Monday, February 28, 2011

Why Do Catholics Pray to Saints?

Hey, Leslie,

Why do Catholics pray to saints?

Thanks,
Aaron

Hi, Aaron! Thanks so much for your question. It's a good one!

The first thing I'd like to clarify is that Catholic Christians don't pray to the saints as though they were the ones who would answer our prayers directly, but we do ask the saints to intercede for us, just as we would ask other members of the Church on earth to keep us in prayer. We consider that all of the faithful, living and deceased, are part of the Church and therefore part of the communion of saints. For this reason, we would consider that the prayers of those who are already beholding God face to face in heavenly glory (and are therefore more firmly united to Christ) would have the power to bring about even greater fruit than the prayers of the living (since our attention is still divided between heavenly and earthly concerns).

As you probably have heard, there are patron saints of particular causes (usually related to something from their own earthly lives) and we Catholics like to ask them to pray for us for those things in particular. There are patron saints of everything, from music (St. Cecilia), to cancer (St. Peregrine), to addictions (St. Maximilian Kolbe), to finding your lost keys (St. Zita -- a good friend of mine!). Just as the saints did good through their prayers during their earthly lives, so they can help us through their powerful heavenly intercession.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (a little compendium of all of the Catholic Church's basic teachings) says this: 
956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . [T]hey do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus. . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."495

    Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.496 I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.497
May I also heartily recommend the rest of the Catechism section on the Communion of Saints? It's an interesting read, which you can check out here.

As always, thanks for reading! I hope this has been helpful.

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron's "The Last Acceptable Prejudice"

Greetings, Coffee Talkers!

It's Sunday, so I'm taking the night off from formal blogging. But I will pass you on to a column by Fr. Robert Barron called "The Last Acceptable Prejudice." A friend passed it on to me, and I think he makes some very interesting points about anti-Catholic sentiment in the US in his brief article.

And since I am a big fan of Fr. Robert Barron's ministry in general, may I also direct you to his website, Word on Fire
I hope you find something of interest!


Peace and all good,
Leslie

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Would Catholics Say That Jews Can Be Saved?

Dear Leslie,

Do Catholics believe that Jews have salvation automatically because they are the "chosen people"?

Thanks,
Andrea

Thanks for submitting this great question, Andrea!

Catholic Christians see our relationship with the Jewish people as very significant - they are the rock from which we were hewn, the quarry from which we were dug (Isaiah 51:1). Still, we do not consider Jesus' command to go and spread the Gospel to all peoples and nations to exclude the Jewish people, even though they were the first people of his promise.

The covenant that God made with the Jewish people has never been revoked (see Romans 11:29). If a Jewish person (or any person, for that matter) was to be saved, however, Catholics would still understand that his salvation came through Christ and the Church (CCC 846). Here’s why. Once Jesus (who was, of course, a Jew himself) came as the fulfillment of the prophesies of the Hebrew Scriptures, He established the new and everlasting covenant to which all people are called, thereby opening the gates of heaven and establishing the possibility of eternal life for all people. 

Catholics do not hold that salvation is necessarily excluded from all non-Christians (see my post on “Salvation and Damnation: What Do Catholics Believe?”), and therefore we certainly believe in the possibility of salvation for Jewish people. However, we don’t believe that their salvation would be ‘automatic’ because of their being the people of the old covenant. 

Enough of my explanation -- here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about salvation for the Jewish people:

The Church and non-Christians
839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."325
 
The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People.
When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 "the first to hear the Word of God."327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ",328 "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."329

840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

The glorious advent of Christ, the hope of Israel
673 Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent,566 even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority."567. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed".568
 
674The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.569 St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old."570 St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"571 The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",572 will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".573
 
I hope this has been helpful!

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Friday, February 25, 2011

Extreme Mercy: Fr. Don Calloway Edition

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I just want to give a little plug for my priest friend, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, and his new DVD called "Extreme Mercy." Some of you may have heard Fr. Don's amazing story of going from a life of crime to a life of loving the Lord, the Blessed Mother, and surfing!


I had the pleasure of getting to know Fr. Don and some of the other priests of his community while living in Steubenville, Ohio. They are wonderful! I'm sure that this new DVD will be a great way to share Fr. Don's dynamic personality and life-changing message of the mercy of God with many people. So check it out!
Peace and all good,
Leslie

Thursday, February 24, 2011

YouCat -- The Pope's Present to the Youth of the World!

Coffee Talkers!!!

I honestly cannot contain my excitement -- I just found out that a new official Catholic Catechism has come out that is designed specifically for youth, and that Pope Benedict XVI is having one included in every World Youth Day pilgrim backpack this August as his gift to us. HOORAY!


I love the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and am always looking for good ways to make the information contained in it more accessible to the youth of today. I'm totally gonna be bringing this new YouCat bad boy into our Youth Confirmation program at Our Lady of the Desert. Brace yourselves!

And here's a wonderful 2 minute video history of World Youth Days:


World Youth Day Madrid is coming soon -- I hope y'all are getting as excited as I am!

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NET Ministries -- Do Something Amazing!

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

NET is here! The National Evangelization Teams travel across the nation putting on Catholic youth retreats, and Team 6 put on a  great confirmation retreat today at the parish where I work. A decade ago (yikes -- how did that much time already pass??) I spent a year traveling with NET Ministries myself, and loved it. Check it out, y'all!

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prayers and Help for Christchurch

Good evening, Coffee Talkers!

It's easy to get stuck in our own little corner of the world, but catastrophic events can sometimes jar us out of our narrow view of life. I'm sure many of you have heard of yesterday's devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. There have been at least 75 people confirmed dead, and hundreds more still trapped or missing.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/4692170/Christchurch-quake-toll-75-hundreds-missing
 
 There are many relief efforts currently being organized for the people Christchurch, and I've been trying to see what's what on the world wide web, but the New Zealand Red Cross site was not accessible and the site for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch doesn't seem to have any links to donate yet. I do know a number of people who live in New Zealand (some Americans and a few New Zealand natives), so I'm going to contact them to find out the most effective way for people to make donations for Christchurch relief. I will keep you all posted. I am also hoping to organize an event to benefit those in need in Christchurch (a concert, perhaps), so please let me know if you'd like to help with the event or in other relief efforts.
 
And one last thought -- I saw a Facebook group that someone started to have people join in prayer for Christchurch. There were several people who made comments along the lines of, "Sorry, I'd like to pray, but I'm going to do something to help instead." May I suggest that prayer and action should not be mutually exclusive? Consider Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a model of integrating a life of deep contemplative prayer with untiring action on behalf of those most in need. Let's pray, and then let's allow that prayer to inspire us to action, to share with others the fruits of our contemplation.
 
Peace and all good,
Leslie

Monday, February 21, 2011

Of Births and Deaths and Bieber Fever

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

I'd like to share a couple stories of interest from today. The first is on the death of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who performed more than 75,000 abortions before becoming a pro-life advocate. He still considered himself a Jewish atheist for many years after considering himself pro-life, and later became Catholic in 1996. I'd never heard of Nathanson before today, and wanted to share first a brief blog post from a canon law blog I follow [nerd alert!], and then a bit longer article about his life from the National Catholic Register.

And I'm sure that by now, most of you have heard at least bits and pieces of the news about Justin Bieber making statements against abortion, and being misquoted in Rolling Stone.
 He's already been on the receiving end of some attacks by abortion-rights activists, and while I have not personally caught the 'Bieber Fever,' I'd still like to defend his right to make his opinion known and ask certain people to leave the poor kid alone! Come on, if being against abortion is his choice, then who has the right to take his freedom away -- both the freedom of his choice in favor of preborn human life, and his freedom of speech? (To me, these attacks against Bieber make as little sense as some very vocal gay couples fighting against the vote to defund Planned Parenthood when they themselves want children, which would often call for adoption and thus rely on unplanned parenthood. Really. I know some of these people personally -- they are friends of mine, even -- so I'm merely commenting on these situations raising some philosophical questions.)

I know I'm venturing into somewhat controversial territory here, so let's all be kind to one another.

And welcome to our new readers in France and Spain -- perhaps I will see you at World Youth Day in August!

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Be Nuns!

Happy Sunday, Coffee Talkers!

Some of you may know that I lived with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (more commonly known as the Nashville Dominicans) for a year in a time long ago, and it was a beautiful experience. I only wish that I lived near one of their schools now so I could send my girls to be taught by them! Please enjoy this wonderful video (well worth the 10 minutes to watch), check out their awesome website (http://nashvilledominican.org/), and pass on the info to anyone you think would like to know about this lovely community or any young women interested in knowing more about religious life.

video

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Friday, February 18, 2011

From Emptiness to Fullness: Holy Indifference & Kenosis

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Today's post is something that just came to my mind, so please journey with me for a moment, and please feel free to jump in with your own thoughts and reflections in the comment box.

I was thinking today about indifference, and what it means, particularly for Judeo-Christian people. I mean, if we believe in God and some sort of purpose for life, is there any place for such an attitude or state of mind as indifference? Here are my initial thoughts on the matter. Indifference that stems from apathy is a negative thing, and I suspect that it is really fear-based (i.e., I am afraid that I will fail at something, so I act like I don't care about trying; or I love someone very much but I fear not being loved in return, so I act like I don't care about that person). But then there is another type of indifference known as 'holy indifference' which is a positive thing -- namely, that we can learn to not be so attached to our emotional responses to situations, but rather accept everything that happens in our lives as part of the material in which a ruling power higher than us is at work. This kind of indifference is not fear based, but rather is a detachment that is based on trust in divine providence.

And this led me to another thought -- while apathy seems to be rooted in a spiritual emptiness which clings to nothing for fear of losing everything, holy indifference requires a self-emptying (or kenosis) that allows us to be filled with the presence of God. In other words, we are emptying ourselves to be filled with, and completed by, an Other. This type of self-emptying does not deny pleasure or pain, but becomes detached from it as one begins to trust in the power of the Other to direct all things unto their ultimate good.



While I was an undergraduate, I went on a travel course (twice -- no, I didn't flunk, I just went once as a regular course and once as an independent study) to a place called Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center in Colorado. It is a western Tibetan Buddhist retreat center, and as part of the course experience we learned about and practiced what they called mindfulness-awareness (Shamata Vipassana) meditation. It was a really great experience, which ultimately led me deeper in prayer and understanding of my own Catholic faith as life went on. In any case, the reason I mention this here is that in Buddhism, the focus of meditation is the emptying of the mind. In Christian meditation, we seek to empty first (a part that many of us miss!) so that we can be filled with the presence of Christ.

This emptying is particularly important in such a fast information age where we are almost constantly inundated with information from so many different sources:
http://oestmann.blogspot.com/2009/10/becoming-sharper-at-study-via-christian.html

It is through our own self-emptying that we seek to enter more fully into Christ's own kenosis, one so profound that he willingly entered into the greatest possible human suffering for the sake of the divine purpose in which he trusted so fully. Insofar as we learn to do the same, I believe that we replace apathy with holy indifference, and lack of human concern with authentic human love.

What do you all think?

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Birthday, and a Blogiversary!

Greetings, my dear Coffee Talkers!

With this 31st daily installment of Coffee Talk with Leslie, I'd like to wish all of you in the blogosphere a happy one month blogiversary! And since people seem to enjoy statistics (no matter how irrelevant, or even inaccurate, they might be), let me share the few fun facts I know about you all from my blog stats from this first month:
  • you've viewed my blog pages over 800 times
  • you've been reading from the US, Canada, Malaysia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Russia, Bermuda, and Italy
  • 14% of you are reading from an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Blackberry
  • more of you viewed "Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Don't Join This Club!" than any other post
  • more of you shared "From Susan B. Anthony to Nancy Pelosi - Pro-life Feminism and Political Lies" via Facebook than any other post
So thank you all for tuning in, and for making my blogging experience thus far such an enjoyable one!

Today also marks a more significant anniversary -- my little Faustina Maria turned 3 years old today! When I chose her name, I was living in a community with a lot of Catholics, so most people were familiar with St. Faustina, the Polish nun who is known for spreading the devotion to Jesus and his Divine Mercy.


But it wasn't long before I realized that I may have given her one of those names. You know the kind I'm talking about. The ones that inspire conversations like this:

"Oh, your girls are so cute! What are their names?"
"Patricia Rose and Faustina."
"How pretty! Patricia Rose and... what was the other name?"
"Faustina."
"Oh. How do you spell that?"
"F-A-U-S-T-I-N-A."
"Oh, Faustina! Wow, that's really...different. Did you make that up?"

I never meant to curse my younger daughter with a life of, "What's your name, again?" and "Oh, that's different!" Still, I'm hoping that it will be made up for in the divine economy by bringing more awareness to the wonderful saint after whom my little one was named, and by spreading devotion to Divine Mercy, a message so desperately needed in our times.

My priest friends from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception came out with a cool Divine Mercy App for your iWhatever:

and they have a great Divine Mercy website!   http://thedivinemercy.org/

And here's a little Divine Mercy prayer to end the evening:


Peace and all good,
Leslie

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Morning, Jesus!

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

It seems that yesterday's post has caused quite a stir, so for now I shall wander into kinder, gentler pastures.

Let me tell you about a CD that my girls and I love!

It's called "Good Morning, Jesus!", and it is a beautiful collection of Catholic songs for children written and performed by Irish singer-songwriter Dana (pronounced 'Donna' for us uncouth Americans -- I only learned this after a man introduced her correctly at a live concert she gave in Steubenville a few years back, and I remember wondering why this guy didn't know how to pronounce her name).

Anyway, the songs are so much fun, and I find them to be both catechetically and musically excellent! There is also a DVD available, which basically consists of Dana wandering around and singing the songs with a bunch of children:

Rating for DVD: so-so (but great if your kids are already fans of the CD). Rating for CD: awesome!

The songs include many traditional Catholic prayers in a way that is musically interesting and accessible to children. The CD begins with a morning offering and ends with a night time prayer, and in between the songs cover the Our Father, the Angelus, The Guardian Angel Prayer, the Creed, and more -- even a special song for children about the Eucharist! Anyone who can work the full Creed and the Eucharist into catchy children's songs has earned my full respect.

So if you're looking for a wonderful gift for a Catholic child you know, I think this CD would be excellent for any occasion -- baptism, birthday, First Communion, or just for fun!
http://www.dana-music.com/m6/DSCD109--good-morning-jesus.html

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From Susan B. Anthony to Nancy Pelosi – Pro-Life Feminism and Political Lies

Hello, Coffee Talkers! 

American civil rights activist and champion of women’s rights and suffrage, Susan B. Anthony, turns 191 today. While most people are at least familiar with Anthony as an early American feminist, I fear that much of her message (the message shared by so many of the pioneers of civil and women’s rights in America) has been distorted through the years. As it turns out, these early feminists were overwhelmingly pro-life, and they considered abortion among the injustices rendered to women and their unborn children through gender oppression which they fought vehemently to eradicate (http://feministsforlife.org/history/index.htm). 

Here is what Susan B. Anthony had to say about helping women to have authentic rights and freedoms:

 “Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring  for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.”

Wow.

That’s pretty unlike the message we get from much of the modern ‘feminist’ revolution, wouldn’t you say? While many modern feminists see abortion as an expression of autonomy for women, the early pro-life feminist pioneers believed that in a world where women were not oppressed and were truly free, there would not be the pressure to choose against the life of their own child and to do violence to themselves and their unborn babies. True freedom and choice, in their view, would preserve the health and dignity of both mother and child.

This brings me to today’s news about the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” and Nancy Pelosi’s comments, which run counter to the ideas of Susan B. Anthony and friends, not to mention the Catholic Church:

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Catholic who serves as House Minority Leader, blasted the proposed No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, calling it part of “the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health in our lifetime.” Supporters of the act, she said, are “in a different philosophical place on…all engagements that result in a child. So that’s why homosexuality, that’s why birth control, all these things that are not consistent with their beliefs that are all about procreation.” (http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=9244)

Wow! I didn’t know that Nancy Pelosi was not only a politician, but a philosopher, too! 

Let me make a point of clarification – what I’m  saying here has very little to do with politics, and a lot to do with Nancy Pelosi being completely erroneous every time she opens her mouth about the teachings of the Catholic Church. I’m sorry, I’ll try my best to be charitable here, but not a single word comes out of that woman’s mouth about Catholicism that isn’t a horrible distortion (at best), or an outright lie. 

I usually get most of my news from internet sources, but I do remember seeing this broadcast live on television:



…and then shouting at the TV at the beginning and end of her brief speech, first as Nancy Pelosi began by saying the WRONG FEAST DAY (it was the Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary – NOT the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker), and at the end when she said that every order of nuns in the US was supportive of the new health care legislation (this is a big topic suited for another blog, but for now let it suffice to say that she was completely wrong).

What makes Pelosi’s misinformation particularly scandalous is the fact that before she makes statements about her (alleged) Catholic faith (clearly for political advantage), she qualifies what she’s saying with a preface about how she is an ardent, faithful, practicing Catholic who was taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame (do they cringe when they hear her speak like I do??) and how much she’s studied about the moral topics at hand.

I would like to suggest that perhaps a simple internet search would have revealed to her the correct feast day on the occasion shown above, and that maybe a little flip through the Catechism of the Catholic Church (also available online) could have cleared up for her any number of the other matters on which she has very publicly spoken erroneously on Catholic teaching. And if Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have internet access, maybe the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops would be willing to take up a national second collection for the cause.

I’ll end by sharing a video that a friend posted titled “Nancy Pelosi vs. The Catholic Church” – it’s a bit crassly made, but I still found it to be both entertaining and accurate. See what you think:


And for any of you who pray and fast, why not consider praying and fasting from something for the continued conversion and sanctification of all Catholics in public office, and for pregnant mothers to have the support they need to choose life? Prayer and fasting don't just work during Lent, you know! :)

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Monday, February 14, 2011

Does Anyone Remember the 'Saint' Part?

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Today is St. Valentine's Day (well, if you wanna get technical, it's really the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius -- old Valentine got the boot from the liturgical calendar long ago). But in any case, the point I'm making is that once upon a time, there was a saint involved in this day of lace and chocolate and hallmark cards.

I have been rather swamped these past couple weeks, and today is no exception. So rather than writing much more tonight, please allow me to direct you to a couple of blogs I enjoy -- perhaps you will like them, as well!

First, one about St. Valentine's Day:
http://www.mercatornet.com/sheila_liaugminas/view/8690/

And next, one called "Seraphic Singles" -- I think single and married people alike will enjoy the cleverness of Auntie Seraphics writings:
http://seraphicsinglescummings.blogspot.com/

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saint Therese & Sweet Dreams!

Are you all familiar with St. Therese of Lisieux? She was a young French woman who became a Carmelite nun before dying at a very young age. She is known for her little way of holiness, and is sometimes referred to as the "Little Flower." And now she is not only a saint, but a Doctor of the Church!


The reason I mention her tonight is that she wrote about being upset with herself at one point for falling asleep during her community prayers. All of her efforts could not keep her consistently wakeful, and she poured out her heart to the Lord on this matter. And do you know what the Lord told Therese?

"He gives to His beloved even in his sleep" (Psalm 127:2).

I think God is giving that same message to me tonight. So goodnight, everyone!

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Saturday, February 12, 2011

THE (almost) ORIGINAL DEL TACO!!!

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

Today, what had only previously been a myth became an incredible reality. That's right, friends. I had lunch at the Barstow Del Taco!

No, I didn't make a special trip to Barstow just to have lunch at a fast food Mexican restaurant (I was teaching a class there), but now that I have experienced the awesome-ness, I just might go out of my way to go there in the future!

In this past year, I've heard many a tale of the Barstow Del Taco: how it was the original one (well, almost -- I guess there was a 'Casa Del Taco' in Yermo before that, but whatever) and how the Barstow Del Taco surpasses every other Del Taco in America in every possible way.

And now that I've experienced it first hand, here's what I have to say -- it's all true! The restaurant was big and clean, the employees were all happy and helpful, and the food was bigger and better than the average Del Taco. How is this possible with a chain restaurant, you may be wondering? Well, I don't know, but you'll just have to experience it for yourself.

For any of our international readers (or sad residents of Del Taco-less states), here's the Del Taco wesbite:
http://www.deltaco.com/history.html

And some Yelp reviews of the Barstow Del Taco -- man, people love that place. The reviews are super funny -- it's almost like the restaurant has a little cult following!   
http://www.yelp.com/biz/del-taco-barstow

So if you're taking a jaunt from Southern California to Las Vegas, be sure to eat at the Barstow Del Taco and pass by the World's Largest Thermometer in Baker --  I think it will be a trip to remember (and a $10 mini-vacation)!





Peace and all good,
Leslie

Friday, February 11, 2011

Have You Seen the Sistine -- In Your SWEATS?

Hey, everybody!

As I mentioned recently, the Vatican is making a new online portal, which they hope to have up and running by Easter:
http://coffeetalkwithleslie.blogspot.com/2011/01/vaticans-gonna-make-kickin-new-website.html

But it never occurred to me that they might have new portions of the website that we could check out before Easter. Until today, when my kind Morman friend who knows that I am a lover of all things Catholic, sent me a great link. Brace yourselves...the website that formerly featured a whole lot of text now also displays a high resolution panorama of the Sistine Chapel! You can zoom in and out, and view the chapel from every possible angle (floor to ceiling) with the help of your mouse or touchpad. It's pretty awesome. Behold:

http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html

The Vatican website already has some other cool stuff going on, so why not stop by and take a look around the place? No dress code, and no plane ticket required! www.vatican.va

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...


Today was quite a day. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. These were the times that try men’s souls.

Let’s start out with the best of times. Like when my clarinetist friend from high school band came to visit! She and her cute little boy came to have lunch with me and my cute little girls. And she said that she was going to bring a gift that she’d been meaning to give to me for a while.

If any of you are into the whole love language thing (I don’t really know that much about it myself, to be honest), giving and receiving gifts aren’t particularly high-ranking in my love languages. But something told me that for my friend to make a long drive to see us, and in particular to bring a gift, it must be something very special.

And my hunch was right. The gift was more special than I could have possibly imagined. She brought in a small table, and told me to come over to see the little engraved metal tag near one of the legs – as I walked closer, I was amazed to realize what it might be. And it WAS! A table made by our beloved high school band director, Robert Nygaard, who died just over a year ago. After retiring from his teaching position, he devoted much of his retirement to making furniture and other beautiful things. 

Just recently, I had been thinking about Mr. Nygaard again (he is the one to whom I dedicated my first blog post: http://coffeetalkwithleslie.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-visit-with-wonderful-man.html), and was wishing that I had known about the estate sale that took place last year. I heard about the sale after the fact, and knew that many of the handcrafted items he made were made available to the public at that time. I dismissed the thought, knowing that it was probably not possible to find any of his handmade items now, and was grateful for the happy memories I have of Mr. Nygaard.

But then, out of the blue, there it was! One of the beautiful handcrafted tables from the estate sale! Now residing in my home!

And so, when the worst of times rolled around (namely, that my car is in need of repairs that would cost even more than the outrageous amount being asked for Tom Cruise’s backwash – please don’t ask how I stumbled upon this unsavory bit of information), I realized something. If God, in his providence, could arrange something so kind as for me to receive that handcrafted table I’d been hoping for beyond hope, I think He could certainly work out this car business. Somehow. And I trust that He will! 

One of my favorite saints, Maximilian Kolbe, said something like this – Either God’s providence exists, or it doesn’t. And since we Christians know that it does, we can really stop worrying.  (He wrote about it in this wonderful little book called “Aim Higher!” -- https://www.marytown.com/ecommerce/ps-101-5-aim-higher.aspx -- which I loved so much that I now suspect that I gave it away.) And good ol’ Max is RIGHT! Since God will provide for us, why not trust in Him?

Peace and all good,
Leslie

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

News of Confession App Reaches the Vatican!

There's something I want all of my readers to know: many of our modern media sources (and of course, the people who run them) are not well-informed on the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sorry to be the one to break the news. (And hey, and while I'm at it...there is NO Easter Bunny!)

So when the news of the confession iPhone app got out, all sorts of silly reports came out about how the app got an imprimatur and now you could just confess through (or to!) your iPhone, ad nauseum. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out yesterday's post:
http://coffeetalkwithleslie.blogspot.com/2011/02/iconfess-to-my-phone.html

Even a really solid journalist I follow half-jokingly suggested that the developers should go to confession for misleading people with their product. All I can say to that is puh-LEASE. Do you really think that the same faithful Catholic guys who went to the trouble of having a couple priests aid them in the development of the app and asking their local bishop to grant an imprimatur would then deliberately mislead people into believing that their app was a substitute for actual sacramental confession? Somehow, I think it's more likely that the media misinterpreted, than that the developers deliberately misled people or misrepresented their product.

In any case, word reached the Vatican (fun!), who then issued a statement about the new confession app. So check it out!   http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/new-confession-app-is-no-substitution-for-the-sacrament-vatican-says/

Peace and all good,
Leslie

P.S. The men in their 20s are tied with the women in their 40s in the age poll...the competition is getting pretty intense! ------------------------------------->

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

iConfess -- To My PHONE???

Greetings, Coffee Talkers!

Today's topic came not in the form of a question, but more as a command from my friend Christina, who had this to say:
"Just read that the Catholic Church approved some sort of confession app for the iPhone?? Blog about this Leslie!"
And so I shall!
I did a little internet research to find out the scoop on what Christina was referring to, and found out that a young man who I knew from Franciscan University of Steubenville (my grad school alma mater) made the iPhone app in question. Good job, Patrick Leinen!
The application is called "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," and is put out by Little iApps, and Indiana-based company for which Leinen is a developer and co-founder. These guys were SO smart -- I'm really impressed! They decided to design a Catholic iPhone application that would respond to Pope Benedict XVI's request in his World Communications Day address for "new media at the service of the Word." Leinen and others collaborated with two priests to make the app, and then sought the formal approval of their local Bishop in the form of an imprimatur -- brilliant! An imprimatur (from Latin for "Let it be printed") is basically a public declaration from a Bishop that nothing offensive to Catholic faith or morals is contained in a particular publication. And by seeking (and obtaining!) the Bishop's imprimatur for this iPhone app -- the first imprimatur to be given for this type of media and resource -- these guys have gotten big press for an excellent app. Well done, fellows!
This confession app is to be used not as a substitute for the traditional practice of confession, but in aiding people as they prepare to receive the sacrament and as they are in the confessional. The app has examinations of conscience personalized for each user, and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament. It will help to reduce situations like this:
Priest: In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Penitent: Uh... [awkward silence]
Priest: How long has it been since your last confession?
Penitent: Oh, a real long time, Father. [confession takes place]
Priest: Now make a good act of contrition.
Penitent: Uh... [more awkward silence] A what?
Now, with "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," you can let both your iPhone and your well-formed and examined conscience be your guide! Check it out, y'all: http://www.littleiapps.com/index.php
Now, there are apparently a number of other confession-related iPhone apps, but the one I've mentioned here is the only one to have received an imprimatur. This is not to say that the others necessarily contain moral error -- just that they have not been formally approved by the Catholic Church. I did come across one comically irreverent app, which definitely does contain some moral errors, but I'll admit that it still made me chuckle: http://www.confessionboothapp.com/

And in case there are some readers wondering why Catholics go to confession to priests, it comes from Jesus himself who gave this authority to his Apostles when he told them, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20:23). Sure, most of us might have a personal preference for just confessing our sins directly to our iPhone, but since Jesus himself established the forgiveness of sins in a less expensive and more accessible way, I'll stick with it. (Besides, the iPhone doesn't have to abide by that 'seal of the confessional' business, so who knows who your phone'll be calling up and telling all of your dirt.)

In short, I'd say that both the sacrament itself and "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" are legit. So iPhone people, start downloading, and get confessing. And since I'm still iPhone-less myself, please let our Coffee Talk community know how you like it!

Peace and all good,
Leslie