Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lovers of the Light by Mumford and Sons

10 Ways Catholics Can Transform Modern Culture

The following comes from the Aggie Catholics site:

  • Work on yourself first. The only thing we fully control are our own personal decisions. So, if we want to have any influence over culture or see any positive changes happen, we need to work on being saints first.
  • Evangelize, evangelize, evangelize. When we get to heaven, I believe the first question St. Peter will ask is "who did you bring with you?" The mission of the Church is to evangelize and it is why she exists in the first place. WE are the Church! We need to live out our identity better.
  • Pray. Then pray some more. Any true transformation will take place in the hearts of others because of God's grace being operative in their lives. Pray for them. Pray for yourself. There is no spiritual power without prayer.
  • Support groups that are doing good work already. If you know of groups which already exist and are doing great work in transforming culture then invest in them. Invest your time. Invest your money. Don't let another opportunity pass you by to put your money where your beliefs are. Also, don't be fooled into thinking we can change culture through politics. Rather, politics is a reflection of where our culture already has gone. Finally, we must also affirm what is still good about our modern culture and try to support those things as well.
  • Focus on Children and young people. Children are not the future of the Church - they are already part of it, so we need to make sure they not only stay in the Church but help the Church grow and thrive. We can assure this happens by forming them and loving them.
  • Learn from how others have transformed culture in the past. The negative changes in our culture didn't change overnight and neither will the positive changes. We need to focus our efforts in media, education, entertainment, etc to offer positive alternatives in these areas.
  • Dream big. Too many Catholics are fine with the status quo. This is not how God feels. He dreams big and so should we. The entire world needs to be transformed. Where do we start? By taking the next step. I might add that we need to support our leaders when they do the right thing.
  • Use all available tools. The internet, new media, tech, etc. These are at our fingertips now. Use them. Remember how the Industrial Revolution was driven by new technologies. The changes can be either negative or positive. The Church must always answer the "should we" and "how should we if we do" when it comes to progress.
  • Stick to the basics. Most modern people are basically un-churched, even if they go to church sometimes. This means they know little (if any) about a relationship with Christ, basic doctrined, etc. So, stick to the basics. The best place to start is the Gospel message. Do you know how to communicate it clearly and effectively?
  • Invest your time, energy, and talents in helping others. The best way to transform culture is to make sure you are helping those you have influence with. Family, children, spouses, friends, co-workers, etc. These are the people you stand the best chance of helping make positive changes. Those small changes can lead to cultural trends. So, don't underestimate them.
  • Teens equate virtual world with reality, study finds

    The following comes from the CNA:

    A study carried out in Spain on the digital breach between adults and young people revealed that teens see the online world as an extension of reality, while adults use the internet as a tool.

    Sociologist Jordi Busquet of the Ramon Llull University said that for teens, both real-life and virtual interactions are “two parallel realities that form part of their own lives.”

    Sixty adults and 120 students were interviewed for the study, which was conducted over three years at schools in Barcelona, Madrid, Zaragoza, Seville and Santiago de Compostela.

    Busquet said the analysis found that young people integrate online social networks into their daily lives, to such a degree that “there is little difference” between what they post on Facebook and how they act day to day.

    Although the study did not focus on addictions, it found that many young people cannot live without social networks to the point that they make themselves available for contact “all day long.”

    It also concluded that although young people are careful not to accept people they do not know as friends, they tend to be careless about their image because “they are not conscious that it is a public and not a private space.”

    This naiveté, Busquet added, often leads them post photos that can affect their reputation and “can be jeopardizing in the long run,” such as when the time comes to look for a job.

    The study also addressed the disconnect between adults and young people by showing that other variables separate them besides age, such as their level of education and their economic status.

    It found that adults who have not mastered the new technologies tend to react in one of two ways –  either neglecting their role as parents or establishing prohibitions.

    Busquet said it is best that adults “accompany” young people in their technological lives, even if it is difficult, since fear and prohibitions only serve to undermine trust with teens.

    The study also found that families tend to be “much more positive” in their attitudes about the internet than schools, which have a more conservative and reluctant stance.

    Many schools have modernized in technology but not in their teaching methods and have “turned their backs on the social networks.” This can threaten the authority of teachers, Busquet said, as students tend to be very critical of teachers who don’t know how to use new technologies.

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Religious Freedom and You

    The following comes from the First American Freedom site:

    Religious freedom is our first American freedom. It is a founding principle of our country, protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It’s a fundamental human right, rooted in the dignity of every human person—people of any faith or no faith at all. It’s not a Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox, Mormon or Muslim issue—it’s an American issue, a civil rights issue.

    Religious liberty includes your freedom of belief, speech, and worship. But it also protects action—the freedom to serve the common good in accordance with your faith. It means that you and your community—not the government—define your faith. It means the freedom to help the needy in accordance with the principles of your faith. It means the freedom to participate fully and equally in public life, regardless of your faith. It means the freedom to work in business without checking your faith at the door.

    In short, it means that nobody should be forced to act in a manner contrary to their own religious beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, unless it is necessary to keep public order.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Where I Belong by Building 429

    Pope Benedict: The Church is responsible to spread Christ's Kingdom

    The following comes from the CNA:

    After he celebrated Mass with six new cardinals for the feast of Christ the King, Pope Benedict spoke about God's kingdom and the Church’s role in making it present in the world.

     "The whole mission of Jesus and the content of his message consists in proclaiming the Kingdom of God and its practical application in the midst of men with signs and wonders," he said on the feast of Christ the King.

    "But, as recalled by Vatican Council II, the Kingdom first manifests itself in the person of Christ, who established it through his death on the cross and his resurrection," he said.

    "This Kingdom of Christ has been given to the Church, which is the seed and the beginning, and it has the task of proclaiming and spreading it among all nations by the power of the Holy Spirit."

    The Pope also reminded the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Nov. 25 Angelus prayer that "at the end of the prescribed time, the Lord will deliver the kingdom to God the Father and offer him all those who have lived according to the commandment of love."

    Pope Benedict then turned his attention to the Gospel for today’s feast.

    He recalled that Pilate asked Jesus if he is a king and Jesus replied 'Yes, I'm a king. I was born for this. I came unto the world for this: to bear witness to the truth and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.'

    The Pope explained that all Christians are called to “prolong God’s saving work by converting ourselves to the Gospel, by placing ourselves with conviction in the footsteps of that King who came not to be served but to serve and to bear witness to the truth.”

    "In this perspective,” he added, “I invite everyone to pray for the six new cardinals that I created yesterday, that the Holy Spirit may strengthen them in faith and charity and fill them with his gifts, so that they may live their new responsibilities as a further commitment to Christ and his kingdom.”

    The new members of the College of Cardinals, he said, "represent well the universal dimension of the Church and one of them has long been at service of the Holy Spirit," referring to American Cardinal James Michael Harvey.

    He was head of the Papal Household for 14 years, in charge of arranging the Pope's schedule, including private and public audiences and looked after visiting world leaders. He will now serve as the cardinal-deacon for San Pio V a Villa Carpegna and as archpriest of the St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica.

    Pope Benedict pointed out that on Dec. 1 Rome's university students will partake in a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter to celebrate the Year of Faith. Their visit will include the Pope celebrating First Vespers with them on the first Sunday of Advent.

    The pontiff then offered a warm welcome to all the visitors and pilgrims in different languages.
    He included greetings to English speakers, especially those who accompanied the new cardinals created in yesterday's consistory.

    Scott Hahn on the Solemnity of Christ the King

    The following comes from Scott Hahn:

    What’s the truth Jesus comes to bear witness to in this last Gospel of the Church’s year?
    It’s the truth that in Jesus, God keeps the promise He made to David - of an everlasting kingdom, of an heir who would be His Son, “the first born, highest of the kings of the earth” (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16Psalm 89:27-38).
    Today’s Second Reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, quotes these promises and celebrates Jesus as “the faithful witness.” The reading hearkens back to Isaiah’s prophecy that the Messiah would “witness to the peoples” that God is renewing His “everlasting covenant” with David (see Isaiah 55:3-5).
    But as Jesus tells Pilate, there’s far more going on here than the restoration of a temporal monarchy. In the Revelation reading, Jesus calls Himself “the Alpha and the Omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He’s applying to Himself a description that God uses to describe Himself in the Old Testament - the first and the last, the One Who calls forth all generations (see Isaiah 41:444:648:12).
    Daniel 7:13-14
    Psalm 93:1-2,5
    Revelation 1:5-8
    John 18:33-37
    “He has made the world,” today’s Psalm cries, and His dominion is over all creation (see also John 1:3Colossians 1:16-17). In the vision of Daniel we hear in today’s First Reading, He comes on “the clouds of heaven” - another sign of His divinity - to be given “glory and kingship” forever over all nations and peoples.
    Christ is King and His Kingdom, while not of this world, exists in this world in the Church. We are a royal people. We know we have been loved by Him and freed by His blood and transformed into “a Kingdom, priests for His God and Father” (see also Exodus 19:61 Peter 2:9).
    As a priestly people, we share in His sacrifice and in His witness to God’s everlasting covenant. We belong to His truth and listen to His voice, waiting for Him to come again amid the clouds.

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    Within Two Worlds

    Within Two Worlds from Goldpaint Photography on Vimeo.

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    Team Gleason: No White Flags

    You can check out Team Gleason here.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise by The Avett Brothers

    Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise from Jason Mitcham on Vimeo.


    Cardinal Dolan: Reflections on Election Day

    The following come from Cardinal Dolan:

    The 2012 campaign is over, and the dust is settling.

    After asking me how our recovery from Hurricane Sandy is going, most folks these days then inquire about how I think “the Church did” on election day.

    Such a question usually triggers a mini-catechism lesson from me, as I reply that, actually, “the Church” wasn’t on the ballot, and the election was hardly a referendum on “the Church.” The Church, I go on, was founded by the one who stated that “My kingdom is not of this world,” and whose members consider the statement of St. Paul, “We have our true citizenship in heaven,” as inspired by God. The Bible’s caution, “Put not your trust in princes,” would today probably be rendered, “Put not your trust in politicians.”

    All true enough, and, in a genuine way, this attitude gives us a benign indifference to politics and elections. We “seek first the Kingdom of God,” not the power and platforms of worldly politics.
    But this “indifference” is tempered by the fact of faithful citizenship. We are, as a matter of fact, very concerned about matters in this world, precisely because God has revealed truths about the human person that have serious implications for people of faith. So, yes, while we are much more passionate about heaven than earth, about the teachings of Jesus and His Church than the platforms of any party or the promises of any candidate, we do have a duty to bring the values of faith to the political process.

    Did we, Tuesday a week ago?

    The data is still coming in, and will be months in arriving and being interpreted. But, once again, it seems as if “we won some, we lost some.”

    One issue of deep concern to Catholics and many, many others is the defense of marriage from those who would presume to redefine it to suit contemporary movements (e.g., divorce on demand, “trial” marriage, or “same sex” marriage.) Up until this election day, 32 states had given their people the chance to “redefine marriage” (an oxymoron for us), and 32 said no! (Some states took a more sinister route, ignoring a referendum, and allowing the legislature to tamper with the definition.)

    The news last election day was not as bright, as the dilution of the essence of marriage won in three states. So, it’s 32-3. But, there’s no denying that the “winds are changing.” I’m told that the results were close in those three states, and that the exit polls showed that people of faith voted not to redefine marriage.

    The death penalty is another issue of concern to those who believe that the promotion of the dignity of the human person and the protection of human life is the normative guide in our voting. Here again the results were not positive. The electorate in California had the chance to reject this lethal and unjust penalty. The Church in California did its best to preach the “Gospel of Life,” but apparently was less than effective. The referendum lost.

    Better news in Maryland, where the Church was true to our birthright of advocacy for the immigrant, and was part of a coalition very successful in pushing for the Dream Act, allowing immigrant children to attend college; and a ray of sunshine in Massachusetts, as Cardinal Sean O’Malley led a strong ecumenical and community based effort to defeat euthanasia.

    It gets touchy when we try to analyze the presidential election with the lens of faith. Some assume that the re-election of the president was a setback for people of faith. That may be an exaggeration. There is no denying that the president and his party are on record in promoting guidelines that gravely intrude upon religious freedom, and in their desire to expand unfettered access to abortion at all stages. These two issues are of towering import to people inspired by the principles of human dignity and the sanctity of life.

    The polls show that Catholics voted for the president, but that such support was lower than four years ago; and that Catholics who attend Sunday Mass regularly heavily supported his opponent. These statistics would support a contention that Catholics do indeed let their faith have a say in the politics.

    Of course, through the eyes of faith, neither candidate was perfect, as no political leader ever can be.

    Some general impressions and worries do seem dominant 10 days later:

    • Thank God we are citizens of a country where campaigns and elections occur peacefully. Not every country, tragically, can say that.
    • While we may be weary of conflict over political issues, even within the household of faith, it at least shows that we Catholic take our citizenship seriously, and do try our best to let the light of faith illuminate our political decisions.
    • I do worry about campaigns that let candidates off easy when it comes to substantive content on urgent issues, concentrating instead upon soundbites and caricatures.
    • I am concerned about the lopsided influence of well-oiled PACs, funded by the rich on both sides. (The bishops in the state of Washington report that they were outspent 12 to 1 in their attempt to defend marriage; Cardinal O’Malley tells us that his opponents, promoting euthanasia, had all the money they needed for ads.)
    • I worry that the Democrats have gone from wanting to keep abortion “safe, legal, and rare” to the party that wants abortion at every stage of pregnancy, with no defense at all of the baby in the womb, completely funded by the government.
    • I fear the Republicans have turned their backs on immigrants, succumbing to the old American curse of nativism.
    • I’m concerned about a growing sentiment in our country that turns John Kennedy’s lofty challenge on its head, as more and more now chant, “Ask not what I can do for my country, but what my government can do for me.”
    • I worry about the popular wave of branding people who want to protect the life of the baby in the womb, and defend marriage as traditionally understood and given, as narrow-minded bigots trying to “impose” their outmoded views on others.
    • And I fear the dictatorship of the self: those on one side who insist that my money, my property, my income are all mine, and I have no duty to others, especially the poor; those on the other side who claim that my body, my urges, my sexual preferences, my life, my choices are supreme, and will not be subject to the common good. (Even to the right to life of the baby in the womb).

    When all is said and done, we plod along, knowing that this side of Gabriel’s trumpet, we’ll never have a perfect setup, that Christ is our King, that “we have here no lasting home,” and that faith and the freedom to live it out is the greatest protection of all to the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of life.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict

    Tomorrow we will be able to purchase the 3rd part of the Jesus of Nazareth Trilogy of Pope Benedict!  If you want to prepare well for Christmas this Advent might be the perfect time to read the new volume from our Holy Father.  The following comes from Ignatius Press:

    The momentous third and final volume in the Pope's international bestselling Jesus of Nazarethseries details the stories of Jesus' infancy and boyhood, and how they are relevant today in the modern world.

    As the Pope wrote in volume two of this series, he attempts to "develop a way of observing and listening to the Jesus of the Gospels that can indeed lead to the personal encounter and that, through collective listening with Jesus' disciples across the ages, can indeed attain sure knowledge of the real historical figure of Jesus."

    Now, the Pope focuses exclusively on the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life as a child. The root of these stories is the experience of hope found in the birth of Jesus and the affirmations of surrender and service embodied in his parents, Joseph and Mary. This is a story of longing and seeking, as demonstrated by the Magi searching for the redemption offered by the birth of a new king. Ultimately, Jesus' life and message is a story for today, one that speaks to the restlessness of the human heart searching for the sole truth which alone leads to profound joy. 

    I can at last consign to the reader the long promised little book on the narratives of Jesus' childhood . . . Here I have sought to interpret, in dialogue with exegetes of the past and of the present, what Matthew and Luke recount at the beginning of their Gospels about the infancy of Jesus."    (Pope Benedict)

    Archbishop Gomez: Family is the first seminary

    The following comes from the CNA:

    Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles said this week that Catholics need to encourage vocations to the priesthood especially in their home life.

    “In this Year of Faith, we need to refocus ourselves, especially in our families, on helping men to hear this beautiful and noble calling from Jesus...the family is always the 'first seminary,'” he wrote in his Nov. 16 column for The Tidings.

    The archbishop's reflections were marked by the U.S. bishops' annual fall assembly last week and by his own pastoral letter of last month, “Witness to the New World of Faith.”

    Since the family is the “domestic Church,” Archbishop Gomez said that is where children first learn about the Holy Family and Christ's commandment of love. Children learn from their parents the habit of going to Mass and confession regularly.

    “Ordinary family life teaches them that their faith should make a difference in how they live.”

    Archbishop Gomez encouraged his parishioners to use daily family prayer to pray for priests and seminarians, thus teaching their children the beauty and value of the ordained priesthood.

    He also called for practical measures of appreciation for priests, suggesting inviting priests over to spend time with one's family and thanking them after Mass for the gift of the Eucharist.

    In turn, he urged priests to be good examples who will encourage young men to follow in their footsteps.

    “The greatest thing a priest can do is to simply live his vocation with enthusiasm. The example of happy priests, who have strong friendships with their brother priests and good relationships with their parishioners – this is immensely inspiring and attractive.”

    Archbishop Gomez also reflected on the noise of modern culture, which he said can keep young people from hearing God's call to a religious or priestly vocation.

    “We need to help our children develop habits of prayer and meditation. And this begins by simply getting them to be comfortable without distractions, so they can listen to the silent voice of God in their hearts.”

    “So maybe in this Year of Faith, we can ask our children to make some time each day to turn off their smart phones and their electronic games and devices. To just be quiet with God.”

    The archbishop concluded by promoting Eucharistic adoration and by looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

    “Through our Blessed Mother Mary, let’s remember to give thanks for our priests – who bring us the most beautiful thanksgiving of all, the holy Eucharist.”

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Pope Benedict: Jesus Christ is constant in transient world

    The following comes from the CNA:

    At the Sunday Angelus prayers at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Sunday gospel about the passing of the world is a reminder that Jesus Christ is the focus and source of all creation.

    “Everything passes, but the Word of God does not change, and each of us is responsible for his behavior before it,” Pope Benedict said from his window in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 18. “It is upon this that we shall be judged.”

    Jesus does not act as a visionary who gives forecasts and dates, the Pope explained. Rather, he wants to show his disciples “the right path to walk on, today and tomorrow, to enter into eternal life.”

    The Pope emphasized the centrality of Jesus in his comments to English-speaking pilgrims.

    “Jesus tells us that although heaven and earth will pass away, His words will remain,” he said. “Let us pledge ourselves to build our lives more and more on the solid foundation of His holy word, the true source of life and joy.”

    The Pope’s general comments focused on the Sunday gospel reading from St. Mark, a reading he said is “probably the most difficult text of the Gospels.”

     The reading “speaks of a future beyond our categories” and uses images and words taken from the Old Testament.

    But above all, the Pope said, the reading “integrates a new center”: Jesus Christ himself and “the mystery of his person, and of his death and resurrection.”

    The Word of God is “the source of all creation” and its creative power is “focused in Jesus Christ, the word made flesh.”

    Jesus’ words are the “true firmament” that directs the thoughts and the path of mankind.

    Even though Jesus uses the apocalyptic images of a darkened sun and moon, falling stars and the shaking of the heavens, these images are relativized by the statement that the Son of Man, Jesus himself, is coming “with power and great glory.”

    “He is the true event that, in the midst of the turmoil of the world, remains the firm and stable center,” Pope Benedict said.

    The Memory of the Dead

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Dying man finds miracle in an abandoned Church

    The following comes from

    At various times in our lives many of us find ourselves searching.

    That time came three years ago for Greg Thomas. "When I found out that I had cancer, they told my family to go ahead and start planning my funeral."

    Diagnosed with stage 4 head and neck cancer at the age of 57, then let go from his propane delivery job, Thomas began passing the hours on long walks from his home alone with his dog and his thoughts.

    "It's a nightmare you can't wake up out of," he recalls.

    Then the daily walks down a gravel road led him to the wood-framed country church that would change his life.

    Though Thomas would have loved to go inside, the doors on the old Catholic church were locked tight.

    Thomas wanted desperately to go inside. "I tried it more than once," he says. But the church was always locked.

    Built in 1868 by Czech settlers who later moved to a bigger parish in Montgomery, the Budejovice Church had not been home to a congregation in more than a century.

    The foundation was crumbling, the paint peeling, but it was there on the church steps, a man crumbling himself came to pray.

    Then one day the stranger on the steps walked next door.

    "He went to the neighbor and said he wanted to paint the church, and who does he talk to, so the neighbor sent him to talk to me," is the way Don Rynda recollects his first meeting with Thomas. 

    As treasurer of the foundation that keeps up the church cemetery, Rynda could barely believe it.

    Before Thomas climbed a ladder and went to work, Rynda had feared the church's days might be numbered. "It was a godsend, yes," says Rynda.

    One hundred and forty years worth of paint - 15 layers thick in places - came peeling off as Thomas worked through the lingering effects of radiation and chemotherapy that robbed him of his energy, his saliva glands and his teeth.

    "I've been on a feeding tube now for three years," says Thomas, lifting his shirt, "and this is how I feed myself."

    Before Thomas started painting, he asked for a key to the locked church. That too is how Thomas now feeds himself - spiritually.

    "That was the first thing I wanted to try when I walked in here is to see if the bell still worked," he says, reaching for the rope. "It still does."

    Inside, Thomas found intact an 1860s interior, complete with wooden pews and Christian statuary - a dust covered museum in need of his care.

    "We desperately need a roof," says Thomas, pointing out rotted wood in both the ceiling and floor.

    He looks past both, for a minute and imagines the possibilities. "It's going to be beautiful."

    A transplant to the area, Thomas has no family ties to the church but to those who do, he's been a blessing - heaven sent.

    "One of the beads on my rosary is reserved for him," smiles Blanche Zellmer, who has lived near the church for more than 90 years.

    For those like Blanche Zellmer, who believe in the power of prayer, this next part will come as no shock: the old church is newly clothed in white and Greg's cancer is now in remission.

    Rynda believes something larger than the church itself is at work. "You can't help but not think otherwise."

    Tears come as Thomas pauses to consider what has transpired since his diagnosis. "It's what he's done for me," he says, glance toward a statue of Jesus, "and this is my way of saying thank you."

    Once the exterior painting is finished, Thomas has plans for the leaky roof, and then the church's interior.

    He can pray inside now whenever he wants but there's something about the concrete pew in front of the church doors.

    "There's been a lot of tears shed on these steps and they've been tears of joy, tears of pain, but tears of blessings too," says Thomas, as he wipes away new tears.

    Greg Thomas is restoring the old church, that's true. But it's hard to discern who's saving who.

    NOTE: Greg Thomas has set up a fund at a local bank to help cover the costs of the needed roof repair and the interior work he's planning for the church.

    Donations can be sent to:
    St. John's Chapel Fundraiser
    Frandsen Bank & Trust
    125 1st Street South
    Montgomery, MN 56069

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Washed by the Water by NEEDTOBREATHE

    Needtobreathe - Washed by The Water from danspatacean on Vimeo.

    "Risus abundat in ore stultorum"

    The following comes from Fr. George Rutler:

    In the wake of the recent hurricane, a sibilant television commentator said, “I’m so glad we had that storm.” Apologies aside, his words betrayed a view: people are expendable for the sake of promoting a political program. In this instance the program was a form of socialism that has brought so much sorrow to other nations.

    When free people vote against their own freedoms, they knock down the columns of a free society on themselves, the way Samson brought down the temple on his own head. The first column to collapse will be the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Naïfs who thought this could not happen will be startled when the Church has to close charities, hospitals and schools, and even parish churches if they are subject to tax intimidation. This will be far more disastrous to our civilization than the looming fiscal chaos and international instability. Although certain areas on November 6 reported massive voter fraud, the election results cannot be blamed just on corruption. Voters deliberately rejected warnings clearly made by moral and political leaders.

    At least we have a beacon of honesty shining on the Catholic Church in the United States. The 70 million or so Catholics were a Potemkin village, and the numbers of faithfully practicing Catholics are a small portion of that. Long before he became pope, Benedict was a prophet who said, “The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.” As the state’s lions begin to roar, the nominal Catholics will skip out of the arena.

    For a long while Roman Catholicism became for many a nervously self-conscious kind of Cute Catholicism, with leprechauns, mariachi bands and Santa Claus instead of confession, prayer and fidelity to doctrine. But behind each leprechaun St. Patrick stares, and behind every mariachi band Our Lady of Guadalupe weeps, and behind every Santa Claus, Christ Himself judges.

    Catholics could have saved the best in America, and they can only blame themselves for what has fallen down: marriage breakdown, contempt for chastity, a record low birth rate, and destruction of infants. Looking at his own decadent empire, Cicero wrote:

    “Do not blame Caesar; blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and given him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the ‘new, wonderful, good society’ which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean: more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.” 

    We can feast with Caesar, but he will soon feast on us, and we can laugh with him, but he will soon laugh at us. “Risus abundat in ore stultorum.” There is much laughter in the mouth of the foolish.

    Hope in Tribulation: Scott Hahn Reflects on this Sunday's Readings

    The following comes Scott Hahn:

    In this, the second-to-the-last week of the Church year, Jesus has finally made it to Jerusalem.
    Near to His passion and death, He gives us a teaching of hope—telling us how it will be when He returns again in glory.
    Today’s Gospel is taken from the end of a long discourse in which He describes tribulations the likes of which haven’t been seen “since the beginning of God’s creation” (seeMark 13:9). He describes what amounts to a dissolution of God’s creation, a “devolution” of the world to its original state of formlessness and void.
    First, human community—nations and kingdoms—will break down (see Mark 13:7-8). Then the earth will stop yielding food and begin to shake apart (13:8). Next, the family will be torn apart from within and the last faithful individuals will be persecuted (13:9-13). Finally, the Temple will be desecrated, the earth emptied of God’s presence (13:14).
    Daniel 12:1-3
    Psalm 16:5,8-11
    Hebrews 10:11-14,18
    Mark 13:24-32
    In today’s reading, God is described putting out the lights that He established in the sky in the very beginning—the sun, the moon and the stars (see also Isaiah 13:1034:4). Into this “uncreated” darkness, the Son of Man, in Whom all things were made, will come.
    Jesus has already told us that the Son of Man must be humiliated and killed (see Mark 8:31). Here He describes His ultimate victory, using royal-divine images drawn from the Old Testament—clouds, glory, and angels (see Daniel 7:13). He shows Himself to be the fulfillment of all God’s promises to save “the elect,” the faithful remnant (see Isaiah 43:6Jeremiah 32:37).
    As today’s First Reading tells us, this salvation will include will include the bodily resurrection of those who sleep in the dust.
    We are to watch for this day, when His enemies are finally made His footstool, as today’s Epistle envisions. We can wait in confidence knowing, as we pray in today’s Psalm, that we will one day delight at His right hand forever.

    Archbishop Chaput: Being a Saint is the only thing that matters

    The following comes from the CNA:

    At a conference on faith and evangelization, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia told participants that sanctity is the single necessity in a person's life.

    “The only thing that matters is to be a saint. That’s what we need to be. That’s what we need to become,” he said at the Nov. 16 Catholic Life Congress in Philadelphia.

    Archbishop Chaput began his talk, titled “Renewing the Church and Her Mission in a 'Year of Faith,'” by discussing the nature of faith. He said the Nicene Creed, recited at every Sunday Mass, is the “framework and fundamental profession” of Catholic belief.

    “The less we understand the words of the Creed and revere the meaning behind them, the farther away we drift from our Catholic identity – and the more confused we become about who we really are as Christians.”

    The archbishop discussed the importance of personal integrity, and the role of Sunday Mass in forming our lives throughout the rest of the week.

    “We need to give our hearts to what we hear and what we say in our public worship. Otherwise, little by little, we become dishonest.”

    Faith, he told his listeners, “is confidence in things unseen based on the word of someone we know and love – in this case, God...only a living encounter and a living relationship with Jesus Christ make faith sustainable.”

    Archbishop Chaput then reflected on the present state of the Catholic Church in America, painting a stark picture.

    “More than 70 million Americans describe themselves as Catholics. But for all practical purposes, they’re no different from everybody else in their views, their appetites and their behaviors.”

    This state, he said, was part of the “legacy” left by the baby boomer generation “to the Church in the United States.”

    “In a sense, our political and economic power, our addictions to comfort, consumption and entertainment, have made us stupid.”

    In response to that state of affairs, Archbishop Chaput urged every one to repentance and to conversion. In the face of a Catholic population indistinguishable from the general public, he proposed a sort of examination of conscience.

    “So we need to ask ourselves: What do I want my life to mean? If I claim to be a Catholic, can I prove it with the patterns of my life? When do I pray? How often do I seek out the Sacrament of Penance?  What am I doing for the poor? How am I serving the needy? Do I really know Jesus Christ?”

    “Who am I leading to the Church? How many young people have I asked to consider a vocation? How much time do I spend sharing about God with my spouse, my children and my friends? How well and how often do I listen for God’s will in my own life?”

    From there, the archbishop reflected on what we need to become, and took Saint Thomas More as an example.

    More was an English lawyer and statesman, and chancellor of England under Henry VIII. His Catholic faith made him oppose Henry's divorce and re-marriage, and separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church. His integrity led him to be martyred in 1535.

    Archbishop Chaput gave his audience a “homework assignment” over Thanksgiving break. He asked that people watch – “with your family” –  the 1966 film on St. Thomas More called “A Man for All Seasons”

    He said that “above all, More was a man of profound Catholic faith and practice. He lived what he claimed to believe. He had his priorities in right order. He was a husband and a father first.”

    The archbishop then said that More is an example for all Catholics.

    “We’re all called to martyrdom. That’s what the word martyr means: It’s the Greek word for “witness.”  We may or may not ever suffer personally for our love of Jesus Christ. But we’re all called to be witnesses.”

    Archbishop Chaput concluded his talk by emphasizing that becoming a saint, like St. Thomas More, is the one thing necessary in everyone's life.