Friday, August 31, 2012

Hip Hop Priest

Fr. Pontifex, aka Fr. Claude Burns, pastor of a parish in Indiana has become known from his video "Why I Love Religion and Love Jesus", but did you know that he also does this?

Hear more of his music and other videos here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

All Generations Will Call Me Blessed

Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Fra Angelico
Today is the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I first want to recommend two books to you if you would like to get to know Our Lady and her role better.  The first is Scott Hahn's Hail, Holy Queen in which he beautifully looks at Mary's role in salvation history through Scripture.  Next, is my favorite book on Our Lady, not to mention one of my favorite books, period - Fulton Sheen's The World's First Love.  This book is simply great.  Read it!

Mary is the greatest of all creatures, being preserved from the stain of all sin by God's grace that she may be the Ark of the New Covenant in bearing the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  She alone has this unique role in salvation history to be the Mother of the King.  As Dr. Hahn mentions in his book about Our Lady, in ancient times, those who ruled kingdoms were the King and the Queen Mother.   The queen was not the wife of the king but rather was his mother.   Throughout Scripture there are many instances that foreshadow Mary's queenly role or point directly to it.  When we honor Our Lady Jesus is immensely pleased.  As St. Louis de Montfort said, "We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor Him all the more perfectly."  Jesus loves his Mother who has also become our Mother by grace.  Because of her 'yes' to the Holy Spirit, the Lord came into the world to save us from our misery.  Mary always points us to her Son - her final words in Scripture even being "Do whatever He tells you."  Tota pulchra Maria - you are all beautiful Mary - how appropriate that the Lord would bestow such beauty upon her and crown her as the Queen Mother.  Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

" your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir...I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations..." - Psalm 45

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.  For behold, henceforth, all generations will call me blessed..." - Luke 1:46-48


More reading on Mary's Queenship:
Knowing Mary Through the Bible: Mary's Queenship in Revelation 12

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Be Catholic On Purpose

Below is a guest post from CCM student Gideon who was received into the Church this Easter.

Becoming Catholic

When I converted to Catholicism this past Easter I thought that the hardest part of conversion was over.  I thought that once I had accepted the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church it would be smooth sailing.  Coming from a nominally Protestant background, I had no major obstacles to get around in order to accept the church’s teaching.  There were no dramatic changes; no wrestling with Sola Scriptura or anti-Catholic prejudices.  I would have the occasional feeling that didn’t sit right with what I had been taught as a child but after a few more pages I realized that I was wrong and that, you guessed it…the Church was right.  I was a college sophomore seeking objective truth and upon finding the Catholic faith it was easy to embrace. 

After a time in college when I was devouring apologetics, philosophy, and theology, RCIA was a breeze.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the faith and most of what was taught I had encountered in other places.  Easter was soon approaching and I came to a realization.  I had to start being Catholic.  I had been in a sort of suspended animation of conversion; paused on the edge of being Catholic waiting to accept the Church’s teaching.  Not long after saying, “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God;” I had another realization. 

Catholicism is hard.

Now I was Catholic and it wasn’t easy.  The hardest part of becoming Catholic was still ahead of me.  I now had to examine my conscience, go to confession, and go to Sunday mass.  Not only that but I had to be at Mass.  I had to conform my body as well as my mind to the Catholic faith.  This meant the Sign of the Cross, holy water, genuflecting, memorizing the Creed (haven’t quite mastered this yet), and praying the rosary.  I suddenly found myself in foreign Catholic situations that made me very uncomfortable.  I was being asked to usher and take the collection at Mass (I told them I would have to fall back on my Protestant ushering skills and pray I committed no faux pas). Another time, I had to find a priest to hear my confession before a 10th anniversary Mass.  I remember walking into a room full of priests and announcing that I needed one of them to hear my confession.  At that moment I would have rather been debating papal infallibility.

I would file all of this under conversion.  Since Easter I have been learning to be Catholic every day.  I still get thrown off at Mass, fumble the Creed and forget to genuflect.  These are the things that are hard for me.  Just today I asked my priest how to properly receive communion on the tongue because I am anxious about messing it up. 

So what is the point of all of this?  The point is that I couldn’t learn all of this in a book.  If there is a book with this stuff in it, I haven’t read it.  So being from Missouri I have a favor to ask.  Show me.  Our humanity is bound up with one another’s and I need help learning to be Catholic.  My neighbors may not know this but I have been watching.  Other converts can probably confirm this.  We are always watching you, hoping to catch you living out the faith so that we can imitate it.  All Catholics are living catechists who are always teaching whether they know it or not.  You can either do it well or poorly but you can’t stop doing it.  I will learn to be Catholic by watching other Catholics.

So when you are at Mass make sure you are doing it right.  Take the time to genuflect properly, cross yourself, bow before the tabernacle, and be Catholic on purpose.  There are no other Catholics in my family so I need your example to teach me the faith.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Loving Peter

I recently came across the story of a friend of a friend who is preparing for the birth of their fourth child who will be born within a week according to their blog Loving Peter.  Peter has anencephaly which means his skull and brain have not formed properly so that his life expectancy outside the womb is short - a few hours or days - but a life in which he will be very much loved.  

Peter's story highlights the sacredness of every human life and his parents' love is an example of God's love for us.  Peter's life is needed - an unrepeatable gift - God knew that.   What matters is not how long a person lives but that they did live, that they came into existence at the moment of conception - that this person, this unique and unrepeatable person - has a purpose, a place in the story of humanity.  

Unfortunately, many people throughout our world today have tended to equate a life's value with what we can do, what we can produce, our utility.  The world is obsessed with avoiding the decline of ability and ultimately death, so we're constantly searching for the next beauty product that will keep us looking young, a pill or drink that will keep us from tiring, a program that will make us smarter.  Death and inability is not ultimately what should be avoided at all costs, however.  Sin is most certainly a greater danger.  

The value of a person does not lie in what he or she can or cannot do.  It does not lie in how perfectly or imperfectly one's body was formed.  It does not lie in how many breaths a person will take.  The value of a person's life lies in the fact that they are.  This person is.  This person has being, they exist - from the very moment when they were conceived, this person matters.  God loved this person into existence - a person who bears His own image and likeness - therefore the absolute only proper response to a person, in whatever stage of life and no matter their abilities, is love.  Love is the only proper response to the human person.  And love is what Peter is being given.  Thank you to this family who are providing a powerful witness to the sacredness and dignity of each human life.  Please take a moment to say a prayer for Peter and his family - a family who although I don't have the privilege of personally knowing, quite obviously knows the gift they have received.  

Fr. Barron Comments on The Dark Knight Rises

Just in case any of you haven't seen this movie yet, there is a little spoiler alert here in this commentary, so be forewarned :)  Dark Knight Rises has a crazy amount of things that we could talk about that are analogous to the spiritual life, but for the sake of those who haven't seen it yet, I won't go into it at the moment, although a detailed commentary may be supplied at some point in the near future...for now though, please enjoy another fabulous Fr. Barron video:

Friday, August 10, 2012

You Can Do This for FREE

John Paul the Great Catholic University is offering a FREE online learning program on the teachings of the Church called "Pillars of Catholicism" beginning August 20th.  This is a great way for you to learn solid information from a great school at absolutely no cost, so be sure to mark down August 20th in your calendar and go to the website to access the videos.  This endeavor was embarked upon for the following reasons as stated on the website:
Marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI has declared..."The Year of Faith" [beginning Oct. 11, 2012]. In particular, the Holy Father is calling upon all Catholics to confront what he identifies as one of the most difficult challenges the Church faces today: "religious illiteracy." That is, a lack of understanding about what Christians really believe.
To address this problem, Pope Benedict has called upon Catholics to spend the year studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official compendium of all Catholic teaching. Pillars of Catholicism is our response to the Holy Father's challenge.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Discernment: Sincerity or Avoidance?

Read this post at Conversion Diary about discernment - most people will easily relate.  In this quote she's talking about how St. Francis of Assisi responded to God's call to rebuild the Church :
Let’s contrast the way he responded to that message to the way someone like me would heed the same call:
Francis: [Gets up, walks out of the church, and gets to work  gathering stones.]
Jen: “‘Rebuild my church’? What church? This one? Or did you mean my home parish church? And what did you mean by ‘rebuild’ — are we talking a symbolic spiritual renewal or physical renovation? If the latter, exterior or interior? Or both? Or, wait…did you mean capital-C Church?!”
Basically, I would have analyzed it, thought about it, talked about it, and done whatever the 12th Century version of blogging about it was. And I would have taken no action until I felt like I had perfect clarity on it — which means I probably never would have done anything at all.
Contrasting my way of discernment with St. Francis', it becomes clear that mine is all about control: I feel like it rests entirely on me to get it right. The weight of the world is on my shoulders alone. I act like God is powerless to work things out without me interpreting his call with 100% accuracy. Yet again, my mentality is, “IT’S ALL UP TO ME!!!”
Read the rest here.