Tuesday, May 22, 2007

No Posting For Another Two Weeks...

... because I just don't have the time I once had!

But I have one announcement to make to the blogosphere: My wife is pregnant! It is still early on, so we are very anxious about the health of our baby and try not to get too excited about it. Nevertheless, I thank God everyday for even the possibility that I might be a father before the end of 2007.

But about the blog. I should be back in the second week of June with some regular blogging. I've dropped the ball a bit and it'll take some time to get back into the swing of things.

God Bless & Peace of Christ be with you always,


Thursday, May 10, 2007

I found this article particularly interesting in light of my recent posts on the pro-life movement.

Calgary Bishop Cites Graphic Images for Withdrawal of Support for Prominent Pro-life Group

By Hilary White

CALGARY, May 9, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In 2005 when the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR) was preparing to move to Calgary, the group that had met with remarkable successes across the country did not expect to lose the support of the Catholic bishop who is arguably the most outspoken on life and family issues.

CCBR has been immensely successful as a pioneer in Canada of the use of large graphic images of aborted children juxtaposed with other forms of historical genocide. The displays, called the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), erected at university campuses and similar settings are accompanied by trained volunteers who discuss the issues with passers by. The group now plans to bring the GAP to the next level with trucks rolling the images down the highways during commuter rush hours.

But in February this year, over a year after the group’s arrival in Calgary, Bishop Fred Henry released a letter to all his parishes, school boards and Knights of Columbus chapters saying he was “withdrawing all support” from the group, objecting to their use of graphic images of abortion, the central aspect of CCBR’s work.

Stephanie Gray, executive director of CCBR, spoke with LifeSiteNews.com saying they are disappointed with the bishop’s position.

When the group first met with Bishop Henry, Gray said he praised their work in general but “expressed reservations on graphic images.” She said, “He didn’t embrace us but he didn’t forbid Catholics to get involved.”

The Bishop, she said, was “uneasy” and thought the approach did “some harm” but “recognized the morality of the strategy.” Gray and CCBR took this statement as indicating that there is nothing morally objectionable about the GAP approach and began contacting local parishes and schools.

Henry’s position has apparently hardened, however. In his February 14th letter, while he praised the group’s “strong, clear and articulate presentations on behalf of life,” the bishop wrote that the GAP violated the moral principle that “the end...does not justify the means.”

He wrote, “In no way may these pictures be construed as healing, nor can the project be described as ‘tough love’ and I am not in favour of this kind of pedagogy. It is not good news and in my opinion does more harm than good to the pro-life cause.”

Gray said that although the bishop’s letter has not yet cost the group any financial supporters, it has hurt them. “So far, all the emails we have received have been in favour of us and expressing deep disappointment in Bishop Henry,” she said. However, Gray said that the group has lost speaking opportunities in one school and at one parish.

Perhaps worse, shortly after the letter was released, the diocesan post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel, refused to meet with Gray’s colleague, Jose Ruba and Gray was removed from the Diocesan Life Education Committee. Both groups and the parish cited the bishop’s letter.

Gray said, “Those are only the things we know about. We don’t know how many more people there are in parishes who might have been interested in us, who are now being put off.”

The success of GAP can be measured by the dramatic increases in calls and visits by pregnant women, often students, to local crisis pregnancy centres in areas where the displays have appeared. But the fact that the photos have arguably saved lives, does not stop them from regularly coming under attack, frequently most vociferously from fellow pro-life activists.

She told LifeSiteNews.com that although Bishop Henry denied CCBR the opportunity of answering his objections before the letter was distributed, the group’s website has been adjusted to answer them.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Preaching: Let's get happy

Diogenes posts at CWNews that a new group, the College of Preachers, has published a new guide. This new guide discusses ways Catholic priests can improve their homilies. Great, you'd think, crummy homilies are a problem, and priests clearly need some sort of encouragement, advice to make themselves more adept at the oldest and second most visible part of their vocation. So enter the College's guide to preaching.

The guide sets out to help priests 'double-check' facts on areas which are out of their technical expertise. Again, great, right? Well no. The guide is designed so that say, Fr. Doe wants to preach about the mortal sin of mixing your recycables, he knows where to look to make sure he doesn't confuse the hard plastics with the corrugated cardboard. Yea, not what's really needed.

The problem most priests seem to have with preaching is actually coming out and saying something worthwhile. There's simply too much therapy and not enough instruction. As much as we like a chuckle, 4 jokes does not a good sermon make. Nor does reminding us that all we need is love and that we're all pretty good deep inside - that's what our saccharine hymns are apparently for.

Unfortunately it's just too easy to offer up a few heartwarming and mindnumbing comments, or make an empassioned pseudo-political speech against the most recognizable media-inflated issue de jour. But that's not effective preaching, and no matter accurate your facts are, the congregation still suffers.

I've noticed many younger priests to be much better preachers than older priests. I don't know why that is; maybe there's an a problem of priests burning out, especially after what the Church and Western culture has been through the past 40 years. But what these new priests seem to understand and the older ones don't, is that simply preaching the Gospel and Catholic tradition is and will always be the best choice. Not that reminding Catholics of God's demand that we, for example, be stewards of the Earth in the context of climate change isn't all that bad, rather, it's that people are inured to that sort of thing. We get that stuff from our friends, the media and family outside of Church and we don't need it every Sunday too.

edit: If you really want a guide to preaching, start by reviewing this.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The 'A-word'

The United States has the 'n-word'. Canada has the 'a-word'. In a very surprising National Post article, columnist Anne Marie Owens discusses why, when and how the public abortion debate in Canada never got started. At Catholic Explorers, contributor Mary Anne picks up on the article and the lack of debate. It's an excellent post (actually two) which should be read by every leathernecked pro-lifer.

While I don't necessarily agree that Canadians are afraid of the abortion issue because of its divisivness, I think there is some truth to it. Many Canadians simply do not like to talk about serious things. I don't know why that it is, but its the current status quo. Actually, the current status quo is that when and if a particularly pernicious and troubling issue like abortion is raised, you will either be yelled at by a lunatic abortionist or a radical right-to-lifer.

So in the wake of this, my wife, my mother and I were discussing how we should begin to revitalize some elements of the pro-life movement. I for one think a very good place to start would be to remove any 'abortion is murder' placard, quote or whatever from our arsenal. Why? Because the discussion is no longer about whether or not it is human life or if it is not human life. Science has emphatically proven on several occassions since abortion was legalized in Canada that human life begins at conception. As much as it pains me to say it, people who procure abortions are usually well aware that it is akin to murder. For the pregnant woman, it is usually a utilitarian decision; for the pro-choice movements, it is a rights-based decision. When was the last time you even hear a pro-abortionist say 'Well, we don't really know when it becomes life anyway, so best to err on the side of the mother'? And moreover, if a woman has an abortion, is she going to react positively to a placard which reads 'Abortion: 1 Dead, 1 Wound'?

The same goes for the graphic images. Showing people images of destroyed babies, for whatever reason, puts people in shell-shock mode and they simply turn their minds off. It's not even that difficult to realize - soldiers, doctors, anyone who views extremely graphic pictures of dead humans simply depersonalizes the image and pushes it to the fartherest corner of their mind. What the pro-life movement seems to be discovering is that it is the images and videos of children in the womb at various stages that are the most effective. The very successful crisis pregnancy certains do not 'win over' pregnant women by showing them images of tiny, dismembered and bloodied people.

Now this is not to say that the murder rhetoric and the use of graphic images should never be employed. Rather, I think that there are certain occassions when such plain terms and shocking pictures must be used. We shouldn't forget about the horrors of abortion or shy away from informing others about them, but we should use the utmost discretion to ensure that our message is received properly. How much more attractive is it when people are for something instead of against it?

(A little guy at 17 weeks)

Another Beckwith reflection...

Dr. Francis Beckwith's conversion has reminded me of something else. Before I returned to my faith, I hit a wall. I suppose many people do. For me it occurred when I realized that if I was going to be truly sincere, my pride would have to suffer and I would have to admit that on a certain many things, my own opinions and postulations were completely wrong. I had to admit that I had been wrong, and that I had been totally complicit in my wrong doing. Sorry if this sounds simplistic, but it's just how it was. You see the Truth, and then you see what's holding you back from the Truth.

When I reflect upon those days when I was denying Christ, almost compulsively, I like to remember how St. Thomas was so stubborn that he wouldn't accept that Christ had risen unless he, well, check out the picture above (there's never an occassion that doesn't warrant a Caravaggio). It wasn't Christ keeping Thomas from seeing, it was Thomas. It was Thomas' attachment to, perhaps, a form of rationalism, despite all he had seen over the previous three years. Just as it is with us, when we are no longer in communion with Christ and with His Church, it's always down to ourselves, what we choose to think and choose to do.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Another one bites the dust...

The Holy Spirit is at it again; another returns home. Welcome, Frances Beckwith, your family, and everyone esle who entered into full communion with the Universal Church of Christ.

This conversion has some up in arms, just check the Right Reason combox, and others are using it as a chance to exercise and hone the virtue of charity. I like that. When I've had to deal with friends and family falling away from the Church, I've learned through prayer that it's the best time to bless them and pray for them, and pray for yourself.

I've often wondered if their is a difference between the way Catholics and Protestants cope with a family member or friend converting. I can't say for sure, but I think Catholics are more inclined to pray and hope rather than anathemize, judge and become confused. I have many friends who have left the faith, and it is a troubling thing, but it does not ever make me call in question the efficacy of the sacraments or Christ's promise to Peter. Yet in reading many of the Protestant responses to Dr. Beckwith, I can't help but notice not more than a little bit of worry and bitterness - worry that Beckwith did the right thing, and bitterness for making them doubt their own beliefs.

To the Sarko go the spoils...

Nicholas Sarkozy has won the French election. Segolene Royal conceded defeat (I love how the loser concedes defeat; it's one of the few classy moments left for a politician) shortly after polls closed and it became apparent that she had not overcome the 10 point deficit she faced coming into Sunday. Make no mistake, the press will have a field day making Sarkozy out to be a frevent right-winger, and dress up Royal's socialism to no end. Even though Royal is a die-hard socialist, and socialism is the reason why the French economy, once the envy of the West, is now one of the weakest, no one in the media would dare point out the obvious failings of someone so close to their own ideology. C'est la vie - salut, Sarko!

I don't know if Sarkozy will be able to implement many of the reforms he promised during the election, but he has been given a clear mandate by the French public to do so. This is a France much different from the France of even 10 years ago. You could consider the rejection of the EU Constitution and the election of a conservative (fiscally definitely, socially somewhat) a very clear statement that France has had enough of socialist experiments and the nanny state.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tar and feather, Segolene Royal, tar and feather

Segolene Royal has a problem: She's more than 10 points behind Nicholas Sarkozy. With only a
few days remaining until the final day of voting, Royal faces the monumental task of overcoming this deficit, somehow convincing the French that a return to Socialism is just what the country needs.

The French know this, and so too does Royal, so she's decided to get nasty. Royal is now warning that Sarkozy's election with lead to violence. She's right. But it won't be the poor or ethnic who will be turning over cars and burning garbages cans, it'll be the socialists, pissed off that they've lost another election.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What is Quebec?

Shane Doan versus Quebec. It didn't always be like this. There was a time when Quebec culture was vibrant and secure and distinct. It wasn't until the Quiet Revolution (you know, when Quebeckers stopped having kids, going to Church and speaking French) that Quebec as a culture began to crack.

And here we are today: An unremarkable hockey player has Quebec at odds with the rest of Canada. You really have to wonder when and where it's going to end for Quebec. The reaction has all the hallmarks of that spoiled kid in highschool who just couldn't take a joke. And that's what this is really like - a dispaly of highschool hypersenstivity and immaturity on a national scale.

So what's happened? How do turn a healthy society into a pale, artificial shadow of what it once was?