Thursday, August 30, 2012

Catholicism Book Review

If you're Catholic and haven't heard of Father Robert Barron, then you must get his book and check out his Word on Fire website soon.  He is a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago and a faculty member of the Mundelin Seminary.  I was given the opportunity by Tiber River Reviewer Program to read and review Fr. Barron's very popular book called Catholicism.  This book was written as part of his 10 part DVD series on the history of Catholicism and all it's major elements.  His style of writing is easy to understand and has the ability to draw the reader in as you get an in-depth look at the sacraments, worship, prayer, Mary, the apostles and saints, grace, salvation, heaven, hell and purgatory from the Catholic perspective.  It's chock full of information yet doesn't feel like you're reading a text book.  In fact, it's almost like he is speaking right to you.  I certainly felt that way while reading this book as I envisioned him discussing it in his DVD series.  Fr. Barron doesn't try to paint a pretty picture as if the church is made up of saints.  He acknowledges some of the blights against it's history at it's own doing or from times of persecution.

Last year, I was fortunate to watch his DVD series at my church's bible study.  It was filmed with gorgeous scenery, cathedrals, paintings, stained glass and statues from around the world.  I was so utterly amazed at the beauty of what I was watching, that at times, I missed what Fr. Barron was saying.  His book helped me fill in the gaps from my previous viewing experience and learn something new.  Many of the cathedrals and art he highlighted are actually from ancient times that are still beautiful and found around the globe today.  It's incredible!  In his book, he does include several photos but to truly appreciate it's beauty, you should watch the DVD series too.

If you want to understand why Catholics believe what they do, this book is a great place to start.  Or if you'd like to learn more about your own faith, this is the book for you.  He explores the church's history from the time of Jesus up until present.  I also think it's not a book that you read once.  It's more useful than that.  I plan to refer back to it as a reference guide as needed.  I would strongly recommend Catholicism written by Fr. Robert Barron.  You can purchase your own copy at Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.  No monetary compensation was given for my honest review.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

History of Artificial Contraception

I haven't done the research myself, I read it on Vic's blog, Thinking Catholic Strategic Center this morning and wanted to share it here.  It brought to light some questions I had about other Christian denominations and artificial contraception.  The Catholic Church has always opposed artificial contraception and in fact, The Catechism states:

"every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, 
or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, 
to render procreation impossible' is intrinsically evil: [HV 14.]"

I had often wondered if the early Protestant church leaders felt the same way or were supporters of methods used to prevent life. And when did the masses change their moral views?  Margaret Sanger was one woman, and couldn't have opened the first birth control clinic and established Planned Parenthood unless society was on board.  Here's a brief look at history thanks to Vic, who has done the work and found the following quotes:

Martin Luther on contraception (1483 to 1546):"Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest or adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes into her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed."

John Calvin (Protestant Church Reformer/Calvinism) on contraception (1509 to 1564):
"Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race."

John Wesley (co-founder of the Methodist Church) on contraception (1703 to 1791):"Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, refused to raise up seed unto the brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord - And it is to be feared, thousands, especially single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls."

The Jewish Faith states:
"The Encyclopedia Judaica (Vol.4,p.1054, article "Birth Control") states: "Jewish tradition ascribed the practice of birth control to the depraved humanity before Noah."

President Theodore Roosevelt on contraception:"Birth control is the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement."

Sigmund Freud on contraception:“. . . it is a characteristic common to all the perversions that in them reproduction as an aim is put aside. This is actually the criterion by which we judge whether a sexual activity is perverse - if it departs from reproduction in its aims and pursues the attainment of gratification independently . . . Everything that . . . serves the pursuit of gratification alone is called by the unhonored title of ‘perversion’ and as such is despised.” (Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psycho-Analysis, translation By Joan Riviere (New York, NY: Liverwright, 1935), p. 277.)

Mahatma Gandhi on contraception:"Despite having been vigorously lobbied and pressed by Margaret Sanger to support contraception, Gandhi outlined the deleterious consequences of artificial contraception thus:
“Artificial methods [of contraception] are like putting a premium on vice. They make men and women reckless . . . Nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws. Moral results can only be produced by moral restraints. All other restraints defeat the very purpose for which they are intended. If artificial methods become the order of the day, nothing but moral degradation can be the result. A society that has already become enervated through a variety of causes will still become further enervated by the adoption of artificial [birth control] methods . . . As it is, man has sufficiently degraded women for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her.”

Therefore, before the 1900's it would seem that many religions and prominent secular figures were against artificial contraception or any means that would inhibit procreation.  

So what happened?  

At the Anglican Conference in 1908, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion declared "The Conference records with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family and earnestly calls upon all Christian people to discountenance the use of all artificial means of restriction as demoralising to character and hostile to national welfare."

1930 is when it all changed.  The Anglican Church held the Lambeth Conference and took a vote on artificial contraception and produced a new resolution, "Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, complete abstinence is the primary and obvious method" but if there was morally sound reasoning for avoiding abstinence, "the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of Christian principles."

From there it was a slippery slope and within 30 years, all Protestant churches changed their views on artificial contraception.  And now it is common practice among women and teenagers; and seemed "as irresponsible conduct" if a woman or teenager are not on birth control.

My next thought was "Who besides the Catholic Church is still opposed to artificial contraception?  Or are we alone in this view?"  
According to Vic's research, "only Orthodox Judaism and Catholicism in the West, and 
Orthodox Churches in the East, maintain the ancient doctrines against contraception.  
Western Culture is now just as severely split on the doctrine of artificial contraception as it is 
on the teaching authority of the Pope."

I've only touched on Vic's article, so for a more in depth look at his article go Here.  

May God bless those who listen and obey His Word.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Troubling Statistics

I received a letter in the mail from Christendom College in Virginia this week and learned some troubling news about college age Catholics who attend Catholic Colleges.  Assuming their findings are verifiable, here are some of their conclusions:

"Many if not most Catholic colleges today are Catholic in name only and students who attend
them are more likely to become militant secularists than to become capable defenders of the Faith."

That's a bold statement.  Here is why they make that claim:

  • Whereas a majority of students entered Catholic colleges pro-life, a larger majority graduated "pro-choice."
  • Nearly one in five students knew another student who had or paid for an abortion.
  • Support for legalizing homosexual "marriages" increased from 55% to 71% by senior year.
  • 60% agreed that premarital sex is not a sin; 46% said they personally engaged in sex outside of marriage.
  • 78% disagreed that using a condom to prevent pregnancy was a sin.
  • 32% decreased their frequency of Mass attendance while in college, whereas only 7% increased their attendance.
I also received an e-newsletter from Judie Brown the president and co-founder of the American Life League.  She enlightens her reader about the Catholics for Obama campaign and I went over to their website to read it for myself.  This group supports Obama for his "tireless focus on economic security for the middle class."  Other reasons listed are "cutting taxes and extending unemployment insurance" which I agree is important.  In my opinion though, I find their endorsement reasons to be weak and secular in nature.  They even stated "as Catholics we believe every human being is made in the image of God.  From this we discern that, individually and as a nation, we have a moral obligation to care for one another."  But what about the unborn?  They even quoted President Obama's mantra "I am my brother's keeper.  I am my sister's keeper."   

But what he is not, is "the unborn's keeper."

Interestingly, at the bottom of Catholics for Obama website it states "Paid For By Obama For America."  I'm not here to bash President Obama but I am adamantly opposed to his view on the most innocent part of our society which is the unborn.  And I am saddened, that the high profile Catholics who support this Catholics for Obama Campaign are damaging the reputation of Our Catholic Faith.  I wonder if they do go to church?  Receive Holy Communion?  Go to confession?  I wonder who is steering their ship?

By the way, forty years ago, Pope Paul VI warned us "that widespread use of artificial contraceptives would lead to increased marital infidelity, lessened regard for women, and a general lowering of moral standards especially among the young."  Sounds like today's society to me.

St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Gerard, pray for us!
St. Padre Pio, pray for us!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Catholic Lingo Bingo Review

Monica from Equipping Catholic Families gave me the opportunity to review her Catholic Lingo Bingo Game that she created and sells online at her Arma Dei Shoppe.  If you want your children or students to learn "the lingo of the Catholic Church" meaning the sacramentals, vessels and vestments used in Mass, then this is the game for you!  I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't know some of the names of the vessels until reviewing this game.  So thank you, Monica!

This game is quick and easy to receive because Monica sends it to you online so after you pay for your kit, it's sent instantly through cyberspace to your home or office computer.  I followed Monica's recommendation and printed out my black and white copies on white card stock paper for durability.  It comes with 15 black and white bingo cards, so yes, it's time intensive to color them all. However, if you're a teacher, you can hand them out to your students to color them and it'll be done lickety split.

I opted not to color in the calling cards because after coloring a bunch of the bingo cards myself, I realized,  that my coloring was done at whim.  Which means that each picture of a sanctuary lamp is colored differently.  This was not an issue because when we played it with 5 children (ages 4-12), I showed them the card and helped them identify it if it was on their card.  We had a couple of young children so one of their moms helped out too.  Thanks Colleen!

This game is a great lesson in learning about our church's sacramentals, vestments and vessels.  It's beneficial for all ages including adults.  As I mentioned earlier, I learned a few things too!  It's perfect for younger children because there are 9 large pictures on each game card so it's easy for them to figure out what the picture indicates.  Another idea Monica suggests is to make it into a matching game by cutting out the bingo cards.

Here are some pictures of our game in process...

And yes, a dragon was also invited to join the game!  We played it so that we filled up the entire lingo bingo card so no feelings were hurt by not winning and for them to learn all of the items on their cards.  It's learning and fun all at the same time!  I would definitely recommend this game to every Catholic family and school teacher to instruct the children on these items they see in mass often or on occasion.

Monica gave me a free copy of her Catholic Lingo Bingo Game in exchange for my review.  My remarks are my own.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Marian Feast Day

Our Lady of the Snows

Today is a Marian Feast Day called Our Lady of the Snows.  It originated back in circa 360AD when Pope Liberius commissioned the construction of the Liberian Basilica.  According to legend, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a dream to a wealthy and pious Roman and his wife, instructing them to build a church in her honor.  The legend goes on to say that Pope Liberius also received an identical dream and immediately ordered the Basilica to be built.  The location was set by a miraculous snowfall, in the middle of a heatwave, on Esquiline Hill in Rome.  In this snowfall was the outline of the shape of the basilica in which Our Lady asked to be built.

This Basilica's greatest treasure is an image of Mary with a young Jesus, attributed to St. Luke.  Legend has it that St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, brought the image to the Basilica in the third century.  She was known to have visited the Holy Land with the goal of saving remnants of the holy places.  The name of the image is Salus Populi Romani (The Salvation of the Roman People) because people thronged there when danger threatened their city.

The present church dates back to the fifth century when it was declared at the Council of Ephesus that the Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God.  Pope Sixtus III rebuilt the Basilica and added another name of : Santa Maria ad Praesepe "Saint Mary of the Crib".  It was said that at this time, the Basilica had the manger from the stable in Bethlehem.  Currently, there is a relic left of the manger in which Jesus lain under the High Altar of the Basilica.

For fun, I used a picture by Charlotte of Waltzing Matilda, of Our Lady of the Rosary and made it into Our Lady of the Snows.  This Basilica was known as a place of refuge from attacks against other empires and a place to pray when plagues spread throughout Rome.  It also became known as a place to pray for Our Lady's prayers and intercession during difficult times.

Every year on August 5th, at the end of mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major (Our Lady of the Snows), white rose petals shower down from it's dome in remembrance of the miraculous snowfall during a heatwave.

Our Lady of Snows, pray for us!



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Family Prayer Intentions

For my 5 year old nephew, Timmy:
Blessed Savior, I thank you that his operation is safely past, and now may he rest in your abiding presence, relaxing every tension, releasing every care and anxiety, receiving more and more of your healing life into every part of his being. In moments of pain may Timmy turn to you for strength, in times of loneliness may he feel your loving nearness. Grant that your life and love and joy may flow through Timmy for the healing of others in your name. Amen.

For my sister-in-law, Linda:
Lord, look upon Linda with eyes of mercy, may your healing hand rest upon her, may your lifegiving powers flow into every cell of her body and into the depths of her soul, cleansing, purifying, restoring her to wholeness and strength for service in your Kingdom. Amen.

To Saint Peregrine
O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty," "The Wonder-Worker," because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you. For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fiber of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favored with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure and healing of Timmy & Linda whom we entrust to you. Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy. Amen. 

To Archangel St. Raphael
Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. I beg you, assist Timmy & Linda in all their needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" I humbly pray you to seek God's authority to heal the many infirmities of Timmy & Linda's souls and the ills that afflict their bodies. I especially ask of you the favor of healing Timmy & Linda, and the great grace of purity to prepare them to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Please join me in prayer for my nephew Timmy as he heals from his operation and for my sister-in-law Linda, who lives with chronic pain.