HHS Contraceptive Mandate: Amazed and Thankful!

Huzzah for separation of powers! It could have been 4-5, but today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, in favor of Hobby Lobby and the companion parties, establishing a precedent for religious liberty and deconstructing key elements of the HHS Contraceptive Mandate. A win:

Because RFRA applies in these cases, we must next ask whether the HHS contraceptive mandate “substantially burden[s]” the exercise of religion. 42 U. S. C. §2000bb–1(a). We have little trouble concluding that it does.


Arrogating the authority to provide a binding national answer to this religious and philosophical question, HHS and the principal dissent in effect tell the plaintiffs that their beliefs are flawed.

The Republic is not completely dead. It still raises its head and issues a roar from time to time. The entire decision is available here.


June 29: Quartermaster of the Barque turns 1!

Either by way of coincidence (or Providence), this blog was born on June 29, 2013, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. Of course, it is Peter’s (and his successors’) Barque, whereas I am merely a humble (and grateful) passenger who God has called to a particular job: to dispense orthodox Catholic joy. The Catholic blogosphere, despite being a wonderful community, is not (at times) without peril. I’ve tried to keep the content of this blog edifying and useful, but I admittedly have fallen short at times and sniped more than I should too. Perhaps you will please say a prayer for me and this blog on this birthday.

Navicella, c. 1305-13

Navicella, c. 1305-13

Still Waiting on the Other Shoe…..

…..But things are significantly more hopeful at the close of this week. In case you haven’t been paying attention, June 30 will be the close of the 2013 session of the United States Supreme Court. This blog was inaugurated last year with an entry concerning the Hollingsworth and Windsor cases, two decisions which by all accounts were poorly reasoned and continue to shake the foundations of our society.

I like to think that the best case scenario for the Court is that the Justices are capable of looking past ideologies. Don’t discount this. How’s Congress doing with that? Or the President?

I think that even Sotomayor and Kagan, can, possibly, be convinced by convincing argument. I suspect that, behind closed doors, books and articles are sometimes exchanged. Old cases are dusted off. Ideas are shared. Among nine undeniably brilliant individuals, perhaps reason still holds sway.

The most recent “big ticket” decisions might be an “exhibit” to this belief. This week we’ve seen unanimous decisions: no illegal search and seizure of cell phones if you get arrested; law enforcement needs a warrant. The Senate is in recess when it says it’s in recess. And setting up “buffer zones” around abortuaries is a violation of the First Amendment.

On Monday, we will see whether reason prevails again on the question of religious liberty and the HHS Contraceptive Mandate. This is the big one of the year, in my opinion. Pray extra hard on this one, because despite some renewed hope, I don’t think we’re going to see a unanimous opinion, and I think it could easily be 5-4 (or [shudder], 6-3) against. I’d love to be wrong.

Huzzah to Springfield Bp. Paprocki: If we Voted, He’d have Mine to Succeed Cardinal George

Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki is a stalwart, courageous — and by all accounts, holy — pastor of his flock in Springfield. A few months ago he supported denying communion to pro-abortion Illinois senator Richard Durbin. He condemned the offensive attempt to simulate the ordinations of certain “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” at a protestant church within his diocese and declared that certain of the participants were thereby excommunicated Latae Sentiatae

Most recently he issued a pastoral letter on a subject very dear to me and countless other Catholics: restoring the placement of the Tabernacle of the Most Blessed Sacrament to a place of prominence in all churches and oratories under his jurisdiction. Check out his letter, entitled Ars celebrandi et adorandi:

…I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain.

Huzzah! Huzzah! Three Huzzahs for His Excellency, Bishop Paprocki! May the Lord plumb the depths of his humble service and draw him into even greater sacrifices for the Faith by elevating him as metropolitan Archbishop of Chicago. Amen.

Pope Francis: He Likes BEER (That’s it for Me)

Catholics (and non-Catholics) of certain camps like to air their complaints in public regarding Pope Francis. He’s too Progressive. He’s too Conservative. He’s not “Pro-Life enough”. He’s a Socialist. He’s trying to suppress Summorum. It’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Vatican Edition, and he’s never just right.

Blah. Blah. Blah. That’s the nature of complaining. Complainers gotta complain.

Here’s what really matters: the Bavarian President comes to visit the Pope. He brings a basket of gifts including delicacies from the region. The President points out some of the things in the basket that he suspects the Holy Father will enjoy. The Pope’s eye wanders around the corner of the basket when he catches a glimpse of his heart’s desire: is that beer? A joyful (albeit playful) smile spreads across the face of Christ’s vicar upon confirmation — yes, there’s Bavarian beer inside — which grows into a grin and a delighted laugh.

Another beer drinker stands at the helm of the Barque. I am content today. We will not run aground while Pope Francis is captain.

Book Review: Liturgy of the Hours

This year, for Father’s Day, I received a new set of the Liturgy of the Hours. I was permitted to choose what type of breviary I wanted, and I was seriously tempted to purchase the Roman Breviary, which thanks to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum is once again an approved form.

20140624_101706_AndroidHowever, the people who we know who would pray the liturgy with us do not use the pre-Vatican II breviary, and so I would be choosing not to pray in a community setting when I have the opportunity. For example, in less than a week I am embarking on my first international mission trip (more on that in coming days), and received an e-mail addressed to the group reminding us to bring our breviaries for morning and evening prayer.

20140624_101849_AndroidBecause of this, I selected the Liturgy of the Hours in black leather published by the Catholic Book Publishing Corp., available from Adoremus Books here. I received the set yesterday.

My initial impression is that this is a well-made and attractive set. The binding is natural leather, and flexible — which is nice for a prayer book that gets tossed in bags. My only complaint against my Daily Missal (from MTF) is that the cover is leather over cardboard, and therefore somewhat inflexible. Each book has a set of six colored marker ribbons. The pages have gold edging. The type is clear and readable, a nice setting.

20140624_102028_AndroidOne easy way to get started praying the Liturgy of the Hours is to download an app, like iBreviary. An app makes it easier to follow because you don’t have to flip around in the book. The set included some aids for learning to pray the liturgy. The aids included: (1) a handy guide for 2014 that tells you the page numbers for each day of the year; (2) an outline of each hour and the format of the various offices on nice card stock; (3) a card with common texts; (4) a card with common texts for solemnities and feasts; (5) a card with invitatory psalms as alternatives to Psalm 95; (6) a card outlining Night Prayer; and (7) a Liturgy of the Hours Supplement for newer feasts and memorials (e.g., Bl. Junipero Serra, Bl. Maximilian Kolbe, etc.).

20140624_102205_Android 1At $179, this set is not inexpensive but it is definitely worth the money. It would also make an excellent gift for a newly-ordained priest or deacon (or religious) who is obliged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

Hey, C’Mon! The Baby is Napping!

One of our sons — the second one — is very allergic. When he was a baby, we discovered that he is allergic to cats (we had two, had to get rid of them), dairy (he’s outgrown that one, thank goodness), and all nuts including peanuts.

I had a pretty good record of never being the one who gave him anything that caused an allergic reaction. It was always my doctor wife — who is far more hesitant and anxious about things like allergies than me — who gave something that caused a reaction.

Thankfully, we have never had to use the “epi-pen” either.

It seems that our daughter — the fourth child — is most similar to child #2. Like him, she is allergic to dairy, but not peanuts.

Peanuts are a huge deal because they’re in lots of things, and a staple in the diet of American kids is peanut butter. She can peanut butter sandwiches.

A month or two ago my wife gave her something with walnuts and she had a reaction. The allergist said to avoid tree nuts, like walnuts and pecans.

Last night, the can of salted peanuts and cashews was out on the counter while we were getting dinner ready. I (stupidly) reasoned that since she was not allergic to peanuts, she could safely have a cashew.

I gave her one quarter of a cashew, and within five minutes, she was scratching her tongue, coughing, drooling, had red and irritated eyes, her face was all blotchy and red, and she was developing raised welts all over.


We gave the epi-pen, for the first time in eight years of having one in the house.

The good news is that it helped instantly, and as my wife was rushing out the door to the ER, you could tell that the baby was already feeling better and looking okay. It was like a miracle.

This morning, she was fine, but maybe a bit more tired than usual, so I put her down for her nap pretty early. Within 5 minutes of laying her down, this happened in our front yard for the next thirty minutes:

Boys at Church Camp: Pray for the Status Quo

On Sunday afternoon, we drove up into the Sierra Nevadas and dropped off Sons #1 and #2 at Church Camp.

This particular camp is not the one sponsored by our diocese. Last year, we sent Son #1 to that camp, and we pressed him for details when he got home. We wanted to know, what types of things did he do? How much “churchy stuff” did they do?

Turns out that apart from a single mass on Sunday, the diocesan camp offered very little in terms of a Catholic camp experience.

We discovered that there is a parish in the diocese that is staffed by priests from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), the non-schismatic Traditionalist order that emphasizes mass in the Extraordinary Form. This parish offers its own Church camp, and fortunately they accepted our boys this year (with a letter of recommendation from our pastor).


Unlike the diocesan camp, this one is limited to boys ranging in age from First Communion to high school. Camp counselors include FSSP seminarians and priests. Parents were invited to attend mass in the Extraordinary Form in the camp chapel, which was preceded by recitation of the Rosary kneeling on the hard wood floor.

We’re happy that there will be an authentic religious education component to this camp experience. The other boys (and families) were very respectful and polite, even down to being dressed in a way that was suitable for Mass. The boys will compete on teams dedicated to particular saints and will have various challenges during their week.

I am afraid that the FSSP and Mass in the Extraordinary Form will convert them, so please pray for the status quo this week.

Triumphant Stupidity (and Negligent Attachment)

It’s been an interesting few days, in part because of some truly special incompetence on my part.

Last Wednesday afternoon, I got the kids all lathered up with sunscreen, got them in their swim trunks, put a “Little Swimmer” diaper and swimsuit on the baby, and headed next door at the invitation of our neighbors (who are on vacation) to use their pool.

I should not own any swim shorts that include pockets. Despite remarking to myself before getting in the pool — “Self, you better remove your 6-month-old iPhone 5s from your pocket and set it there on the table next to the pool…” — I ignored (or promptly forgot) my own advice.

Really, I got distracted. Taking a baby in a pool is stressful. You have to HOLD ON! And she was excited and squirmy, and the three boys were rambunctious and LOUD!

After about ten minutes of wading in the pool (boys splashing all around) holding the baby, I think to myself, “Self, I should check my phone to see if I’ve received any messages” because I am the kind of person attached to his phone who is constantly checking it.

My hand, submerged in the pool, unconsciously moved to reach into my pocket where I normally keep my phone, meanwhile my BRAIN is still not registering the fact that my hand and pocket are submerged under water, AND it’s a serious thing that my phone is THERE (under water, in my pocket). I’m actually touching the phone in my pocket for a second or two before it finally dawns on me, THE PHONE IS IN WATER!

Climbed out of the pool, and the phone (naturally) is dead. Panic. No. Not my phone. Not my phone. Not my PHONE!

I normally take care of my stuff. Nothing I hate more than something that is broken. Nothing I hate more than breaking my own stuff.

Tossed the phone into a plastic baggie filled with the type of kitty litter (that I use to dehumidify the curebrewzer) made from dehumidifying crystals and let it sit for 48 hours. [Note: the iPhone 5s is pronounced officially “dead”]. Meanwhile, I headed to the AT&T store to replace the phone.

I’ve been loyal Apple iPhone user since the 3G, but each new model has left me just a bit less enchanted than the last. When the iPhone originally came out, the feature set was packed with stuff that couldn’t really be found in other smartphones. But now, it seems the playing field gets more competitive, and I wonder, should I look elsewhere?

Something that’s bothered me about the iPhone is its lack of expansion capabilities. $200 is a lot to spend for a new phone each year, but that will only get you the 16GB iPhone, which means that after loading my e-mail accounts and photos, and some other stuff, there’s no room for anything else, including any music, and I definitely don’t have everything I want on the device.

My new Galaxy S5 Active and my old bricked iPhone 5s

My new Galaxy S5 Active and my old bricked iPhone 5s

I picked up the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active, and so far I’m rather pleased with it. My primary concern was whether I could get it to sync with my icloud mail, calendars, etc., because I definitely wanted to keep those things and have access to them on my phone. It was really pretty simple, and there haven’t been any errors or crashes in five days of heavy use of the phone.

The battery seems about the same. The screen is bigger, brighter, and sharp with vivid colors. If it’s not a “retina display” my retinas don’t realize.

AND, I picked up a 64GB SD card to expand the phone ($34!) so now I have nearly 80GB of local storage when before I was trying to scrunch into about 14GB. That much space allows me to store over 10,000 photos, 150 albums, and the entire documents library from my computer, including all of my files from my law practice.

There’s still a learning curve involved in using the Galaxy, and you can tell that the Android OS is ever-so-slightly less polished than Apple’s iOS. Slightly glitchier, but nothing terribly inconvenient or aggravating. The main thing is that by this time, I expected to be pining for the greatness of Apple’s iOS, and missing the ease with which I could previously use my phone and all its features. That hasn’t happened. Despite my prolonged and sustained addiction, I am detoxing just fine, with very little twitching.

Roundup of Interesting Articles in Today’s News

In no particular order:

John Shimek writes on CatholicVote.org that the HHS Contraceptive Mandate was just a beginning for the Obama Administration’s plans to impose legal requirements that violate religious liberty, particularly for Catholics. Apparently a new (or amended) executive order is coming to require non-discrimination for LGBTQ in federal contracting, which could create serious problems for groups like Catholic Charities.

In Crisis Magazine, an article defending gun ownership for Catholic families.

Long live the stories speculating upon the state of the Supreme Pontiff’s health. From around 1995 until his death in 2005, such stories about St. John Paul II ubiquitously saturated news outlets on at least weekly cycles. Just pray for him. He’s 77; he has one lung; his schedule would tire someone fifty years younger than he. He is, after all, only human.

Have teenage kids? Live in Michigan? There, the state is apparently seeking to privately discuss “sex ed” with teenagers outside the presence of parents. Not sure it’s connected here, but recall that Planned Parenthood is one of the strategic partners for the government in implementing the ACA. Schools (Oregon, S. California, come to mind) are inviting people from Big Death to speak on campus.