Monday, December 29, 2008
Contributor Doug writes: As a practicing Christian, one blessing I appreciated this year leading up to Christmas was the pleasant surprise that wherever I went, I heard and read much more of “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year” than “Happy Holidays.” At last, the battle to preserve Christ in Christmas while also now truly respecting the faiths of others has won some ground, and somehow, we’ve all survived.
The United States is comprised predominantly of Christians. Even many Christians who do not practice their faith, and even non-Christians recognize and/or celebrate “Christmas.” Besides, “Happy Holidays” is as potentially offensive to Jews as it is to Christians. It recognizes no specific holiday, and in fact, pointedly avoids it. If we are in fact trying to avoid giving offense, then it is far more prudent and polite to make an effort to get to know another’s faith and then take the time and thought to extend to that person the far more personal and welcoming greeting appropriate to his or her faith or culture. I have found that both my Christian and Jewish friends and associates alike have responded gratefully to this more direct, respectful, and intimate alternative.
Contrary to popular but erroneous belief, “Happy Holidays” was never intended to be sensitive to the feelings of non-Christians. This agenda has been promulgated and thrust onto us by the secular and particularly anti-Christian group, the American Humanist Association. Various other secularist groups and individuals with a vitriolic agenda against our Savior, His Church, and His birthday have since jumped on the bandwagon and snowballed this agenda right on queue. I have yet to ever hear any protest to the public display of a Menorah anywhere, nor would I ever welcome hearing any such protest. Yet such cannot be said of a publicly displayed Nativity scene. Instead, we Christians are told to take it or leave it with snowmen and so-called “Holiday” trees, whatever they are.
Our much abused and often maligned First Amendment merely states that specifically the Congress shall not make any law respecting the establishment of any religion, such as was the case in Mother England before our Revolution, and ironically, for a quite a long time here in Connecticut after the colonies won their independence. What secularists conveniently forget however, is that the First Amendment also states that Congress shall not ban the free exercise of any religion, which is to say that all religions should be mutually respected.
Political correctness for the myopically misled is as deceptively dangerous as the alluring Sirens of Greek mythology were for the lonely ship captains navigating toward the shallow shoals beneath them. In our obsessive quest for so-called “diversity,” and “equality” we often sidestep our naïve but well-intended efforts and only wind up discriminating against a group different from the one we were originally trying to protect. Our Declaration of Independence articulates our correct recognition of our God-granted rights and human dignity that (in the vernacular of that period), all “men” are created equal, and yes, you ladies as well. Yet “affirmative action” equates to quotas limiting opportunities for different types of individuals, and in employment, often while turning a blind eye to qualifications. “Hate crimes” elevate the status of one type of citizen over another by increasing the penalty for a crime that already appears elsewhere in the Penal Code, but for everyone else except for the synthetically special citizens cited. And last but not least, the “Happy Holidays” hyperbole, and all the ridiculous litigation that has sprung from it from municipalities and school boards across the country effectively bans all semblance of Christianity within their purview while giving a wink and a nod to other more favored denominations and trendy causes.
The engraved verbiage on the currency of our nation, a nation founded on Judeo/Christian principles, has it right twice: 1.) “In God we trust,” and 2.) “E Pluribus Unum,” Latin for “Out of many, one.” Those ignorant of the true meaning and history of the term, “separation of Church and state” would do well to edify themselves accordingly, and then reflect on what they read on their pocket change. As for those who do know but don’t care, or intentionally manipulate the separation principle to forward their own devious agenda, they should be openly identified, consistently challenged, and zealously chastised.
Lastly, it would behoove all of us to reflect upon the sage poem, “First They Came..” from Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran theologian imprisoned in Hitler’s concentration camps for turning against the Nazi’s. In our “United States,” when we so sanctimoniously and cavalierly justify persecuting one group of people for the perceived and /or contrived sake of another, like blind lemmings for the politically correct cause celebre’, history brutally dictates that we earnestly ask ourselves, “When am I next?”
To all of my fellow citizens, Happy New Year, and may God bless you.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Luke 2 The Story of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ
(click the Youtube video to hear "O' Holy Night" while reading the story of Christ's birth.) Merry Christmas Everyone and May God Bless You All!
1 "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."
Friday, December 19, 2008
New! The Shrine of the Holy Family, Provence, France; The Shrine of the Holy Family in Cotignac, Provence marks the site of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph’s appearance to a 17th Century French shepherd and his wife. The couple's prayer for a child was answered, along with Our Lady’s promise of succor to all who would seek her intercession. To honor this apparition and the heavenly importance of the marital union, the Church erected a shrine to the Holy Family, and has since welcomed thousands of pilgrims to Cotignac from all over the world. (11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Dec. 28)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
- 25th World Youth Day (2010): "Good Teacher, What Must I do to Inherit Eternal Life?" (Mk 10:17)
- 26th World Youth Day (2011): "Rooted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith" (cf Col 2:7). The 2011 WYD will take place in Madrid, Spain from 16 to 21 August, 2011.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
For the beer drinkers:
For animal lovers:
Being a huge fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra I have to include:
Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Griswold, CT
Remembering our Troops:
Merry Christmas in Middletown, CT
House in Stratford, CT
House in Derby, CT (Christmas Vacation song)
Friday, December 12, 2008
My response: Thanks for writing, and I will happily respond to your request anonymous- though this may be a very lengthy post as the series of books have a lot of material to cover. Let me start by saying if you are over 17 years old (in my opinion) the "Twilight" series is age appropriate for you if you like fantasy romance type novels. The author is talented in weaving her story and more than any other element in the books, her characters are endearing and that is what I think the "hook" is more than anything else. If you took Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" characters stripped them of being vampires and werewolves and made them into Cornish Pixie's or Leprechaun's they would still be appealing without the 'vampire' or 'werewolf' themes because the characters have depth and come to life in the story. It's the chemistry of the characters more than the fantasy vampire element that have made this so popular. People are crazy about Bella and Edward and Jacob for who they are, not what they are. That said, the chemistry, desire and hunger (Edward for Bella's blood and Bella for intimacy with Edward) that covers each book is not appropriate for younger readers. Period. Which is why I wrote my original article (Connecticut Catholic Corner: Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" Series Book Review ) warning parents about the series and young children reading it. Especially starry eyed impressionable young girls who fixate on this type of stuff.
"About three things I was absolutely positive. First Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him- and I didn't know how potent that part might be- that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him." [Bella speaking] Twilight, page 195.
This next quote is about how Bella so easily succumbs to Edward, that his appearance and smell entice her into losing her reasoning and not being able to think when she is close to him. This situation repeats its self numerous times in the series. It is Edward who has to repeatedly back off Bella's aggressiveness to be closer to him.
"His golden eyes mesmerized me. 'What are you afraid of, then?' he whispered intently.
But I couldn't answer. As I had just that once before, I smelled his cool breath in my face. Sweet, delicious, the scent made my mouth water. It was unlike anything else. Instinctively, unthinkingly, I leaned closer, inhaling." Twilight page 263
And this next quote is after Edward tries to explain to Bella how her blood and only her blood drives him wild. She, Bella, is Edward's perfect brand of heroin. (Bella says, "So what you're saying is, I'm your brand of heroin?" I teased, trying to lighten the mood. He smiled swiftly, seeming to appreciate my effort. "Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin." Twilight pages 267-268)
Here Edward is trying to explain the day he first smelled her and plotted to kill all the children in the classroom and the teacher just to have her blood. This is Edward speaking to Bella:
"To me, it was like you were some kind of demon, summoned straight from my own personal hell to ruin me. The fragrance coming off your skin...I thought it would make me deranged that first day. In that one hour, I thought of a hundred different ways to lure you from the room with me, to get you alone. And I fought them each back, thinking of my family, what I could do to them. I had to run out, to get away before I could speak the words that would make you follow..." He looked up then at my staggered expression as I tried to absorb his bitter memories. His golden eyes scorched from under his lashes, hypnotic and deadly.
"You would have come," he promised.
I tried to speak calmly. "Without a doubt." -Twilight pages 269-270
For more on Bella and Edward's first meeting, the author Stephenie Meyer has published an online chapter of this from Edward's vampire point of view in "Midnight Sun". This is not in the original Twilight book, but can be read online here:
The other issue that I have with young teens reading the book series is the sexual tension between Bella and Edward and later with Jacob wanting Bella nearly as obsessively as Bella wanting Edward.
"He lifted his glorious, agonized eyes to mine. 'You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever.'
My head was spinning at the rapid change in direction our conversation had taken. From the cheerful topic of my impending demise, we were suddenly declaring ourselves. He waited, and even though I looked down to study our hands between us, I knew his golden eyes were on me.
'You know how I feel, of course,' I finally said. 'I'm here...which, roughly translated means I would rather die than be away from you.' I frowned. 'I'm an idiot.'
'You are an idiot,' he agreed with a laugh. Our eyes met, and I laughed, too. We laughed together at the idiocy and sheer impossibility of such a moment.
'And so the lion fell in love with the lamb...,' he murmured. I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.
'What a stupid lamb," I said.
'What a sick, masochistic lion.' - Twilight page 273-274
"He raised his free hand and placed it gently on the side of my neck. I sat very still, the chill of his touch a natural warning-a warning telling me to be terrified. But there was no feeling of fear in me. There were, however, other feelings..."
"You see," he said. "Perfectly fine."
My blood was racing, and I wished I could slow it, sensing that this must make everything so much more difficult- the thudding of my pulse in my veins. Surely he could hear it." -Twilight page 275
"With deliberate slowness, his hands slid down the sides of my neck. I shivered, and I heard him catch his breath. But his hands didn't pause as they softly moved to my shoulders, and then stopped.
His face drifted to the side, his nose skimming across my collarbone. He came to rest with the side of his face pressed tenderly against my chest.
Listening to my heart.
"Ah," he sighed." -Twilight page 276
"He opened his eyes, and they were hungry. Not in a way to make me fear, but rather to tighten the muscles in the pit of my stomach and send my pulse hammering through my veins again.
"I wish," he whispered, "I wish you could feel the...complexity...the confusion...I feel. That you could understand."
He raised his hand to my hair, then carefully brushed it across my face.
"Tell me," I breathed.
"I don't think I can. I've told you, on the one hand, the hunger- the thirst- that, deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though"- he half-smiled- "as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can't empathize completely. But..." His fingers touched my lips lightly, making me shiver again.
"I may understand that better than you think."
'I'm not used to feeling so human. Is it always like this?"
"For me?" I paused. "No, never. Never before this."
He held my hands between his. They felt so feeble in his iron strength.
"I don't know how to be close to you," he admitted. "I don't know if I can."
-Twilight pages 277-278
"Edward hesitated to test himself, to see if this was safe, to make sure he was still in control of his need.
And then his cold, marble lips pressed very softly to mine.
What neither of us was prepared for was my response.
Blood boiled under my skin, burned in my lips. My breath came in a wild gasp. My fingers knotted in his hair, clutching him to me. My lips parted as I breathed in his heady scent."
-Twilight page 282
This is the type of sexual tension that as a parent I feel is totally inappropriate for young teens. This is the mildest of it as it's only the first book, the tension and pushing the limits grows with each book in the series (see the quotes below). While there is no graphic blow by blow of explicit sex, the point and sexual tension and frustration is clearly depicted between the characters. And each night, the never-goes-to-sleep-vampire Edward, climbs into bed with Bella so they can be close and he can watch her sleeping. She tries several times to talk Edward into being intimate with her, but he refuses saying his vampire strength could kill her if he loses control of himself for even a moment (Twilight pages 309-311).
Later in the series, Edward's resistance to Bella's near constant demand for intimacy begins to crack as they push the limits further:
"His mouth was not gentle; there was a brand-new edge of conflict and desperation in the way his lips moved. I locked my arms around his neck, and, to my suddenly overheated skin, his body felt colder than ever. I trembled, but it was not from the chill.
He didn't stop kissing me. I was the one who had to break away, gasping for air. Even then his lips did not leave my skin, they just moved to my throat. The thrill of victory was a strange high; it made me powerful. Brave. My hands weren't unsteady now; I got through with the buttons on his shirt this time easily, and my fingers traced the perfect planes of his icy chest. He was too beautiful. What was the word he'd used just now? Unbearable- that was it. His beauty was too much to bear...
I pulled his mouth back to mine, and he seemed just as eager as I was. One of his hands still cupped my face, his other arm was tight around my waist, straining me closer to him. It made it slightly more difficult as I tried to reach the front of my shirt, but not impossible.
Cold iron fetters locked around my wrists, and pulled my hands above my head, which was suddenly on a pillow." -Book #3 "Eclipse" pages 449-450
Clearly this stuff is NOT for young teens to be reading, yet I see girls as young as ten walking around with these books and saying things like "Edward is so hot!". This is why I originally wrote my article warning parents to PLEASE read these books FIRST. Know what your children are reading. It's great to see kids reading instead of sitting in front of television or computer screens all day, but parents have a responsibility as parents to filter out inappropriate reading material. I can't imagine parents reading these quotes and still saying "There's nothing wrong with my ten or thirteen year old reading these books!". Now I might be very naive, I could be, I just can't imagine it. My view is this, if YOU as a parent wouldn't be willing to read this stuff OUT LOUD to your child, then why would you let them go read it to themselves?
You mentioned Bella's cliff dive in your comment to me. Bella was not attempting to commit suicide, she had at this point in the series (book #2 "New Moon") become an adrenalin junky. She was riding motorcycles and once jumped off the cliff into the ocean after watching other teens do it (later you find out the other teens are werewolves/shape shifters who heal quickly should they get hurt). This was during her deep depression phase because Edward had left her. The only time she felt anything (or heard what she thought was the voice of Edward in her head) was when her adrenalin was going, so she sought out dangerous things and situations. They stimulated her and made her feel again. So Bella's reckless behavior was a side effect of her severe depression at Edward leaving her. Again, not a good thing for impressionable young teens to embrace as a way to handle break ups. Though Meyer does not show it as a good thing, she shows it for what it is; stupid. But how many young teens with stars in their eyes over this love story are going to grasp that fact in light of Bella's heartbreak? Not many probably. Older teens will get it, I think- I hope.
So again, my issue with the series is not so much about vampires and werewolves as it is the adult content of sexual situations and young teens. It's just not appropriate for young teens in my opinion as a parent. The Twilight series while well written with interesting and endearing characters, has just too much adult content for young teens. Parents need to know what their kids are reading so they can actually parent their kids (now there's a concept, eh?). It's as simple as that.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
"Strengthening the Catholic Viewpoint in the Political Arena"
Workshop sponsored by the Connecticut Catholic Conference
This workshop is for anyone interested in bringing the Catholic viewpoint to our elected officials,
organizing a parish advocacy group, and learning about the Conference’s 2009 legislative priorities.
Some of the topics covered will be:
- Overview of the Legislative Process
- The political challenges faced in making the moral and social concerns of the Church heard at the Capitol
- How to effectively interact with your elected officials and make them more responsive
- Organizing an advocacy group in your parish
- Coordinating our efforts at the parish and state levels (Speaking as one voice)
- 2009 Legislative Agenda of the Connecticut Catholic Conference
Registration 5:30 – 6:00 p.m. (light supper provided)
Program 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Dates and Locations:
Monday, January 5, 2009 – St. James Parish, 767 Elm Street, Rocky Hill
Tuesday, January 6, 2009 – St. Joseph Parish, 11 Baltic Road, Norwich (Occum)
Thursday, January 8, 2009 – St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, 203 East Avenue, Norwalk
(Parish Center across the street from the Church)
PLEASE RSVP BY DECEMBER 19, 2008 ONLY IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND .
Email the Connecticut Catholic Conference at: email@example.com
Or Call: 860-524-7882
Monday, December 8, 2008
"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin."
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The continuing increase in medical costs and its financial burden on business and family budgets, and the large number of uninsured persons, are the two primary factors pushing the calls for reform. These calls are being slowly answered by Connecticut’s General Assembly and Governor. During the 2007 session of the General Assembly two special health care authorities were established to examine various aspects of the health care issue in Connecticut. The HealthFirst and Primary Care Access Authorities having been recently holding public hearings around the state and will be reporting their findings to the legislature in 2009.
Also, at the strong urging of the Governor the Charter Oak Health Plan was established in 2008 to help cover uninsured persons. This plan has encountered a slow and problematic start, but is beginning to build momentum. However, this plan still falls short of the goal of affordable and quality health care for everyone.
The 2009 legislative session is expected to see intense activity on the issue of health care reform. The reports from the special state health care authorities and a major proposal from the Connecticut based Universal Health Care Foundation are sure to stimulate intense discussion. The reality of an ever increasing state budget deficit is also expected to impact the debate and any possible outcomes. However, the need for health care reform is clear as thousands of people within our state lack employer sponsored insurance or can not afford to purchase their own health care coverage. The uninsured also cause a continuing strain on our health care system as doctors and hospitals continue to provide care, but with little or no compensation for their services. These providers are dependent on the state and its taxpayers to help cover these uncompensated expenses.
The Connecticut Catholic Conference is a member of a special committee of faith based organization sponsored by the Universal Health Care Foundation. The purpose of this committee is to raise the moral issues and questions surrounding the right to quality health care. The Connecticut Catholic Conference and this committee look forward to addressing and endorsing a workable solution to this very complex problem. (reprinted from the November issue of the Connecticut Catholic Conference Advocacy Network Newsletter)
On the Road to Healthcare4every1
Healthcare4every1 campaign road shows coming to a town near you…
The Healthcare4every1 Campaign will be taking the show on the road starting December 9th in Torrington (see schedule below).
Save the Date
Tuesday, December 9th 5:30pm – Torrington – Torrington City Hall at 140 Main St.
Wednesday, December 10th 6:00pm – Hamden – Hamden Middle School at 2623 Dixwell Ave
Thursday, January 8th 6:00 pm – Norwalk – Norwalk City Hall Community Room at 125 East Ave.
Tuesday, January 13th 5:30pm – Hartford – Union (Train) Station at 1 Union Plaza
Monday, December 1, 2008
VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for December is: "That, faced by the growing expansion of the culture of violence and death, the Church may courageously promote the culture of life through all her apostolic and missionary activities".
His mission intention is: "That, especially in mission countries, Christians may show through gestures of brotherliness that the Child born in the grotto in Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world".
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The link to this online store can be found on our homepage at www.SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com, or you can follow a direct link at: www.cafepress.com/angelsglory. All proceeds go directly to our church.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day
October 3, 1863
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
-President Abraham Lincoln
And for me and my house, it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the Peanuts gang gathered around the ping pong table. :o)
I've got another Catholic book review for The Catholic Company. I have been enjoying the "Beauty of Grace: 2009 Calendar of Indulgences" for over a week now. There is so much information and beautiful photography included in this calendar that I can't help but think it will make a GREAT Christmas gift for fellow Catholics on my shopping list this year, and it's only $12.95- can't beat that, especially in this economy.
I have to mention one of my favorite photo's in the calendar. There is photo for December 2009 of the inside of Sacred Heart Church in Peoria, Illinois that is breathtaking. Along side that current photo is an inset with a "before" photo of the church prior to its being renovated. Now the church was nice before the renovation, but after...stunning. That is the best word to describe this beautiful church. I'd love to visit it one day. What a stunning church, it truly is breathtaking and I couldn't take my eyes off it. All the artwork and photography in the calendar comes from Murals by Jericho - great job!
Besides the information and photography the calendar is color coded for quick easy viewing. Holy Days of Obligation are blue and Indulgence Days are red. Each month lists the saint days, Holy Days, Indulgence Days along with secular holidays. At the bottom of each month there are fact areas- that give historical facts, quotes by the Church Fathers and saints, prayers and scripture quotes and more. This honestly, is probably the best Catholic calendar I've ever had and one I recommend.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Beauty of Grace Calendar of Indulgences 2009 Wall Calendar.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Connecticut Catholic Conference is holding a Catholic Awareness Day in Hartford at the State Capitol on February 9, 2009 . This is a day to learn the Catholic viewpoint on important public issues facing our State, learn how the legislative process works, and how to communicate with your State legislators. You are urged to make appointments with your State legislators on this day to discuss issues of concern to you. The Bishops of Connecticut will also be making statements on important public policy issues.
Each parish is being encouraged to send a group of parishioners. Please see your pastor if you are interested in attending and try to get a group from your parish to attend.
CATHOLIC AWARENESS DAY
Monday February 9, 2009
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
The Connecticut Catholic Conference
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Now, back to the movie...sigh. I don't know when I have been more disappointed in a movie after reading a book than in "Twilight". Some words that popped into my mind while watching the movie: lame...let down...disappointing...crying shame...moronic. Now it's probably not what you are expecting me to gripe about- butchering the story. Usually, we all hate when "a good thing" is messed with. And the basic story of Bella and Edward falling in love and finding a way to beat the odds against them is a good fantasy romance story full of twists and turns to keep you interested. You won't find any of that in the movie. None. Zilch. Nada. We have to expect the book to be butchered to fit a year long story into less than two hours- that's a given. I was OK with that because I was expecting it. What I can't get over...what I am shocked by...is the horrible and I mean HORRIBLE dialog and acting. I was laughing when I shouldn't have been, and so were many others in the theater at the dialog and camera shots. What they did to the character of Edward was...shameful. The director totally missed the mark on this and so did the writers. I am surprised Stephanie Meyer, the book series author, gave her approval to this movie. What was she thinking? I can't tell you how many times I cringed watching this movie.
I have no doubt that many will go see "Twilight", because they love the book, but I also believe they will be hugely disappointed. The biggest and most profound impression that I could NOT shake while watching this entire movie was that these two actors (Kristen Stewart who plays "Bella" and Robert Pattinson who plays "Edward") just could not stand each other. They had no on scene chemistry and I don't mean sexual, I mean working chemistry. They didn't...'fit' with each other at all. They didn't play off each other. I never saw "Bella or Edward" in the film, I saw Kristen and Robert. They never brought out Bella or Edward. The tension and inevitable love found in the book between the characters is devoid in the movie completely. I have liked Pattinson since his role as Cedric in "Harry Potter" and I think he's a good actor. I don't know what happened on this film, he was awful. I have to blame the writers and director because I know the guy can act. His best shot in the movie was standing near Bella's truck pulling out a dent with his super vampire strength and asking her if she'd go meet his vampire family. That was his most believable performance in the movie. It seemed natural and right compared to the rest.
This was supposed to be the beginning of some great true love story and watching the movie I could not even get the impression that Bella and Edward liked each other on any level. There was nothing there. It wasn't just flat performances, it was cold and boring and sometimes almost painful to watch. I've seen better acting on "Sesame Street" than in "Twilight".
The best (if anyone could be called 'best') actor in the entire film was Cam Gigandet who plays "James" the 'bad' vampire who tracks down Bella to kill her. He was believable and gave off the only emotion you could feel in the entire film. The Cullen family, whom Twilight fans have fallen in love with, were portrayed more like zombies than vampires. Their charm and struggle to live among humans was not portrayed on any level. The Cullen family scenes were like a rotten version of "Stepford Wives" or "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". I was wondering where the pods were.
There were only two scenes that I found any enjoyment in at all. The first was Edward driving the Volvo (reverse tail spin was flawless-good stunt driver and nice scene) as he has just rescued Bella from a scary situation with some thugs- it lasted all of ten seconds but it was a good shot. The other was the baseball scene. I have no complaints about that scene at all, good scenery, good music and the characters actually carried it off for the first and only time in the movie. That's the best I can say about "Twilight" the movie.
Should they continue with more "Twilight" movies for each of the books, then I strongly suggest Catherine Hardwicke the director and all the writers should be fired. They destroyed a story that has become well loved among our teens. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best I'd be hard pressed to give "Twilight" any more than a 2 rating.
It's really sad when the highlight of going to a movie is seeing previews for other up and coming movies.
As for the PG-13 rating...other than vampires growling and tossing each other around I don't know why it got a "13" tacked on it. I don't recall a single swear in the entire movie. There was one kiss scene but nothing you wouldn't see in regular TV commercials at home. Bella does get a leg wound after being tossed by James the bad vampire and a bite mark on her wrist (he is a vampire after all), but nothing gruesome, she holds up a hand with some blood on it, though her yelling in pain-I suppose someone thought was upsetting, I thought the acting was so bad it was nearly laughable if it wasn't so painful to watch.
This is the biggest movie disappointment I have had in over a decade at least and it wasn't from changing a book story, it was everything else. Now I think I will reread the books just to wipe the movie from my mind and leave it with the story and characters as Meyer created them.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Of course, there are always two sides to every argument. But like with facial expressions, follow the actions over the words. Don’t trust what politicians tell you, and don’t even look at their record a year or two before the election, but look at their record farther back to see their true beliefs and stances. I wish such was not the case, but sadly, it usually is nowadays.
Violence vs. peace is a no-brainer. In the 60’s blacks and the whites who supported them peacefully protested to attain their duly deserved civil rights and equality, such as in public accommodations, transportation, education, and last but not least, at the polls on Election Day. For their peaceful efforts, they were savagely beaten, knocked down with fire hoses and had dogs set on them. Churches were burned and some blacks terrorized and even murdered. Who do you suppose was right and wrong in that argument?
The Minutemen is a civilian based organization that simply observes illegal border crossings into the US and notifies the US Border Patrol. It is really just a large block watch organization. Minutemen are allowed to be armed, but only for their own personal self defense. They have no arrest powers, any more than the right to citizen’s arrest that we all have, and they are sternly instructed to not even approach or interact with invading illegal immigrants. Their only duty and authority is to observe and report. The Minutemen have received countless death threats and vile hate mail for their efforts. And yet these Minutemen have also been credited with saving countless lives by rendering and summoning emergency medical assistance to illegal immigrants found in the desert severely ill, injured, unconscious, or suffering from severe dehydration, starvation, and heat exhaustion. In many cases, Minutemen saved the lives of these law-breaking individuals. There are countless reasons, both for the sake of our own nation, as well as the sake of other, law-abiding immigrants who are trying to enter our country the proper way, that our borders and immigration laws should be enforced. But that would take a whole other essay to even begin to delve into all that subject matter. For now, suffice to say that Romans, Chapter 13 admonishes us that God put our government in place, and as such, the government’s laws must be obeyed. But I ask you, your own personal views on this controversial subject aside, who are the real bad guys, the ones (presumably illegal immigrants and/or those who support them) making death threats and sending vile hate mail, or the ones who only call law enforcement officials when they see a federal crime being committed, and only physically intervene when the violator is in dire need of lifesaving food, water, shelter, and medical aid?
Connecticut’s preeminent pro-life/pro-family organization, the Family Institute of Connecticut (FIC), has also received vulgar, vitriolic hate mail and threats because of its strong and ardent stance against those who endanger the sanctity of life, traditional marriage (defined as between one man and one woman), and the family in general. A quick perusal of FIC’s blog during controversial discussions will often display the anger and vitriol from some members of gay advocacy. FIC’s response: numerous peaceful and even prayerful protests in various public areas, usually at or near the State Capitol in Hartford. Having now been placated by unconstitutional judicial activism in this state, Connecticut gays are not only peaceful; they’re down right joyous. And why shouldn’t they? They won, even if unconstitutionally so by a biased court that usurped the rights of the electorate in a matter that should have been decided by legislation, or better yet, referendum if we can ever some day get to have one. And why we can’t now is another long story. Look, however, 3,000 miles to our west and see the violence, rioting, chaos and anarchy now going on in California by gays and gay activists. Churches are being raided during services, one elderly peaceful protester was viciously and physically attacked and had a crucifix knocked out of her hand. By the way, this tactic for gays is nothing new. In the early 70’s they also raided the convention of the American Psychiatric Association in San Francisco, and eventually literally bullied the cowering and politically correct APA into capitulating and removing homosexuality as a mental disorder from its clinical texts in rushed, hushed hearings, and despite protest of many of its own professional members in 1973, ironically, the same pivotal and abhorrent year that gave us Roe vs. Wade. Again, your own personal views on this controversial subject aside also, who do you suppose are the good guys and bad guys in this argument?
A witty friend of mine at work once quipped, “Have you ever noticed that in an argument in which two people are both yelling and screaming at each other, you can’t tell which one is the (expletive deleted)?” True enough, but when we observe lions mixing it up with lambs, the real picture is much clearer.
I saw one particularly disgusting, although not at all uncommon photo in my morning newspaper today. It was a (presumably) a gay male protester in California, dressed in “drag” (as a woman), and displaying a of sign blathering on about civil rights for gays, saying “Civil rights for all.” They just don’t get it. And most of them won’t.
Again, just peruse FIC’s blog and see the defiant, belligerent, hateful and enraged posts that come from gays and their proponents whenever the issue of religion is ever even inferred. Much like when Dracula sees a crucifix, it simply makes them go “batty”! (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that one!) The fact is that many, if not most gays are either non-religious, or worse yet, despise religion, especially if it interferes with their gay agenda. Thus, those who so bristle at faith can never truly understand the genuine definition of “civil rights.” What blacks protested and bled for in the 60’s were legitimate civil rights. Gays have no civil right to marry each other or to engage in gay sexual conduct. And by the way, the flawed law of Roe vs. Wade aside, mothers, contrary to popular but erroneous secular belief, have no so-called “reproductive rights” or “right to choose” when it involves killing their baby in the womb, and for that matter, now in the era of Obama, outside of the womb, an atrocity I thought I would never see in my lifetime, and in my beloved country.
Government does not give anyone civil rights. Free and just governments only articulate and hopefully defend civil rights. Civil rights are given to each person by God. When I was a kid and protested about this or that, my father, the benevolent dictator that he was, didn’t want to hear it, and always gave the same reply, “My house, my rules.” True enough. He or she who pays the bills, including the rent or mortgage, gets to dictate the rules. Likewise, He (God) who creates the people gets to decide what rights they shall and shall not have. For all the hot air about separation of Church and State (another often misused concept that I currently don’t have time or space to expound upon), our country and our government were also formed by God, as recognized by our founding (human) fathers in our Declaration of Independence. So like it or not, our country is steeped in God, as are our civil rights and those who cannot or will not first accept God as He is cannot and will not be able or willing to grasp the next concept in that logical sequence.
Once we recognize that God is the root of our civil rights, only then can we grasp that He wishes us to be treated equal in most aspects of our lives, such as in restaurants, on buses, in schools and in the voting booth. But He does not want us to abuse and profane His wonderful, loving and sacred gift of sexual pleasure, intended only as a means of procreation and as an act of expressing love, by engaging in it outside of the bounds of the sacrament of marriage. He also does not wish us to engage in homosexual behavior, or defile marriage by entering in what only secularists accept as same sex marriage. He also angrily detests infanticide, and I offer no apology for my intentional and unabashed absence of a soft, deceptive, flowery, trendy euphemism. It is what it is, and I refuse to sugarcoat what it truly is like some others do. Enough of that double-talking, politically correct nonsense. We need more truth, and as a culture and society, we are literally dying because of our abandonment of truth.
Speaking of absolute truth, Archbishop Fulton Sheen once keenly observed that truth is still the truth, regardless if everyone believes it, only some people believe it, or nobody believes it. God’s word is absolute truth, a concept difficult to fathom for many people in our secularist world, which increasingly embraces a moral relativist viewpoint, conveniently molded to the whims and desires of each person who engages in such shallow and fallacious introspection. We even have certain churches that also encourage such baseless and feel-good moral relativism. On the crowded highway to Perdition, these stray clergy members will be rightly positioned in the very front of the traffic jam, and the very first ones to feel the heat and smell the sulfur for the countless souls they are leading to unnecessary destruction. Gays have no civil rights to act gay or to engage in so-called same sex marriage. Some, if not all gays never chose to be gay, and they very legitimately need our sympathy, understanding and most of all, our prayers for their unsolicited suffering. We must also always bear in mind that we are called to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Gays are called to be celibate, and as each of us has our own individual crosses to bear and to offer up to God as His Son suffered and languished on the cross for us, so must gays also bear and offer this cross to God. That is an absolute truth. There simply is no getting around that. The commonly used analogy that compares the civil rights struggle of blacks in the 60’s to the so-called civil rights struggle of gays today is abjectly false and utterly absurd. The two causes have nothing at all in common, and in fact, are as worlds apart as are Heaven and Hell. One struggle was of a true moral virtue, and the other is a grave and intrinsic evil.
In another photo in my morning newspaper today, I saw a five year-old little girl napping on the ground during a California gay protest. Next to this adorable and purely innocent little child, someone placed a sign in front of her saying, “Mommy & Mama, Please make the scary bigots go away!” Such an opportunistic manipulation of a child is a serous sin that enrages God (“…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” Matthew 18: 6), and just one minor example of how gays corrupt children, as gay propaganda and subtle indoctrination in some public schools has already been foisted upon vulnerable and impressionable children as young as the one depicted in the news photo. Also, notice the commonly used tactic of gay protesters, the manipulation of innocuous emotions, words and phrases, twisted around to falsely focus guilt on the innocent and away from the truly guilty. Thus, dissenters of the gay agenda are “homophobes,” “bigots,” and in some cases even worse. This is an evil but cunning strategy. For someone weak in faith and/or fact, he or she could be easily duped to believe the intentionally deceptive and false illusion that the dissenters of the gay agenda are the bad guys, after all, what decent person would ever agree with someone with such an ugly label as a “homophobe” or a “bigot”? Father John Corapi of EWTN, an Army veteran himself, often says that Satan is a masterful tactician. Indeed, and so are his followers, who are clever and dangerous wolves in sheep’s clothing. As Jesus taught us, only good trees will bear good fruit, and the rest of the trees will be burned in the fire. Our Blessed Mother at Fatima strongly urged us to pray and do penance to avoid the needless wrath of God and subsequent destruction that we now seem to be inevitably and cavalierly bringing upon ourselves, and in the belief of many, including yours truly, much sooner rather than much later.
There is absolute truth, and popularity and agreement don’t even enter the equation. Another sage, succinct and common phrase tells us “Talk is cheap.” Often, it is. In the old western movies, good guys and bad guys were readily detectable by the unwritten but generally understood rule of who wore the white hats and who wore the black hats, even before the shoot-out scenes commenced. But in our real and modern day life, where hats are now, in most regions, an obsolete fashion, their color-coded messages are also no longer necessary. Don’t necessarily ignore the talk (except for maybe of most of our modern day politicians), but don’t solely rely on it either, kind of like what President Reagan recommended in our foreign policy with the then Soviet Union, “Trust, but verify.” Trust the words, but only when you can verify them with actions. Such analysis will be helpful in separating the chaff from the wheat, fact from fiction, wolves from sheep, and in the end, the discernment of absolute truth, which is the only true measure by which we can define and detect good and evil, and thus accordingly know for which causes to support and to oppose.
And as another absolute truth bluntly teaches us, in the end, there is either Heaven or Hell for all of us.
(Recommended reading: Matthew 5: 13-17, 7: 15-21, and 12: 33-38.)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Today gay "marriage" becomes officially legal in Connecticut, making Connecticut the second state to make gay marriage legal (since CA voters tossed it out of their state). We, the people, weren't asked our opinion. In Connecticut the courts have decided this (by a very slim 4/3 decision) issue for the people, in California the people decided and said loud and clear "No way!" to gay marriage for the second time (this came up several years ago and the voters said "no way" then too). The biggest difference we see from both sides of this issue is the reaction from the outcome of these events in Connecticut and California. Here in Connecticut those upset with the court ruling have peacefully vowed to not give up the pursuit of their cause in banning gay marriage in this state. There are no riots, no pro-traditional marriage groups spitting on people or assaulting them here in Connecticut. Now lets look at California and see how the hostile mob, upset with the outcome of the election and vote on Proposition 8 are reacting.
There have been riots, spitting, shouting, swerving cars at crowds of people including children standing on curbs (see the link below to more on that story) and threats coming from gay marriage supporters. The little old lady, Phyllis Burgess, in the video had her cross ripped out of her hands and stomped into the ground, while gay marriage supporters spit on her and screamed in her face "GO HOME!". The news reporter Kimberly Chang (who if you listen closely tells one protester she feels she is being attacked by the angry mob), with Phyllis Burgess tried desperately repeated times to talk to her and do a news report but the gay marriage mob became so threatening and nasty she couldn't even talk to the elderly lady. Reporter Kimberly Chang asks Phyllis Burgess if she is ok or not, but the crowd is screaming so much you can't hear the elderly woman's response. What I find astounding in the news clip, is that at the very end, the news host says there is "a lot of hate on both sides". What?? What "hate" was the little old lady demonstrating by walking with a cross on a public sidewalk? There was nothing hateful about "both sides", only ONE side demonstrated their hatred and intolerance and bully tactics. One side was so hateful they assaulted and bullied a little old lady walking with a cross to voice her opinion. They also bullied the news reporter and refused to allow her to do her job and interview Phyllis Burgess. Apparently only gay marriage supporters are allowed to voice their opinion on public streets in California without the risk of assault and harassment.
So where's all the "tolerance" this crowd was preaching about prior to the election? They (gay marriage supporters) said before the election to "let the people decide" and now that the people have decided they want to yank that away from them and void out the voters voice in the election. They only want "tolerance" when it's for them and their views. The moment you voice an opposing view you are attacked verbally and in some cases physically assaulted. I heard this morning on FOX News that Phyllis Burgess is seeking to press assault charges on those in the video to shoved her, spit on her and destroyed her cross. Good for you Ms. Burgess!
Here's a few quotes from Catholic News Agency reporting on other acts of violence and harassment from gay marriage supporters (link to article below).
"While both supporters and opponents of the measure honked their horns, he [Paul Bishop]wrote, “the way to tell the difference is the No On 8 supporters usually accompanied their horn honking with an obscene gesture or a string of obscenities. They also liked to swerve their cars toward the children on the curb.”
“The late local news showed scenes of several Hispanic females in tears outside the temple trying to remove the signs desecrating the walls and fences surrounding the temple. As these individuals – who according to a temple spokesperson were not church members – removed the hate-filled signs, the mob exploded and began beating the individuals to the ground,” Bishop wrote in Meridian. “Police intervened and arrests were made, but the fact this was allowed to happen at all was appalling.”
Link to source & full report: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=14295
Sunday, November 9, 2008
In a homily of a different subject, my pastor summed it up best a few weeks ago when he admonished us that whether wheat or weeds grow, is not our concern. Our calling is simply to sow the seed.
President John Quincy Adams put it another way, “Duty is ours; results are God’s.”
Remember too, that God’s plan is not always revealed to us, but it is always for the greater good, despite how it may appear to us otherwise. As the sage quip goes, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.”
We are nevertheless not relieved from our duties of perseverance and faith. Even from evil, good flourishes to give glory to God.
Whatever we did to promote the greater good and God’s will, whether by prayer, fasting, sacrifice, penance, voting with an informed conscience, etc.., we did our duty. Rest assured that God is pleased with what we did. We are off the hook for the results. Take comfort in our Lord’s words in Matthew; Chapter 11, verses 28, 29, 30: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In our modern day vernacular: Don’t sweat the small stuff; God will do all the heavy lifting.
Also, take “serenity” in the Serenity Prayer: “Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
In one of his final speeches as President, Richard Nixon poignantly noted that we cannot truly appreciate the mountaintops until we have been in some of the valleys.
Also remember that despair is one of the favorite tools of the devil by which he strikes at us when we are most vulnerable and tries to separate us from God. As EWTN’s Father Corapi, himself an Army veteran once said, (paraphrasing) “The Devil is a masterful tactician.” Don’t let him win you over! Be strong! Fight back! Pray! There is no shame in getting knocked down; only in not getting back up again.
The purpose of life is to be holy by serving and loving God and each other. It’s all one big, test. There is no second place in this contest. It’s win or lose, Heaven or Hell. God put us here to do His work, so if we won’t, who will? Who saves the next baby slated for abortion? Who speaks for the innocent 48 + million who have already been slain? When my wife and I lost our infant son, a priest counseled us to grieve, but not to mourn. He elaborated that sorrow is healthy and even necessary, but it should also be temporary. Life must go on. It is far too important, and fleeting to do otherwise. Let us grieve our loss, but not mourn over it. Far too much is at stake. God knows how we feel. And He’s also watching what we do, or don’t do. Let us all faithfully seek comfort in the Lord, and then confidently move forward to do His will.
(Suggested reading: Psalms, Chapter 34.)
I once worked on the campaign of a successful Congressman. One of the reasons he was so successful for several terms is because he never closed his campaign office. It literally remained open and functioning during the entire time he served in the Congress. He knew that elections don’t end fights; they only begin them. Mr. Obama also seems to grasp that sage concept.
Pro-lifers took it on the chin on Election Day. The already pro-death culture, Democrat controlled-Congress only gained strength in both chambers, and the poster child of infanticide himself, and yes, I do mean literally, “infanticide,” won the Oval Office. For those of you who don’t already know, while an Illinois State Senator, Obama consistently and successfully fought legislation that would have mandated medical care for fully born infants who survived botched abortions.
I’m not writing this piece to prattle on about politics. Frankly, we currently have bigger fish to fry. I also don’t particularly care if you are a Republican, a Democrat, an unaffiliated voter, or a member of a third party. However, if you are one of those 54% Catholics, who as Julie keenly articulated, sold your soul for your 30 pieces of silver by voting for Obama, here is your chance to redeem your souls. (Right after you go to Confession!)
I believe it was Yogi Berra who once said in his quintessential Yogi-kind of way, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” Obama is already giving us a sneak peak of coming attractions in his agenda. It ain’t pretty.
He has said that one of his first priorities, which the Democrat leadership in both Congressional chambers have been salivating for, is the ironically dubbed, “Freedom of Choice Act,” which, by my interpretation, unconstitutionally stomps on the 10th Amendment (as well as a few other ones), and authorizes the federal government to usurp all existing state laws that in any way impede abortion. It stands to reason that other pro-life successes like the Mexico City Policy, the Hyde Amendment, and even the Infants Born Alive Protection Act (the federal and almost verbatim version of the Illinois state legislation that Obama thwarted) will be the next victims of infanticide on demand, and that any appointed judges and justices will also undoubtedly be of this same pro-abortion mindset.
Obama is not so subtly already campaigning for 2012. We must also campaign, not just for 2012, but also for tomorrow, and every day thereafter until abortion is finally ended, and even then, we must still fight. Ask any person who has successfully lost weight. Their success didn’t end with the diet. It continued with “maintenance,” and sometimes, that’s the hardest part. No matter how you slice it, we cannot and should not sit on our laurels and wait for the next Election Day. We need to focus our efforts on now, and forever. A daunting task it is, I admit, but folks, it is what it is. Another famous saying tells us, “It ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings.” Never mind any singing fat ladies. It ain’t over until our Lord says so.
The Obama campaign and all the evil it represents and intends is not ending. Neither must the crucial campaign to protect the now even more endangered unborn. Reflect and pray upon the 5th Sorrowful Mystery, and envision our Lord suffering on the cross. Then also recall the fruit of that mystery, “Perseverance.” Meanwhile, fret not, and take the faithful advice of my beloved and adopted patron saint, St. Padre Pio, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”
(Suggested reading: Ephesians 6: 10-18.)