Saturday, April 30, 2005

Month Long Drive to Support Peter's Pence Begins May 1st

Memorial of Pope St. Pius V

Celebrate the end of John Paul the Great's pontificate and the beginning of Benedict XVI's by participating in The Troglodyte's Peter's Pence Drive. There are two ways you can offer your support. First by purchasing merchandise from the newly opened CaveMart online store. You can choose from more than 25 items recognizing either Pope Benedict (many with the cheeky tagline from the notorious Asian Times article), or the late Pope John Paul, and more than 35 items overall, with 100% of the net proceeds going to the Vatican's Peter's Pence Fund. Satisfaction is guaranteed. If you would like, you can also make a secure online donation through the Vatican website. You may use American Express, Visa, MasterCard, or Diners. The Peter's Pence Drive runs from May 1st through May 31st.

Peter's Pence is the name given to the financial support offered by the faithful to the Holy Father as a sign of their sharing in the concern of Successor of Peter for the many different needs of the Universal Church and for the relief of those in most need.

For more information, see the Vatican website:
Peter's Pence Today
An Ancient Custom Still Alive Today
Photo Gallery

Friday, April 29, 2005

Tips for Spotting a Bono

Memorial of Catherine of Siena

Scientists have discovered that a wild Bono will often use the same rest areas during repeated migratory travels. This suggests that, once these areas are documented, watchers will have an easier time finding Bonos.

Looking and the Law

Yesterday, Dennis Prager spent an hour of his program on a case in Atlantic City:
In Atlantic City police are looking into accusations that casino security guards
have used overhead cameras to ogle women in provocative dress. Is this really a
criminal offense?
I expect that many readers have noticed this "fashion" trend with differing levels of concern. When I was chaperoning Troglotyke #1's class at environmental camp, I was faced with something like this to a tremendous degree by the dress of the eleven and twelve-year old girls. There were a couple of rebelious types who were better dressed for MTV than a lesson in orienteering, but what actually bothered me more (to my surprise) is the revealingly skin-tight nature of today's "modest" dress. There are no secrets. I spent a lot of time looking at the sky and trees. But don't think the sixth-grade boys didn't notice, nor did they understand why looking is wrong. For the record, it makes objects of women and girls, for which Jesus Christ specifically chastises us when He says that a man who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his mind.

Anyway, Mr. Prager's take was that, while it is not a good thing, "no" it is not criminal because first, no harm was done, and second, women who dress that way in public want men to look at them. I disagree with the first point, and the second point does not matter, in my opinion. He did make it a point to distinguish ogling, whether with or without a camera, from voyeurism. He also recognized that creating a record (like a picture) for unofficial use does create harm because it creates an object that humiliates the woman, even though there were probably notices posted that patrons were being observed. That I suppose is the crux of the legal case: if there is a security tape (that isn't looped), did the guards look "too long" for such a tape to be useful in a security capacity, in which case it could reasonably categorized as an object of (sexual) humiliation? Otherwise, in a society that does not criminalize adultery, or artificial birth control, there is no compelling legal argument against simply looking in public. "Freedom" strikes again.

The flip side to making objects of women and girls is the worship of man as an object, or at least his distinguishing feature, as Oswald Sobrino points out.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

John Paul the Great on Mary #2

Memorial of St. Peter Chanel
Memorial of St. Louis Mary de Montfort

This woman of faith, Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God, has been given to us as a model in our pilgrimage of faith. From Mary, we learn to surrender to God's will in all things. From Mary, we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary, we learn to love Christ, her Son, and the Son of God. For Mary is not only the Mother of God, she is the Mother of the Church as well.
Message to Priests, Washington, DC, 1979

CRS in Darfur

To date, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has pledged an initial $6 million to the crisis for relief efforts in Sudan and Chad. CRS is providing humanitarian relief in the form of shelter, water, sanitation, refugee camp management, education and food. CRS works in West Darfur in its capitol of El Geneina, and north of El Geneina along the border with Chad in the "Kulbus corridor," including the Sirba, Selea, and Kondobe areas. Across the border in eastern Chad, CRS is working with its local partner, Secadev, in managing refugee camps in Kounoungou and Touloum.

Recent CRS Darfur relief efforts include:

Shelter and Family Kits
CRS distributed shelter materials and family kits to roughly 2,700 families in February. Since beginning its relief efforts in Darfur, CRS has reached tens of thousands of people, often providing their first package of relief supplies since fleeing their homes. Family kits include essential hygiene and shelter materials, such as blankets, soap, water cans, sanitary napkins for women, tubs and cooking utensils.

Water and Sanitation
Clean water is essential to survival. CRS is building sources (wells and pumps) that enable access to clean water in various camps, constructing family-style latrines for camps and schools, and facilitating hygiene training.

CRS works closely with the World Food Programme in facilitating distributions of emergency food. CRS is currently identifying and registering tens of thousands of people for receiving food rations at 22 distribution sites in the West Darfur region in March. Because people have missed the harvest season for two straight years, there is a growing dependence on food aid.

CRS is rebuilding and rehabilitating schools, providing education materials, supporting teachers with salaries and training, and constructing latrines on school campuses. CRS and its partners have already built 48 schools, run by more than 100 teachers and volunteers, and benefiting more than 4,000 primary school children. In the coming months, CRS plans to build five schools in El Geniena, provide 19 schools with education materials in the Kulbus locality, support teachers in 24 schools with incentives and learning materials, as well as build water and sanitation facilities. This support will reach as many as 15,000 children.

U.S. Advocacy and Community Awareness
In U.S. and international political arenas, CRS provides testimony, builds awareness, and shares its field expertise to encourage government leaders to more fully address the crisis in Darfur. CRS seeks to generate greater understanding of the crisis with communities across the U.S. through panels, campus and diocesan outreach, speakers' tours, media outlets and CRS' legislative advocacy network.

So why do I mention this? The Troglodyte is a member of the Coalition for Darfur. At its launch the Coalition was directing those who wanted to make a donation to help address the humanitarian crisis to Save the Children. Save the Children does a tremendous amount of good work. However, like so many NGOs, it distributes and promotes the use of condoms to limit the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Despite the good intentions, this practice serves what John Paul the Great called the "pulverization of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person" by preventing the self-giving in human sexual love, thereby denying it as an icon of the inner life of God as the Holy Trinity. Therefore, it becomes problematic for faithful Catholics and others who recognize this truth to provide financial support that may be directed for such work.

I am reminding/notifying you that there are many organizations, like CRS, who do minister to those in crisis and refuse to deny the fully authentic human nature of those they serve. Since its launch, the Coalition blog has added a link to give financial support CRS, as now have I. If you have not done so already, please consider making a donation now to the CRS Sudan Emergency Fund.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Man Nobody Knows

A Coalition for Darfur Post

On February 24, 2004, an op-ed entitled "The Unnoticed Genocide" appeared in the pages of the Washington Post warning that without humanitarian intervention in Darfur "tens of thousands of civilians [would] die in the weeks and months ahead in what will be continuing genocidal destruction."

Written by Eric Reeves, a literature professor from Smith College, this op-ed was the catalyst that compelled many of us to start learning more about crisis in Darfur which, in turn, led directly to the creation of the Coalition for Darfur.

For over two years, Eric Reeves has been the driving force behind efforts to call attention to the genocide in Darfur by writing weekly updates and providing on-going analysis of the situation on the ground. As early as 2003, Reeves was calling the situation in Darfur a genocide, nine months before former Secretary of State Colin Powell made a similar declaration. In January of 2005, Reeves lashed out against "shamefully irresponsible" journalists who "contented themselves with a shockingly distorting mortality figure for Darfur's ongoing genocide." Reeves' analysis led to a series of news articles highlighting the limitations of the widely cited figure of 70,000 deaths and culminated in a recent Coalition for International Justice survey that concluded that death toll was nearly 400,000; an figure nearly identical to the one Reeves had calculated on his own.

Perhaps most presciently, on March 21st, Reeves warned that "Khartoum has ambitious plans for accelerating the obstruction of humanitarian access by means of orchestrated violence and insecurity, including the use of targeted violence against humanitarian aid workers." The following day it was reported that Marian Spivey-Estrada, a USAID worker in Sudan, had been shot in the face during an ambush while "traveling in a clearly marked humanitarian vehicle." The lack of security for aid workers has led some agencies to declare certain areas "No Go" zones or withdraw all together, leaving the internally displaced residents of Darfur without access to food, water or medical care.

And as the Boston Globe reported on Sunday, he has done it all while fighting his own battle with leukemia.

Were it not for Eric Reeves, it is quite possible that the genocide in Darfur would have gone largely unnoticed. We at the Coalition for Darfur offer him our prayers and support and express our heartfelt thanks for all that he has done to prick the nation's conscience on this vitally important issue. We hope that his courage and conviction will be an inspiration to others and that Darfur will soon begin to get the attention that it deserves.

Behold the Power of Television

The Troglodytrix told me recently of this exchange with the five-year old Troglotyke #4.

Troglotyke #4: Do you know why today is a great day?

Troglodytrix: Why?

Troglotyke #4: Because K-mart has sunny shirts and shorts on sale, only 2 for 10 bucks!

Pope John Paul the Great on Marriage and the Family #2

Marriage, with its character as an exclusive and permanent union, is sacred because its origin is in God. Christians, in receiving the sacrament of marriage, share in God's creative plan and receive the graces they need to carry out their mission of raising and educating their children, and to respond to the call to holiness. It is a union different from any other sort of human society, for it is based on the mutual giving and receiving of husband and wife in order to become "one flesh" (Gen 2:24), living in a community of life and love, the vocation of which is to be a "sanctuary of life." By their faithful and persevering union, the couple contributes to the good of the instituion of the family and shows that a man and a woman are capable of giving themselves to one another forever...
Homily at Santa Clara, Cuba, 1998

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Michael Barone on the Theocracy Silliness

Merriam-Webster Online gives us the following defintion:
Main Entry: the·oc·ra·cy
Pronunciation: thE-'ä-kr&-sE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -cies
Etymology: Greek theokratia, from the- + -kratia -cracy
1 : government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided
2 : a state governed by a theocracy
I am still trying to figure out why having elected officials who are guided by God is such a bad thing in and of itself. Regardless, this is not where the danger lies, of course; for it is where there is unbridled power available to those who claim to have a monopoly on the truth. Mr. Barone points out that this is not going to happen anytime soon in the US. Nor can it in any democratically-derived government that has a guaranty for, in John Paul the Great's view, the first freedom, the freedom of religion.

The thing is is that this hand-wringing is less about whether the US is becoming a theocracy and more that a considerable number of Americans are given to pause at the effects wrought by a, dare we say, religious zeal for denying the true nature of the human person. Here I am optimistic because the current cultural conflict is one of attrition, as Mr. Barone closes,
Those who believe in "family values" are more likely to have families. ... This doesn't mean we're headed to a theocracy: America is too diverse and freedom-loving for that. But it does mean that we're probably not headed to the predominantly secular society that liberals predicted half a century ago and that Europe has now embraced.
(cap tip: RCP)

Hugh Hewitt has already weighed in on this piece and has more.

Tom Barnett is Still Lost in the Wilderness

To complete my triyptych of uncharitability, I have noted with disappointment, though without surprise, that Mr. Barnett has disapproved of the election of Pope Benedict XVI (here and here). For all his brilliance and much else I like about him, I still have to shake my head at his continued blind spot that the "intransigient" Pope John Paul the Great had put his finger on the problem of the Gap a decade before he did, and with sounder philosophical underpinning, culminating in the release of Centesimus Annus. Despite putting his objections in terms of the Pentagon's New Map, Mr. Barnett has let too many things slip in his blog over time for me not to think rather that he is simply experiencing the common, emotional gut-wrenching of a Cafeteria Catholic.

Expert Seeks Key to Human Nature

The possibilities of this research strike me as much more enlightening if you replace "bonobo" with "Bono," which I have done for you here.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh sounds like a proud mother when she speaks about her brood of Bonos, eight ultra-intelligent apes that will take part in unique language research meant to shed light on their nature and maybe our own.

The first two Bonos will make the 16-hour road trip from the Language Research Center at Georgia State University to their new $10 million, 13,000-square-foot home near downtown Des Moines later this month. All eight - three females and five males - will arrive at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa by mid-May.

Bonos, a species of ape from the Congo, are the most like humans, Savage-Rumbaugh said. They constantly vocalize "as though they are conversing" and often walk upright.

"If you want to find a human-like creature that exists in a completely natural state ... that creature is the Bono," said Savage-Rumbaugh, an experimental psychologist who is one of the world's leading ape-language researchers.

If the apes are able to learn language, music and art, once thought to be distinct to humans, then "it strongly suggests that those things are not innate in us," she said.

"Those are things that we have created, and create anew and build upon from one generation to the next ..." she said. "Then we have the power to change it and make it any other way. We could have an ideal world, if we but learn how to do it."

The Bonos will be able to cook in their own kitchen, tap vending machines for snacks, go for walks in the woods and communicate with researchers through computer touchscreens. The decor in their 18-room home includes an indoor waterfall and climbing areas 30 feet high.

The longevity of the project is unlike any other.

The animals, which have a life span of up to about 50 years, will be allowed to mate and have families - and develop cultures that will be studied for generations to come, Savage-Rumbaugh said.

Visitors are allowed, but they must understand that the Great Ape Trust is not a zoo, she said.

Using a network of cameras and computers, the Bonos can see visitors who ring the doorbell - and will be able to choose through a computer touchscreen who will be permitted into a secured viewing area.

"Only if they want to open the door can you enter," Savage-Rumbaugh said.

Karen Killmar, an associate curator at the San Diego Zoo, said the Great Ape Trust is unlike other research programs.

"There's studies all over the place in terms of intelligence and learning ability and behavior," she said, "but to be able to sort of pull it all together in one place I think is a wonderful opportunity to give us a much clearer picture of what our closest relatives are."

A wild Bono has been spotted trying to hold a politician to account.

Bush Adds DeLay to SocSecurity Tour

Bad news for the Majority Leader, ye ole vote of confidence. If I were a cynical Democrat, I would think trotting out Tom DeLay is a stroke of genius. How better to scare people into keeping a portion of their own money under personal control than to confront them with Evil Bug Man from the government.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Pope Benedict Shows Off His Teaching Skills

Feast of St. Mark

I originally had the complete text from His Holiness' homily from the Solemn Mass of Inauguration here. I had highlighted the sections that particularly resonated with me, but once I posted it I saw that it included nearly the entire thing. Therefore, I suggest you follow the link and enjoy the enlightenment for yourself.

New Stadium Deal for Twins

With this coming on the heels of the implementation of the county-wide smoking ban (no, I don't smoke), I can officially say I am glad we didn't move to Hennepin County when we returned to Minnesota.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

ID: Bad Science?

Today's Minneapolis StarTribune OpEx section is dedicated to the debate of evolution vs. intelligent design in the classroom. I will say right off that I do not have enough expertise in the biological sciences to argue either case on the merits in great detail. I am also not all that interested in the emotionalism that surrounds the separate discussion about what allegedly follows from either proposition. This discussion interests me primarily from a philosophy of science perspective. That said, I do consider it foolish to cut-off intellectual inquiry into the "design inference," as one of its proponents, William Dembski calls it.

The current state of the contention between evolution, primarily in the form of neo-Darwinism, and design is much overblown, in my opinion. In the realm of microevolution, which is where we find the practical day-to-day scientific and engineering advances of animal breeding, GMO, gene therapy, etc., there is no real dispute. It is when we look at macroevolution that questions (and angst) arise. Very well. This is where it is useful to remember that ALL theories are suppositions that implicitly begin with the phrase, "The universe/solar system/planet/ocean/pick your context behaves AS IF..." As a result, it strikes me as reasonable to teach the neo-Darwinist strength in microevolution, and discuss the macroevolutionary shortcomings of neo-Darwinism and some of the alternatives, including intelligent design.

All this is not unique to this particular debate, as I am reminded of James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis and its homeostasis claim that the resident life forms of a host planet coupled with their environment have acted and act AS IF they are a single, self-regulating system. What I find interesting, and perhaps ironic, is that Lovelock's hypothesis met intially great hostility in part because it fosters connotations of scientifically unrigorous quasi-mystical thinking about the Earth. Sound familiar? The biggest difference, of course, is that regardless of which macroevolutionary model proves to me more accurate and, more importanly, more useful, the vast majority of people will still believe God has had a hand in Creation.

The StarTribune is soliciting opinions from readers of no more than 150 words. In a similar spirit, I too welcome comments and e-mails on this. What say you?

The links to the StarTribune articles can be found here, for as long as they last (free reg. may be req'd):

Creator's Breath, quotes by Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Pope Pius XII from the editorial staff.
Pseudoscience would waste teaching time by Paul Z. Myers
Students should learn the weak points of evolutionary theory, too by Dave Eaton
When two core beliefs go head to head by Jim Boyd
The truth of faith doesn't depend on this debate by Alan G. Padgett

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Passover Begins Non-coincidentally

Memorial of St. George
Memorial of St. Adalbert

This is one of those years when the Easter Triduum does not occur around the same time as Passover. As a result, in this the Year of the Eucharist, with roots in the Passover meal, we have another special opportunity to focus on and contemplate the Real Presence. As we look forward to the installation of Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow, we can heed the Holy Father's guidance regarding the Eucharist from his first message:

In a very significant way, my pontificate starts as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist. How can I not see in this providential coincidence an element that must mark the ministry to which I have been called? The Eucharist, the heart of Christian life and the source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to me.

The Eucharist makes the Risen Christ constantly present, Christ Who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate in the banquet of His Body and His Blood. From this full communion with Him comes every other element of the life of the Church, in the first place the communion among the faithful, the commitment to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel, the ardor of charity towards all, especially towards the poor and the smallest.

In this year, therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus Christ must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place on the theme 'The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.' I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.

I ask this in a special way of priests, about whom I am thinking in this moment with great affection. The priestly ministry was born in the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times. 'The priestly life must have in a special way a 'Eucharistic form', he wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday. The devout daily celebration of Holy Mass, the center of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this end.

Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle. Peter's Successor knows that he must take on this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening his brethren.

Call a Spade a Spade

I went to Catholic Packer Fan looking for some Norris Division draft analysis and amazingly didn't find any. I did find a post where he will now use the labels "orthodox" and "progressive" when referring to religious viewpoints, rather than "conservative" and "liberal." Here is my comment:

Why not "heterodox" rather than the misleading and often inaccurate "progressive?" Consider how these not uncommon Western practices pre-date the Church, or its current Tradition, and are presented as evidence of being "behind the times:"
  • Homosexuality (Culturally sanctioned, including man-boy practical unions)
  • Polygamy
  • Abortifacients/infanticide
  • Priestesses/deaconesses
  • Married clergy
Just who is "progressive," and who is "regressive?"

The Randy Moss Trade Gets Better and Better

The Vikings apparently are no longer under the delusion that they were only one or two players away from the Super Bowl the last several seasons. Here's Scott Studwell, director of college scouting, quoted in today's Strib:
We have made some dramatic improvements in the talent level on this football team the last three years. It's not just through the draft, but through free agency. ... We're not one player away, we're not two players away, but we're a lot closer than we were three years ago.

The first step to solving a problem is first admitting that you have a problem. And then you trade him.

NFL Draft 2005

The Vikings arguably have had the best off-season of any team with the additions of LB Sam Cowart, LB Napolean Harris, S Darren Sharper, CB Fred Smoot, WR Travis Taylor, and DT Pat Williams. They still need to better fill the hole left by the Randy Moss trade, as well as create a real pass-rushing threat. Because of this, the conventional wisdom has the Vikes drafting a wide receiver with their #7 pick overall and going for defense with their #18 pick.

There is the outside chance of taking a running back with their first choice, however, because the oft-injured Michael Bennett is in the final year of his contract, as is Moe Williams. Throw in Onterrio Smith's ongoing drug battle, and suddenly the RB-deep Vikings could be down to Mewelde Moore as the feature back a year from now.

The other story line that is getting a lot of play in the Twin Cities is the possibility of trading down their #7 pick with the idea of picking up another second round selection so they can take Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent. The Vikings have not had a competent all-around kicking game since 2001 and no deep field goal threat since Fuad Reveiz left after 1995. If they go this way, look for them to swap picks with San Diego or Houston at #'s 12 and 13, respectively. Other possibilities are Dallas' second first round pick at #20, or Washington's second first round pick at #25.

The Vikings stuck to the Conventional Wisdom. Their draft page summary for their first two picks follows.

TROY WILLIAMSON, Round 1 - 7th Overall
A gifted receiver who possesses outstanding speed, Troy developed into the Gamecocks' bigplay artist as a junior. A proven deep threat, he also proved capable of carrying the ball out of the backfield in addition to excelling on special teams as a kickoff returner and gunner on the coverage units.

ERASMUS JAMES, Round 1 - 18th Overall
Regarded as one of the premier pass rushers in college football, Erasmus is not a player that took your everyday path to college football notoriety. Born on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts (his father is press secretary to the prime minister), James moved to The Bronx, New York, and grew up there as a child. He then moved to Florida as a high school freshman, where he was a standout basketball player as a prep, but was convinced to try football in his senior year.

Friday, April 22, 2005

John Paul the Great on Truth and Freedom #2

Although each individual has a right to be respected in his own journey in search of the truth, there exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that, to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known.
Veratatis Splendor

Thursday, April 21, 2005

BenedictXVI.com Owner Promises No Sinful Use

Memorial of St. Anselm

Andrew Sullivan, look out! It's Panzergroßmutter Rita!

New E-mail Address for Pope Benedict

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Got a prayer or a problem for the new pope? Now you can e-mail him. Showing that Pope Benedict XVI intends to follow in the footsteps of John Paul II's multimedia ministry, the Vatican on Thursday modified its Web site so that users who click on an icon on the home page automatically activate an e-mail composer with his address.

In English, the address is benedictxvi@vatican.va. In Italian: benedettoxvi@vatican.va.

Vatican spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment on how many messages Benedict may have received already.

John Paul, who died April 2, was the first pope to use e-mail, a medium that made its debut during his 26-year papacy. The Vatican said he received tens of thousands of messages in his final weeks as he struggled with illness.

Early Universe Was Liquid-Like

A truffle quote from the AP report:
New results from a particle collider suggest that the universe behaved like a liquid in its earliest moments, not the fiery gas that was thought to have pervaded the first microseconds of existence.
Well, now, just hold on a minute, here. Didn't we already know this?
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a
formless wasteland and darkness covered the abyss,* while a mighty wind swept
over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2 NAB)
* From the footnotes, the abyss is the primordial ocean according to the ancient Semitic cosmogony.

Pope Predicts Short Reign

I'm hoping His Holiness did not declare this ex cathedra.

For Immediate Release: Announcement of Patron Saint

I have seen this done on other sites and have been considering doing it for a while. Given the prominent nature of Benedict's cave in the first Pick Your Poison game and now the elevation of Pope Benedict XVI, it seems unwise to hold off any longer. Therefore:

Let it be known throughout the land, by the power invested in me as the Site Administrator, I decree and hold it to be true that

tut ta-da-la ta-da-la ta-da-la tut-taaa!

St. Benedict of Nursia is hereby invoked as the patron saint of The Troglodyte blog, with all the rights and privileges thereof.

So it is written. So it is done.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Ss. Peter and Paul, pray for us.
St. Jude, pray for us.
St. Benedict, pray for us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and lead us to everlasting life.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Pope Benedict Blog

(cap tip: Fructus Ventris)

While We Were Distracted

A Coalition for Darfur Post

In 1994, a genocide took place in Rwanda and it is probably safe to say that few of us remember hearing much about it. How was it possible, we now ask ourselves, that we could have so easily ignored the brutal slaughter of nearly one million people.

A look back to those 100 days in 1994 reveals that while we may not have heard much about Rwanda, we most certainly heard a great deal about many other things.

April to July 1994: A Timeline
On April 7, 1994 Rwandan soldiers and trained militias armed with machetes unleashed a murderous campaign to destroy the minority Tutsi population.

On April 8, Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.

On April 15, an estimated 20,000 Rwandans who had sought shelter Nyarubuye Church were slaughtered by government forces and members of the Interahamwe militia.

On April 22, former President Richard Nixon died and his funeral was held five days later.

On May 5, Michael Fay, an 18 year-old US citizen, was caned in Singapore as punishment for vandalism.

In mid May, the International Red Cross estimated that 500,000 Rwandans had been killed.

On June 17, OJ Simpson led police on a slow speed chase in a White Ford Bronco.

On July 4, the rebel army took control of the Rwandan capitol of Kigali and the genocide came to an end in a country littered with nearly one million corpses.
It is widely acknowledged that the world largely ignored the genocide in 1994 and failed the people of Rwanda. A decade later, it is worth asking if our
priorities have changed.
On September 8, 2004 60 Minutes ran a controversial story regarding President Bush's service in the Air National Guard that relied, in part, on forged memos.

On September 9, former Secretary of State Colin Powell officially declared that genocide was taking place in Darfur, Sudan.

On October 4, Romeo Dallaire, the head of the UN mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide warned that the world was responding to the crisis in Darfur much in the same way it responded to the genocide in Rwanda – with complete indifference.

On October 6, comedian Rodney Dangerfield died.

On January 24, 2005, Johnny Carson died.

On January 25, the UN released a report chronicling "serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law"; among them the "killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence."

On March 11, Brian Nichols overpowered a deputy, stole her gun and killed three people in an Atlanta courthouse before escaping.

On March 14, the United Nation's estimated that at least 180,000 people have died in Darfur in the last year and a half.

I would also add these "distractions":

On March 18, Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was pulled, and she died 13 days later.

On April 2, Pope John Paul the Great died, and his funeral, the largest in history was held six days later.

On April 18, the conclave to determine Pope John Paul's successor began, and the next day Pope Benedict XVI was elected.
Ten years ago, a genocide unfolded right in front of our eyes, but the media was more focused on the legal problems of various celebrities than it was on the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Africa.

And the same thing is happening today.

One has to wonder if, ten years from now, we'll be saying to one another "I vaguely remember hearing about the genocide in Sudan. It took place about the time of the Michael Jackson trial, right?"

We at the Coalition for Darfur ask you to join us in raising awareness of the genocide and to consider making a small donation to any of the organizations providing life saving assistance to the neglected people of Darfur.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Greetings from Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Brothers and Sisters: After the great Pope, John Paul II, the Lord Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord is able to work and act with insufficient instruments and, above all, I rely on your prayers.

In the joy of the risen Lord, confident of his permanent help, let us go forward. The Lord will help us. Mary, his Most Holy Mother, is on our side. Thank you.

(translation cap tip: ZENIT)

(photo cap tip: The Curt Jester)

After prolonged applause, Pope Benedict XVI imparted the apostolic blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world), and took his leave of the faithful.

What's in a Name?

CRM has everything you wanted to know about Benedict XV, but were afraid to ask.

President Congratulates the New Pope

From the South Lawn:

Laura and I offer our congratulations to Pope Benedict XVI. He's a man of great wisdom and knowledge. He's a man who serves the Lord. We remember well his sermon at the Pope's funeral in Rome, how his words touched our hearts and the hearts of millions. We join with our fellow citizens and millions around the world who pray for continued strength and wisdom as His Holiness leads the Catholic Church.

Thank you all.

Habemus Papam!

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has been selected to be the 265th Supreme Pontiff. His Holiness has selected the name Benedict XVI. Here is the Pope's pre-conclave bio.

Viva il Papa!

AP photo

Lest We Forget

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Life is entrusted to man as a treasure which must not be squandered, as a talent which must be used well. Man must render an account of it to his Master...

Evangelium Vitae

Leveling the Field?

Here is a demonstration (NYT FRR) why solidarity ultimately demands access to free markets, not tax-funded government services, regardless of what the MCC says.

(cap tip: Flit(tm))

Monday, April 18, 2005

Assuming the Mantle of Renewal

As the cardinals prepare to process to the Sistine Chapel to determine the successor of John Paul the Great, it is clear that his shadow will figure prominently in the proceedings. There has been much said about the Holy Father's accomplishments, as well as the unfinished work that remains for the next pope and for us, the Church. One of the things demonstrated by this pontificate is that culture is the engine of history. This is true for changes in the world, as well as for changes within the Church itself. With this consideration we can see the secondary nature of the popular list of "issues confronting the Church" (containing the sex-abuse scandal, "coping with a chronic shortage" of vocations in the West, "halting the stream" of people leaving the church, "improving dialogue" with the Islamic world, etc.), as well as examine how John Paul the Great's pontificate fits in a broader arc.

Vatican II has been a disruptive change for the Church. As such it can be investigated similarly to disruptive changes in other areas, e.g., technology. In particular, the phases of change, which encompass the Second Vatican Council, follow a process, which is only about 70% complete, for integrating renewal that allows us to map the work of popes going back more than a century and identifies some of the characteristics of our next pope(s).

Integrating renewal includes the execution of two overlapping processes, evaluating renewal and introducing renewal. In very general terms the integration steps include:

Initiation: Provacative actions to spur the evaluation and decision-making processes for renewal
Aggregation: Identifying and analyzing options for renewal
Valuation: Options are given value with respect to their fruit, however, design details are not defined fully--this is the area of process overlap that is represented by Vatican II and the years following
Selection: Establishes the direction of renewal
Implementation: Exactly what it says--integrates the selected renewal into the fabric of the Church
If we look at the accomplishments of recent popes through this model, we can make a preliminary map of renewal by pontificate:

Initiation: Pius IX & Leo XIII
Aggregation: Pius X thru Pius XII
Valuation: John XXIII & Paul VI
Selection: John Paul I
Implementation: John Paul the Great thru ???

Parallel to these steps of renewal is a continuous process of context scanning of today and tomorrow, i.e., it emphasizes that the teaching of the Church flows both through and into the hierarchy. This is where much of what is discussed as the Church's issues today can be placed. George Weigel's assessment in a January speech is as good as any on this point and better than most. Without question, the next pope(s) will have to address these problems, but properly understood they will not define centrally the next legacy.

We can further break down the introduction steps beginning with the interaction of the selection and implementation steps and then moves to the iterative processes of sourcing, competence development, and re-evaluation. The key object of the selection process is a clear declaration of intent. Even though John Paul I's time was brief, his reputation as "the smiling pope," along with his anit-communism and orthodoxy, did meet this objective that John Paul the Great rightly ought to be considered the successor of John Paul I, rather than a re-try to succeed Paul VI as some had suggested early on.

The process of sourcing is the first stage of implementing renewal, and its objective is to identify a design based on common values that enables the integration of the selected direction for renewal throughout the organization of the Church. John Paul the Great did this by creating a rigorous philosophical framework founded on the dignity of the human person, which, despite the popular attempts to politicize his pontificate, is the proper prism through which to view his legacy. Furthermore, he introduced the New Evangelization as a means to build the network necessary to facilitate the renewal's next phase, competence development.

The challenge and legacy for the next pope(s) will be centered on enabling the knowledge sharing re the renewal and promoting the results of cooperation among the Curia, the episcopal hierarchy and consecrated religious, the laity, and particularly those intellectual developers working within John Paul the Great's framework by fulfilling, or appointing, the role of primary activist for the renewal. Moreover, the possibilities of renewal must be matched to their context on a continuous basis. The Church must continue to address the issues of the day, explicitly and implicitly, in terms of the renewal. He (They) can also be expected to have to make structural adjustments to better direct the available resources. In total, these point to the need for a certain type of organizational genius distinctly different from the call for a managerial pope that some are making today. That will come in the re-evaluation phase, but only once the organizational competence is raised and then after innovative measures (milestones) for the progress of renewal, or the development of new iterative management processes have been proposed.

The final phase of integrating renewal will standardize and make routine the management practices of continuous monitoring, valuation, and decision-making. The re-evaluation process is the means for ensuring authentic collegiality. Iterative adjustments and re-alignment activities are possible with such a process, but only if they are rooted with a focus on the human person will widespread solidarity be achieved.

It is a delicious irony that some today call for "a return to the spirit of Vatican II" when to return to the beginning of the Church's renewal, properly understood, would bring to the fore a process that was initiated by a re-assertion of papal authority more than 125 years ago. Yet that is the scope of the Church's current project. By recognizing this we can understand where the Church must be led and where its members can join the effort to, not only work out our own salvation, but bring it to the whole world.

John Paul the Great on God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit #1

Dedicated to the cardinals in conclave

May the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Pentecost, help you to clarify what is ambiguous, to give warmth to what is indifferent, to enlighten what is obscure, to be before the world true and generous witnesses of Christ's love, for "no one can live without love."
Prayer at Institute Catholique Paris, 1980

New Prayer Request

Last week, while I was off at environmental camp with Troglotyke #1, the Troglodytrix, who is pregnant with Troglotyke #7, experienced a "slight" hemorrhage. She was hospitalized overnight for observation. The ultrasound came back OK, and she was discharged with instructions to "take it easy." (Yeah, right--with six kids already.) We've still got 6 weeks to go before the baby is due, so any prayers you can send for the health of mother and baby are greatly appreciated.

Update on Prayer Request

Recently from Don Cook:
My recent scan results are in...and the news is mixed. There is no new tumor growth, and that pesky tumor that we have been watching grew slightly...but it looks darker. The Dr. believes that it still might be dying slowly and the growth is due to inflammation. Other lymphnodes in the area are shrinking so the Dr. is confident that this chemo is doing something good. I will continue with the current regiment for 2 more cycles and have scans again in June. I have gained 25 pounds back, I feel good so it is time to take my chemo, play golf, and do some boating with the family! Thank you everyone for all your thoughts and prayers...I feel each and everyone of them.
Please keep up the prayers.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

John Paul the Great on Truth and Freedom #1

O Lord, bestow on Your faithful the Spirit of truth and peace, that they may know You with all their soul, and generously carry out what pleases You, may always enjoy Your benefits. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
General Audience, Rome, 1980

Saturday, April 16, 2005

John Paul the Great on the Christian Life #1

Happy Birthday to Troglotyke #2

Everyone has a vocation: parents, teachers, students, workers, professional
people, people who are tired. Everyone has something to do for God.
Homily at Giants Stadium, 1995

Lacking the Political Will

A Coalition for Darfur Post

In the last few days, international donors have pledged $4.5 billion in reconstruction aid to Sudan as part of the north/south peace process. And though much if this aid is nominally contingent on Khartoum's ability and willingness to end the violence in Darfur, it remains to be seen if the international community is truly willing to risk undermining the long sought peace agreement by demanding an end to the genocide.

For a year and a half, the UN and others have tread carefully, fearful that too much pressure on Khartoum would derail the north/south peace process. And Khartoum has relentlessly exploited that fear by, for instance, warning that the recent Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court "threatens Sudan's stability."

And while the world focuses on protecting the peace agreement, Darfur continues to deteriorate.

Yesterday, the World Food Program warned that, due to lack of funding, nearly 200,000 refugees who have fled into Chad risk going hungry in the coming months. And just last week, the WFP warned that it will be forced to cut food rations for more than one million people living in the western region of Darfur, again for lack of funds.

Last Friday, UNICEF warned that an estimated four million people in Darfur will face significant food insecurity over the next 18 months because the agricultural economy has collapsed. One million children under five year-olds are already suffering from, or will suffer from, severe malnutrition.

And one day after an United Nations human rights investigator for Sudan warned
that Darfur was a "time bomb" that could explode at any time, Janjaweed militia attacked and completely destroyed the village of Khor Abeche (the attack on Khor Abeche is the focus of Eric Reves' latest analysis.)

It seems clear that the referral to the ICC was not the remedy that many in the human rights community had hoped. At the same time, calls for an increased AU force has problems of its on, judging by Charles Snyder's recent comment that "Nobody that wants to be on the ground is not on the ground."

Stopping the genocide in Darfur is going to require a dedicated and well-coordinated effort by the UN and the international community. As of yet, the political will to engage in such an effort does not exist. We at the Coalition for Darfur ask you to join us in raising awareness of the genocide in an attempt to force policy makers to seriously address this issue to consider making a small donation to any of the organizations providing life saving assistance to the neglected people of Darfur.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Twelve Percent

I completed our taxes today. 12% is the increase in our tax bill because of the "large family penalty" that reduces the child tax credit if your family is too large. It would seem that large families are something government ought to promote, rather than punish, because of the need for continuous tax revenue growth and the coming stress on SocSecurity.

Back in the Saddle

I have survived "environmental" camp, and I basically behaved myself. I did get a dirty look during a discussion about how lucky our group was to see several bald eagles for saying that DDT was still effective for controlling malaria in third world countries. But that was it. Well, I did also complain about an instructor gratuitously perpetuating the Galileo myth (that he was excommunicated for being scientifically correct). But that's it. Except for... nah, never mind. Actually, it was a pretty good program.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Memorial of St. Martin I

I will be out the next few days acting as chaperone for Troglotyke #1's class at "environmental" camp at YMCA Camp St. Croix. I will return late Friday. In the mean time, here is a medley of links for your enjoyment. Pax.

Counter attacks are underway in Hawaii and Australia. When and where will the forces of Amphibia strike next?

I have compared the epicycles of Ptolemaic orbits to the application of complexity theory to Darwinism as part of the reason why incremental alternatives, like intelligent design, ought to be investigated and discussed rationally, without the polemical hand-wringing of orthodox secularists getting in the way of the polemical hand-wringing of strident creationists. Sodakmonk goes one further by using an historical example of competing schools of psychology.

The Troglodyte took the ecumenical step yesterday of joining the Baptist-dominated Christian Top 1000 web directory. Where two, or more, are gathered in His name... One site I've already found worth checking out is that of Hugh Hewitt's cohort, Mark D. Roberts. I'm sure there will be more, so watch the sidebar in coming weeks.

Perhaps the silver lining of the eruption of a Sumatran volcano is that the increased ash and sulphur in the atmosphere should help with that pesky global warming.

There has not been any speculation, nor will there be, posted on The Troglodyte as to whom the next pope will be. George Weigel said in a January speech that he is too uninformed to make a good guess, so I will not bother, despite the fleeting entertainment value. There will be a post, I hope, before the conclave begins, outlining some of the qualities I think the pope(s) of the next few years will need, as well as those that those of the next 50 years will need (yes, 50 years). Once placed into the ether, with prayer and fasting, I will leave it to the Holy Spirit to guide this conclave. But if you want to play along at home, I recommend, among others, Papabile, The Pope Blog (now in its "conclave edition"), and Cardinal Rating.com.

FEE asks legitimately in its April 12 daily brief, "Are we helping the people of Sudan—or lining the pockets of their government officials?" about recent pledges of now more than $4 billion (WaPo FRR, I think).

Last, but certainly not least... Please keep those prayers going and going and going...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

John Paul the Great on Marriage and the Family #1

The family is the first setting of evangelization, the place where the good news of Christ is first received and then, in simple yet profound ways, handed on from generation to generation.
Meeting with African Americans, New Orleans, 1987

Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick...

Something of a perfect storm is brewing: Failed crops, escalating violence, and political disdain. I find myself hoping that the energy of a new papacy can make a change here. We need a cultural shock to the good. (cap tip: Coalition for Darfur)

Investing for the Apocalypse

Sodakmonk has some recommendations should the alleged St. Malachy prophecy come true.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Urgent Prayer Request

Memorial of St. Stanislaus

I am asking for any and all prayers for the health of a dear friend of the Clan, our neighbor when we lived in Oklahoma. Here is some background from his private website:

He was originally diagnosed with a small melanoma September, 1996. He had it removed, and surgery to have the margins cleared. We were told at that time to get checked every few months for the first year, and then once a year for the next 5 years. He was fine till May of 2004. He noticed a lump in his groin area that was growing. He went in and had it removed and it turned out to be malignant melanoma in his lymp nodes. After learning that his melanoma had come back and spread to his lymph system we decided to head to MD Anderson in Houston. It is the nations top cancer hospital. He had a radical lympectomy done in July where they removed all the lymph nodes in his groin area. They removed 20 nodes and 10 came back positive for MM. (malignant melanoma) He is considered to be stage 4 due to the fact that there were positive nodes going further up into his abdomen.

Following surgery, he went through radiation and chemo therapy. In late October a new tumor was found near the heart. They immediately changed to a bio-chemotherapy protocol to address this new threat. After three rounds there was still some slight growth, so his protocol was changed again in February. Now two rounds of the new protocol have been completed and it is time for new scans. Through all this he has stayed positive, at least with his public face. Please, please, please see your way clear to say a prayer today for him, his wife, and their two girls.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Santo Subito?

Happy Belated Birthday to Troglotyke #1

I appreciate the sentiment. I surely do. There is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Father is a member of the Church Triumphant. But (you had to know one was coming) the Church must act consistent with her manner. An interesting tidbit I saw on a TV special this weekend is that there was a movement to have Pope Bl. John XXIII declared a saint by acclamation in the conclave that elevated Paul VI.

Canonization is a process for the living. Therefore, it is best that despite our current emotional swell, or perhaps precisely because of it, we do not act hastily. We can rest assured that the case for the pope's sainthood will be made convincingly in its appropriate time; think the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.

I refrained from calling him Pope John Paul the Great until he passed. I will wait until he is canonized before I call him "saint." And, in the meantime, I will pray to him daily, asking for his intercession.

Good News and Bad News in the Magouirk Situation

Good news: Mae Magouirk has been air-lifted to UAB Medical Center. It appears that this was not a case of starvation and dehydration, but improper feeding and hydration by the hospice. BlogsforTerri has more on the details, particularly what Judge Boyd's understanding of his ruling was.

Bad news: The reason why Ms. Magouirk was placed in the hospice, a facility for the dying, was because Beth Gaddy, the granddaughter with power of attornery, followed doctors' advice and was convinced by the doctors that she was doing the right thing, which led here to make the statement, "Grandmama is old and I think it is time she went home to Jesus. She has glaucoma and now this heart problem, and who would want to live with disabilities like these?"

Yes, there are doctors who fight for life, but this situation is all too common. What is most insidious about this is that our culture is increasingly placing medical doctors in the role of deciding what "quality of life" is worth sustaining, something for which they are not qualified.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Blogger Blues

Problems abound: lost edits, lost posts, kicked back e-mails. I hope to get caught back up tomorrow.

Are You Sure the Slope is Not Slippery?

Please let this not be true--a story of another "right to kill" case, this time out of Georgia (cap tip: Thrown Back). BlogsforTerri has additional background. Southern Appeal is also looking into the legal side.

Side note: Can we please stop using "Schiavo" as a verb?

Glenn Reynolds is on it, so we should be able to get to the bottom of this.

Pope John Paul the Great, RIP

As the family goes, so goes the nation.
It was like an electric current that sticks to your ribs, and it shot through the entire congregation during the homily. Of course! I am a cradle Catholic and never wavered (well, except occasionally/temporarily regarding some teaching). I have two Polish grandmothers (both since passed) so it was a big deal when a Pole became pope. Particularly so for the Troglomatrix's mother, with whom we were close. We always paid attention to the pope. But this was something new. When I read Crossing the Threshold of Hope, the seeds were planted. That I was even in St. Louis seemed to be more than just a string of coincidences, and now I was beginning to see why.

I was living in Oklahoma at the time and I mentioned in passing to my mother, the Troglomatrix (living here in the Twin Cities), that I would like to see the pope during his visit to St. Louis in January 1999, where my brother just happened to be attending graduate school. A few days later she called me back and asked me if I was serious about going. She is the Admin. Asst. at a Catholic school and one of the teachers had come into the office with a prayer card from a student's mother that had a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa hugging the Holy Father. Being half-Polish, my mother recognized Our Lady immediately, of course. During the conversation that followed, my mother mentioned that I wanted to see the pope, but didn't know how to get tickets because there was little mention of the visit in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, and he was coming in just a few days. The teacher relayed the story to her religion class, and the student mentioned it at dinner that night. It turned out that his mother was in a parish prayer group that was given tickets for the papal Mass, but she wouldn't be able to attend. She sent me the ticket (through my mother). I traveled to St. Louis, where my brother acted as host, put me up for the night, and got me where I needed to be.

Here is what I wrote (inadequately, I think) soon after the pope's visit to St. Louis:

The opportunity to see Pope John Paul II and to participate in the Solemn Eucharistic Celebration at America's Center during the papal visit to St. Louis last month was a blessing for which I am deeply grateful. My hopes were for a rewarding and inspiring experience. It was that and more.

One of my pictures of the pope's visit to St. Louis in 1999. Go here for more on the visit.

I was able to get within approximately 20 feet of the Holy Father when he toured Cervantes Convention Center, and I was able to see him well. That and the intense sense of communion with the nearly 110,000 people during the papal Mass were deeply moving, in addition to being surreal. Unlike other intensely emotional events, I think it was not so much a life-changing experience as a life-affirming one.

The righteousness of what we believe was made so obvious to me that my confidence in the Catholic Faith, which is determined by life's experiences, has been raised to a level I did not think I could achieve yet, i.e., in my early thirties. So too did the Apostolic Exhortation, based on the Synod for America, resonate with me, which His Holiness reemphasized on this pastoral visit. In particular, I have taken to heart the need to focus on the family and today's children in the New Evangelization.

While I disagree, as noted above, my family will say that I was changed by that trip. OK, maybe. I did actually begin studying the Catechism and the pope's encyclicals, and found out how little I knew, despite 12 years of Catholic school. I did actually begin praying every day. I did focus more on bridging my faith and my life. In short, I sensed I was preparing for a mission.

My first mission, however, was not to my children, as I expected, but to my father. In May 1999 he was diagnosed with brain cancer. The family came together, like families do in such times. When I arrived, everybody else had their roles worked out, centered on daily tasks. My father, in particular, seemed lost in minutiae. That left me to ask him the big question, "What do you believe, Dad?" He had been a faithful Catholic his whole life. He had made the First Friday and First Saturday devotions. It took just a few conversations, not many, for me to remind him who he had always been. Yes, he was worried about what was happening, but he knew how to prepare for whatever was meant to be. He began praying more openly (though nothing like a charismatic) and more often than I had ever seen him. I learned that while he was growing up, his father had seen to it that the family prayed, often together. Here is where he started. As his condition declined rapidly, it got so that he repeated the Hail Mary for hours, for days, in a rhythm as seductive as breathing.

A few days earlier my mother received a framed print of the picture on the prayer card from the teacher at school. During one of the conversations with my father he pointed at the pope, with his head on Our Lady's shoulder, and said, "That's what it's all about. That says it all." He was ready. To be honest, I am not sure how I could have gotten to this point without being re-armed in Faith. I consider my being able to help my father as a special Grace from the pope's trip, but it is decidedly not the only Grace.

There has been a lot of talk as to what is the legacy of the Holy Father: the collapse of communism, a steadying hand for the Barque of Peter, the theological time bomb of the Theology of the Body, the fruits of World Youth Day, his example of discipleship to the end, and so on. It is these and then some. Does this list capture his greatest accomplishment as pope? Perhaps. I do know this. In our family, without him, Troglotykes 5, 6, and 7 would not exist, nor the fountain of blessings they bring. And ours is not a unique experience. He inspired the creation of a lot of new people. "Be not afraid!" Indeed, we need not be afraid of having a large family in a society whose members look at you askance and murmer (if not comment directly). His revival of the domestic church may very well have created a legacy that will live literally into the 22nd century.

As he guided the Church from the end of one century to the beginning another, so to did he bring the Grace for me to be a guide at the end of one life and at the beginning of others. I am a better man because of him. Today's tears are bittersweet. May the angels lead him into paradise. May he rest in peace.

Pope John Paul the Great, pray for us.

John Paul the Great on Salvation #1

The power of Christ's Cross and Resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear.
Crossing the Threshold of Hope

Shall Not Prevail Against It

Hugh Hewitt has a long post from Fr. Peter Mitchell of Nebraska, who is in Rome. Unlike John Derbyshire (cap tip: Instapundit), I do not consider the Church in decline, and for those who take the lack of growth in the number of priests during the last quarter-century as evidence that the Church's days are numbered, I point to Fr. Mitchell, the priests of Catholic Ragemonkey, and others of their generation who have a mustard seed (cap tip: Curt Jester) and aren't afraid to use it.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A View from the Square

Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle

Here is the account of the priest brother of one of my sister's friend's... friend who was among those gathered at St. Peter's Saturday night.

Dear Family and Friends,

I have received so many emails asking me to describe my experiences of these past few days -- I simply tried to write a general diary of what has happened-- it is too long -- and please excuse my inability to respond to all individually:

Saturday night I was in the square as Our Holy Father died. Several thousand people had been vigiling and praying in the square since Friday. Many came specifically to pray the Rosary at 9 p.m. Saturday evening with some of the Cardinals. We prayed the Joyful mysteries which were interspersed with readings from scripture which explains why the Rosary took about 45 minutes. At the end of the Rosary the Archbishop told us we were welcome to stay and continue praying for the Holy Father and that there would be another prayer service at midnight. I told the Students from the University of St. Thomas, whom I was with, that I was going to head home. As I began to leave the square I looked up at the Papal Palace again only to see a bunch of lights come on, at the level of the Papal apartments. I thought that maybe someone was entering, which could mean it was the Cardinal coming to certify the Pope's death. So I stayed put in the square, about 10 minutes later an Archbishop came back to the microphone and said, "Please pray with me" and started praying Hail Mary's. After 1 decade and a Glory Be. Cardinal Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, came on and announced, at 9:37, while we were just finishing the Rosary in the square Our Holy Father passed from this life to the next. Then he invited us all to pray, and began to sing the Salve Regina. We knelt in the square and then for about 3 minutes 100,000 people were absolutely silent. Then the Cardinal began the "De Profundis," psalm 130, which is the traditional prayer to pray when you here someone dies, "Out of the depths, I cry to you Oh Lord..." Then he said, "Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine" (Eternal rest grant unto him Oh Lord), and we responded, "et Lux perpetua luceat ei" (and let perpetual light shine upon him). Then we began to pray another Rosary, the Glorious Mysteries. At the end of this Rosary they announced that there would be a memorial mass at 10:30 a.m. the next morning.

The Italian newspapers (maybe the US as well but I did not see it) reported John Paul II's last hours. At 8 p.m. the vigil mass for Divine Mercy was celebrated in his room, he received communion. Then they opened the window so he could hear the Rosary being prayed in the square. Near the end of the Rosary he lifted his hand towards the window and gave a blessing, then at the end of the prayer, with great effort he said, "Amen," and died afterwards.

The next morning I was able to concelebrate the mass where about 40 of the Cardinals were present. There were several dozen bishops and a few hundred priests who concelebrated. The Piazza was full and also part of the Via de Conciliazione, perhaps 200,000 people? I said to the priest next to me at one point in the mass, even though the Piazza is full it is profoundly empty. Our Holy Father's presence is what always filled the Piazza, even though Cardinal Sodano gave a beautiful homily, the absence of Our Father was palpable. I was most moved when at the end of Mass one of the Archbishops came forward and said that he had with him a copy of the Regina Caeli address which Our Holy had prepared for Mercy Sunday before he died. Here were John Paul II's last public words, written before he died and now it was as if he was speaking to us from heaven.

Our Holy Father spoke as he always did -- addressing not just Christians but the world -- and praying to Our Lord on behalf of the entire world. Here is the Translation from Zenit:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. The joyful Easter Alleluia resounds also today. Today's Gospel page of St. John underlines that the Risen One, on the night of that day, appeared to the Apostles and "showed them his hands and his side" (John 20:20), that is, the signs of the painful Passion printed indelibly on his body also after his Resurrection. Those glorious wounds, which eight days later he made the incredulous Thomas touch, reveal the mercy of God "for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (John 3:16).

This mystery of love is at the heart of today's liturgy, Sunday "in Albis," dedicated to the worship of Divine Mercy.

2. To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, the risen Lord offers as a gift his love that forgives, reconciles and reopens the spirit to hope. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much need the world has to understand and accept Divine Mercy!

Lord, who with [your] Death and Resurrection reveal the love of the Father, we believe in you and with confidence repeat to you today: Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

3. The liturgical solemnity of the Annunciation, which we celebrate tomorrow, leads us to contemplate with Mary's eyes the enormous mystery of this merciful love that arises from Christ's heart. With her help, we can understand the true meaning of paschal joy, which is based on this certainty: The One whom the Virgin carried in her womb, who suffered and died for us, has truly risen. Alleluia!
Of course Our Holy Father himself instituted the feast of Divine Mercy and was intimately connected with St. Faustina. He personally prepared her cause for canonization as Archbishop of Krakow and then sent it to Rome, having no idea that when it came time for her beatification and canonization he would be the Pope. Of course Our Holy Father's life was intimately tied up with Fatima as well. He was the central figure of the Third Secret of Fatima which predicted his assassination attempt and his intimate role in the fall of Communism for which Our Lady of Fatima asked us to pray. It is amazing that he died on the only day when these two devotions came together -- First Saturday which was also the Vigil of Divine Mercy.

However the most moving part of the whole experience so far happened today. Things are happening very quickly in Rome and hundreds of thousands of people are descending on the city. At the North American College we received a phone call at 3:30 p.m. that said any priest who would come to the Papal Palace at 4:30 with cassock and surplice could join in the procession of the body of the Holy Father from the Papal Palace through St. Peter's square to the Basilica. We rushed to arrive at the Vatican because of so many streets being closed and police blockades controlling the crowds. When we arrived we entered through the Bronze Doors guarded by the Swiss guards into the Papal palace which is itself a sight to behold. I estimate more than 1,000 priests and seminarians were present, more than 100 Bishops and about 70 or 80 cardinals. The Italian newspapers this morning reported over 500,000 people were already standing in line to view the body of the Pope. The prayers began in the Papal Palace broadcast over PA system and Television to the whole square and the Via del Conciliazione (street which runs down to the Vatican). The prayers themselves lead by the Cardinal Papal Chamberlain were so moving (my translation):

"My dear brothers and sisters, with great feeling of soul we accompany with our prayers the body of the Roman Pontiff, John Paul II, into the Vatican Basilica where he so often exercised his ministry as Bishop of the Roman Church and Pastor of the Universal Church. As we leave this home (the papal palace) we give thanks to the Lord for the many gifts which he has generously granted through his servant John Paul to the Christian people, and we beseech him that through his mercy and goodness he may grant to our Supreme Pontiff a perpetual seat (sedem which is the name for a Bishops chair) in heaven, and that the family of the pontiff, the people of the Holy Church of Rome and the Christian faithful dispersed throughout the world may be brought the solace of eternal hope."

"Look upon the life and works your Servant our Pope John Paul II, Lord with goodness and receive him in to the dwelling of light and peace and grant that your faithful ones, following with fervor in his footsteps, may be given the witness of the Gospel of Christ who lives and reigns forever and ever."
Then we began the procession chanting psalms 23, 130, and 51 echoing throughout the whole Piazza, Palace and Basilica. As we processed down Bernini's stair case into the long hall way of the Bronze doors the procession stretched as far forwards and backwards as I could see. When we got out into the Piazza I could finally see the Holy Father's body on the Television screens coming down the same stairs I had just processed. I was quite overcome at this image of being privileged to lead my Father to his home. It was as if we were all giving back to God the incredible gift that had been given to us of Our Holy Father. People lined the whole procession way many in tears, St. Peter's bell tolled and we began the Litany of Saints. Praying especially to all the saints who were Popes for the intercession. Going up the main stairs into the central doors of the Basilica we were lined by the Swiss guard and we finally passed into the Basilica itself which was empty except for those of us in the procession. We then lined both sides of the center isle first the Bishops then the Cardinals passed between us and then Our Holy Father being carried by his personal attendants. How many times I had lined the isle of passage way at World Youth Day or in St. Peter's square, hoping to get a glimpse of Our Holy Father as he passed by. This would be the last time I would see Pope John Paul II go by me. This time we were escorting him home.

As the Holy Father's Body was placed in front of the Altar where St. Peter himself is buried we sang solemnly in Latin the beautiful hymn of commendation (again my translation from the Latin):
"Bend down to us Holy God, Speed to us Angels of the Lord, raise up his soul, we are offering him in your sight Most High, may Christ who called you raise you up and may the Angels lead you into the bosom of Abraham. Eternal rest grant unto him Oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him."
Then there was a beautiful prayer service with the proclamation of the Gospel (John 17:24-26). At the end of the prayer service the basilica was completely silent as we priests, bishops, and seminarians were allowed to slowly pass by the body to say a final goodby to Our Holy Father. We excited the basilica to see the hundreds of thousands who would now be allowed to pass by the body. The Basilica will remain open almost 24 hours a day for the next three days, they expect that between 2 and 4 million people will pass by the tomb of peter to venerate his 264th successor.

This prayer service was of course a privileged moment to be a priest and to be near our Holy Father. I thought of all my brother priests who had dedicated themselves to his service, and I prayed for us that we may be faithful to the mission Pope John Paul II has given us. John Paul II filled the shoes of Peter in an extraordinary way, and having grown up in his pontificate my own spirituality is profoundly marked by his leadership of the Church: centered on Mary and the Eucharist. His true devotion and courage in proclaiming the Gospel in season and out of season is what I will remember the most. As we prayed in leading him into the basilica, may we follow his footsteps with fervor!

I am hopeful to get a ticket to distribute communion for the funeral which will be Friday at 10 a.m. They are predicting 2 million people including the heads of state of much of the world. It could be one of the largest events in the history of the world. Also a rare opportunity to preach to the world about the Mercy of Jesus which as Our Holy Father pointed out -- we so desperately need.

During these nine days of mourning for Our Holy Father we continue to offer masses for Him. The chapel in our house has a black sash covering the entrances and in the chapel a picture of our Holy Father draped in black with a vigil light, this would be appropriate for all Churches and Catholic Homes as a reminder to pray for Him and for the Church in these next days.

In the Protection of Our Lady,

Fr. Andrew Cozzens

Acton Institute Launches PowerBlog

A Minnesota Sports Weekend

With the links also calling now that spring has sprung, there are a couple of big events of local interest competing for the attention of the sporting public.

The NCAA Men's Frozen Four begins today in Columbus, OH with Denver and Colorada College squaring off this afternoon and Minnesota taking on North Dakota tonight. Go Gophers!

The home opener for the defending Central Division champion Twins is tomorrow. Unfortunately, the game is sold out (Troglotyke #1 wanted to go for his birthday, which is Saturday).

The Holy Father's Last Will and Testament

If you can read Polish, or Italian. Still waiting on an English translation.

Here's an English translation provided by AP.

Design Center

There's a new blog from the intelligent design players (cap tip: Southern Appeal). I've only posted on ID once to date, but have more planned for the not too distant future. For sure there is an irrational element in the ID movement, but that's not the focus of Richards, et al. My interest is in whether there is scientific merit to ID and, as a system engineer, I look forward to getting beyond the emotionalist hand-wringing that typically substitutes for popular debate.

Yeoman's Work for the Barque of Peter

I can't say enough about the class way Hugh Hewitt has covered the pope's passing on both his blog and his radio program. He's caught some flak from some in his audience for being too narrowly focused. Here's his response:

I have heard from a few people that my posting seems too narrow these past few days as it has focused almost exclusively on John Paul II and the coming conclave. I admit to being pretty much unconcerned with the momentousness of a John Cornyn speech on the floor of the Senate, or Nancy Pelosi's and Tom Delay's travel schedules and reimbursements.

This is because of the immense stakes involved in the selection of the next pope for every issue of consequence in the moral debate, and not a few that pierce the geopolitical world at all. Non-believers may think it all beside-the-point, and non-Catholics may be confused by the process (as a former Catholic I may have some advantage in understanding the vast scope of the Church), but to repeat myself, the stakes are beyond measuring.

Since last week he's had postings on Friday AM, Friday PM, Saturday, Monday AM 1 & 2, Monday PM, Tuesday, Wednesday AM 1 & 2, Wednesday PM 1 & 2. One of the things that has come up for discussion is the late pope's mystical character--check out the links to Sr. Faustina's vision of hell (deemed worthy of belief), the St. Malachy prophecy (likely a hoax), and the Akita revelation (also deemed worthy of belief)--they might straighten/curl/grow your hair.

John Paul the Great on Progress & the Modern World #1

Religious tolerance is based on the conviction that God wishes to be adored by people who are free: a conviction which requires us to respect and honor the inner sanctuary of conscience in which each person meets God.
Greeting in Baltimore Cathedral, 1995

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Darfur vs. Martha Stewart

A Coalition for Darfur Post

Eleven years ago today, the president of Rwanda was killed when his plane was shot down over Kigali. His death served as a catalyst to a genocide that quickly engulfed the country - within one month, an estimated 500,000 people had been killed and by the time the genocide ended 100 days later, nearly one million Rwandans had lost their lives.

The authors of the essay "Rwanda: US Policy and Television Coverage" calculated that during the three months of genocide, Rwanda received a total of 278 minutes of news coverage from the likes of ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN, meaning that each of these news organization spent less than 1 minute per day reporting on a genocide that was taking lives at the rate of 1 every 11 seconds.

Today, another genocide is unfolding in African and, as this recent article in the American Journalism Review makes clear, very little has changed. Serious reporting on [Darfur] largely has been absent on the networks and on cable. Last year the three network nightly newscasts aired a meager total of 26 minutes on the bloodshed, according to the Tyndall Report, which monitors network news. ABC devoted just 18 minutes to Darfur, NBC five and CBS three. By contrast, Martha Stewart's woes received 130 minutes, five times as much. For those who are unfamiliar with what is taking place in Darfur, we encourage you to read this piece by Brian Steidle, a former Marine who spent six months working as cease-fire monitor with the African Union force in Darfur.

The bottom line is that nearly 400,000 people have died of disease, starvation and violence at the hands of the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias, yet the crisis has receives barely a fraction of the coverage garnered by the legal problems faced by Michael Jackson or Martha Stewart.

We are all aware of the central role that blogs played in the "60 Minutes" and "Jeff Gannon" stories and we know that blogs have to power to propel forgotten stories into the mainstream media. The Coalition for Darfur is an effort to unite blogs of all political ideologies in an attempt to raise awareness of the ongoing genocide in Darfur and raise money for organizations doing life-saving work there.

Though the country is deeply polarized, we think that the effort to stop this genocide is something that can unite people of varying political and religious beliefs.

It is a cliché in American newsrooms that "If it bleeds, it leads." Sadly, despite the amount of blood shed in Darfur, the genocide has received very little coverage. Our challenge is to force this issue onto the television screens and the front page. We ask you to join us in this effort.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

John Paul the Great and the Engine of History

Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer

George Weigel is why EPPC is no. 1 on my link list. He's been busy of late, so you may want to bookmark his recent pub list. The truffle quote gives some back-up for the prime theme of The Troglodyte's origin essays:
One variant form of debased humanism was the notion that "history" is driven by the politics of willfulness (the Jacobin heresy) or by economics (the Marxist heresy). During his epic pilgrimage to Poland in June 1979, at a moment when "history" seemed frozen and Europe permanently divided into hostile camps, John Paul II demonstrated that "history" worked differently, because human beings aren't just the by-products of politics or economics. He gave back to his people their authentic history and culture--their identity; and in doing so, he gave them tools of resistance that communist truncheons could not reach. Fourteen months after teaching that great lesson in dignity, the Pope watched and guided the emergence of Solidarity. And then the entire world began to see the communist tide recede, like the slow retreat of a plague.

Turn, Turn, Turn

Mark Shea continues to ignore his own advice (to our benefit).

Theresa Marie Schiavo (née Schindler), RIP

It would be tempting to say that another hurricane struck Florida last month, where in the center of the eye, the occupant of a room in a Pinellas Park hospice laid blissfully unaware. But it is not true. Hurricanes are indifferent, hurricanes are uncontrollable. No, this was a battle in a cold war. A battle that occurred every bit as much inside the hospice as it did in the halls of Congress, as it did in the Florida state house, as it did before any number of judicial benches, with a battlefield we ought to survey in the light of following days. What we see when we do so is revealing.

First is the abuse of a perfectly valid statement, “Cogito, ergo sum.” Or in the context of Descartes' original objective, it is more accurately stated, “I think, therefore I know that I am.” What we have seen here is the assertion, which does not follow logically, "If I do not think, then I am not." This is where those who allow, if not, in fact, insist on, taking the life of a person in the notorious persistent vegetative state. That was the point of many who called for a MRI or PET scan for Terri Schiavo, or the ubiquitous CAT scan displays of healthy and damaged brains, including Ms. Schiavo’s, to influence us that her disability was proof that she lacked personhood. Such acts betray a misunderstanding of human existence that presumes mind and body are separate.

Advances in neurology have served to demystify the mind by highlighting the electrochemistry of the brain and the discovery of neurons outside the skull. If ever there might have been a doubt, the brain is part of the body; a major organ, but not the determinant of life, or humanness. The more we learn, the more “mind and body” becomes “body and body.” In this context, brain function is more akin to other bodily functions than a special class properly reserved for the soul. This error of inflating the meaning of cognition, however, is a symptom of a more grave, more widespread problem.

Those who dismiss that there is any inherent value of life are included obviously, but so too are many who bemoan not knowing unambiguously her wishes, even if they are among those who want to “err on the side of life,” because, at least implicitly, they condone the self-absorbed act of suicide. A is A. Life is life. And as such, it is its own purpose. Yes, Ms. Schiavo the person, union of body and soul, possessed free will. If she were to have left explicit instructions to deny food and hydration, a true culture of life would not, in fact could not, support destroying the fundamental uniqueness of her person even though her capacities be diminished.

Every cell of our physical being, the body itself, impels us to life until its natural end. This can only be arrested by the soul’s captain by exchanging it for the affirmation of another’s. Deny this truth universally and society welcomes a peculiar tyranny of self-inflicted chaos--life becomes not life.

Still, we have granted Ms. Schiavo something short of a legacy with the fervent cultural desire to find a grand meaning, such as defense from a theocracy, reining the imperial judiciary, raising the awareness of eating disorders, etc. The moral challenge to us is to not confuse her life with her cause célèbre. To further reduce the meaning of her life to a cause is to objectify her and deny her life’s inherent value, for its own sake.

Terri Schiavo grew up in Pennsylvania and is described by her family as a shy woman who loved animals, music, and basketball. A funeral Mass for her was held earlier this evening in Gulfport, FL. Her cremated remains will be buried in the Philadelphia area. She breathed her last because of complications caused by dehydration. She died because the “inviolable mystery” of her human person was violated tragically by a philosophical error. May she rest in peace.

Monday, April 04, 2005

I Knew It!

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

From the too little, too late pile... I was always skeptical of the polls showing a large majority of Americans supported the dehydration of Terri Schiavo, dismissing it as the uninformed responding to an ill-formed question. Zogby apparaently put in the field a more neutral question and found quite a different result:

"If a disabled person is not terminally ill, not in a coma, and not being kept alive on life support, and they have no written directive, should or should they not be denied food and water," the poll asked.

A whopping 79 percent said the patient should not have food and water taken away while just 9 percent said yes.

(cap tip: The Anchoress)

She also has a link to Pat Caddell's condemnation on Fox News of the widespread CBS poll.


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Because Life is Life
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