FrancisBeat: Cuba hoy, mañana Estados Unidos!

Vatican Radio

Vatican Radio

On Sunday 20 September the Holy Father, in connection with his apostolic journey to the island nation of Cuba, met with Fidel Castro and his brother Raul who is the current leader of the government there. He also celebrated mass publicly at Revolution Plaza in Havana.

From there, Pope Francis travels to the United States, where his public events will include the following schedule:

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

16:00 – Arrival at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. / Official welcoming ceremony at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

9:15 – Welcoming ceremony at the South Lawn of the White House / Courtesy Visit to the President of the United States of America

11:30 – Meeting with the Bishops of the United States of America at St Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

16:15 – Holy Mass and Canonization of Blessed Fr. Junipero Serra at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. [I’m still chafing about this one]

Thursday, 24 September 2015

9:20 – Visit to the Congress of the United States of America

11:15 – Visit to the Charitable Center of St. Patrick Parish and meeting with the homeless in Washington, D.C.

18:45 – Vespers with the Clergy, Men and Women Religious at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York

Friday, 25 September 2015

8:30 – Visit to the Headquarters of the United Nations

11:30 – Interreligious encounter at the Ground Zero memorial in New York

16:00 – Visit to “Our Lady, Queen of the Angels” School and meeting with children and families of migrants in New York (Harlem)

18:00 – Holy Mass at the Madison Square Garden in New York

Saturday, 26 September 2015

10:30 – Holy Mass with the Bishops, Clergy, Men and Women Religious of Pennsylvania gathered at the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul in Philadelphia

16:45 – Meeting for Religious Freedom with the Hispanic community and other immigrants at the Independence Mall in Philadelphia

19:30 – Festival of families and vigil of prayer at the B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia

Sunday, 27 September 2015

9:15 – Meeting with bishops taking part in the World Meeting of Families gathered at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia

11:00 – Visit to detainees at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia

16:00 – Holy Mass concluding the World Meeting of Families at B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia

19:00 – Greeting to the organizing committee, volunteers and benefactors at the International Airport of Philadelphia

19:45 – Farewell ceremony

Pope Francis, or rather, whoever among his functionaries responsible for the Pontifex Twitter Account, tweeted a request:

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So, let’s pray for him, mkay?

President Obama has lined up all the usual suspects of dissidents, reactionaries and infidels for the White House meet and greet. Can’t say it’s surprising that the President would hoist another indecorous and insulting flag up the pole as he lays out the unwelcome mat to the leader of over a billion Catholics. But hey, why should Bolivia’s president be the only classy one?

Benedict XVI Testifies in Favor of John Paul I Beatification

This article, from the Italian outfit, has been sitting as a page on my browser for several weeks, because I’ve been meaning to share what is another historic first from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

Benedict XVI has testified in the proceedings for the beatification of Pope John Paul I… No pope has ever before testified for the beatification of another…

Sadly, John Paul I is greatly overlooked and oft forgotten, due to the short duration of his pontificate — just 33 days — and due to the “rock star” quality of his immediate successor, whose own pontificate was one of the longest in Church history. Only Pius IX and St. Peter himself steered the Barque longer than JPII.

John Paul I was the first in the history of the Church to introduce the innovation of the double papal name, and the fact that Karol Wojtyla chose, rather than his own distinct papal name, to become JPII could be taken as a sign of Wojtyla’s testimony on the subject of JPI’s sanctity.

John Paul I, Albino Luciani, pray for us!

St. Peter’s Basilica: The Armchair Tour

From National Geographic, you can take a 360º virtual tour of St. Peter’s Basilica on your desktop, tablet or smartphone, from its approximate center, just in front of the main altar and confessio, under the shadow of Bernini’s famous bronze baldacchino.

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Lying: Another Tragedy for Abortion

At this point, we have no idea whether the series of videos created by the Center for Medical Progress depicting horrific crimes against humanity will take hold of the American public and effect real, positive, meaningful change in the area of respecting the dignity of the human person.

The videos are gruesome. I haven’t seen them all. I have to build up the courage to watch. I’m at least three behind. The people in the videos have sold their souls. They are in the grip of the Evil One. What occurs in these houses of death is nothing less than Diabolical.

And yet, what could topple the whole effort and send the Pro-Life movement back a full generation is the very thing that generated such damning evidence in the first place: LYING.

Lying. Lying is the thing that, from a legal (and arguably moral) standpoint, renders evidence the fruit of the poisonous tree. A witness who testifies in court swears an oath, frequently with his hand upon a Bible. A witness who can be proven to have lied while under oath, is guilty of a felonious crime — perjury. A person who lies violates the Eighth Commandment of God, and (assuming the lie concerns grave matter)  also commits a mortal sin, which entirely ruptures his communion with God.

In other words, lying is a BIG DEAL, such that a failure in honesty is a failure in Christian virtue. We are obliged not to lie. There are a number of good earnest discussions concerning the nuances and approaches to the Catholic framework regarding honesty, but using consequentialism (roughly, the ends justify the means) to justify lying is not a convincing justification for it. We cannot rationally claim that intending to stop one moral evil justifies the commission of another moral evil, because that is simply not Catholic teaching.

There is no greater consequence to lying than the damage it causes in connection with our communion with God, and susceptibility to evil, but lying also frequently carries the burden of serious “real world” effects, and this is where it becomes tragic for the fight against abortion.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 5.54.06 PMRecently Congress sent a letter to Planned Parenthood. It requested information concerning Planned Parenthood’s activities with respect to the sale of fetal tissue. Today Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards signed Planned Parenthood’s Response, which devotes four of ten of the substantive pages of the letter to detailing the activities of David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress.

I’m not going to assume that any of Planned Parenthood’s claims about Mr. Daleiden or CMP have merit, which I do assume are distorted like the rest of the letter. But based upon what we know (from far more reliable sources than Planned Parenthood), the video footage obtained by the Center for Medical Progress was obtained by lying, which makes the moral high ground a fairly amorphous place. Because of lying, Planned Parenthood (with as straight a face as it can must) now asks Congress for sympathy, because it has been made a victim:

I respectfully ask that you put yourselves in our place. Imagine if a group of individuals tried for several years to secretly film your offices, obtaining fraudulent identification to gain access to restricted areas, creating a fictitious company to deceive your staff, and misleading the IRS in an application for nonprofit status. Imagine if they released selectively edited videos of excerpted and manipulated conversations involving your staff aimed at creating the worst impression possible. And imagine if they edited the videos so context was lost, exculpatory statements were omitted, and statements were stitched together out of sequence to create a fraudulent impression.

That’s exactly what has happened to Planned Parenthood. And in our case, four congressional committees have launched investigations into our conduct – and none are investigating the person behind this fraud.

This is a problem. Every time we share these videos or tell our friends and family about them, we tacitly excuse the fact that deceit produced them. And I’m not sure I can do that.

St. Peter’s in the Loop, Chicago, Illinois


The geography of Chicago is anchored by Lake Michigan on the east. Pioneer urban planner Daniel Burnham conceived a city with an entirely open lakefront, and so Chicago has miles and miles of beaches backed by the tall shoulders of buildings, which cast their shadows onto the water as the sun sets every evening.

IMG_2061A few blocks inland, megalithic towers create narrow canyons and form the center of the city, known as “the Loop”. The Loop is the aggregated ring and central hub of elevated rail lines (the “El”) leading into the city like spokes on a wheel — the Red line running generally north-south; the Green running from Hyde Park in the south to the Loop and then due West out to Oak Park; the Orange to Midway; the Blue to O’Hare; the Brown to Lincoln Park.

If you are “in the Loop”, you are in the geographical (and economic) center of Chicago. And, the only Catholic Church “in the Loop” is not the famous Holy Name Cathedral, nor historically Irish Old St. Pat’s, nor St. Michael’s in Old Town, nor Our Lady of the Angels (mercifully preserved by Opus Dei), nor the EF-pioneering St. John Cantius, but only St. Peter’s in Loop, one of the most interesting and beautiful churches in Chicago, if not the United States.


Apart from the stained glass adorning its south-facing facade behind the massive rose marble crucifix overlooking Madison Street, St. Peter’s is a windowless edifice, sandwiched between two taller buildings on its east and west. In place of windows, the designers of this building installed sort of false-frame shadowboxes, within which you find a series of scenes sculpted in white marble — primarily depicting moments from the life of St. Francis of Assisi (a relic of whom is housed in a side alcove) — illuminated from behind. These scenes are captivating and unusual, bright and yet monochrome.


IMG_2057The church also houses a fine reproduction of Michaelangelo’s Pieta, as well as a statute of St. Anthony of Padua and child Jesus (and a reliquary housing relics of the Saint), and rows of confessionals. Staffed by Franciscans, St. Peter’s in the Loop offers confession Monday through Saturday, all day, and seven masses every weekday. It is refreshing and lovely to see people attending mass during their lunch hours, or visiting the church to go to confession before or after work.

On the level below the church is a well-appointed book store offering a wide array of goods. During my last visit, I noticed a lot of sale items and markdowns on prices that were fairly reasonable even before being discounted. It would be a great place for the traveling Catholic to stop and purchase gifts or souvenirs for loved ones, with the added bonus of having the strong likelihood that you might stumble upon a Franciscan to oblige you by blessing your items.

IMG_2058When I lived and worked in Chicago, I found St. Peter’s to be a wonderful comfort, because I could stop there on my way to or from the courthouse for a few moments of prayer. Out on the street, hundreds and people pass by every few minutes, the sounds of traffic (and, in the summer, road construction) are blaring, but as soon as the multi-ton bronze doors close behind you, the cool air of stone and incense pass over you, and suddenly the sacred is in sight.

In your pilgrimages, St. Peter’s in Loop is a worthy place to visit while in Chicago.

A Week Ago We Went to the Pacific Ocean…..

And all I caught was a terrific summer cold. My immune system is still in combat mode. But that’s life. A cold is a great reminder of our tremendous olfactory faculties.

It was a great trip to this same campsite on the Northern California coast where I’ve been going for nearly 30 years. We were blessed to have Fr. A with us for one night. We enjoyed some great beer, and as a slight alternative to traditional camping cuisine, the first night I made New England Clam Chowder, with fresh clams, and sourdough bread, which is a big favorite in our family.

Proper Quartermaster Provisioning

Proper Quartermaster Provisioning

The Hike

The Hike

The Vista

The Vista

"Beach Art" - Unknown

“Beach Art” – Unknown



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Preparations under way for Holy Mass

Preparations under way for Holy Mass

Huzzah to Bishop-Elect Robert Barron…..

The only downside to his appointment as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the vacancy created at Mundelein Seminary. Bishop-elect Barron is one of the very few “celebrity” priests who I really, tremendously admire. His video series, Catholicism, is one of the masterpieces of the New Evangelization. He will be (I expect) a Courageous Bishop. Pray for him!

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In Case You’ve Been Hiding Under a Rock…..

Planned Parenthood must be reeling over the “investigative videos” from the Center for Medical Progress that show two of their abortionist admins engaged in the trade of human body parts. If you could stream closed-circuit video from the security cameras of Hell itself,  you’d likely find a lot of stuff less depraved that this.

But for the record, by posting this I do not condone or accept the dishonesty involved in procuring this footage. Lying has consequences, even when it is employed to achieve certain laudable ends. Only time will tell the consequences here, but you can bet that Planned Parenthood won’t let it be forgotten; in fact, it’s the only defense they have. A fruit of the poisonous tree.

Regarding truth-telling, the Eighth Commandments forbids “bearing false witness”. Speaking affirmatively, we as Catholics are called to bear witness to the Truth, and the Church teaches that “In Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. ‘Full of grace and truth,’ he came as the ‘light of the world,’ he is the Truth.” (CCC 2466).

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Review: BaoFeng UV-5R+

I read somewhere that the Chinese government started electronics company BaoFeng to sell radios and electronics at prices at or near cost solely to disrupt sales for Japanese makers.

51VC0e3tGjLI’ve had the BaoFeng UV-5R+ for a couple of years now, and while I’ve fiddled with it a bit, I’ve never had occasion to really use it for anything. I just added it to my modest collection of items for when/if the SHTF.

This weekend we went camping, and the boys have a pair of inexpensive MidLand radios, with 21 channels. But the BaoFeng doesn’t do just walkie bands, it also does shortwave (you can even connect a more powerful antenna) and FM bands, and the menu system (while a bit clunky now that we’re all accustomed to using smart phones) offers a wide array of options and features. I’ve used it to scan LEO/fire/emergency bands, and I’ve managed to tune some shortwave frequencies too.

I googled the manual for the boys’ Midland radios so I could tune the frequencies for the channels, and voila, my BaoFeng is a glorified walkie talkie, with better range and reception. Mrs. Q took the kids down to the beach, while we’re a mile or two up the shore fishing, and we’re still in touch. The rechargeable battery lasted the entire weekend without a charge, and the radio includes an LED lamp (solid, or blinking) that provided another light source for getting around in the dark.

The boys loved using call signs and talking in code, and since we also had to take two cars to schlep all of our stuff (and the two dogs) it was great to communicate back and forth and coordinate things like bathroom stops.

Overall, it’s a well-built, sturdy little unit, and a bargain at the current price. My grandfather was a career radio operator for the selective service, and I loved going into his radio room and playing with his CB. I was lucky, because no other grandkids got to even sit down there. He would never have believed that the day would come that a person could purchase a digital shortwave TRANSMITTER for less than $31 from a Chinese company.

I still remember the way it smelled when his radio equipment was warm and running, with the dust and hot vacuum tubes. I was never allowed to touch the HAM stuff, but I loved watching him get on the radio and rattle of callsigns and tap out Morse code faster than the Western Union. Remember the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars? Those radio transmissions sounded eerily similar to what would come through on his radios, with the slightly strident vocal distortion. The sound engineer for LucasFilm must have run the dialogue through a HAM radio. 

I can imagine that with a few UV-5R+’s (or similar, there are a range of different units) in our community, we’d have a backup method for communicating if phone/cell networks ever go down.