my friend, a friend whom I have known since 4th grade, got married. The wedding was very nice, and the reception featured a live band that was surprisingly pretty good. The wedding took place at the beautiful Church of St. John the Evangelist -- the very place where in 1860 St. John Neumann was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia, later going on to become the first American bishop to be canonized a saint -- also the very parish church where St. Katharine Drexel discerned her religious vocation. The History of Catholic Philadelphia was dripping all over this place.

Early Monday morning, I was back on the train for the airport, and after a trip that was blessedly free of delays, I arrived at my grandmother's house in the small Mayberry-esque town of Mitchell, Indiana -- home of the late astronaut pioneer Virgil "Gus" Grissom. The town is situated near a handful of Amish and Mennonite settlements, and so naturally I took advantage of my time there to venture deep into Amish country in search of some fresh strawberries. I found some at the home of one Amish family, and upon learning that I was from California, Anne, the Amish woman from whom I purchased the berries, promptly inquired, So your berries have probably come in already! Sure they have - in fact, they're in season at Albertson's all year long! (I didn't actually say that)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

It's good to be home

After a fulfilling run from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back again, I have to say, it's good to be home. I will talk more about the trip soon! Now, it's back to work.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Releases, Weddings, and Life

Whew. I just finished another product release at work. Friday, I leave for a friend's wedding in Philadelphia, and then on to Indiana for the rest of next week. Hopefully I'll have some adventures in Amish country while I'm there. The Amish can cook like nobody's business. Pray for me! Pray also for all married couples and for those discerning married life.

We like to talk about the crisis in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but I choose not to forget the crisis in vocations to true married life, which is also a complete embrace of the fullness of life and love, particularly when it yields fruit. But that isn't something that our culture likes, in an age of shot-gun weddings, increasing divorce rates, declining birth rates, and abortion. Have you ever noticed how the television ads for the Ortho Tri-Cyclen birth control pill are identical in style to the television ads for Valtrex treatment for genital herpes? Apparently it's good marketing to appeal to potential customers by treating children as just another sexually transmitted disease that will prevent you from living a life full of joy and promise.

The Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said something very wise about children and married life, and I'll never forget it for as long as I live:
How dull life would be if a musician were always picking up a violin and a bow, but never producing a melody; or a sculptor were always picking up a chisel, applying it to marble, but never creating a statue; or a poet were putting pen to paper, but never wrote a thoughtful line. Would not the farmer go mad if, each spring after he had planted the seed, he immediately dug it up, went on repeating the silly process, and never waited for fruits and harvests? What would happen to the mind and heart of a woman who, just as soon as the buds began to appear in her garden, cut each of them off, so that she never fondled a rose. Love, by its very nature, wants to bear some fruit; thus is saves itself from a duality that is death... Love is then discovered to be, not like the serpent that crawls on the same level, but rather like a bird that has an ascension of love and begins to taste its sweetest moments in the higher summits of flight.
Pray for us, Uncle Fultie.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

The Space Elevator

Saw this over at Dappled Things. The Space Elevator. Sounds incredible, but fascinating. Check out this animation (WMV) with sound to understand what this is. If it were feasible, it would open the doors of possibilities because it would eliminate one of the most expensive components to every space lauch - fuel. Obviously, though, I'm quite skeptical...

Saturday, May 08, 2004

The Thirty-Three Heads of Voltaire
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one:
'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it.
     -François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire
As a student of philosophy and a lover of French history, I appreciate much of Voltaire's work, though he certainly isn't my buddy. While he apparently believed in a God, he had an easy habit of mocking religious faith, or rather what he perceived as distracting superstition. But his satire was witty, and his points, though sometimes misguided, were usually well delivered. If you've ever read any of his work, including Candide, you should also be aware of The Thirty-Three Heads, which are caricatures of Voltaire in his declining years:

The heads derive from caricatures produced by Jean Huber (1721 - 1786). For a time Huber lived within Voltaire's household, giving him the opportunity to portray Voltaire in very informal situations: without his wig, in a night cap and without his teeth.
Some believe that it was at this time that Voltaire was at his best.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Belgian Catholic Travelogue

At, my friend Jessica writes from Brussels, A Grad Student's Spiritual Adventure in Brussels:
... my Catholic adventure in Brussels has been both a challenge and a blessing. It has allowed me to grow and to explore the different facets of Catholicism in this city. I am able to witness the interaction of cultures and socio-economic groups -- from professionals to recent immigrants from all over the world -- and experience how the fusing of these practices is creating a new experience of Roman Catholicism in the world.
Grace and Peace to you, Jessica.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Go NouvelObs!

I just ran across something interesting. The quaint and holy village of Santa Maria, California, previously my home for nine years, gets a mention in Le Nouvel Observateur. Given that nobody en France would have known about Santa Maria otherwise, all I have to say is, thanks, Jacko! Jacko frequently made covert trips to Santa Maria for toys at Toys 'R Us as well as the local mall. The town just can't handle all of the fans who come out for his court dates.
Comme en janvier, la petite ville de Santa Maria a été mise en état de siège avec des renforts policiers. Quelque 1.500 fans comptent y soutenir leur idole.
Last time, most of the Jackson family showed up. Neverland isn't too far from where I am right now.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

English Missal Draft

I know - this is being posted on just about every other Catholic blog, but since I have been blogging on this topic, I thought I should also post it here (if anything else, for my archives).

A draft translation of the new Mass in English

It is currently pending approval by the bishops of the English speaking world. The draft looks to be about what I expected, based largely on John Allen's excellent reporting. There's still room for good debate, but all things considered, I hope to see many of these changes soon. Will it be an opportunity for liturgical catechesis? I sure hope so.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Mysteria Luminosa Sacratissimi Rosarii

There is a great deal of depth in praying the rosary in Latin, the lingua ecclesiae. For a while now, I have been looking for a more comprehensive guide to the different mysteries of the rosary in Latin; I haven't found too much, so I decided to put something together myself. I started by putting together this little page outlining each of the Luminous Mysteries in Latin:
Lucis Mysteria
The Scripture text is taken from the Nova Vulgata, and the brief meditations are taken from the Latin text of the Holy Father's apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Eventually, I'd like to do something similar for the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries. All in good time!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Conscience: Man's Most Secret Core

Most Rev. Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver, on:
What Vatican II did, and didn't, teach about conscience.
In its Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), the council went on to say that, "It is through his conscience that man sees and recognizes the demands of the divine law. He is bound to follow this conscience faithfully in all his activity, so that he may come to God, who is his last end. Therefore he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters...

(I)n forming their consciences, the faithful must pay careful attention to the sacred and certain teaching of the Church. For the Catholic Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of truth. It is her duty to proclaim and teach with authority the truth which is Christ and, at the same time, to declare and confirm by her authority the principles of the moral order which spring from human nature.

if we're serious in our Catholic faith, we also need to acknowledge that conscience does not "invent" truth. Rather, conscience must seek truth out, and conform itself to the truth once discovered — no matter how inconvenient. Conscience is never just a matter of personal opinion or private preference. It never exists in a vacuum of individual sovereignty.
Thank you, Archbishop!


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