Please pray for me and my brother priests!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

My prayers for a merry Christmas go out to all of my readers and their families! I leave you with this short reflection from the Holy Father's homily at Midnight Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica.

God love you!
Father V.
The medieval theologian William of Saint Thierry once said that God – from the time of Adam – saw that his grandeur provoked resistance in man, that we felt limited in our own being and threatened in our freedom. Therefore God chose a new way. He became a child. He made himself dependent and weak, in need of our love. Now – this God who has become a child says to us – you can no longer fear me, you can only love me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible

It's been a while since I have blogged, and there have been a hundred articles I have wanted to post and comment on, but simply haven't found the time too. This video, however, is worthwhile. Very worthwhile.

This video was made by Penn Gillette, the comic and magician, for, I am assuming, his blog. He comments a man he met after a show, and this man is a figure worth hearing about.

Listen carefully, brother and sister Christians. Do we get the importance of what we believe, and then boldly not only proclaim it, but live it?

As I've said from my pulpit, nice people don't go to Heaven, but good people, holy people, do. A very interesting video indeed!

God love you and Merry Christmas to all!

Father V.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bill Donohue and David Dukes

Bill Donohue is the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. You may know him from his many, many appearances on cable news programs, op-ed pieces in newspapers, or for any other of the many media outlets where he brings his crusade. He can be bombastic, loud, and engage in histrionics, however these are but a few of the reasons to love him! He is one of the few consistent voices in the media speaking in defense of the Church, and isn't afraid to take on any comers. This article, from Inside Catholic (the web version of the old Crisis magazine) by way of Catholic Online, is a most enjoyable satire.
God love you!
Father V.
Bill Donohue Parody:
'I'm Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Racist, and Support David Duke'
By William Donohue, Ph.D
Inside Catholic (

I have informed my conscience. I have weighed the facts. I have used my prudential judgment. And I conclude that it is a proper moral choice for this Catholic to support David Duke's candidacy.

NEW YORK, NY (Inside Catholic) - EDITORS NOTE to our readers: Bill Donohue is vehemently against racism as much as he is strongly Pro-life. He wrote this piece to point out what he sees as the absolutely inherent contradictions in a Pro-Life Catholic such as Dean Cafardi saying that he is pro-Life but then endorsing a Candidate who promises as one of his first acts to sign the "Freedom of Choice Act".

The following is a tongue-in-cheek reply to Nick Cafardi's article, "I'm Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Abortion, and Support Obama.":

I believe racism is an unspeakable evil, yet I support David Duke, who is pro-racism. I do not support him because he is pro-racism, but in spite of it. Is that a proper choice for a committed Catholic?

As someone who has worked with minorities all his life, I answer with a resounding yes. Despite what some say, the list of what the Catholic Church calls "intrinsically evil acts" does not begin and end with racism. In fact, there are many intrinsically evil acts, and a committed Catholic must consider all of them in deciding how to vote.

Last November, the U.S. bishops released "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," a 30-page document that provides several examples of intrinsically evil acts: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, torture, racism, and targeting noncombatants in acts of war.

Duke's support for racist rights has led some to the conclusion that no Catholic can vote for him. That's a mistake. While I have never swayed in my conviction that racism is an unspeakable evil, I believe that we have lost the racism battle -- permanently. A vote for Duke's opponent does not guarantee the end of racism in America. Not even close.

Let's suppose the 1964 Civil Rights Act is overturned. What would happen? The matter would simply be kicked back to the states -- where it was before 1964. Overturning the 1964 Civil Rights Act would not abolish racism. It would just mean that racism would be legal in some states and illegal in others. The number of racist incidents would remain unchanged as long as people could travel.

Duke's opponent has promised to appoint "judicially activist" judges who would presumably vote not to overturn the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But is that sufficient reason for a Catholic to vote for him? To answer that question, let's look at the rest of the Church's list of intrinsically evil acts.

Both Duke and his opponent get failing marks on embryonic stem cell research, which Catholic teaching opposes. The last time the issue was up for a vote in the Senate, both men voted to ease existing restrictions.

There's another distinction that is often lost in the culture-war rhetoric on racism: There is a difference between being pro-choice (e.g., the right to choose racist practices) and being pro-racism. Duke supports government action that would reduce the number of racist incidents, and has consistently said that "we should do everything we can to avoid unprovoked confrontations that might even lead somebody to consider racist behavior." He favors a "comprehensive approach . . . where we teach the tenets of civility to our children." And he wants to ensure that therapy is an option for bigots who might otherwise choose to commit a racist act.

What's more, as recent data show, racist incidents drop when the social safety net is strengthened. If Duke's economic program will do more to reduce racism that his opponent's, then is it wrong to conclude that a Duke presidency will also reduce racism? Not at all.

Every faithful Catholic agrees racism is an unspeakable evil that must be minimized, if not eliminated. I can help to achieve that without endorsing the immoral baggage associated with the party of Duke's opponent. Sustaining the 1964 Civil Rights Act is not the only way to end racism, and a vote for Duke is not somehow un-Catholic.

The U.S. bishops have urged a "different kind of political engagement," one that is "shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences." I have informed my conscience. I have weighed the facts. I have used my prudential judgment. And I conclude that it is a proper moral choice for this Catholic to support David Duke's candidacy.

William A. Donohue is the president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Living Witness of a Holy Death

This great article from the National Catholic Register tells the extraordinary story of Thomas Vander Woude. It's extraordinary in the details of Vander Woude's life, but extraordinary more so in the faith that can't be extricated from either his life or his death. A daily communicant, Vander Woude raised seven sons with his wife, and with his wife instilled the faith in his sons using the means most effective and most difficult: living witness.

I believe that their are thousands of Catholic families around the country who have lives very similar to the ones found in this article. Not in the details, perhaps, but in the culture of faith and love built in the Christian home. Lives of heroic self sacrifice are not often lauded in our culture of death, but here is one that couldn't be ignored.

Offer a prayer, if you would, for the Vander Woude family, and for the repose of Thomas's soul. While you're praying, pray as well for all Catholic homes: may every member model the faith to each other, and may the family as a whole be a living witness to the world.

God love you!
Father V.

7 Sons Lay Hero Dad to Rest


The story of a Catholic father dying to save his son started being told in a small town in Virginia. Then on the front page of the The Washington Post. Then it began to be repeated on blogs and in online discussions from coast to coast.

But those who know him say they always knew Thomas Vander Woude was special. Whether it was installing a gymnasium floor, training altar boys or coaching sports, when the daily communicant father of seven saw a need, he stepped in.

That trait led to the ultimate sacrifice on Sept. 8, when he dove into a septic tank to save the life of his son.

Anne Carroll, director of Seton High School, in Manassas, where Vander Woude coached, served on the board and volunteered, said Vander Woulde sacrificed for others "on a daily basis."

"He died as he lived," Carroll said.

Born in Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1942, Vander Woude left the farm to join the Navy. A pilot, he served the country for 17 years and was a Vietnam War veteran. He married Mary Ellen Earley in 1964, and the couple raised seven sons: Tom, Steve, Dan, Bob, Chris, Pat and Joseph. In 2002, he retired after 26 years as a commercial airline pilot. Between 2002 and 2007, he served as athletics director at Christendom College in Front Royal.

The more than 2,000 people, 70 priests and one bishop who attended his funeral Mass on Sept. 15 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, all came to pay their respects to a man who inspired them not only in life, but also in death.

Vander Woude's son Father Thomas Vander Woude celebrated the Mass and gave the homily. Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va., presided.

A Selfless Life

Vander Woude's life was marked by selflessness and humility. His third son, Dan, who lives next door to his parents in Nokesville, said that when his father saw a need, he didn't worry about whether he was the most qualified -- he just stepped in.

"He didn't know soccer, but there was a need, so he went to coaching clinics to learn that," Dan recalled. "Whether it was coaching basketball, soccer or directing altar boys, he was very good with young men."

There were several things about his father's spiritual life that stood out for him.

"When others asked about the secrets of success for raising Catholic families, he was always quick to point to the family Rosary," said Dan. "He was definitely devoted to Our Lady."

"He also did a Holy Hour between two and three in the morning and was a daily communicant. With the Rosary, he used to say a prayer to St. Joseph," added Dan. "Those were the things in front of us that we saw of our father. In this culture, which is selling a lot of stuff, I had a father on his knees who was showing me how to be a man of God."

Vander Woude's devotion to the Blessed Mother also led the family to host an annual Marian festival/procession/picnic on their farm the last Sunday of May. Hundreds of family friends and acquaintances would attend the celebration, which the family held for nearly two decades.

A Father's Love

Vander Woude, 66, died while helping his youngest son, Joseph, 20, who has Down syndrome. Joseph fell through an old cover that gave way into a septic tank on their property. Vander Woude yelled to a workman to call 911 and jumped in, forcing himself past Joseph so that he could get underneath him to hold him up.

According to family friend Michael McGrath, Vander Woude told the worker, "You pull, I'll push."

"As he lifted Joseph up, his eyes closed, and he collapsed into the tank," said McGrath. "When the paramedics came, they were unable to resuscitate him."

Those who knew him said that his love for his sons was paramount.

"His son Bob said, 'It's so right that he died saving one of us,'" said Peter Westhoff, a former teacher at Seton, where Vander Woude's sons went to school.

"One time on the farm, he told me, 'You know, I don't want any of the boys to ever leave. I'd love to have them around me all my life,'" recalled Westhoff.

To that end, Vander Woude had his 26-acre property split up, giving an acre of land to each of his sons. Two of his sons live on the nearby parcels.

Westhoff remembers a time in the mid-1990s when a school in Washington, D.C., was closing, and he went there to get materials for his school. When Westhoff entered the biology lab, there among the jarred lab specimens was a human fetus. Westhoff didn't feel it was appropriate to leave it, but he wasn't sure what to do.

He called Vander Woude's eldest son, Father Thomas Vander Woude, now pastor of Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria. "He said, 'I'm sure my dad and mom would have a burial on the farm,'" said Westhoff. "When I called Mr. Vander Woude, there wasn't any hesitation."

Friend Pete Scheetz built a small pine coffin for the child. "When Mr. Vander Woude saw the pine coffin, he commented, 'Where can we get in line for ours?'" remembers Westhoff.

After Vander Woude's death, Scheetz built another simple pine coffin for his friend. Scheetz' wife and the Vander Woude daughters-in-law added a personal touch, sewing in the wedding dress of Mary Ellen, Vander Woude's wife, as the lining.

Faithful to the End

As difficult as Vander Woude's passing has been for his family, son Dan said that there have been many blessings. One comfort is that their father, who was dedicated to the Rosary, died on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was buried on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

"One consolation is that God is using Dad's witness to touch a lot of people's hearts," said Dan.

Vander Woude's dying act was "truly saintly" and "the crown of a whole life of self-giving," Bishop Loverde said at the Mass, according to The Washington Post. "May we find in his life inspiration and strength."

Said Dan, "We've heard of priests in Spain and Colorado preaching about my dad's death during their homilies on the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. I've also heard from many friends that his story is inspiring other husbands and fathers for how they should be leading their daily lives."


Tim Drake. "7 Sons Lay Hero Dad to Rest." National Catholic Register (September 28-October 4, 2008).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Politics- Catholic Style

As anyone who knows me knows: I am a political junkie. I try to stay above the fray but am easily dragged into it. It's why I don't tend to blog on politics very much. I tend to fall into the partisan quagmire too easily.

However, this great video from is above the fray, while being solidly Catholic. Enjoy!

God love you,
Father Ventura

Friday, August 15, 2008

A "Man Hug" how-to.

I was reading this morning on the question of "hugging" at the Holy Mass. This video was posted to explain the art of the "man hug". It is very thorough, and a good primer for those not aware of the special rules included in the "man hug."

However, it is best to avoid hugging at the Holy Mass. Simplely shaking the hands of the people sitting to the right and to the left of you is sufficient. The Holy Father has even asked a commission at the Vatican to look at the placement of the "sign of Peace" during the Mass and seeing if it is better placed elsewhere (at the beginning or during the offertory). It's always best to remember that our unity is best signified in the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, itself, and nothing we can do could rival or compare with that. We'll see!

(One more note: Please avoid the "Richard Nixon Twist," as I've dubbed it, during the sign of peace. This is the move when we hold up the peace sign while pivoting at the hips or twisting around, trying to catch everyone's eye so that no one feels left out. It's a bit distracting!)

God love you!
Father V.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's About Time!

I haven't been around in quite a while! A lot has been going on, schedules change, and to be very honest, I haven't felt any impetus to blog.

It's not really a good answer, but it's all that I have for the moment.

Finally, I was shamed in returning to my keyboard. A very good and holy priest that I know said to me something to the effect, "The "Front Fell Off" video is very funny, but it's been on the top of your blog for much to long now."

After hundreds of good blogs, I couldn't make that video my swan song, and perhaps because of that I'm not meant to make a swan song. Who knows?

In any case, I clicked on the blog today, saw the video at the top and said, "it's time to type something new." So hear I am, for better or for worse, once again.

Below is a great article by Dinesh D'Souza, a sound thinker and a fine, fine Catholic. He has been debating with Christopher Hitchens, the well known evangelical atheist. It's a great read and food for thought.

(And to any one who is still reading after a 5 month hiatus, thank you!)

God love you!
Father V.

An Absentee God?

In my debate with Christopher Hitchens in New York last October he raised a point that I did not know how to answer. So I employed an old debating strategy: I ignored it and answered other issues. But Hitchens' argument bothered me.

Here's what Hitchens said. Homo sapiens has been on the planet for a long time, let's say 100,000 years. Apparently for 95,000 years God sat idly by, watching and perhaps enjoying man's horrible condition. After all, cave-man's plight was a miserable one: infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death. Evidently God didn't really care.

Then, a few thousand years ago, God said, "It's time to get involved." Even so God did not intervene in one of the civilized parts of the world. He didn't bother with China or Egypt or India. Rather, he decided to get his message to a group of nomadic people in the middle of nowhere.

Here is the thrust of Hitchens' point: God seems to have been napping for 98 percent of human history, finally getting his act together only for the most recent 2 percent? What kind of a bizarre God acts like this?

I'm going to answer this argument in two ways. First, I'm going to show that Hitchens has his math precisely inverted. Second, I'll reveal how Hitchens' argument backfires completely on atheism. For my first argument I'm indebted to Erik Kreps of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

An adept numbers guy, Kreps notes that it is not the number of years but the levels of human population that are the issue here. The Population Reference Bureau estimates that the number of people who have ever been born is approximately 105 billion. Of this number, about 2 percent were born before Christ came to earth.

"So in a sense," Kreps notes, "God's timing couldn't have been more perfect. If He'd come earlier in human history, how reliable would the records of his relationship with man be? But He showed up just before the exponential explosion in the world's population, so even though 98 percent of humanity's timeline had passed, only 2 percent of humanity had previously been born, so 98 percent of us have walked the earth since the Redemption."

I have to agree with Kreps's conclusion: "Sorry Hitchens." But actually Hitchens plight is worse than this. As I pointed out in a recent three-way debate with Hitchens and radio host Dennis Prager, Hitchens argument poses a far bigger problem for atheism than it does for theism.

To see why this is so, lets apply an entirely secular analysis and go with Hitchens' premise that there is no God and man is an evolved primate. Well, man's basic frame and brain size haven't changed throughout his terrestrial existence. So here is the problem. Homo sapiens has been on the planet for 100,000 years, but apparently for 95,000 of those years he accomplished virtually nothing. Besides some cave paintings, no real art, no writing, no inventions, no culture, no civilization. Both the wheel and Egyptian hieroglyphics are only 5000 years old.

How is this possible? Were our ancestors, otherwise physically and mentally undistinguishable from us, such blithering idiots that they couldn't figure out anything other than the arts of primitive warfare?

Then, a few thousand years ago, everything changes. Suddenly savage man gives way to historical man. Suddenly the naked ape gets his act together. We see civilizations sprouting in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, and elsewhere. Suddenly there are wheels, agriculture, art and culture. Soon we have dramatic plays and philosophy and an explosion of inventions and novel forms of government and social organization.

So how did Homo sapiens, heretofore such a slacker, suddenly get so smart? Scholars have made strenuous efforts to account for this, but no one has offered a persuasive account. If we compare man's trajectory on earth to an airplane, we see a long, long stretch of the airplane faltering on the ground, and then suddenly, a few thousand years ago, takeoff!

Well, there is one obvious way to account for this historical miracle. It seems as if some transcendent being reached down and breathed some kind of a spirit or soul into man, because after accomplishing virtually nothing for 98 percent of our existence, we have in the past 2 percent of human history produced everything from the pyramids to Proust, from Socrates to computer software.

So paradoxically Hitchens' argument becomes a boomerang. Hitchens has raised a problem that atheism cannot easily explain and one that seems better accounted for by biblical account of creation.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Front Fell Off

This interview with Australian politician "Senator Collins" is classic politico speak. Honest, wordy, to the point, but saying absolutely nothing! Funny, funny video. Check it out!

Comments are, as usual, welcome!

God love you

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sweet Mystery of Life

When I was a kid, my father would often play music in the house. His favorite singer was (and still is) Mario Lanza, the great tenor from the 50's. I learned to love opera listening to him sing arias, and through him I also came to love the American Standard Songbook. While my favorite singer is Frank Sinatra, Mario Lanza still ranks up in the top 5. Lanza's song, "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life", a great piece of music from the American Standard Songbook, ranks in my top ten favorite songs of all time, and it was that song that came into my head as I read the below article.

The mystery of life is just that: a mystery. We don't understand it, and we can't. Sure, there are the mechanics of the body that we have a rudimentary understanding of. But life it self: why it is, how it is, what it is, is beyond the realm of science and belongs to Faith. Science can tell us how (to a certain extent), only the Faith can tell us why. What is good and true in one only serves what is good and true in the other.

Why? All truth compliments truth. Truth is One, and everything good and true (with a small 't') points to the One Truth (capital 'T') who is Jesus Christ. He is the Word through whom God made the Universe, the Word that the Father spoke to pronounce creation Good, the Word who was there in the beginning with the Father bringing and breathing life into creation. The prologue of St. John's Gospel, which speaks of this, reads like poetry:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Why? Because out of nothing but love God made us for life, and even when we introduced death though sin, He was not content to let us wallow in it. The darkness that is sin cannot fathom or overcome the light that is Christ. God the Father sent His only Son to bear the burden of our sin, so that again we might have life through Christ. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." This is the mystery of life, this is the mystery of faith. We were created for life, we are made for life, and Christ came to carry us out of this vale of tears into eternal life.

Questions and comments are always welcome!

God love you!

Woman Diagnosed as "Brain Dead"
Walks and Talks after Awakening
By Hilary White

LAKE ELMO, Minnesota
February 15, 2008 (

65-year-old Raleane "Rae" Kupferschmidt's relatives were told by doctors that she was "brain dead" after she had suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage in mid-January. Her family had taken her home to die and were in the process of grieving and planning her funeral when she awoke and was rushed back to hospital.

In accordance with her own wishes, doctors had removed Rae's breathing tube and were waiting for her to die. She was taken home from the hospital, and while friends and family gathered to say a last good bye, Kupferschmidt's daughter Lisa Sturm used an ice cube to wet her mother's dry lips. When her mother sucked on the ice cube, she thought it was only an instinctive reaction. She said, "I knew suckling is a very basic brain stem function, so I didn't get real excited. But when I did it again she just about sucked the ice cube out of my hand, and I looked at my aunt and said, 'Did you see that?'"

"So I leaned down and asked, 'Mom... Mom, are you in there?'" Sturm said. "And when she shook her head and mouthed, 'Yes,' we all just about fell over.

"Rae was rushed back to the hospital and underwent surgery to drain the blood clot from her skull. After surgery, she recovered her strength and is now undergoing physical therapy and can walk with the aid of a walker. Doctors expect her to be walking on her own within weeks. Rae says she does not remember anything during her coma.

"I still don't know what my task is here on this Earth, but I know God's not done with me yet. How else could you explain everything that has happened to me?" Rae said.

She told family that she had seen angels in her room. "I said these angels are not here to take me home to my father. They're here to help me, to help me get over this."

"Brain death" or "death by neurological criteria," is a common diagnosis of patients who are said to be in an irreversible coma, sometimes referred to as a "persistent vegetative state" (PVS). Physicians and bioethicists who support the brain death criteria claim that such a diagnosis is reliable and means that a patient is beyond any hope of recovery.

Under new bioethics criteria, "brain death" can be used as a condition under which organs are removed from a patient while his heart is kept beating. Organ transplant requires that tissue be recovered from donors as close to physical death as possible and physicians are under heavy pressure to procure more organs.

The fact that in many cases patients who have been unconscious, semi-conscious or severely neurologically disabled, such as Terri Schiavo, have been declared "brain dead" or "PVS" only to recover, has undermined public confidence in the medical system.

In the US in 2006, Terry Wallis, who experienced a car wreck in 1984, woke unexpectedly and began to recover after 19 years in a minimally conscious state. In 2005 in Italy, Salvatore Crisafulli woke from a coma he had suffered for two years. He had been declared "nearly dead" by doctors after a serious auto accident that left him unresponsive. In Poland in 2007, a railway worker astonished his family and doctors when he awoke spontaneously after 19 years.

Doctors at United Hospital said they are amazed by Rae Kupferschmidt's recovery. One told Good Morning America, "I've been here for ten years and I've never seen anything quite like this."

Rae told Good Morning America, "God's got something for me to do. When I learn it, I'll unfold it and follow it."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ash Wednesday: Mourning our Fallen Humanity

I wanted to write something on Ash Wednesday, about Ash Wednesday. I preached yesterday on the days of Lent, and how we are not simply walking with Christ towards His death on that Good Friday afternoon, but allowing Him to accomapany us on our journey towards death as well. The ashes imposed on our foreheads are the remanent of something dead, something that once was that no longer is.

Our bodies too will return to that state, mixing again with the dust of the earth from which the first of our race was created. We will stand before God in judgement with simply our soul, marked with His indeliable seal given us in Baptism. We will either kneel in adoration and ask for His mercy (and be sure of receiving it), or we will turn from His glory, seeking to hide ourself from Him who knows and sees all.

How do we know which path we choose? By looking at the path we have walked thus far. We were told that, (ontological change aside,) the man we were the day before ordination to the priesthood, is the man we would be the day after ordination to the priesthood. The person you are the day before your wedding will be the person you are the day after.

In the same way, the person you are the day before you die will, most likely, be the person you are the day after you die. Have you served God in every moment? Have you followed His commandments? Have you loved Him as He made you to love Him? Or, have you declined His invitation to grace and holiness time and time again? Have you rejected the unique help He offers through His Church and her Sacraments? Have you broken the commandments without a second thought to going to Him for forgiveness? Have you loved Him as you wanted instead of as He made you to love Him; or very honestly, have you loved Him at all?

If we refuse to kneel before God asking Him mercy in life, we will not kneel before Him asking for His mercy in Judgement. And this is the paradox: those who kneel are invited to stand with Him in the Father's house sharing in the Father's glory for all eternity. Those who refuse to kneel for a moment of penance before the Lord find that they kneel for all eternity under the weight of their pride, lust, greed, anger, envy, gluttony and sloth.

As Chesterton said while dying, "the issue is now clear, it is between light and darkness and everyone must choose their side." Ash Wednesday reminds us of exactly who we are: sinners in need of a savior, sinners who will die and stand before the Lord in Judgement, and sinners that God loved so much He sent His only Son to die for.

We are all making our way either to Heaven or to Hell, and Lent provides us with the reminder that we can change course. We can drop all the burdens of our life, the sins we have accumulated, the garbage we hold in our hands in order to reach out and take the one gift God wants to give us: joy, peace, and life with Him forever in Heaven. We can serve God, and find the happiness that He offers, the happiness that only He can give, the happiness that we are made for.

The below article is taken from the Catholic Education resource center, and a very good reflection on our fallen human condition and the need for universal mourning.

God love you

Ash Wednesday

Today is an international day of mourning, and it is because we are fully human that we need to wear the ashes on our brow.

Only forty non-shopping days to Easter, one recalls, on this, the most solemn fast of the Christian year, except Good Friday. The thought being: What would happen to the economy if, by some miracle of repentance, all the descendants of Christians were suddenly recalled to faith?
This is the flip side of an argument I have often made in conversation, when learning of millions of dollars of receipts from some gross horrible vicious obscene and cynical product, often as not from the entertainment industry. “We never thought the collapse of Western civilization would be good for the economy.” It would be dishonest to continue repeating this remark: for by now, the thought is perfectly familiar.

Familiar, and of course, bitter in the mouth, as befits Ash Wednesday.

Since Saturday, I have been intending to write about a passing event, of no great significance to the history of the world. A friend said I should use it to grab people's attention. It was the latest successful suicide bombing in Iraq — “successful,” in the sense that a hundred people were killed, enough to earn mention in the world press. Bombs went off in two crowded markets, scattering heads and limbs all over the stalls. What made this any different from the standard Islamist atrocity in New York, Madrid, Bali, London, Kabul, Jerusalem, Baghdad, or anywhere? Certainly not the final total of corpses, or the number of mutilated survivors (more than twice that hundred).

I have a list before me of confirmed Islamist terror attacks since 9/11/01, in Iraq and all over the world. More than ten thousand of them. In Iraq, the number peaked at 478 bombings in 2005 — an understatement, because multiple bombings in a single approximate location were counted as one event. With point-form brevity, the list goes on like a telephone directory.

Two bombs went off, last Friday morning in Baghdad. The first was at the al-Ghazil pet market, the second, 20 minutes later, at the bird market in New Baghdad. Friday is the Muslim holiday, and with people in Iraq feeling, lately, much more secure, these markets were crowded. They are, according to one of my Iraqi correspondents, especially popular among the poor, who take their children to look at the animals. And indeed, part of the confusion after the large explosions was sorting through the remains to distinguish parts of the children, from parts of their mothers and fathers and aunts, from parts of the animals.

Still, nothing special in that, for the Koran-reciting zealots choose the defenceless by preference, not only in Iraq but all over the world. It is so much easier to kill defenceless people — as psychopaths of non-Muslim persuasion realize, even when hitting campuses and shopping malls in North America. For the big death tolls are invariably achieved at locations where guns have been publicly banned, and they know they'll have the leisure to continue the massacre until armed police finally arrive. (That is why crime rates suddenly climb wherever “gun control” triumphs.)

Not that any armed affiliate of the NRA could have prevented what happened last Friday in Baghdad. For the bombs were concealed on the persons of two exceptionally innocent-looking ladies.

Both were Down's Syndrome. Quite obviously, they did not know what they were carrying, or why. They were detonated by remote control, using cellphones. The detached head of one of these ladies was among the first of the body parts that Baghdad police were able to identify.

Down's people can be extremely suggestible. They are like children, in many respects, and especially, trusting like small children, even as adults. As the father of a Down's child myself, I can tell you just how innocent they are, and how loving. God made them without guile, and utterly in need of our protection. And in return for that demand upon our decency (Down's children in Canada today are usually aborted), He made them a light in this world. O Lord.

My friend, who told me to write about this, is himself a man with long experience working for people with mental disabilities. He told me I had to write about this case, because it was the final abomination. He said, “we should have an international day of mourning.” He said, “I give up my membership in the human race if these Al Qaeda terrorists are human.”

Yet the truth is, that the use of the mentally disabled to carry explosives — and of children, too — is a standard Islamist practice in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and elsewhere. So in this respect, too, the bombings at al-Ghazil and New Baghdad were nothing new. An even stranger truth, is that the Al Qaeda terrorists are human, like us. Like their victims. Like the two Down's ladies.
Today is an international day of mourning, and it is because we are fully human that we need to wear the ashes on our brow.

David Warren. "Ash Wednesday." Ottawa Citizen (February 6, 2008). This article reprinted with permission from David Warren.

David Warren, once editor of the Idler Magazine, is widely travelled — especially in the Middle and Far East. He has been writing for the Ottawa Citizen since 1996. His commentaries on international affairs appear Wednesdays & Saturdays; on Sundays he writes a general essay on the editorial page. Read more from David Warren at David Warren Online.Copyright © 2008 Ottawa Citizen

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Persecution of Christians in Atheist Soviet Union

I have been an absentee blogger, and for this I apologize! I have been blogging for more than two years, and I may be running out of steam (or just getting busier!)

I am going to try to post at least one blog a week, so be patient with me! Thank you to all my readers.

This video shows the fruits of the Communist regime in Russia, the destruction of a great Orthodox Cathedral in order to kill faith in the Russian people. They persevered, and this grand Cathedral was rebuilt in the year 2000. The footage is sad, and a bit disturbing, but worth watching. Remember the millions killed by this "enlightened" regime in the name of progress. Think of this video the next time you hear the "Communism is good, it just hasn't been put done by the right people" argument.

Any regime or government, that denies God denies as well the inalienable rights that God has given His people, life first and foremost among them. The 20th century is proof enough.

May God have mercy on Stalin's victims, and may God have mercy on Stalin.

God love you