Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Novena to the Immaculate Conception

For the past several years, St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Chicago has hosted a Novena to the Immaculate Conception.

The Novena consists of a nightly Rosary and a Mass in which the homily focuses on a particular aspect of Our Lady—Queen of the New Evangelization, Co-Redemptrix, etc. And, as is the custom at SMA, other priests hear confessions before (and, as it inevitably happens, during) Mass.

This Advent custom is something we always look forward to, as Jocelyn and I attended most nights of the Novena—shortly before we started dating—during our senior year of college nine years ago, when it wasn't nearly as well attended then as it has been in recent years. (St. Mary of the Angels is also the church where we were married.)

With our increasingly large family, it's harder for us to go as often as we'd like, but we're always able to make it at least one of the nights. And if you're in the area, I'd encourage you to do the same—or, better yet, to go more often.

This year's Novena starts this Sunday, November 30, the first Sunday of Advent and the traditional feast of the holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle Andrew the First-Called.

The full schedule is here [PDF].

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's Wrong with the World

The Dutchman has a good Confession-related post in which he says:

The problem with most explanations is that they are self-serving. (Surely I'm not the problem!) If we could be really honest with ourselves, then we could formulate explanations that closely approximate the truth.

This, in turn, reminded me of the time when Chesterton—along with a myriad of other prominent writers of his day—was asked by the London Times to write an essay on the theme, "What's Wrong with the World?"

In response, Chesterton wrote a letter:

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Think "Wayne's World" — Only Completely Different

A few months ago, our office got a call from a woman named Rebecca Marcovitz, who had several questions about the legality of abortion in our country. Like so many Americans, she was incredulous that late-term abortions are legal, and I confirmed that despite how unbelievable it sounds, abortion is effectively legal at any point during pregnancy.

We had a long conversation, during which she asked many questions and during which I had the chance to tell her about the grassroots pro-life activism the Pro-Life Action League helps people to get involved with.

After talking with her for a while, she mentioned that she produces a Christian program called "A Fork in the Road" on a local cable access channel, and she asked if I would like to be on the show some time, where I would have 30 minutes to talk about whatever I felt inspired to talk about pertaining to the pro-life cause.

Even though I'd never done anything quite like this before, I told her I was flattered by invitation, and that I would gladly accept. (My boss, Joe Scheidler, always recommends to pro-lifers that they accept without hesitation any invitation from the media to share the pro-life message.)

In preparation for the show, I asked Joe if I could "borrow" the talk he's given hundreds of times on the spiritual underpinnings of the pro-life movement. The outline for his talk provided the basis for the first part of what I would talk about, after which I went into a discussion of one of the more controversial activist tactics we employ, and about which I have written previously herein—that of showing graphic abortion pictures in public.

The show was taped yesterday at a studio in Highland Park, IL, and I was happy with how it went. I'm told it will run once a week for two weeks (or more?) in numerous suburban markets in Chicagoland—mostly in the north and northwest suburbs, but apparently also some in and around Naperville as well—and, interestingly enough, 540 miles away in Hibbing, MN, which is right next to Chisholm, the town where I was born.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Schools in the Jesuit Tradition" Is, for All Intents and Purposes, a Vacuous Euphemism

Alas, the hanged, drawn, and quartered body of St. Edmund Campion must be turning over in his grave at the state of Jesuit higher education these days.

This latest instance, via Mark Shea, reminds me of the time some ten years ago when, during Joe Scheidler's (my now-boss's) RICO trial in federal court, Loyola University Chicago's law school allowed NOW to solicit students to help them in their case against him. His daughter, my friend and current co-worker Annie Casselman, was a Loyola undergrad at the time (as was I).

I like Shea's idea, though: Don't give 'em a dime. Not one dime. Ever.

That's why Jocelyn and I have donated exactly nothing to our alma mater.

To be sure, I say this with no joy. Both of us received an excellent education at Loyola, and we were privileged to encounter many Jesuits there who have an undying love for the Faith.

Sadly, however, the increasing sense of disloyalty that has crept its way into the Society of Jesus has made for an environment in many (all?) of their universities in which Catholic identity is largely shelved and certain viewpoints diametrically opposed to Church teaching are tolerated out of a horribly misguided understanding of “academic freedom”.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm Not Missing This

Last month, our office got a call from Father Tim Fiala of the John Paul II Newman Center at UIC, who invited us to attend a bioethics symposium on the topic, "What Is Meant by the Term 'Quality of Life'?", which will be held next Friday, November 21.

The topic itself piqued my interest, and it was doubly piqued when I found out Dr. Peter Kreeft will be speaking—not to mention our own Cardinal Francis George.

And the price of the all-day symposium is a mere $30—and that includes breakfast and lunch. (With my penurious inclinations, even I recognize this would be a bargain at twice the price.)

Needless to say, I'll be there with bells on.

If you're interested, get thou more information here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fans Behaving Badly

One of my co-bloggers at Catholic Dads posted a story today that appears in the current version of The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the diocese I grew up in, the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis:

Last weekend, my 10-year-old son and I attended the Vikings-Packers game. He’s an avid sports fan and had never been to a professional football game. So I bought two tickets to this classic rivalry, thinking it would leave a lasting memory with my son. It did — but not because the Vikings won the game.

Here’s what my son said to me in the closing seconds of the third quarter: “I think maybe we should wait until I’m older to come to another game. I’ve never heard so much swearing in one building in my life.”

I agree.

From the opening kickoff to the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, a few fans around us — about six or seven — frequently directed obscenities at players, at the game’s officials and, even more frequently, at other fans sitting around them...

Alcohol at root of problem

I understand that emotions can be high when historic rivals meet. But these actions were inexcusable. In almost every case, the boorish behavior was the result of excessive alcohol consumption.

Read the rest here.

Reading this reminded me of what is possibly the most famous instance of boorish fan behavior in the history of American sports—which, incidentally, also occurred at a Vikings home game (albeit at the old Met Stadium, not the apology for a stadium that is the Metrodome)—to wit, the 1975 divisional playoff game when a fan threw a whiskey bottle and hit referee Armen Terzian in the head, rendering him unconscious. (Minutes earlier, Terzian didn't call pass interference on Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson—although Vikings fans thought he should have—and his touchdown catch put Dallas ahead for good.)

Ironically, the pass, thrown by Roger Staubach, was the original "Hail Mary".

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Now You See Him, Now You Don't

Mark Shea links to this story—"The disappearing male; Studies show rise in birth defects, infertility among men"— and comments thusly:

Five bucks say this has to do with birth control pills

Ten bucks says nobody will ever be told that.

I remember seeing an article about the highly abnormal sex ratio among the Aamjiwnaang First Nation community a few months ago, and I'm glad to see it continues to garner attention.

Considering what we already know about the bizarre effects that the estrogen-mimicking chemicals found in birth control pills are having on fish, it wouldn't be at all surprising if they're also a contributing factor to—among other things—skewed sex ratios among communities like the Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

It seems we have here yet another instance of Shea's Two Phases of History.

Phase One, you may recall, is:

What could it hurt?

Phase Two is:

How could we have known?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New and Improved!

Found this today on Facebook:

[HT: ?]

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Uh Oh

I wonder what Obama's election does for Chicago's chances to host the 2016 Olympics.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now What?

We now have a president-elect who said he doesn't know when human beings should be given human rights, who promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act—which would have a devastating effect on existing pro-life laws—and who voted to support legalized infanticide.

South Dakota's effort to ban most abortions failed.

California's effort to pass a commonsense parental notification law for minor girls seeking abortions failed.

Michigan voters approved a state constititutional amendment to permit stem cell research embryonic stem cell research (read: killing little people for the putative benefit of bigger people).

And Washington state became the second state to legalized doctor-assisted suicide.

(On the bright side, though, Proposition 8 appears to have passed in California.)

Details on all these state ballot measures are available here.

So, what do we do now? Wail and gnash our teeth? Beat our breasts and don sackcloth and ashes?

To be sure, there is a time for penance, and a time for mourning. (Along these lines, do read these three sobering posts on Christina Dunigan's RealChoice blog.)

After such time, we need to get active. And if we're already active, we need to get more active.

I've often told people who contact us looking to get involved in pro-life activities that just as all politics is local, so too is all pro-life activism.

David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life — whose most recent campaign saved the lives of over 520 babies — made this same point in a press release today, headlining it simply:

Pro-lifers must look beyond elections
and focus on making local impact


Who knows what new pro-abortion legislation will passed in the next four years, or who will be appointed to the Supreme Court?

Nobody does. And that's why we can't sit around and do nothing and wait for Someone Else To Do Something.

There is no better time than now to get involved in pro-life activism.

Now is not the time to hang our heads or wring our hands. Now is the time to put our pro-life beliefs into action in our own communities.

As for our attitude, we would do well to heed the counsel from a long-time pro-life activist who e-mailed this morning with some advice to keep in mind these next four years (and, for that matter, always):

Remember to be positive and joyful! Don't give in to negativity. St. Paul who was no stranger to difficulties told us, "with all our affliction, I am overjoyed" (2 Cor. 7:4). He exhorted his fellow Christians to be joyful: "Rejoice always" (1 Thess. 5:16); "rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4). We need to be cheerful and confident in our defense of Christ and life. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). We will not win the world with a sour face but with the love, truth, and the joy of Jesus Christ. St. Peter tells us when we live and even suffer joyfully we can, "Rejoice in so far as you share Christ's suffering, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is reveled." (1 Peter 4:13).

And, as my boss, the redoubtable Joe Scheidler, reminded me this morning, at Mass we pray to Our Heavenly Father, "In your mercy keep us free from sin . . . as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ."

This was the Church's prayer yesterday. It is the Church's prayer today. And it will be the Church's prayer until the end of time.

Politicians and their unfulfillable promises of "hope and change" will come and go; but real, authentic "joyful hope"—along with faith, and above all, charity—these endure, and they sustain us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Voting for Obama

Because, you know, the Illinois junior senator himself said:

So I am going to try to be so persuasive in the 20 minutes or so that I speak that by the time this is over, a light will shine down from somewhere.

It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany. And you will say to yourself, I have to vote for Barack. I have to do it.

So I guess I have no choice.


The Maronite Church

Via Mark Shea, here's a beautiful video giving the history of the Maronite Church in under two minutes:

I've attended the Maronite Divine Liturgy twice in my life, and I can't think of a good reason why it's only twice.

Absolutely, sublime, it is—in no small part because much of it (including the words of consecration) is in Aramaic, the language spoken by Our Lord Jesus Christ.