Mass Readings for April 29, 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Via USCCB

Fourth Sunday of Easter 

First Reading: Acts 4:8-12

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said:
“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know
that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead;
in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
which has become the cornerstone.
There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

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Friday Quick Takes (Vol. 1)

— 1 —

Next Friday will see the long-anticipated release of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, and from what I have been reading, the reality will not fall short of the hype. Christian Toto over at Breitbart.com reports on the strength of the ensemble superhero flick in pre-ticket sales, noting that it “has already sold more tickets at this point in its release cycle than “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” in their respective cycles combined”. Meanwhile, Matt Patterson over at National Review Online was able to attend the film’s red-carpet premiere some two weeks ago, and his review is nothing short of gushing: “The Avengers is a blast from start to finish, that rare summer film that is both funny and touching, and both tender and thrilling. In short, The Avengers is everything we hope our summer blockbusters will be, and know that they can be, but so often find them not to be.” Given that The Avengers is the film to which I have been most looking forward this year (yes, even more than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Dark Knight Rises), my inner fanboy is going to have a very long week to wait out.

— 2 —

Speaking of comic book heroes, I am champing at the bit to pay a visit to my local comics shop and pick up my last two weeks worth of pulls. When I do make it in, it’ll be for a sizeable and diverse haul: Angel & Faith #9, Aquaman #8, I, Vampire #8, Justice League Dark #8, and Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #3. Tomorrow the shop opens at 10 AM instead of noon, which will be perfect timing for me to swing by on my way home from work. Patience, young Padawan…

— 3 —

This Sunday, April 29, marks the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Please offer your prayers that God will open the hearts and minds of our young men and women to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and bring about a vast increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Without guidance and leadership, the flock will surely scatter, so let us pray with fervor and trust that Our Lord will send us shepherds. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has this downloadable prayer card to assist us in our petition (PDF warning): “God the Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

— 4 —

Since we are speaking of prayers, any that you could offer up for me would be greatly appreciated. I’m about a month away from the start of classes at my local community college, after a year and a half of not being in school. I’m hopeful and optimistic about progressing forward in my personal and professional development, and excited about my program of study (Associates in Information System Technology), but after a few start-and-stop efforts at higher education over the past six years, I’m definitely a little jittery. Pax.

— 5 —

I was pleased yesterday evening to come across this “Open Letter To Our Politicians and Fellow Citizens”, written by the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, who are standing in support of the US Catholic bishops and religious liberty in the face of the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services mandate for employer-provided contraception. The CFR, a Franciscan order founded a mere twenty-five years ago, is not know for doing things by half-measure, and their letter pulls no punches: “The recent H.H.S. Mandate attacks and undermines this fundamental principle of our American way of life. Therefore, the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal stands shoulder to shoulder with our Bishops and all those who defend our American values.  Our founding Fathers sacrificed for what they believed in and left us a powerful legacy.  Following their courageous example, we will peacefully and steadfastly resist any infringement upon our religious liberties and our deep-seated beliefs.” Given the hue-and-cry this past week over the Vatican’s planned reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, it is refreshing to see such a public display of unity between the bishops and one of our nation’s religious orders on one of the most pressing issues of our time.

— 6 —

Speaking of hue-and-cry, the Catholic Left has been raising all manner of noise over Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget. Ryan, a practicing Catholic, fiscal conservative, and chairman of the House Budget Committee, has decided not to cede the moral high ground to those preach that “caring for the poor” necessarily translates to “imposing a confiscatory tax rate on American individuals and businesses and expanding the size and scope of the federal government ad infinitum“. Instead, he has come out swinging, linking the conservative principles of federalism and limited government to the Catholic social principles of subsidiarity. Hysterically (and predictably), his opponents have declined to engage Ryan on the merits of his arguments, and are instead denouncing him as a heretical disciple of Ayn Rand (hat-tip to Joshua Mercer at CatholicVote.org). Rep. Ryan has handled these accusations with humor and poise, and by his example, is laying the foundations for conservatives everywhere, and of every faith, to effectively counter liberal accusations that an agenda of fiscal sanity and political and economic liberty is harmful to the poorest and the most vulnerable members of our society.

— 7 —

Finally, on the subject of Ayn Rand, it has long saddened me that many conservatives, even some devout Catholics I know, are enamored of that detestable woman’s atheistic, materialist philosophy of Objectivism. Though Rand is as anti-Communist as they come, sometime the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy. With the spectre of Objectivism raised in a futile attempt to clobber Rep. Paul Ryan into submission, John Barnes at CatholicVote.org did us all a service by linking to and excerpting Whittaker Chambers’ classic 1957 review (and demolition of) Rand’s seminal novel Atlas Shrugged. Chambers, that former devoted Communist and Soviet agent who saw the light, was no stranger to the pitfalls and perils of the kind of utopian materialism that Rand preached (if not her specific brand), and his brick-by-brick refutation is as thorough as it is masterful. I’ve been a fan of this piece by Chambers since I read it reprinted in National Review years ago, so I am quite happy to see it make a reappearance on the blogging scene.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Mass Readings for April 22, 2012 – Third Sunday of Easter

Via USCCB

Third Sunday of Easter 

First Reading: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Peter said to the people:
“The God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9

R. (7a) Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
When I call, answer me, O my just God,
you who relieve me when I am in distress;
have pity on me, and hear my prayer!
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one;
the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
You put gladness into my heart.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep,
for you alone, O LORD,
bring security to my dwelling.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R.  Alleluia.

Second Reading: 1 John 2:1-5a

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.

Gospel: Luke 24:35-48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

Operation Fast & Furious – The Facade Continues To Crack

Twitter colleague and investigative journalist Mary Chastain published this report on Breitbart.com yesterday, reporting on the latest development in the ongoing and ever-growing Fast & Furious scandal.

Operation Fast & Furious, for those of you who get your news from the mainstream media, was a “botched” sting operation by the ATF and DOJ against gunrunners selling arms to the Mexican drug cartels, which the Obama administration terminated and attempted to cover up after guns sold by the AFT to these gunrunners were recovered at the site of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Despite extensive stonewalling and non-cooperation by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder, this operation has been the object of a slowly-unfolding investigation both by citizen journalists like Mary Chastain and Katie Pavlich* and by Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee. I use scare quotes around the word “botched” because the manner in which the operation was conducted, the involvement of high level DOJ officials in its planning and execution (despite protestations to the contrary), and the frenzied attempt to cover up what happened suggest the possibility that Operation Fast & Furious might not have been mishandled at all, but functioned perfectly according to what some speculate to be its actual (but secret) purpose and goal: the fabrication of a body of evidence that the Obama administration could then use to make a political case for new and restrictive gun control laws.

As Chastain reports, a Fox News investigation revealed that the primary target of the alleged sting operation, one Manuel Celis-Acosta, was actually arrested and later released three times on various weapons-related charges.

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Obama Dog Recipes; Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Meme War

I’ll admit it: at first, I thought the Obama Dog Recipes hashtag game on Twitter was a bit silly and something of a distraction from the real issues of the election (such as the economy, Obamacare, religious liberty, and the general kleptocratic behavior of the Obama administration). I thought that, once again, the Right was allowing itself to be distracted and sidetracked into pointless battles over meaningless issues.

Brief bit of background: Obama campaign operatives started pushing the story that Mitt Romney was once cruel to his family dog, and conservative activists and bloggers fired back by pointed out that in his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama bragged of having eaten dog as a boy in Indonesia. On Twitter, it became something of a game to try to invent creative and satirically-titled “Obama Dog Recipes” to further turn the story back on its creators. This had the effect of nipping the “Romney is cruel to animals” meme in the bud and making Obama and his campaign crew seem ridiculous yet again.

While certainly amusing, I thought this was all generally a waste of time of effort. Two items that I came across convinced me that I was wrong.

The first was this piece over at RedState.com by regular contributor streiff. Read the whole thing. The money quote that sealed the deal for me is found towards the very end.

Contrary to what a lot of folks on our side are saying these attacks are far more important to defend against than obsessing over Romney’s position on Afghanistan or the capital gains tax because this election is not going to be fought over issues and ideas. Were ideas and issues really important, Obama would be sitting alone in a by-the-hour motel room with a bottle of cheap bourbon and straight razor. He doesn’t have issues and he doesn’t have accomplishments so all that is left to him is to tear down Romney.

He makes an excellent point. Contrary to what we may wish the election to be decided on, the Left is going to do everything in its power to make sure those issues which hurt Obama are swept firmly under the rug, and the Left has a lot of power. Between the bully pulpit of the presidency and the massive firepower of the mainstream media, the GOP and the conservative movement will not have the luxury of picking and choosing its battlefields. Like it or not, the best we can hope for in many circumstances is going to be winning fights that are not of our choosing. For far too long, the Left has had free rein in defining our candidates for us. No more. With the monolithic influence of the MSM shattered by talk radio, Fox News Channel, and the conservative blogosphere, we have the means to turn the tables on our adversaries.

The second thing that sold me was this YouTube video. Once I finished rolling on the floor in laughter, I realized that the clash of memes against the humorless minions of the Obama machine is not only a battle that we have to fight, but a war that we can win. We have the power to make President Obama and the Democrats look as foolish and ridiculous as they in fact are. Pass the popcorn.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Here we are, one week removed from Easter, and today the Universal Church marks Divine Mercy Sunday. Background here. Normally I would offer some reflections on what Divine Mercy Sunday means and teaches us, but my friend and Twitter colleague Kate has already done a far better job of that then I could hope to. God bless!

Mass Readings for April 15, 2012 – Divine Mercy Sunday

Via USCCB

Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday 

First Reading: Acts 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R. (1) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-6

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.

Gospel: John 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Things We’re Talking About To Avoid Talking About The Economy

Here is a list of some of the topics that, in a sane world, would be dominating the national political discourse, based on their urgency, seriousness, and the scope of their impact on American citizens:

  • Our abysmal jobs numbers
  • The soaring national debt
  • The crippling rise in gas prices
  • The return of stagflation
  • The very real threat that Iran may soon acquire a nuclear weapon, and that our ally Israel may take direct military action to prevent this from occurring
  • The fact that our own Department of Justice acted as an arms dealer to Mexican drug cartels, that these guns have been used in the killings of at least one US Border Patrol agent and hundreds or possibly thousands of Mexican civilians, and that as the “sting operation” began to unravel and fall apart, the DOJ attempted to cover up what had been done, and shift responsibility downward.
  • The shocking potential for widespread voter fraud because of outdated voter rolls and the absence photo ID verification in many parts of the country
  • The nigh on criminal misuse of taxpayer funds to provide kickbacks to the President’s political supporters, under the pretense of the money being an “economic stimulus”.
  • The length of time it has been since the Democratic-controlled Senate under Harry Reid passed a federal budget.

These are all serious problems worthy of discussion and debate. However, President Obama, his administration, and his allies in the mainstream media don’t seem particularly interested in discussing these matters. Instead, here are a few of the issues they think we should be talking about:

  • Free birth control as some kind of fundamental “right”
  • An utterly fictitious “war on women” by Republican candidates
  • The shooting of a black teenager by a Hispanic Democrat in what may have been self-defense, or may have been a vigilante slaying
  • How many cars Mitt Romney owns, and the size of the garage in which he stores them.
  • Whether or not Rick Santorum is “weird” for actually believing the things his Catholic faith teaches
  • The work ethic of Ann Romney in particular and of stay-at-home moms in general
  • The importance of eating your vegetables

Gee, you don’t think Obama could be worried, do you?

If You Are A Geek, And You Are Not Currently Following “Geek & Sundry”…

Then you are doing it wrong.

Geek & Sundry“, for those of you not in the know, is Felicia Day’s new YouTube channel featuring a line-up of four new original web series and Season Five of “The Guild”, with additional series in production. The line-up is pretty unique, and something of a nerd-o-rama: alongside Felicia Day’s Vlog (“The Flog“) are shows hosted by fellow uber-geeks such as Wil Wheaton (playing board games with special guests) and Veronica Belmont (who hosts a science fiction and fantasy book club with co-host Tom Merritt), just to name a couple. I’m not a fan of every single one of those shows, but the line-up is diverse enough that I’m sure it’s going to draw in a lot of viewers of varying interests. So check it out and see what you think!

Ann Romney and the Original “War On Women”

Yesterday evening the conservative blogosphere erupted into outrage of this comment made by Obama campaign and DNC advisor Hilary Rosen on CNN*:

[Ann Romney] has actually never worked a day in her life.

Twitter and various other forums veritably exploded in condemnation and ridicule of this contemptuous dismissal of the “work history” of a woman who has raised five sons and battled both cancer and MS. So massive was this “gaffe” that David Axelrod was sent into the field to do damage control for the Obama camp.

To anyone familiar with the culture wars, this casual dismissal of Ann Romney’s personal calling in life as a full-time wife and mother is just the latest in a series of long-running denigrations of stay-at-home moms by the feminist Left. The content of what Rosen said is far less shocking than the fact that she so it so bluntly in a public forum. Probably Rosen did not even intend on launching a broadside against stay-at-home parents: her swipe at Ann Romney falls inside of a larger attack that is right out of the class warfare playbook the Democrats are employing against Mitt Romney. Her sneering comment, which speaks volumes on how the Left views women who devote their lives to working inside of the home, likely just “slipped out”, as it were.

Why, though, does the Left hold wives and mothers in such contempt? The fact of the matter is that this L’Affaire de Rosen is but a brief skirmish in a war that has been waged throughout all of human history.

“Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” – Revelation 12:17

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