Pope Francis said WHAT?!?!?

Because, with the outcries from the conservative/traddy part of the Catholic blogosphere at the close of the October Synod on the Family, we were all under the impression that Pope Francis is totally laissez faire when it comes to what defines family. We all thought that the Holy Father is totally cool with divorce, remarriage, co-habitation. Now that Porsche has used the Sistine, what would be wrong with formalizing a few “alternative marital situations” in there? He’d be “down” with that, right?

“The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized,” the Pope told those in attendance at the Oct. 25 audience.
He warned against the common view in society that “you can call everything family, right?”
“What is being proposed is not marriage, it’s an association. But it’s not marriage! It’s necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!” Pope Francis stressed.
He lamented that there are so many “new forms” of unions which are “totally destructive and limiting the greatness of the love of marriage.”

Huh? The Pope’s Catholic?!? Who knew?

Ummmm, some of us.

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Here’s Something New…..

Dog-meme---Taco-bell…..that is still just as likely to screw up your fast food order. Technology always promises new ways not to be heard while still taking your money. I jest. Sometimes technology is good. Sometimes technology helps us to be heard. But ordering via app just seems way unnecessary to me. Yay, we’re excited because at least the guy waiting behind us in line doesn’t get to hear how many chalupas and orders of nachos we’re planning to gobble down from behind the wheel of the car. Somehow, that’s embarrassing, but tweeting about it and then putting pictures of the food on Instagram is okey-dokey.

“Science” Says Monogamy = Cancer

These so-called “medical studies”, or rather, the reporting on them, could not be more absurd. I’ll explain.

According to the National Cancer Institute, between 2007 and 2011 there were 147.8 new cases of prostate cancer per 100,000 men, and 22.3 per 100,000 men died from prostate cancer in those years.

That means, relatively speaking, that among all men in all age groups there is a .14% chance of developing prostate cancer in a particular year. Of course, as men age they are naturally more likely to get it, so that approximately 15% of all men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime in their life.

So, if your “lifetime risk” is 15%, then a particular behavior or action that is meant to reduce your risk only affects the overall percentage. Thus, if you already only have a 15% risk, then doing — or not doing — a particular thing that purportedly lowers risk by “one third”, actually means that your risk is lowered from 15% to 10%, at best.

My point? Studies that point to any activity and say “this reduces x, or increases y” are generally remarking on measurable, but not entirely significant, differences, and most “lifestyle” studies fail to quantify a host of other factors and variables that may or may not also have impact upon the findings. It might be because of that one thing, but then again, it might be something else that was never even considered. It’s very difficult to “isolate variables” when it comes to behavior and lifestyle.

So when ridiculous articles like this one suggest that it is healthy and good for prostate health for a heterosexual man to have more than 20 female sexual partners in his lifetime, it necessarily fails to properly illustrate the actual impact while focusing instead on the “perceived benefit”, and all the while ignores a variety of alternative possibilities.

And, it’s even more irresponsible (to the extent that the study authors are complicit) and moronic (to the extent that the media can’t seem to read such a study properly) to premise  the conclusion (“promiscuity good, monogamy bad”) upon the researchers’ belief (as opposed to, oh, I don’t know, factual data?) that “…men who are more promiscuous have more sex than those in monogamous relationships.” What’s the basis for that, other than belief?

I allege that studies that are formulated like this one and the news articles that report on the results are constructed for one purpose: to undermine monogamy and justify immoral choices. “Good health” has become a moral imperative in our secular culture, to the point that it will embrace something like promiscuity. The proof? Here:

…When asked whether public health authorities should recommend men to sleep with many women in their lives Dr Parent added: “We’re not there yet.” [But we hope to be soon, because, that's what our goal is: to recommend lots and lots of promiscuous sex for heterosexual men with multiple female sexual partners, without regard for illegitimate babies, single motherhood, sexually transmitted disease, emotional and psychological health and well-being. As soon as we can craft the right kind of study, we'll be excited to share the important results with you, and you'll be on your way to preventing cancer and enjoying life!]

My advice: pay attention and scrutinize these so-called “medical studies,” and ask yourself, what type of social behaviors do they promote, and why?

What now, Vegans?

Because, for consistency’s sake, you’re going to need to Save the Greens, since they have feelings and all. I guess you still have mushrooms, until someone discovers the superintelligence of mold spores. Meanwhile, behold God’s glorious porktastic bounty (28 hickory-smoked-in-bliss hours later):

IMG_0194.JPGHave a blessed Sunday!

On Altar Stones, Patient Priests, and Inquisitive Kids

At your parish, do you know which saint’s relics are contained in the main altar of your church?

Fr. A with my son, Thomas, attempting to remove the altar stone from the altar at our church

Fr. A with my son, Thomas, attempting to remove the altar stone from the altar at our church

Neither we nor our pastor knew the answer to this question until a recent weekday when my wife and our oldest son went to daily mass. After serving, our son (age 11) asked Fr. A about the altar stone in our church and whose relics were housed inside it.

Frequently, the church will be named after the saint whose relics are housed there. But, for example, in the case of St. Mary’s or Our Divine Savior or Immaculate Conception Parish, another saint’s relics will be needed, for obvious reasons. Our parish falls into this category.

Fr. A, a rather curious guy, long-suffering and patient priest that he is, never shirking from an opportunity to discover something new or walk the extra mile, obliged our son by uncovering the altar and removing the stone installed in it.

Fr. A and Thomas, examining the altar stone upon removal

Fr. A and Thomas, examining the altar stone upon removal

They discovered an inscription on the back on the altar stone, which reads, “This altar stone contains the relics of SS. Beatus and Lucidus, Martyrs.”

14782129915_d70967ed9f_o-2Nearly every Catholic church, as part of its consecration, contains the first-degree relic of at least one saint, which is placed within a “reliquary”, sometimes separate from or integrated with a literal stone that covers and protects the relic, and which is placed into the main altar.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Relics available at NewAdvent.org, a decree of the Council of Trent instructs that “the holy bodies of holy martyrs and of others now living with Christ — which bodies were the living members of Christ and ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost’ (1 Corinthians 6:19) and which are by Him to be raised to eternal life and to be glorified are to be venerated by the faithful…”

14781778512_aa20d1138c_o-2The veneration of relics is an ancient practice of the Church. For example, centuries of tradition brought many far-flung pilgrims to where the bones of St. Peter were buried near the place of his death, on Vatican hill, steps from the circus where he was martyred. After nearly two millennia of this tradition, in the last century archaelogical excavation confirmed the actual presence of the bones of St. Peter, precisely below the main altar of the Basilica.

Plan of Old St. Peter's Basilica (A) in relation to the Circus of Nero (C)

Plan of Old St. Peter’s Basilica (A) in relation to the Circus of Nero (C); The obelisk is

[SIDEBAR: do you know why there is an Egyptian obelisk in the center of the square in front of St. Peter's Basilica? Contrary to absurd "history" advanced by Dan Brown and his ilk, the obelisk decorated the center of Nero's Circus (also on Vatican hill), where so many Christians were martyred, and it was likely one of the last things that St. Peter laid his eyes upon (upside-down) before his gruesome death by crucifixion. Early Christians and true historians would have understood the significance of moving the obelisk a few meters and making it the centerpiece of the square in front of the Basilica. With Rome as the center of Christendom in the West, it became a sign of the Church's triumph over persecution.]

To venerate the relic of a saint is most certainly not a form of idolatry. For example, St. Jerome says: “We do not worship, we do not adore [non colimus, non adoramus], for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate [honoramus] the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are.” (“Ad Riparium”, i, P.L., XXII, 907).

A relic is worthy of veneration because God makes the saint. A saint bears living witness here on earth to communion with God. A saint is so caught in the gaze of God that their holiness provides a glimpse of the Kingdom of God and the Resurrection of the Body: both body and soul become instruments of holiness.

There is also something foundational about venerating relics and placing them in our church’s altars. The relic becomes another tangible example of the faith being built upon the faith of those already in Heaven. Relics are not talismans or objects of superstition. Rather, they are proofs that God glorifies our bodies even while we live, at least in some part. On the altar, we place our Gifts upon these foundations, because these “foundations” have been blessed by Our Lord.

20140908_234445_Android[SIDEBAR: I recently shared that we are in the process of creating a chapel in our home that we use for prayer. In connection with our "home altar", we acquired a relic of St. Benedict, now encased in a reliquary atop our altar.] 20140908_234404_Android

So perhaps, if you have an inquisitive son or daughter and the kind of priest who (like ours) will patiently answer questions (or better yet, put on his Indiana Jones hat), it might be worthwhile and interesting to learn a bit more about the relics present in your church!

 

Election Day Approaches: Help for the Pro-Life Voter

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 2.33.55 PMLast night, I received a call from someone taking a poll for the upcoming election. I couldn’t answer who I was going to vote for, even though I know a few of the candidates who won’t be receiving my vote.

I vote my conscience, which means that I don’t vote for candidates who are not fully pro-life, no matter the other “good things” about the candidate, and if a race is composed of two pro-choice candidates, I frequently abstain (or write in) from voting in that contest.

Here in California, a voter interested in learning which candidates are pro-life can visit the California Pro-Life Council’s 2014 General Election Voter Guide (the state chapter of National Right to Life; you can look for your state’s chapter by going here). The guide indicates the respective candidate’s position on elective abortion, parental notification, and euthanasia. It doesn’t answer every question, but it’s a good start.

“Help me Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek

Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek

While the only anticipation I have for the pending “Singularity” (actual date TBD) is really more in the nature of dread, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be excited when this nifty technology finally gives us freestanding three-dimensional holographic images. On such date I shall finally paint a metal garbage can in hues of blue and silver a la R2-D2, and take all phone calls via droid (not the lame kind). Viva the Rebel Alliance!

City officials to Christian Pastors: Perform Same-Sex “Wedding” Ceremonies, or Go to Jail

In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: a married couple of 47 years, both Christian ministers who since 1989 have operated the 95-year-old “Hitching Post Wedding Chapel”, are told by city officials “that their refusal to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel violates the city’s anti-discrimination policy. For each day they refuse to perform the ceremony, they face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

Because pro-SSM isn’t about tolerance or promoting equality; it’s about crushing dissent.

See what prayer and steady breathing can accomplish?!?

The Bishops are making their voices heard at the Synod on the Family. That midway Relatio is going to need to be substantially rewritten, they say. And, the English version apparently suffers from some “problems in translation.”

Keep breathing and keep praying.