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Today Is The Day
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Okay Then, That Was Unexpected...
Weird.
Church Art Shouldn't Make You Say "Blech!"
Or cringe.
Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons
I got some ideas...
New Translation Objections Are Becoming More Ridiculous
Grasping at straws...
This Comes As No Surprise
Up with the ex-communicated!
Things A Catholic Ought Never Say
Watch your mouth!
Sister Patricia: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday
Catching up with Sr Pat.
Just Thought You'd Like To Know...
A public service announcement.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Progressive Catholyc Pick-up Lines

The other day, The Badger Catholic linked to a Twitter thread listing "Trad pick-up lines", and he posted his ten favorite ones. Such as -
"Look, I know you're not interested (in) me personally, but how about some Redemptive Suffering?"

"Excuse me, is this seat vacant?"
This begs the obvious question - what would Catholyc pick-up lines sound like?

"Hi - I saw you from the other side of the room, and I was filled with an immediate call to action."

"How 'bout you and me go prove that Humanae Vitae is over-rated?"

"Wanna come to my place and see my autographed Joan Chittister picture?"

"Has anyone ever told you that you'd make a beautiful womynpreest?"

"Heaven's missing a theological construct meant to represent the interactive force of cosmic reality, and I think I just found her."

"I feel like I'm in a labyrinth because I keep getting lost in your eyes."

"If the spirit of Vatican II had your body, the church would be in way better shape."

"If the Church ever ordained you a woman bishop, I'd let you lay hands on me."

"I have an extra sign for the ordination protest at the cathedral. Interested?"

Got suggestions? Leave 'em in the combox.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Priest Uses Monkeys As Altar Servers To Compete With Megachurch

(AoftheAP) Fr. P.T. Bailey, frustrated at the steady stream of parishoners leaving his parish for a new evangelical megachurch, recently made a potentially controversial change at his parish, designed to attract new members and convince old members to return.

The change? Using trained chimpanzees as altar servers.

"Ever since Bobo, Gonzo, Chico, Matata and George arrived at Our Lady of Extenuating Circumstances, our attendance has increased by 250%," Fr Bailey said. "Donations have been rising, too. It's been fantastic."

(front) Chico, Matata; (rear) Gonzo, George, Bobo

For well over a year, Fr. Bailey saw more and more people leave his parish for a newly opened megachurch, and he felt powerless to reverse the trend.

"We just couldn't compete with the evangelical megachurch phenomenon -there was no way we could afford the big screens, the laser light shows and the rock 'n roll bands. Week after week, attendance was dwindling because they put on a better show. But I knew I had to do something."

And that something revealed itself last December.

"A story ran in the local paper, where a small traveling circus with five chimpanzees was closing down," Bailey explained. "The owner was hoping to find a good home for them. I thought, what better home is there, but a church? And that's when the idea hit me."

Chico (l) and Bobo

Because the circus had trained the chimps so well for their acts, it didn't take long for them to learn the motions and actions required of altar servers - the procession, assisting at the altar, holding the paten during communion, and so on.

"About the only things they can't manage," Fr. Bailey said, "are lighting the candles and handling the thurible. Fire and smoke sorta freaks them out, so the deacon takes care of those responsibilities."

The chimpanzees were introduced in late February, and that has thrown a monkey wrench in the works at Whispering Cavern Bible and Entertainment Production, Inc. Community, the local evangelical megachurch.

Pastor Joey Schmaltz has felt the impact of Fr. Bailey's change in a big way. "We joke about it here, calling them 'Our Lady of The Planet of the Apes', but it presents us with a serious problem. A lot of our members have returned there, bringing their friends with them. It puts the whole Gospel message on a whole new level, yeah? I mean, how can you compete with trained monkeys? I'm not sure what we're gonna do. I just hope his idea doesn't go nationwide - it could sink the entire rock n' roll bible school industry."

A spokesman from the USCCB commented: "While Fr. Bailey's plan is original and unorthodox, the bishops haven't issued any formal statement of support or condemnation. And they probably won't. Or maybe they will. No one's quite sure what the bishops intend to do, about this or any other issue, for that matter."

An overwhelming number of parishoners support the change.

"I think it's great," one woman said, a mother of three young children. "My kids never whine about going to Mass anymore. In fact, they ask if they can go everyday."

"It's different, that's for sure," said another mom. "At first I was a bit taken aback, but when you see how well-trained they are...they actually act more reverently than some people I know."

"I like it a lot," a man stated. "Plus, the chimpanzees put on a show after Mass, during Donut and Coffee Hour. They're hilarious!"

So what's next for Fr. Bailey and his parish?

"We're having several dogs trained to bring up the gifts at the offertory. That should really help us maintain our advantage."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Call-To-Action's Vigils For Fr. Roy - FAIL

Call-to-Action - known as Call-to-Apostasy around here - sponsored vigils in numerous US cities in front of Catholic churches on Holy Thursday during Chrism Mass liturgies in support of Fr. Roy Bourgeois. Fr. Bourgeois, if you recall, has been openly supportive of so-called women's ordination, and faces dismissal from the Maryknoll order and laicization by the Vatican should he not recant his position. By all accounts, it looks like he's going to do the "brave" thing and hold firm to his position. Oh well.

Don't be disappointed if you didn't hear about this. You didn't miss much. As far as I can tell, these vigils were a disastrous fail in terms of turn-out and messaging. Check out this video from the Philadelphia vigil:



Two of the womynpreests interviewed in that video are on the "Adopt-A-Priestess" list. Whoever has 'em - keep praying!!

And here are a couple photos from one held in Venice, FL:

It's sad, really.

According to the National Catholic Reporter:
Demonstrations and vigils in support of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who faces dismissal from his order and laicization by the Vatican for his support of women's ordination, occurred outside of cathedrals and churches in at least six U.S. cities last week: Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago; San Diego; Madison, Wis.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Venice, Fla.

The vigils were co-sponsored by the groups Call to Action, Women's Ordination Conference and Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

Demonstrations were planned for nine other cities: Dallas; Milwaukee; Los Angeles; Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia; Portland, Maine; Lansing, Mich.; Detroit; and St. Petersburg, Fla.

What we have here is the Irrational in support of the Irrelevant, the Impracticable demanding the Impossible. I checked out the links and looked at the photos, and my rough guess is that, nationwide, no more than 200 people - overwhelmingly elderly - showed up at these vigils. And they think they're gaining momentum? Are they deluded, or blinded with false hope? Maybe a combination of both. They are more intent on following a man who's the embodiment of disobedience - Fr Bourgeois - rather than on Christ who's Perfect Obedience.

I recently heard an interview on Ave Maria Radio, in which the priest being interviewed basically said the following (and I'm paraphrasing): The Church doesn't have the authority to change any of the sacraments. The Church cannot baptize with sand. The Church can't substitute Oreos and milk for the Eucharist. The matter used in the sacraments cannot be changed because the Church lacks the authority to change them. Same thing with Holy Orders - the Church does not have the authority to ordain women, because the Church only has the authority, given to Her by Christ, to ordain men.

Sounds reasonable to me. Unlike these vigils.

Fantasy Bishball II


Game on!

Those of you who are interested - click the link. Now!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

How To Emasculate Yourself

Just watch this video called "Dear Woman". It's evidence that feminism still holds sway in some parts. Either that, or it's just the latest example of how some guys will try anything to get a date. With a girl. I regret having watched it - but not so regretful as to prevent me from sharing the agony and horror with you.

WARNING: If you are male, after the 30 second mark of this video, testosterone will begin to ooze out of your eyeballs and you'll start to feel weak and light-headed. After one minute, you will seek out comfort food. Past the halfway point, you may experience an uncontrollable urge to watch "Sleepless in Seattle" over and over again. If you make it to the end, run, don't walk (provided you aren't comatose or something) to the nearest DVD rental place and get the entire Die Hard series, or some Sean Connery James Bond movie (definitely not Dalton or Brosnan - that will only make the conditions worse), and watch right away!! Band of Brothers will suffice, too.

If you are female, you may be thinking that there aren't any real men left on the face of the planet. Rest assured there are - like, the kinds of guys who poke fun of videos like this:



Those "men" are several letters shy of a Y chromosome.

Naturally, something this ridiculous deserves a response. Remember Dan from "Dan and Fran"? This time he's joined by his pal Stan to (hopefully!) make amends for that awful "Dear Woman" video.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Talk Like Shakespeare Day 2011

In honor of the Easter holy day, I proffer a sonnet -

One Single Stone

Countless ages ere the advent of man,
The coastlines walked and continents shifted;
And undulations disturb-ed the land
As vales were formed while mountains uplifted;
Volcanoes spewed ash, afflicting terrain
With poison and fire and molten crude dross.
Dangers til this day disrupt our domain
And wreak 'pon mere mortals hardship and loss.
Destruction displayed by sundered split stones,
Dreams crushed - forgotten - washed black by our grief.
Still, 'spite eons of Earth's growling great groans,
Its pow'r proves pale when compared to Belief.

One event bests all combined days of doom:
When one single stone rolled, op'ning the tomb.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blog Break

Not much will be going down around here until Easter Monday.

It so happens that Holy Saturday is also Talk Like Shakespeare Day (he's 447 years old now, doncha know!); so, in keeping with tradition here at AoftheA, for the third year in a row, I hope to have an appropriate post published, in commemoration of the Bard's birthday. Other than that...nuttin'.

In the meantime - may you all have a blessed Easter, and may God pour down His graces and mercies and consolations upon you and all your loved ones. Please know that I regularly pray for you - all my readers and fellow bloggers. And if you can spare a short prayer for me, I'd greatly appreciate it, as I need all the help I can get. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fantasy Bishball

The baseball season is into its third week now - I guess you could say it's in full swing! Hah!

Anyway...

Some diehard fans like to play Fantasy Baseball - it was originally called Rotisserie Baseball. It's been around for a long time, and its popularity increased once AlGore invented the Internet. Sites like ESPN and Yahoo!Sports and MLB.com run free leagues - Google 'fantasy baseball leagues' and a whole slew of sites pop up.

For those who are unfamiliar, it basically works like this - participants manage a roster of actual Major League ball players, having drafted them for their team at the beginning of the real season. Teams compete against each other by using the actual stats from each player in order to score points - and the team who gets the most points that day wins. Now, it's very time-consuming (more than blogging, so I've heard!) because the baseball season is 162 games, and there are injuries, trades and so on to contend with throughout the season.

But it got me thinking...could there be a way to Catholicize the game?

Introducing Fantasy Bishball! I'm still working out the ins and outs of the game - I want to make it simple yet interesting - but here's the basic framework:

1. Players draft their team by selecting bishops (I'm leaning towards limiting it to North American bishops + cardinals). The number of bishops per team would depend on how many people want to participate. And running the draft would take a bit of coordination.
2. Teams score points based on any published articles/homilies/statements/etc. for a given week. Bishop-run blogs wouldn't necessarily count.
3. Scoring would be based on the content and context of the statement. Let me be clear: far be it from me to judge the orthodoxy of a given statement. But I think we can all agree, for instance, that Archbishop Sheehan's pastoral letter on cohabitation was a good statement. There wouldn't be any negative scoring - but I think it makes sense that some statements/actions would be worth more points than others. For instance - if a bishop ex-communicated Call-to-Action from his diocese, that might be worth more than a bishop who publishes his homily. And besides - I doubt anyone would draft someone like Bishop Gumbleton anyway, IYKWIM. Anywho, the finer details still need to be worked out.
4. There wouldn't be any direct head-to-head competition between teams - just that the one who amasses the most points by the end of the season would be declared the winner.

So that's where I'm at on Fantasy Bishball. Still kinda nebulous - any input from interested parties would be gladly accepted and considered.

Which leads me to this: before any more time and effort is sunk into this, I need to know if anyone's interested in participating. If no one cares, then forget about it. But I dunno - it might be kinda fun. At the very least, we'd be paying closer attention to what the bishops on our teams are saying. And in the process, become encouraged, uplifted and more engaged in our faith and in the Church.

And you can name your team, too! I like The Crushing Croziers. I've got my eyes set on Chaput, Tobin and Bruskewicz.

So -anyone interested in playing some Bishball?

Medical Coolness: Mother Receives New Hand

This is an awesome story - five years ago, a woman had her right hand amputated after a devastating car accident. Last month, she underwent a hand transplant operation at UCLA Hospital - not a prosthetic, but an actual hand - and her physical therapy is progressing steadily.



I'm continually amazed at the incredible advances in the medical field - as the video describes, this was no easy reconstruction surgery, what with tendons and nerves and blood vessels to reattach. Is it a miracle? No, not really - nonetheless, it's the result of God-given ingenuity and intelligence.

Results like this may give hope to countless amputees.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Did We Ever Survive Before This???



Most towels have a tag at one end. Just saying.

And aren't you clean when you get out of the shower, anyway?

The entrepreneurial spirit in America is still alive and kicking. I think plenty of people will fall for this gimmick, making the True Clean Towel guy filthy rich.

"Fast Food Culture": The Drive-Thru Wake

Hey, we're all busy right? There aren't enough hours in the day for some folks to even get out of bed and brush their teeth. So who has the time to get out of the car and pay their final respects?

From FoxNews.com: Drive-thru Casket Viewing in California Offers Mourners a Last Look on Wheels
COMPTON, Calif. - There are drive-thru burger joints and drive-thru banks but now one California city offers the ultimate in drive-thru convenience: drive-thru casket viewing.

Yes, at the Robert L. Adams Mortuary in Compton, south of Los Angeles, it is possible to view the deceased resting in a casket display window while cruising past in your car, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

"It's a unique feature that sets us aside from other funeral parlors," said owner Peggy Scott Adams

"You can come by after work, you don't need to deal with parking, you can sign the book outside and the family knows that you paid your respects," Scott Adams explained. "It's a convenience thing."

Although the Times reported a handful of drive-thru funeral parlors were known to operate in other parts of the US, this was believed to be the first in southern California, home of cars and convenience.

The paper also pointed out some additional pluses for those who favor mobile mourning: seniors do not have to leave their cars, families can avoid hosting a formal viewing and the disabled can roll past in their wheelchairs.

Plus, Adams pointed out, the drive-thru glass partition is bulletproof - a consideration after cemetery shootouts broke out at gang funerals in the 1980s.

The drive-thru is 12 feet wide, with the glass display window visible from the street.

"I think it's wonderful, "said one woman quoted by the Times as she cruised past a casket last month. "It's nice to be able to drive through. You don't have to go inside. It's real convenient."

"It's different," said another."I'm used to just going up and looking into the casket, and spending as much time as you need. But it's good this way. Not quite as emotional."
Nice - "...it's good this way. Not quite as emotional". Heaven forbid people ever experience too much sadness over the death of someone else, or share their grief with the survivors. It's such a bummer that one's perpetual happiness get momentarily interrupted and inconvenienced by having to comfort someone else in their time of need, right?

The list of 'advantages' is more like a litany of rationalizations: no parking hassles; convenience; disabled can roll by in their wheelchairs (What? Are there no ramps in and out of the parlor? Don't they wheel the casket out to the hearse?); avoiding the formal viewing. It all sounds so utilitarian and detached.

And what's with the bullet-proof glass? I don't get that at all.

Granted - for heads of state and dignitaries, very often their body is laid-in-state for public viewing. That's different - at least while standing in a line, one has the option to commiserate with those standing nearby. And one's still taking the time to stand for what could be hours and hours, to walk by the casket for a final goodbye or prayer. Make no mistake, though - there's nothing 'convenient' in that situation. This drive-thru option only feeds selfish behavior and leads to greater emotional avoidance.

One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is "Comfort the afflicted." This doesn't cut it. Not even close. It's kinda hard to be sincere in one's condolences, when you won't even take the time to park the car.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The ACC Bill Of Wrongs - Part Three

(This is the third in a series analyzing the American Catholic Council's (ACC) Catholic Bill of Rights & Responsibilities [CBRR], wherein each of the ten delineated 'rights & responsibilities' are discussed.)

2. Community: Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to participate in a faith community and the right to responsible pastoral care.

Sounds harmless and non-confrontational, right? That's because you're reading it with the eyes of a faithful Catholic. When you understand what the ACC means by it, though, the 'right' takes on a different meaning.

Just what exactly is a faith community? It's a deliberately vague expression. More and more of these Catholycs are joining "intentional communities", where non-ordained individuals lead their worship - in other words, so-called women priests. They can't say "local parish", or even "Catholic community", because it's too limiting. It's not inclusive enough. But say "faith community", and all sort of folks will show up.

"Participate" goes beyond merely singing along, or responding to prayers, or dancing in the pews. To them, it means that reading the gospel and delivering the homily is not restricted to a priest or deacon. To them, it means anyone can confect the Eucharist, because we're all priests by virtue of our Baptism (which is true, but there's a major distinction that they conveniently ignore). To them, it means including rites and rituals of other faith expressions - like Eastern mysticism or Native American spirituality or New Age divine femininity - during worship, in the name of ecumenism. In other words, anything or everything goes.

There's more to "participate", and we'll come to that in a moment.

"Responsible pastoral care" is a loaded expression as well. To Catholics, it means access to the sacraments, and a baseline level of orthodoxy in all areas of parish life, especially when it comes to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

To Catholycs, however, "responsible pastoral care" means more than that. To them, it means not being subjected to homilies concerning sin. To them, it means that there should be no consequences to divorce and remarriage sans annulment. To them, it means gender-neutral language in the liturgy. And so on and so on.

In other words, "responsible pastoral care" means "Father, let us do what makes us happy - you just say the magic words at the altar".

There's another meaning to the phrase, as well, and it dovetails with "participation". According to the ACC's website, on a page titled CBRR Applications:

2. Community
  • Ministerial decisions would be based on the needs of communities for the "Word of God" and the Sacraments as a first priority;
  • All the faithful would be involved in decisions relating to closing of parishes.
"Ministerial decisions" made by whom? The answer's in the second bullet point. And that second bullet point is the key to this purported "right" of Community.

Closing and clustering parishes, in my mind, has to be one of the toughest jobs for any bishop. I don't believe they make their decisions in a bubble, though, without any input from others. I have to believe they seek the advice and counsel of numerous people, both within and without their dioceses, before coming to a final decision. I'd like to believe that the decisions are based on real data, such as declining attendance, expenditures and demographics. I'm not naive to think that that is the case in every circumstance and in every diocese - for example, read the excellent Cleansing Fire blog for detailed reporting and analyses on how the Diocese of Rochester (NY) is being decimated by poor decision making on the part of its bishop (I'm being generous with describing it as poor - I'm sure the CF team would choose much stronger terminology). A bishop's personal ideology ought not factor in how his diocese get restructured - after all, a bishop shouldn't act like a political party while redrawing congressional districts to favor their party.

But to have the expectation that "all the faithful" participate in parish closings decisions is unrealistic. Especially when you consider that only 30% or so attend Mass on Sundays.

No, what the ACC is seeking is power on the diocesan level that is neither deserved nor warranted. Their goal is not to seek fairness, but to protect their own.

And when Catholycs don't get their way, they often times do silly stuff (like hold an American Catholic Council, for instance). Consider the situation that took place in the Diocese of Cleveland: a group of disaffected parishoners decides on their own, after their bishop has closed their parish, that they will meet as an independent Catholyc "faith community" in defiance. These folks get praised for their bravery by the media, but I dunno. When my kids throw a hissy fit when they don't get their way, the last thing that crosses my mind is "My, how brave!"

"Deal with it!" is my usual answer to the Sons. In case of the ACC, I'd add "...like adults."

Part Four will look at Right #3: Universal Ministry. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to proclaim the Gospel and to respond to the community's call to ministerial leadership.

Part One
Part Two

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dumbest.Climate.Change.Story.Ever!

From Watts Up With That: Climate Change Craziness Of The Week

The picture says it all (from The Telegraph)

The endangered vendace, that has been in Britain since the Ice Age, is in danger of dying out as lakes and rivers warm up because of man made global warming.

To ensure the species survival, the UK's environmental watchdog took eggs from Derwentwater in Cumbria, thought to be the only remaining site where the fish are found in England and Wales.

They then took 25,000 young fish from the hatchery to a cooler lake higher up the mountains of the Lake District, Sprinkler Tarn, to establish a new 'refuge' population that is more likely to survive warming temperatures.

Because the route to the lake is so rocky and uneven, it was impossible to use conventional transport like a 4x4 motorbike or landrover. So, the fish were given a ride during part of the two-hour trek by sure-footed llamas from a local charity. The journey was finished by fisheries officers on foot to ensure none of the smarts were spilt.

Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said British species have to be protected from climate change.

"In addition to the anticipated warming of lakes and rivers, we may also see an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.

"All of these could have an impact on much of the native wildlife in England, especially aquatic species such as the rare and specialised vendace, so we are taking action now to conserve the existing populations."

Andy Gowans, fisheries technical specialist for the Environment Agency, said the fish are now safe from global warming.

"By introducing these vendace into Sprinkling Tarn, where water temperatures will be lower, it will provide an additional element of safeguarding for this endangered species," he said.

"The fish will be closely monitored, in the hope that a self-sustaining population will be established."

So what will the enviro-nuts excuse be if the fish die out in their new lake?

Five years from now, someone will write a story about an environmental crisis in Sparkling Tarn because the transported vendace upset the food chain or something.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Michael Sean Winters, Distinctly Catholyc

Mr Winters, who scribbles for the National Catholic Distorter, wrote a short op-ed on the Michael Voris v. Diocese of Scranton kerfuffle. Does he even read what he writes?
The Diocese of Scranton and Marywood University recently cancelled a speech planned by Michael Voris, an obnoxious rightwing personality who runs the outfit "RealCatholicTV." Earlier this year, a bishop told me, "Funny thing is that his show is not real and it isn't Catholic."

Now, it is puzzling to me why anyone would invite the spewer of right-wing agitprop to rant on campus in the first place. But, censorship is not the answer. Let people hear Mr. Voris's paranoid fantasies about unorthodox bishops and the USCCB's supposed collusion with the Culture of Death. There is nothing attractive about his rants. The best way to expose a scoundrel is to shine the light of day on him.

This piece typifies MSW when it's about someone he doesn't like. Roughly one hundred words, crammed with such charitable gems like:
  • "obnoxious rightwing personality"
  • "runs the outfit"
  • "spewer of rightwing agitprop"
  • "paranoid fantasies"
  • "rants"
  • "scoundrel"
What I found funny was the statement attributed to an anonymous bishop: "Funny thing is that his show is not real and it isn't Catholic." Same thing could be said about the National Catholic Distorter! And is more accurate, too.

What's hypocritical about this piece is that the Distorter is all over bishops who are either too orthodox for their liking, or are complicit in the sexual abuse crisis. But when it comes to folks like Michael Voris who ruminate on liberal, unfaithful bishops - well, that's just unacceptable.

This has nothing to do with whether or not you like RealCatholicTV or Michael Voris or "The Vortex" videos. Like most things in life, there are supporters, and detractors - and plenty of folks in the middle who have no opinion one way or another. In the interest of full disclosure, Michael is a personal friend, and I think his apostolate is doing good work for Christ and His Church.

The same can't be said for MSW in light of such hypocrisy. The title of his column is "Distinctly Catholic". I beg to differ.

Poll: 98% Of Catholic Women Are In Danger Of Losing Their Souls

Well, that's not exactly what the poll said, but that's how it needs to be interpreted. Those who think "everyone" gets to heaven needs to do a serious gut check here.

From Reuters: Most Catholic Women Use Birth Control Banned By Church
A new report from the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual health research organization, shows that only 2 percent of Catholic women, even those who regularly attend church, rely on natural family planning.

The latest data shows practices of Catholic women are in line with women of other religious affiliations and adult American women in general.

"In real-life America, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible," said the report's lead author Rachel Jones.

She said most sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant practice contraception, and most use highly effective methods like sterilization, the pill, or the intrauterine device (IUD).

Lord only knows how much responsibility will be placed upon the souls of countless bishops and priests, as well as DRE's and RCIA leaders. Not to mention parents who help their daughters get birth control. They're guilty, too.

Rather than preach the truth in charity, and protect the souls of those whom God has entrusted to them, too many priests and bishops default to the "follow your conscience" position at best, and refuse to talk about contraception out of fear at worst. They're more concerned with people abandoning the Church than they are regarding their salvation. Or they don't want to be perceived as harsh and cruel, or have fallen for the time-worn canard of "keep the Pope out of our bedrooms!" Well, people who leave the Church over contraception are just looking for an excuse anyway, in my opinion. Isn't the conversion of perhaps one sinner worth it? God doesn't give a hoot if the collection baskets are full - not while the souls are empty.

It's this pervasive contraceptive mentality that serves as the underpinning for support among Catholycs regarding gay marriage, you know. Because just about everyone is having non-procreative sex. So, like, what's the big problem, right?

As a good friend just recently told me, the effeminate interpret truth as cruelty.

p.s. Lest anyone think I'm just picking on women...hey you guys - every time you slip on a condom, you're edging another 6-8" farther onto the wider road. Figured I should add that in for equality's sake.

"Why I Love Jesus" Meme

I got tag-teamed on this meme, by the Ever-Gracious Cathy at The Recovering Dissident Catholic and by the Ever-Beneficent Puff at New Toronto Catholic Blog. When two people tag ya, you must redeem the meme.

Here are da rulz:

Those tagged will share 5 things they "love" about Jesus/ Or why they love Jesus.
Those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers.
Those tagged will provide a link in the comments section here with their name so that others can read them.

OK, here goes -

1) He endured the cross and all its humiliations for me - and would have still endured them even if I were the only person throughout all human history who needed redemption.

2) He gave us the Church and the sacraments as the means of salvation.

3) Despite my sinful ways, He still loves me.

4) He seeks the lost - and He found me and guided me back to His Church those many years ago.

5) He will return one day and set all things right.

Here are the 5 taggees:

Big Al at Is Anybody There?
Sarah at Harbor of Aloha
Erin at And Sometimes Tea
Paul the Regular Guy
Jen at Livin' La Vida Catolica!

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Catholarchaeology, Inc.

My latest post at The American Catholic, in which I ruminate on how you can tell it's Lent or Advent without the benefit of a calendar, just by measuring the frequency of stories and documentaries put out there to discredit Christianity and its claims.

Here's the opening few paragraphs...

One way of knowing that a major Christian holy day is soon approaching is by the increased frequency of news reports and History/Discovery channel shows highlighting “incredible!” archaeological finds pertaining to Christianity. Sure, you can always use a calendar, but just in case yours breaks or gets misplaced, the secular press is right there with reliable quackery to help. They pretend Christianity is non-existent for summer, fall and the second half of winter – but come Advent and Lent, stories that either seek to disprove its claims, or misrepresent them – and sometimes both – are published and broadcast. It’s the modus operandi of the industry known as Catholarchaeology, Inc.

Back in March, it was the discovery of the “Jerusalem codices” – which ironically were discovered five years ago, and are just now being talked about. And challenged as to their authenticity, as well. Big surprise.

Now there’s this story: Did Journalist Simcha Jacobovici Find THE Nails to Crucify Jesus?

JERUSALEM — Controversial journalist Simcha Jacobovici says he may have found the nails that were used to crucify Jesus more than 2,000 years ago.

He chronicled his Indiana Jones-type search in a new documentary called “The Nails of the Cross,” which was screened today at a news conference in Jerusalem and will be broadcast in the U.S., Canada and Israel in the coming weeks.

Jacobovici presented two first-century Roman nails that were bent “in a way that is consistent with crucifixion.” He contends that these are the same nails found in the burial tomb of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest who is associated in the Gospels with the crucifixion of Jesus, although he found them at a lab in Tel Aviv University.

I’m not going to post the entire article – feel free to read it – but there’s one fact that bears repeating: Jacobivici is the same guy who colloborated with James Cameron on the culturally and theologically-challenged “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”. Remember that? It aired on Discovery in March 2007…hey! Whaddya know! Lent!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Caption Contest #20



Leave your captions in the combox!

WINNER: A Random Friar: "Yes, Emminence, you can zoom in for liturgical dancers, or zoom out for giant puppets."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Various And Sundry Sunday

Priest kicks out 6th, 7th and 8th graders from a Mass because they weren't singing loudly enough. A bit extreme, I think - and there wouldn't have been a problem if the priest celebrated Mass in the Extra-ordinary Form.

Boy Scouts in England are going to get lessons in how to use a condom. As good a reason as any to prohibit gays from being leaders. And I wonder what the badge looks like...

Who needs an Internet Kill Switch when you can just have Grandma do it for you?

Gay caveman, or just a tribe practicing a little post-death humiliation? Who knows? Who cares?

So let me get this straight - a priest protests the lack of priests by leaving the priesthood? Does that make sense? Well, he is out in California, after all...

Boston joins the growing number of liberal cities restricting choice - this time it's sugary drinks. How come it's never about restricting abortion?

Interesting story of a man who sculpts Biblical scenes...with soap!

Oh, great. Corn reserves fall to 15-year low - so as cars suck up the ethanol, some people are going to go hungry, and prices of foodstuffs will undoubtedly continue to rise.

Really cool - I mean totally awesome really cool - 3D street art.

I'm not much of a soccer fan, but even I was amazed by this goal.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Response To The Vatican Re: Catholic Bloggers Meeting

April 9 , 2011

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravani
President
Pontifical Council for Culture
Vatican City

Your Eminence:

Thank you for extending an invitation to participate in the May 2, 2011 meeting with Catholic bloggers. I'm honored to have been invited to attend. At first, I was also very humbled, but then I thought - hey, it only makes sense that you would ask me come to Rome. In fact, I would have been rather surprised and a bit offended if I hadn't been invited. Especially since I know the Holy Father reads Acts of the Apostasy.

However, it is with deep regret that I must decline your invitation. Believe it or not, I don't have a valid passport! I have one of those passport cards that permits me to cross the border back and forth from Canada, but that's about it. But more importantly, when you told me no Cheetos and Coke were going to be served - in fact, no junk food of any kind - well, that was the big deal-breaker for me. What would be the point of going, if there's not going to be any junk food?

I can suggest other Catholic bloggers who would be more than happy to go in my place, who will have no problem with compromising their standards. Sure, they won't be marquis names, but then again, that's why you invited me first, right? Let me know if you're interested in those bloggers, and I'll send you links to their sites.

Again, thank you for the invitation, your Eminence. Maybe next time, eh?

Yours in Christ,

LarryD

Thursday, April 7, 2011

83-Year Old Woman Ex-communicates Herself

Let's pray for a Norma Jean Coons moment.

From MySanAntonio.com: [my comments in blue]
Adele Jones at 83 enjoys a carefree lifestyle at her independent-living apartment, reading novels in a rocking chair, catching Masses in a chapel down the hallway and scheduling shuttle service for jaunts across San Antonio.

Soon, her life will get a bit hectic.

Today (April 2), she'll be ordained a deacon [no she won't] — and months later a priest [nuh-uh] — in an unsanctioned ceremony that she claims will usher her into the all-male priesthood of the Catholic Church. [her claim is incorrect]

Jones is believed to be the first woman in Texas to take this step and is part of a growing movement by reform-minded Catholics seeking to spark the hierarchy into reconsidering its ban on female ordination. [It's not a "ban" - it's part of the deposit of faith. It's an impossibility - it's like trying to create a square circle.]

The tipping point for Jones came last July when the Vatican suggested female ordination was an offense comparable to pedophilia and punishable by excommunication. [apparently she gets her information from the main-stream media and not the Vatican. The offenses are comparable because they are crimes against the sacraments, not because they are comparable in and of themselves.]

“I am not angry. I'm saddened,” said Jones, once a fundraiser for Catholic Television of San Antonio. “I love my church. ["I love the Church so much, I'm willing to risk Hell!" Reminds me of that old Depeche Mode song "Strangelove"] I have loved it since I was born. But it's sad to see it self-destruct by what it's doing to women.” [It's not self-destructing, but this fauxrdination is ironically helping to divide the Church, not repair it.]

This debate intensified in 2002 when seven women claimed to have been validly ordained aboard a boat on the Danube River as Catholic priests and later were excommunicated.

Today, leaders in this movement report an estimated 120 women worldwide are candidates or already ordained. [And a bunch of us are praying every day for more than half of them - cf. Adopt-a-Priestess Project]

The Catholic Church sees the all-male priesthood as an unchangeable, time-honored custom central to preserving its sacraments and reflecting Jesus' selection of male apostles to head the early expansion of the Christian faith.

It also argues that nuns have been leaders with sizable ministries, and notes women may fill certain posts at parishes and other institutions.

But Jones and like-minded advocates contend rank-and-file Catholics are on their side. [I'll take Christ and His Church over "rank-and-file Catholics" in a fight every day of the week.] In a poll last year by the New York Times, and CBS, 59 percent of U.S. Catholics favored letting women become priests, with 33 percent opposed.

[...]

Thank God the New York Times doesn't run the Church.

Another example of someone who claims to love the Church soooooo much, but won't make any attempt to try and understand Her teachings. May God have mercy on her soul, and on the souls of the people who've aided her in getting ex-communicated.

2011 Masters Tournament Features Last Minute Entrant

*cross-posted at The American Catholic*

For golf aficionados (of which I am one), the “official” start of the golf season commences today, with the first round of the Masters tournament at Augusta. One of four Majors (the British Open, the US Open and the PGA Championship being the other three), this herald of Spring features the world’s best golfers at one of America’s premiere golf courses. Phil Mickelson seeks to defend his title against a field laden with incredible talent and fierce competitors.

Along with an unexpected last-minute contender.

Teeing off at 8:18 AM, with Ben Crenshaw, Brent Snedecker and Kevin Na is none other than…

…President Barack Obama.

In what is undoubtedly the surprise sports story of the decade, President Obama worked out a deal with Chairman Billy Payne to participate in this year’s tourney, despite the fact he is not a professional golfer.

At an impromptu press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Payne explained how the decision came about.

“On Monday, I received a call from the White House – it was the president. He said he was a big fan of the game, and wanted to come down. At first I thought he just wanted to attend and watch the tournament; but when he started asking if he could get an exemption and actually play…I figured, what the heck. With Tiger playing so badly, I was worried about tv ratings. Having President Obama play will attract a lot of viewers and spark even greater interest.”

With the president joining the field, additional security measures have been added, as well as a few modifications to the rules:

  • Obama gets two mulligans per nine holes
  • He’s permitted to tee off from the forward tees (formerly called the “ladies’ tees”)
  • He gets to use a specially constructed bullet proof golf cart
  • Any putt under a foot from the cup is in the “circle of friendship”, and will be considered a “gimme”.
  • Obama is permitted to carry a “foot wedge” in his bag.
  • Teleprompters will be allowed on the course for the first time in the tournament’s 77 year history.

“Purists might be upset with these concessions,” Payne said at his news conference, “but since he’s given the PGA a waiver on Obamacare, I felt it’s only fair we give him a waiver on some of the rules.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was barraged with questions from the press late Wednesday over this development. “Yes, we’re fighting three kinetic military actions. Yes, the government might shut down on Saturday. Yes, gas prices are rocketing. Yes, filming “Jersey Shore” in Italy has been delayed a month. The President is fully aware of all these issues, and believe me, he is so brilliant at multi-tasking, I’m confident that despite all this that’s going on, he’ll still maintain a cool, collected attitude and will not be deterred from going for the green in two on hole 13. You guys are making too big a deal out of this. Just take it easy, okay?”

At which point, the press corps started making their travel arrangements for Georgia.

President Obama took a few moments Wednesday evening to answer some questions before boarding Air Force One; one reporter asked if there was a political angle to his playing the tournament.

“There may be some who will label this a political maneuver, seeing as how I just announced that I will seeking a second term as President. Let me be clear – the thought of turning the Masters into a four-day unpaid political ad to further my political career never, ever crossed my mind.”

And when asked why he wants to do this – risk embarrassment or perhaps not make the cut for the final two rounds, Obama answered, “Why am I doing this? I think that green jacket will look nice next to my Nobel Peace Prize. And don’t worry – I’ll make the cut. I’m feeling good about my game.”

When asked if he had chosen a caddy yet, Obama responded, “It’s either going to be Matt Lauer or George Stephanopolous. Who knows – maybe both. Just to tweak CBS.”

Most of the golfers seem non-plussed about Obama’s inclusion. Ben Crenshaw, who’s playing with the president for the first round, took the change in stride.

“I mean, come on – he’s the President of the United States,” he said. “I think it will be good for the game. Think about it – if the Masters says ‘no’ to the president, then what? Let the nation think we’re a bunch of racists? No way. Obama playing this weekend will be a big inspiration for all those kids of indeterminate origin growing up in Hawaii, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Chairman Payne thinks it’s a good thing too. “CBS is happy, the golfers are happy, I’m happy. If President Obama can take time out of his schedule to grace us with his presence, and play a few rounds of golf, then who am I to complain? Maybe things really aren’t all as bad as some try to make it out to be, if he’s here in Augusta. I mean, he wouldn’t do this if there were really serious problems, would he?”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Archbishop Sheehan "Threatens" Cohabitating Catholics

At least that's how the National Catholic Distorter spins it, when in actuality, Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan's pastoral letter concerning cohabitation is compassionate, direct and forthright on the teaching of the Church.

Apparently, treating adults as adults; by appealing to truths rather than emotions; by relying on the teaching of the Church independent of people's "experiences"; by focusing on people's eternal salvation rather than temporary happiness - such approaches are considered threats. That's how Heidi Schlumpf sees it:
A letter from Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe on the topic of marriage, divorce and cohabitation was read all Masses this past weekend. It reaffirmed parts of church teaching about marriage and laid down the law for those not following it, namely those who live together without getting married, or those in civil unions, whether married previously or not. He counseled the divorced to seek annulments, but said others should be banned from the sacraments and other parish participation, including serving as godparents.

[...]

I wonder if Sheehan will widen his rule against "sinning godparents" to include other sins?

And, having just finished teaching a college course on "Persuasion," I'm struck how un-persuasive this letter is. But then I wonder if that is its purpose. It seems Sheehan has no real interest in persuading or teaching, but rather only punishing those who disagree with him. Oh, and making those who already agree with him happy for "laying down the law." I think we'll see a lot of that in response to this letter.

Heidi quotes only 3 bullet points (which I excluded in my cut-and-paste) from the 2 page letter. Based on her remarks, you'd think Archbishop Sheehan has already ordered his hooded minions to commence oiling the hinges on the Iron Maidens and greasing the gears on the racks. Any reasonable person who reads the entire letter will see that the archbishop is indeed teaching his flock here - that there are consequences to sinful actions; that they may be ignorant of the spiritual danger in which they live; that Catholics who are cohabiting, or married through a mere "civil union", or married after a divorce without an annulment are in an objective state of mortal sin (I'm wondering if "grave sin" would have been more appropriate, given that 3 conditions must be met for a grave sin to be mortal, but I digress).

I'm not sure "persuasion" is the proper approach for a bishop to take in this case. It's not as if he's trying to convince someone to buy a fuel-efficient coupe over a gas-guzzling SUV. Did Christ actively try to "persuade" people? I don't remember Him trying to "persuade" those who left after his Bread of Life discourse in John 6. They made up their minds, and they left Him. Archbishop Sheehan is modeling Christ here: here's the Truth, as presented by the Church - if you accept it, that's great. If you don't, here are the consequences.

Archbishop Sheehan's letter is a call for repentance, to amend these situations so that such persons will begin to live in accordance with God's will, and thus be pleasing to Him, and open to receiving great graces. He reminds the priests in his archdiocese to preach on "the gravity of sin and its evil consequences, the 6th and 9th Commandments, and the sacramental nature and meaning of Christian marriage". To me, it seems that he's trying to strengthen the house by rebuilding the foundation - that the best remedy against the onslaught of same-sex marriage is a strong understanding and commitment to Christian marriage. To me, Archbishop Sheehan is helping his flock find and stay on the narrow road. What could be more pastoral than that?

But that's not how Schlumpf and the NCR view it - they see such letters as attacks, as dictates of discipline. It's probably projection on their part more than anything else.

I hope more bishops follow Sheehan's lead. Clear, compassionate teaching is the key that unlocks the cell door of sin. Sheehan isn't locking the prison door on these people - he's offering them the key to unlock it and free themselves.

Here's the link to Archbishop Sheehan's letter.

I'm interested to hear from any readers from the Santa Fe archdiocese.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Post-Sex Depression Has Researchers Stumped

This is one of those studies where the answer is so obvious (at least to me), it's no surprise the researchers don't recognize it.

From Everyday Health: Sad In The Sack: Do You Have Post-Sex Depression? (emphases mine)
It’s not unusual to feel a little bummed after a less-than-toe-curling romp in the hay, but one-third of women said they’ve felt depressed even after satisfactory sex, according to a new Australian study in the International Journal of Sexual Health. The condition, officially called post-coital dysphoria, affects 10 percent of women regularly, the researchers found.

Could you be experiencing post-sex depression? Symptoms include feelings of sadness, anxiety, regret, restlessness, and irritability after a sexual encounter.

“There’s no doubt that many men and women swear that they have these negative feelings after sex, and occasionally after masturbation,” says Debby Herbenick, PhD, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. Although the Australian study looked at college-age women, post-coital dysphoria isn’t limited to coeds.

[...]

What Causes Post-Coital Blues?

Researchers don’t know for sure, but Krychman theorizes that hormonal shifts after orgasm — the same changes that sometimes trigger post-sex headaches — could be to blame.

[...]

Well, I have some theories too.

The Australian study focused on college-age women, right? I think that's a pretty big clue right there. They're most likely all unmarried. Sex outside of marriage, while being sinful, is harmful because two people are engaging in the most intimate of acts without the foundation of permanence that a marriage can provide. This is so basic, I can't believe the researchers are even studying this. Haven't they heard of oxytocin and its effect on men and women? The same hormone that a mother's body produces when she breastfeeds her newborn - it strengthens the bond between mother and child - is also produced when a husband and wife have sex (with each other being the key point) - and in the absence of a marriage, it's kinda like....well, it's kinda like riding a roller coaster that stalls just after it crests the first hill. At least, I think so.

I can't believe I'm writing about this.

I find the line "but one-third of women said they've felt depressed even after satisfactory sex" interesting. The article doesn't specify who felt satisfied, whether both participants expressed the same opinion, but I'm presuming it's the girls saying they were satisfied. See, if sex isn't about self-donation, and lacks the attitude of total giving to another, but focuses instead on "total getting" - well, that's a recipe for doom, ultimately. The girl might think - "Wow! He totally had me rippling like a wave tank!" - but in the back of her mind, she might be thinking - "I bet he doesn't even know my name..." No wonder a third of them get depressed. Frankly, I'm not surprised the number isn't higher.

So we got college-age kids hooking up, probably using birth control - and worried it might fail - or they didn't use birth control, and they're worried about getting pregnant; and on top of that, the girls then obsess over whether or not they're perceived as sluts; and let's not forget the fear of STD's; and OMG! What if my roommate walks in?!? And what will my boyfriend think if he finds out?!?...

As the article points out, it's not just the co-eds who succumb to post-coital dysphoria. That's because a lot of dumb adults engage in the same stupid behavior. Big surprise there. And hey! I bet high school kids experience the same thing too!

God has it right - sex is meant to be exclusively between one man and one woman who are married...to each other. Not merely 'committed' to each other, or 'cohabiting' - married. Granted - even within this context, some percentage of people still experience post-coital dysphoria, and I can only imagine how frustrating that must be. I don't mean to slight anyone who legitimately suffers from this problem - but to those who aren't married? I say, sow the breeze, reap the worry-wind.

Maybe researchers should focus on the married folks instead of the fornicators. After all, post-coital dysphoria is the least of their problems.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Power Of Forgiveness

A group of unlikely vandals. One night that changed the course of their lives. And the faith of a man whose act of forgiveness that may change them even more.

From the Detroit Free Press: For Christmas Vandals, the Spirit of Forgiveness
Diane Quintanilla looked ashamed, embarrassed and dumbfounded. She stumbled with her words.

"I'm sorry," she said to Wayne Bronner, president of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, the iconic store in Frankenmuth.

Quintanilla's two sons, Samuel and Caleb Quintanilla, were among the four young men who admitted they vandalized Christmas displays at Bronner's on Christmas Day.

"I can't imagine what you are going through," Bronner said. "I feel for you."

Bronner's sister, Carla Bronner-Spletzer, hugged Diane Quintanilla. She told her that her sons had been forgiven. The Bronners didn't act like the victims of a crime -- one that ruined their own family's Christmas.

In that moment, Wayne Bronner became a counselor, following his Christian faith, trying to give Diane Quintanilla encouragement and support.

"Hopefully, this will put them on the right path," he said. "Sometimes, you need a slap in the face and away you go."

This is the story of profound forgiveness. And it is a story of profound guilt and shame.

A prank at Bronner's turns into a summer in jail

It all started on Christmas Eve. Samuel Quintanilla was driving home from his girlfriend's house in Frankenmuth when he said he received a call from Branden Dean, a close friend.

"He said, 'Are we still gonna do this?' I said, 'If somebody else will go along, we'll do it.' "

For a few weeks, they had been planning a prank at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. They were going to put the nativity animals into compromising positions. That's all they thought it would be -- a simple prank.

Read the whole story.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Various And Sundry Sunday

It's fairly common knowledge that wind turbines have been killing countless birds - now there's news they're killing bats, too - which will cost farmers billions. Green energy - pure embodiment of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

French teacher loses his job - as well as his benefits and rights to any social welfare - because he showed his students pro-life materials during an abortion debate.

The guy who's drinking only beer for Lent? He's halfway done.

Talk about a dedicated soccer fan...

The European Union's plan to create urban utopias by 2050. More like restricting personal freedom to me...

Some Philadelphia parents have taken it upon themselves to keep neighborhood kids safe, not from drugs or gangs or anything like that. No, they're protecting them from the dangers of snack foods. And it's other people's kids to boot.

Vatican ATM's...what else would you expect?

I really don't want to know what that one cake layer is made of.

Oh - yeah - the previous post? Obviously, just an AFD joke.

Friday, April 1, 2011

See You Around, Catholic Blogosphere!

I've got an announcement to make
That might take you by
Surprise. Or maybe not, for those of you who've come to know me.

After three years of writing more than 1,350
Posts, with countless mediocre photo-shops,
Ridiculous parodies and somewhat
Intelligent satires, I've decided to make this the
Last post of AoftheA today.

For what's it worth, I'd like to
Offer my thanks and gratitude to the
One or two or ten of you that have come to
Like this blog - it's a privilege knowing that in
Some small way, AoftheA brings meaning to your lives.

Don't be upset, and whatever you do, don't take this the wrong way.
Understand that it's me, not you, and that
Hopefully our paths will cross again very soon.