The Guy who said, “I am the Bread of Life”…..

Actually knows something about the culinary arts! Of course! And he was a pretty good winemaker too, as established by the steward at the wedding at Cana, who is astonished that the hosts saved the superior wine until after the guests already drank what was on hand for the feast.

One gets the sense from reading the Gospel that Jesus relished life, and a big part of that joy took place around a table of friends, over a meal, drink, conversation and laughter. Because He relished those things, it means they are good things for ustoo!

Mangia!

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Who monitors the baby…..

…..When you use a webcam accessible from the Internet? Apparently anyone. How did anyone manage to live before we could look into our homes from a remote location to see what’s going on? It’s totally worth the risk of having your child wake up in the middle of the night because someone is screaming obscenities at her through the webcam. I’m gonna go out and buy one of those things right now. Plus, as a bonus, it’s pretty much an invitation for the government to spy too.

Vasectomy and the Catholic Church: Search Engine Q&A

This blog’s platform provides access to some basic statistics regarding traffic on qmbarque.com. One of the more interesting features (to the voyeur) is that you can see some of the search strings that people enter into search engines that bring them here.

It seems, based upon the frequency of searches related to the Church and vasectomies, that this is an issue for some folks. There are questions that my original post on the topic did not cover.

Vasectomy-catholicQuestion #1: “Can Catholics get vasectomies?” Answer: Well, “can” is a loaded word. I’m Catholic. If I go to a doctor for a vasectomy, I can do that in the sense that no one is going to prevent me from doing it.

But the Church is clear: faithful Catholics are bound to follow Church teaching. The intended outcome of vasectomies and tubal ligations is to render a person permanently infertile. It is an objective sin, and likely an actual mortal sin for anyone with a well-formed conscience. In the context of marriage, where sex between husband and wife is promoted as a positive good, vasectomy constitutes the removal of the life-giving capacity of sexual expression, which is an essential element of God’s plan for marriage, and sex.

Vasectomy-wifeQuestion #2: “Wife won’t be intimate unless I get vasectomy, but Catholic faith forbids it.” Answer: If you have this question, your conscience is sufficiently well-formed such that you already know you shouldn’t get a vasectomy. Without knowing a wife’s specific reasons for wanting a husband to get a vasectomy, we are confined to the most common issues that cause married couples to seek this option.

There’s the money. Kids are expensive. Sometimes, depending on your financial circumstances, they are oppressively expensive. Perhaps, even bankruptcy expensive. In any case, it may feel this way.

There’s the stress. Kids cause a lot of stress. You have to worry about them. You have to take care of them (I wonder how many wives want their husbands to get vasectomies in part because the husband doesn’t help very much with childrearing; if this is the case, you need to step it up, husband!).

There’s everything else. Contracepting sex is a hassle, and not fool-proof. After a couple kids, you need a new car. A three-bedroom house only holds so many. People keep asking if you’re done already. They eat all your food. They break your stuff. They cry and whine during mass. Diapers. And diapers. And diapers. Poop and pee. Crust all over surfaces. And snot and vomit.

All of these things are what the world says should matter, but they don’t matter to God. None of this is insurmountable when we place our trust in God. He works miracles, and He will do so here if you permit Him. 

Bottom line answer: Be a man. Educate yourself and take responsibility. A wife who wants a husband to get a vasetomy is essentially saying, “For whatever reason, I don’t trust God (or you) in this matter.” She either doesn’t realize (or doesn’t care about) what comes from intentionally removing the life-giving potential of marriage and how it will harm the relationship of husband and wife. She thinks life would be better without more of her offspring walking around. Ask God to help you be what she needs so she can feel safe to trust that His will be done.

Vasectomy-acceptedQuestion #3: “Can I still be accepted as a Catholic through RCIA if I had a vasectomy years ago?” Answer: Yes. Everyone sins. Whether or not we’ve made poor decisions in our past is not in itself something that prevents us from becoming Catholic. In choosing to follow Christ, we must repent of our past lives and resolve not to sin in the future, with Christ’s help. If you’ve already been baptized in another Christian denomination when you enter the Church, then you need to go to confession before being received and receiving communion for the first time. If you’ve never been baptized, then the fact that you had a vasectomy in the past is forgiven along with all of your other sins.

Vasectomy-confessQuestion #4: “If a vasectomy is confessed is it okay to have sex with wife?” Answer: Ask your confessor. The answer is likely yes, but I can’t say so absolutely, because you and your confessor would need to look at the circumstances of your particular situation.

If we’ve learned anything from Pope Francis, it’s that the Church should be about mercy, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the sacrament of mercy. The Church has the right, for our own good, to regulate the requirements for dispensing mercy, but it does not withhold mercy or make obtaining it highly impracticable or impossible.

For example, if you honestly and truly did not know that it is an objective sin to undergo a vasectomy, then in confessing it and receiving absolution, you would not automatically be bound to abstain from sex with your wife.

I have heard confessors assign as penance that a couple abstain from sex during what would have been the “fertile” days of the month, according to the wife’s cycle. This is something you learn to do as a matter of course in Natural Family Planning.

According to the circumstances, your confessor might assign a heavier penance. Perhaps it’s possible for you to attempt to reverse the vasectomy, if it is within your budget and not exceedingly risky to your life or health. A confessor might suggest this to you, but likely would not insist upon it as penance, unless there were a specific reason.

Just go to confession and do the penance, which will be much easier than living with a mortal sin on the soul. After all, a penance does not “make it all right”; only God does that, for us, through our Lord Jesus Christ. And look into NFP.

Google the All-Powerful

I remember, rather clearly, the dawn of the “search engine”. Back when Netscape ruled the roost, it was “Webcrawler” and “Infoseek”, among others.

The way that these engines explained how they work was pretty basic. You would enter a search string. The string would be compared to the engine’s database. The “crawler” part of the engine would go around cataloguing websites, and return hits for the string based upon relevance. The sites that most closely matched the string would be listed first. Then people started using tags and metas to self-label their site’s content, to effectively “fool” the engines into thinking a particular site is more relevant and place it higher in the list of search results.

The Internet was something of a frontier. The search engines were not multibillion-dollar enterprises, with integrated shopping, advertising, webmail, social networking, news readers, etc., etc., etc. College students started engines in their dorm rooms, and they sat alongside Internet Relay Chat, FTP, and Usenet. The objective of the search engine was not to direct you to the site promoted by an advertiser or the preferred content of a subsidiary. It was to direct you to the most relevant content.

But as “just google it” becomes evermore ubiquitous, and corporate interests (i.e., pursuit of highest market share and widest margins; all else is secondary to those primary objectives) seek to reshape the cultural landscape — not so much to improve it but to convert it into a tool for maximizing profit — we will have to remain vigilant. Corporations are no more friendly to the individual than the state. The only difference is that the state can force you to pay while the corporation can merely coerce you to pay. You may not even realize you’re being coerced, but that’s the point.

Point is, there are no constitutional protections in place that would prevent a private entity from “censoring” content it deems objectionable. And we don’t even know how bad it already is, really. So welcome to the New Marketplace of Ideas, sponsored by Google, your Newspeak friend.

Why does the Resurrected Christ bear the Wounds of Crucifixion?

On April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday, our Holy Father presided over the Church’s canonization of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II. There was some speculation concerning what the pope’s homily would be about, and how it would touch upon the sanctity of these two popes from recent memory, in light of the Sunday’s gospel reading in which Thomas (Didymus; “Doubting Thomas”) is not present when Jesus first appears in the upper room, and tells the others that he will not believe unless he puts his hands into our Lord’s side. One wonders why Jesus appeared bearing the marks at all, since His resurrection was supposed to completely defeat death. From the homily:

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we have heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. Thomas was also present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

The "Isenheim" Altarpiece

The “Isenheim” Altarpiece

The Evil of Consequentialism Summed Up in a Single Headline:

ABORTED BABIES COULD REDUCE GREENHOUSE GASES, FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE.

A few more (I’ll just make these up):

Murderer of 89-year-old pensioner pleads for reduced sentence: “I was just trying to save taxpayers money”

Firefighters: “It seemed best to let polluting plastics factory burn down; two owners only people trapped inside”

Tobacco companies shift marketing to appeal to welfare recipients; offers lottery tickets in specially marked cigarette cartons

Anger mounts against the 1%: French vintners justify addition of lead and arsenic to premier cru exports

Feds promote “coaxing” auto buyers into “greener” new vehicles by lifting regs: “Combustion engines may combust and safety cannot be guaranteed; new official policy is caveat emptor”

The demands of health care rationing under ACA: “self-inflicted” conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes to be considered “low treatment priority”; preserve resources for “non-complicit” patients

Soylent Green is people!

Homebrew Draft System Upgrade: Take 2

This week I posted my review of these thoroughly cheap — yet shiny — Chinese-made beer kegs, which unfortunately brought about the opposite of an upgrade in terms of beer quality. They went back to the seller, and thankfully I received a full refund, including shipping (it took a little coaxing, but the seller ultimately took care of it for me).

Today, I took delivery of these, brand-new, Italian-made, kegs:

IMG_5739

Build quality, precision of welds, craftsmanship and materials are superior to the Chinese kegs. A hopeful sign is that upon arrival, they were both holding a seal. I also bought one of these as an upgrade to sanitation.

Tomorrow will be a brew day. I created a new IPA recipe — I’m going for 6% ABV and 60 IBUs, using a mix of Columbus, Simcoe and Amarillo, and changing up my regular malt profile to cut back on sweetness (from crystal malts, which I use a fair amount in most of my recipes). For this ten-gallon batch, instead of domestic crystal, I’ll use some Victory, Vienna and CaraMunich, along with a pound of dextrose. I know, the CaraMunich is pretty much like crystal too, but it’s supposed to be more toasty/biscuity and less sweet than the domestic crystals. I’m hoping for the crisp dryness of an “English” IPA to compliment the use of “West Coast” IPA hops.

Santo Subito! The Day Arrives!

JP2babyI set out to write a short analysis of John Paul II’s funeral, in which the crowd raised signs and voices — proclaiming “Santo subito!” — and how this is an example of authentic expression of the sensus fidelium (standing in stark contrast, in many respects, to the way the term is used and misused in our age, as trumped up basis for dissent from Magisterial teaching), but alas, time has slipped away and I fear that I am ill-equipped to do the topic justice.

But I do want to say something else:

I loved him long before I became Catholic. For the years that preceded his death in 2005, I despaired over his declining health, that he contended with in such a public way. I am a “JPII Catholic”, and I was incapable (at the time) of imagining a Church without him at the helm.

The witness of John Paul II, particularly in his final years, dispelled the last of my doubts about his sanctity. He placed suffering in a context that I could understand, such that my personal suffering seemed small by comparison, and provided hope that the nature and extent of suffering never supersedes God’s ability to bless, sanctify and heal.

And the death of John Paul II dispelled the last of my doubts about the sanctity of the Church. When Benedict came to the loggia, I heard John Paul II: “Be not afraid.” And I wasn’t afraid. Praise God!

God did not replace JPII in the form of Benedict XVI, but Providence made way for the possibility of an even further galvanizing, not by reiteration of JPII-like qualities, but by enrichment through the humility, genius, and quiet love of Benedict.

Only God turns dissonance into harmony, and He did it in this age, for us. And, I am convinced that He continues to do so in Pope Francis.

What is the single greatest thing about John Paul II? In one word: joy. He lived in the light of the Lord. Everything about him was an invitation to joy.

Thank you, Your Holiness, for your holiness.
Thank you, Holy Father, for being my spiritual father. I so desperately needed you.

St. John Paul II, pray for me, for my whole family, and especially for my little boy who bears your name. Amen!

Pasted inside my daily missal, a favorite holy card of Pope John Paul II. On the back, it says "Be not afraid."

Pasted inside my daily missal, a favorite holy card of Pope John Paul II. On the back, it says “Be not afraid.”

Emerging New Continental Christianity

ASIA!

China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years. The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America. (Of course, the Communists deny this. Ask the Soviets how it worked out for them.)

and,

(South) Korea’s Catholic Church continues to grow: faithful now 10.4% of the population.

Our Lady of She Shan, pray for us!

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